Our family is growing in many ways... Growing in numbers, knowledge, parenting skills, growing in love, in our faith, growing our culinary skills (if you can call it that), growing without gluten (some of us), growing green...........

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Great Thing About Parenting... BREASTFEEDING

I haven't done anything with the parenting series for a while. Things have been just way too busy to sit down and take time out for a serious post, especially one that requires me to think clearly, take the energy to come across as knowing what I'm talking about, and perhaps through in some research. This post might not involve as much of that as I want, but I am hoping to at least get the post WRITTEN and maybe even make some sense.

This post also has two parts to it...one being about breastfeeding in general. The second part - extended breastfeeding (past the one-year mark). One thing at a time, though...

Now, if you are new to the blog and aren't familiar with the parenting series, please feel free to see the post introducing it all HERE. See the other posts/topics HERE (diapers, co-sleeping, vaccines...). Basically, this is a friendly place to share the way we each do things, how we feel about it, what we think, etc. Key word - friendly. No bashing allowed. No debating. This is not about right vs wrong. Disagreeing is fine, but watch your words, please. Also, for those of you that follow along via email subscription or facebook, comment on the actual blog so we have the discussion all in one area.

Ok - I have breastfed both of my children. Camden was nursed up to 6-7 months, when my milk went away. After about a month of doing everything possible and everything a lactation consultant suggested, I had to give in and go to formula full-time. He simply was not getting enough milk from me alone, unfortunately. Not a happy month for me. Aiden is still going strong nursing at (almost) one year. Aside from my milk going away with Camden, nursing has been really easy for me. I never had any clogged ducts, no cracking of anything..., no problems with latching. It was a very natural thing for me and for both of my babies. They both went right to nursing like they were pros from the start. I don't take for granted how easy breastfeeding has been; I know many people that have had different experiences. Feel free to share yours - good, bad, indifferent, etc.

With that, I must say that I really don't get it when people say they have a hard time breastfeeding. Let me explain before some of you get a little defensive...... I'm not saying you don't have a hard time and that you're making it sound worse. No way. I believe you. I know a number of mamas who have struggled big time with breastfeeding. Some ended up going the formula route, and some stuck with it (through some REALLY rough times, too!) and breastfed for quite a long time (so proud of those girls!!). What I am saying, though, is that I don't understand those struggles because I haven't been there; it's hard for me to know what it's like. I can't understand the frustration and the stress that goes along with it. It's just like anybody who hasn't nursed can't really understand the closeness and bonding that comes from breastfeeding. I think it's one of those things you have to experience to get - either way.

Maybe part of my love for nursing my boys has stemmed from how easy it was for us; I don't know. But I do know that it is one of the most rewarding things I have ever experienced. Aiden is still a frequent nurser, always has been (frequent but fast), and we sit down many times each day for our nursing sessions. It's always so much fun and relaxing for me. He's quite the wiggler and gets distracted easily. He'll look up at me, play with my face, play with his feet, show me how the fan goes round and round (yes, while nursing), play with my hands - it's definitely an interactive time! As fun as it is most of the time, there are times when I can be heard saying..."Are you done Aiden? Or are you going to drink more milk??? Which is it?" (insert a tone with slight frustration and impatience). He hears a noise, sees someone walk by in another room, just about anything, and he has to turn to see what it is (sometimes without unlatching properly to do so...). But for the most part, breastfeeding is a wonderful time for us, even when he is being distracted.

