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??).
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!
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.