Since Aiden has always been such a frequent nurser (as in it was just recently he started going up to three hours between nursing sessions; sometimes it's more frequent than that - sometimes it's longer), I've had to learn to plan things around breastfeeding. And I've had to get used to the idea of NIP/BIP (nursing/breastfeeding in public). You quickly learn how to do that without it hardly being noticed when you HAVE to do it so much. I know this can be a controversial topic, and many people have experience negative reactions to NIP/BIP. I really haven't. I have breastfed Aiden COUNTLESS times in public, and nobody has ever said anything to me or even given me a dirty look. One time I thought someone was giving me a look in a doctor's waiting room, but when we walked by after our name was called, the lady smiled at us, so I think it's safe to assume there was no dirty look. I don't have to nurse out in public as often now, but when we take our road trips or we are out for more than a few hours, it will be necessary. If I can go to a dressing area or the car or a more hidden area, I will do that. It's easier on everyone that way, especially with such an easily distracted baby! I used to use a nursing cover when Aiden was a newborn, but he will have nothing to do with that now, so we don't cover, but he is big enough to cover up anything that doesn't need to be seen by others (or I do have a hand I can use). It's never been a problem or much of an issue, really. I feel fortunate. I know of others that have had problems, but I also have heard wonderful stories from friends with great NIP/BIP experiences, including people telling them not to bother covering up that baby. Nursing is a natural and beautiful thing, and I'm thrilled when people treat it as such. If you're interested, here is something I saw recently (there are different versions online that I've seen - some have had the pictures removed by the websites, which is kind of sad...). It's comparing the reactions to NIP/BIP and the other ways we see breasts in our everyday media, etc... "Breastfeeding is Offensive" If this link doesn't work, I can post another that should.

On that note, here are some "offensive" pics of me nursing Aiden (obviously, I do not think they are offensive...and could you even tell for sure that I was nursing if I hadn't said so??).

Covered up in the early months...

Stopping to take a peek at Mommy

We even have to eat when we're at the beach!

Another part of me having to learn to be ok nursing in public is that Aiden never took a bottle. We tried a couple times, but when he wasn't into it at all, we didn't push it. It wasn't something we felt was necessary. I supplemented some when Camden was a baby because I worked very part time from the time he was three months old up to nine months old - and it wasn't enough time to stop and pump, so he would get a bottle. I've always wondered how much that contributed to my milk going away, even though "they say" you should be able to do that and have no problems. So with Aiden, I never supplemented, and we didn't push a bottle with breastmilk, either. I would rather be able to nurse him longer than have the convenience of using a bottle (which really isn't all that convenient compared to breastfeeding, in my opinion). Honestly, I don't like the idea of giving him formula at all. This was not a sacrifice to me.

We have room-shared since Aiden was born and began bed-sharing when he was about five months old to make it easier to nurse him at night, since he woke so often to feed (and still does). I haven't spent much time at all away from Aiden at all - how could I when I am his primary source of food? He does eat solids now (and boy does he like to eat!!), but that never really slowed down the breastfeeding much. So, yes, for Aiden's first year of life, my own life has pretty much revolved around breastfeeding. And that's ok. I'm doing what is best for him, I love doing it, my husband is in agreement; so there are no problems with it in our family. Even my older son is perfectly fine with me breastfeeding. The very first time he saw Aiden after the delivery, I was nursing Aiden, and Camden got wide eyes, and you could tell he was wondering if he should look away. I asked him what he thought about it, and he said he wasn't sure. I said - well, you're just going to have to get used to it because this is how he eats! And...that he did. Immediately. He knows this is just how babies eat, and there is nothing wrong with it and no need to feel embarrassed or worry about how to act/where to look. It's not an issue in our home, which is how it should be (for us). I even have some pictures that a friend took of me breastfeeding Aiden when he was around six months old. She took other pictures of just him, too, but the nursing ones are by far my favorite. They are BEAUTIFUL (if you want to see them, just let me know - I'm ok with sharing as long as they are not on the world wide web for all to see. I can send you the link to view them - they are not public if you just go to our photos, however.), and I am so thankful we have those pictures. To me, nursing is one of the best and most rewarding experiences in this entire world.

I think we've all heard the benefits of breastfeeding...
  • Healthier babies (less illness) in the present and long-run and in so many ways. I won't list them all - it's easy to get this info.
  • Breastfed babies are less likely to be obese later in life
  • Breastfed babies' poop smells better/sweeter (well, it's true)
  • Smarter babies (research says it's just slightly so)
  • Faster weight loss for moms that nurse (get that baby weight off!)
  • Moms are at reduced risk for breast/uterine/ovarian cancer
  • Moms experience less postpartum depression
  • Saves money (formula is expensive, breastfeeding is free/cheap)
  • Ingredients are all natural and change to baby's nutritional needs throughout nursing
  • Helps babies attach to moms (and moms to babies)
  • Convenient - no fixing/washing/carrying bottles/formula/etc. Breastmilk is ready when needed!
There are more. Feel free to add in the comments. I'm just doing a quick run-down. I'm not going to mention all the research behind the benefits of breastfeeding to everyone. Just have little time right now. I will share a few websites that are interesting and have great information...

Kellymom.com - Articles/info are evidence-based; this website is often sited/recommended for gathering info on breastfeeding (and other topics)
Dr. Sears - Breastfeeding topics
WHO (World Health Organization) on Breastfeeding
World Breastfeeding Week 2009 - Going on THIS WEEK! I just happened to find this out as I was writing this. What great timing, huh? Any of you doing anything for this? There are events all around the world to celebrate/support it.

Share any other sites you think are worthwhile. There are many more out there, I know!

And...while I feel I have not done this topic justice in any way, this is all I am writing at the moment due to time constraints and a very huge to-do list for the day. I will post soon about the second-half of this topic...EXTENDED breastfeeding. Later today, so stay tuned!

Now it's your turn!! Remember the rules - no bashing and BE NICE. Post on blogger in the comments section. If you're reading via email or on facebook, there will be a link on the title of the post - click that to come to the blogger post and share your comments. Thanks for reading (and sharing!). Looking forward to seeing what others have to say.


Becky said...

Colin was also breastfed, and never took bottles well (occasionally he would in the car but that was it.) I day weaned him when he was about 11 months old. He was a frequent nurser when he was itty bitty but at that point was only nursing when he work up and at bed time. It wasn't much of a stuggle to wean, in fact he gave up on me at the end. He still nurses once over night but as he is starting (crossing fingers) to sleep better (meaning he gets up 3x a night) we are planning on pulling that last nursing session. The less he has nursed the more he has slept!
I will be honest and say I don't know if I ever felt the way you do about increased bonding. I never felt uncomfortable or anything, but I breastfeeding never gave me warm fuzzies. It was certainly much more convenient (for the most part) and much less expensive than the alternative. With the next child I will push the bottle more a little earlier, because there were times when it would have helped me emotionally if I knew he would eat while I was away. I left him so few times, but when I did I was just a bundle of nerves thinking he would starve and scream the whole time.
I wonder if bf-ing has exaggerated Colin tendency to be a mama's boy. Which is sweet, but he really doesn't go to other people well at all. I always feel bad when he freaks out, because these are people who LOVE him but he acts like he hates them. I'm glad I breastfed Colin, but I'm also glad to be almost done. Planing life in 2-3 hr blocks was a challenge.

Samantha McKinzie said...

I was a parent that breastfed my son until he was 16.5 months old. Jeremiah did not take a bottle at all. He even went to daycare. I started out working part time at a very flexible job where I was able to come and go as I pleased. I would just drive over to the daycare that was like 1.5 miles away and nurse him and go back to work. I sent bottles to daycare with him, but they said that he just played with them and wouldn't take it. After I started working a job full time and lost a little flexibility, he noticed that I didn't come around as much and would take like (1) 4 ounce bottle until I took a break to feed him.

I felt that this was a great bonding time for us. I kept going as long as he kept taking. I thought that my journey was going to end when I had a 3 week training that I had to go to and was only allowed to come home on the weekends. He was 14.5 months old then. He stayed with my mom and she had plenty of milk to feed him. For the first 3 days of me being gone, he really did not take the pumped milk. He just wanted mommy. It took him realizing that I was really not going to come in and save the day before he finally took a bottle from my mother. After the three weeks, I came home with a few gallons of milk that i knew he really wouldn't take and went back to the normal nursing that he was use to.

I finally stopped nursing because I was getting so much grief about how long I was doing it. I was going to attempt to go until he was 2. He didn't bite me, he was getting his nutrients, and we were cool with it. My family and friends kept saying that he was too big to still be doing that and I finally (after a month of getting tired of hearing about it) starting slowly taking him off of me. I still get grief about it today because people say that is why he is so attached to me.

My nursing experience was great. I had no problem with NIP because I knew that it was a natural part of life and was hoping that others understood as well. You definitely learn how to be discrete and classy while trying to shop and take a quick nursing break :-) I lactated very easily to the point to where I could nurse him and still pump out 8 oz. afterwards. I had to pump to stop from leaking sooo much. I threw away a lot of milk when I stopped! I didn't know about donating it until afterwards. That made me feel kind of bad :-( I would recommend nursing for anyone who is capable of doing it. If I have more children, this is definitely the route that I will take.

Loy said...

Hi, admire you, Daisy. I couldn't breastfeed my children as long as you do due to our situations there and my own health. The longest period for me was 9 months. I would love to encourage you to do it as long as you can. The Jews people did it until 3 years. Hope you can do that too this time with Aiden.

Samantha McKinzie said...

In response to Becky....I don't know if it is just me and you or if other parents experience that as well, but my son still does not go to many people and will not stay with anyone other than my mother (he is 3.5 now). It is very hard to find a babysitter that he won't scream with. My husband blames it on the breastfeeding. I am not sure though.

Daisy and Ryan said...

Samantha - I'm sorry you had people pushing you to wean. I am hoping to get to 2 years or just let Aiden self wean. I'm going to do a post later today, if possible, on that. I think it's great you made it as far as you did! I wish other people supported nursing longer, though.

Becky - YES, it is a challenge to schedule your entire life around those short non-nursing spans!! I will agree to that. I still have to do it! I have opted out of so many things in the past year - some of which would have been a lot of fun, but I couldn't leave Aiden b/c of nursing. I knew that going in, though, so I have no hard feelings about it. And we're getting to the point where I could do things away from him and for longer stretches. Another side to this, though...there have been times where I will (now) admit to being happy I could say - sorry, can't do it b/c I have to stay with Aiden. ;) Good excuse in a couple of scenarios...... Haha!

About the mama's boys and breastfeeding... Hmmm... I'm not sure. Aiden's never really been away from me. Once he was with Ryan for a couple hours, and he was fine the whole time I was gone - the instant he saw me, he begged to nurse, though. It was like out of sight, out of mind. He is a mama's boy in a way, but he is definitely NOT a cuddly boy that wants me to hold him a lot - he wants to eat and then get down! He does go to other people just fine, though (but like I said, he's never STAYED with anyone for an extended amount of time yet).

Camden has always been a mama's boy and very attached to me - but at the same time very independent. I raised him to be like that, and he's very well adjusted, though we're super close. He can handle being away from me for a couple/few weeks just fine - but if I miss coming in to tuck him into bed at night...oh my goodness - it's the end of the world! I don't guess I can compare much with him, though, since he didn't nurse as long. But I'm not sure the nursing was what did it. I think some of it might just be personality. (Camden was VERY attached for the first couple years - starting day care was really tough at 14 months. He had to become a little independent when his dad left at 2 years - but that's also brought us even closer, being just the two of us for so long after that.) It's really hard to say what makes them so close to us or not. I'm interested to see how Aiden will turn out, especially seeing how non-cuddly he is right now (which is odd b/c he's very kissy - but not into being touched or hugged too much). We'll see!

Thanks for the encouragement, Loy! I'm really hoping to let Aiden self-wean. I'll try to post about that later today! :)

brandy said...

I breastfeed my 10 year old for 6 weeks. I was still in high school when I had her so I was young and dumb. My second child is now 4 and I breastfeed her for 8 months at which time I had to go back to work so I had to stop. I now have an 8 month old and work full time. He has been breastfeed since birth He does take a bottle when he is with the sitter. I pump but I have noticed that I am not making as much milk so I have been supplementing formula in the last month. He has bitten me a few times and is also easily distracted. But I love nursing and I agree that it helps form a strong bond between mother and child. I never had any issues or found breastfeeding hard it came easy to me as well. My daughters are not bothered by it at all they. Although my four year old keeps telling everyone that "only mommy can feed Brady because he drinks from mommy". I had to explain to her that she couldn't feed him because she was checking to see if she had milk.

Petrina said...

I love this series! I had a lot of difficulty nursing Spencer from the get-go. He just would not latch on properly and I later had a bad infection, clogged ducts, the works. I kept up with it until he got his first tooth and began chomping down as hard as he could each time he nursed when he was around 6 months old.

With Stella, it's been a breeze from the get-go. I'm not sure whether it has anything to do with the fact that she was a natural childbirth by a midwife or just coincidence. She latched on like a champ five minutes after being born. Spencer was born at Rex and kept in the nursery for over two hours. He was very sleepy when brought to my room.

I've not had any infections or clogged ducts with her. And at nearly a year old, she shows no signs of wanting to be weaned!! As with most things (ie naps, play times etc), I am letting her take the lead on this and will keep nursing as long as she wants to. She nurses about 4 times a day along with solid food meals.

I absolutely love breastfeeding- it is a wonderful bonding time between us and I take pride in her cute little rolls. 8-)

Susan and Melissa said...

Theo is 8.5 months old and has been 100% breastfed (meaning no formula, he does eat some solids now). Breastfeeding for me was a given and just something I knew I wanted to do. It was also the hardest, most painful, most frustrating experience of my entire life. It didn't come naturally to us and I cried at every single feeding for the first 2 weeks. I had nipples that looked like raw, bleeding hamburger meat, had to teach Theo to nurse with a nipple shield and then unteach him to nurse with a shield, had milk pouring out of everywhere, had a baby who LOVED to suck all.the.time and finally ended up with a diagnosis of Raynaud's and 3 months of a prescription medication to be able to nurse without crying. Theo was food sensitive to everything so I existed on chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans. The only issue I never had was supply. I had every other issue you can think of and some you can't.

In spite of all that, I am glad every single day of my life that I stuck with it. He's healthy, happy and bonded and still loves to nurse. He does get a bottle now and then. He used to get one every night (we had to buy a chest freezer I have so much freakin' milk) to keep him in practice. I couldn't accept him not taking a bottle. I needed to be able to have someone else feed him now and again.

I hope to get to 2 years old. I feel like a year is the finish line and anything beyond that is a victory lap. Past two, I am not comfortable for ME, so I will wean him then if he is still nursing.

It's been a HARD, wonderful journey and probably my favorite part of motherhood.

Kevin A. Puckett said...

I wouldn't say nursing has been easy for me, but it has just been non negotiable for me. (By the way, maybe I am old fashioned, but I like the term nursing so much better because it is more than just "feeding") With my first, he would not latch on properly in the hospital and the nurses kept threatening me with giving him formula. I finally got him to take a good feeding when we got home and I was on all fours above him... Crazy but it worked. I nursed Benjamin until he was 16 months. I was trying to cut back because he was still nursing every 3 hours around the clock. He got really sick and started pushing me away. I felt so guilty, but he would not nurse anymore. Silas is 10 months and still nursing every 3 hours or two even. He is tongue-tied which is where his frenulum is too short. (We later found out that Benjamin also has this problem to a lesser degree) He had a hard time latching on. He nursed by sort of chomping rather than sucking, which was fine until he got teeth. We had to work on a new latch after the teeth came. But we nurse in all different positions and have never made any bones about nursing in public. When I lived in Baltimore, people hardly noticed, but in Kentucky I occasionally get a second look. I try to cover up if I come prepared, but if not, hey, baby's gotta eat. Just a week ago I ended up in the ER with a breast infection. Silas was sick with Roseola and not nursing well so I was engorged, then plugged ducts, then infection. I was so sick fevered, shaking, nauseous, and in a lot of pain. Turned out I had an abscess on top of it all. One week later, still nursing (on both sides), despite being told I should not nurse him on that side anymore.

Daisy and Ryan said...

Brandy - I was a young mom with Camden, too - 19. And while I nursed longer, I was one of those "mainstream" parents that just went along with the norm at the time. I'm not like that now and I do things the way *I* think is right for my family/child(ren). :)

Petrina - I'm not sure about how the different deliveries and times people nurse affect nursing... I had a c-section both times (emergency with Camden, planned with Aiden). With Camden, I didn't have him with me to nurse until a couple hours later, but he nursed like a pro from the get-go. I nursed Aiden right away (within twenty minutes of birth - less, but I'm not sure of the exact amount). I think it's great that you had such success with Stella after having difficulty with Spencer.

Melissa - I'm glad you chimed in. You're one that I knew had a rough time, and I think it is incredible that you stuck with it and are going strong! You are amazing!! I'm not sure how I feel about nursing past two. I guess I feel that is my goal at this point, and I'll see how I feel about that later. I wrote about this in my new post about extended bf-ing.

Emily - I go back and forth between calling it nursing and breastfeeding. You are totally right, though - it's SO much more than just feeding! And, wow, I had no idea you had recently been hospitalized! I'm so very sorry to hear that and hope you are doing well now.

Leigh Ann said...

I nursed Kaelyn for 15 months. My experience was similar to yours. Our breastfeeding relationship was easy, natural, and very special. She latched on right away and was a very frequent nurser. She flat out refused a bottle. She never had one sip of formula for which I am proud of. People would say "if she gets hungry enough she'll take a bottle" but they didn't see her when she was mad and screaming because she wanted me and not a bottle. I would go to the gym to workout while Matt would keep her home and try to feed her and she would refuse and scream until I got home.

The weaning was easier for us than I thought...it was also a very natural process that kind of just took its course and then ended. It was one of those things where I didn't even really realize the last time was our last time until it was over. That was good and bad I think...I didn't have time to think about it and be sad but also I didn't have time to think about it and be sad - haha, know what I mean?

Breastfeeding Evie so far has started out the same as it did with Kaelyn - she latched right on and it has been easy. It is good bonding time for us although I don't feel like it's as nice of quiet time together as Kaelyn and I had because half the time I am holding Evie with one hand nursing her and chasing Kaelyn around with the other hand. :) So we don't always just get to sit there together talking while Evie nurses, but it still very special time. One difference is that Evie seems to be much more receptive to the bottle. She definitely still prefers nursing, but will take a bottle if that is what is being offered. I pump sometimes so that she can have breastmilk from a bottle. Matt has enjoyed giving her a bottle sometimes since he never really got to help with that when Kaelyn was a baby. I am planning to nurse Evie as long as I did for Kaelyn or just until our natural nursing relationship has run its course (definitely a year at minimum).

Oh, and Kaelyn has wanted to nurse a couple of times since Evie has been born. I let her but I guess she lost interest because she hasn't asked to do it anymore. :)

Daisy and Ryan said...

Leigh Ann - I think it is great that you let Kaelyn nurse after seeing Evie doing it. Great mommy! I bet that kind of stuff really helps her accept her little sister even more. :)

And I do know what you mean about the last time you nursed her. I can't imagine how that will go... It's hard to even think of there being a "last time" right now, you know? But I know it will get here. And if you know, how do you handle it? I guess it will happen however it happens. I'm not sure if I would want to know it would be the last one or not...

Kristen's Raw said...

Yay for breastfeeing! Whoohoo!!!

Lovely pictures!


Amy said...

Micah has been breastfed for 8+ months now. I love it because it is easy and I am lazy. I like not preparing anything, and he likes that there is NO wait time.

We were also one of the very lucky ones where there were no issues - a little soreness in the beginning but that is all. I know it doesn't work that way for everyone, and I am not going to criticize a mom that it didn't work for. I don't know how much I would really try if it weren't so easy for us, to be honest.

Micah definitely prefers me, but he takes a bottle (of pumped milk) and we've even left him overnight with my mom before. I think each child has different needs when it comes to that - the need to have mom close by overnight or willingness to take a bottle.

armouris said...

info on breastfeeding here - Breast Milk Prevents Infantile Colic and here - Breast Feeding Tips For New Mothers