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Monday, August 28, 2006

Breastfeeding: Vodka for toddlers

I posted this on Babycenter but I thought I would share it here:

Ever since I was pregnant with Gavin, I educated myself on the ins and outs of breastfeeding. Not only from a nutritional standpoint but also from from a comfort/nurturing standpoint. I always said I would breastfeed the Gavinator until he was two because that was what the WHO recommended but I never truly understood what it could mean to extended breastfeed (EBF).

So, after I was unable to breastfeed the Gavinator beyond 8 weeks, I threw myself into learning all there what to know about breastfeeding from books, magazines, La Leche League, the internet, and mostly, from the women on the Feeding Choices Debate Board. I was fascinated by EBFing. Sure, I had always said I would EBF Gavin until two but I had never heard of nursing as a "parenting tool" or "nursing for comfort". I remember the first time I read on the FC Debate Board that a poster calmed her toddler during a tantrum by nursing and I was all "but wait a minute, isn't that the same as rewarding with food?" I wasn't being snarky, I just didn't understand.

So, after the Goose was born and I was able to BF her, I didn't see breastfeeding as being very different from bottle feeding other than the obvious (real nipple instead of silicone, pumping at work, BM versus formula, etc...). The biggest difference in bottle feeding Gavin and breastfeeding Goose is that Gavin weaned from the bottle at 11 months and at 14 months, Goosers is still nursing strong. Also, Gavin never really took a soothie and he totally gave it up when he quit the bottle whereas Goose is all about the boobies at 14 months. I never got to experience the transition to toddlerhood with a bottle/soothie but I am with breastfeeding.

In my opinion, with the exception of the random fits to get to the milkies NOW, this is by far the most enjoyable time for us with nursing. It is a far different experience (for us, anyway) to nurse for solely nutrition/complimentary nutrition versus mostly comfort with some complimentary nutrition thrown in there.

I'm a fan of the mostly comfort with some complimentary nutrition.

I keep having these ah-hah moments.... so that's what so and so was talking about...so that's what they mean about nursing for comfort.... so yes, it can be used to shorten a meltdown! Sometimes Grace will come up to me with her face all scrunched up and looking totally stressed and exasperated and she'll nurse for a few minutes and then leave my lap a brand new toddler. Apparently nursing does for her what vodka does for me.

Anyhoo, last night I was reading LLL's New Beginnings and there is an article in there (page 166) on adoptive Bfing. A woman adopted a ten month old girl (after ebfing her own son for 15 months) and after preparing to relactate for months before the adoption and then continuing for months afterwards by pumping and using an SNS, the adopted child nursed for the first time at 19 months and is still going strong at 3 years.

There was a time I would have read that article and outwardly I would have given my standard pc "different strokes for different folks" or even a "HUH??" but inwardly I would have been "holy crap, you freakin' hippie! Is a couple of ounces of BM even worth it???"

But now I have much more insight into what EBFing actually is and I can understand where this mother is coming from and why. For this mom who had ebf, not ebfing this child would be like not being able to mother how she knows how to mother. If that makes sense. That's NOT to say that adopted children who aren't BF or children who are not BF are somehow disadvantaged. It is more than milk... that's all.

It is such a natural part of mothering (very much like hugging and snuggling... although unfortunately, ebfing doesn't always come as naturally) and Grace doesn't appear to just want to nurse... it is like she needs to nurse. While I don't nurse Gavin, I can liken it to hugs. Gavin loves hugs. He loves snuggling. He needs hugs. It is natural to me to hug him. Most people can and do hug their children but not everyone is familiar with ebfing having never experienced it so I can see where the confusion comes from.

Long story short, I just wanted to say that "ah-hah". I finally get it. I'm glad I got the chance.


Side note: I would like to mention that I finally geeked out pimped out myspace so be sure to check it out. Also, did you catch my mention over at BloggingBaby? Perhaps that will make up for Mycrack.

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9 Comments:

Blogger Ally said...

Yup, nursing a toddler can be amazing. I never got it either until I was doing it.

I've been wanting to ask you- is that you and grace on the cover of new beginnings? It looks a lot like you if it's not!

10:00 AM  
Anonymous Amy said...

Good timing on this post! This is exactly what I'm trying to figure out right now. My daughter turns one next week, and I am going to stop pumping at work then (can I just yell HALLELUJAH?!) But I have known for awhile that I want to continue with our nightly BF sessions and probably here and there on the weekends. I just enjoy it too much (the bonding and closeness) and am not ready to give that part up. I guess I need to do more research because I'm wondering how all that works. I know our bodies just adjust to the amount of milk we need, but seriously, how do you not just dry up when you're not pumping milk all day? Do you have some good references for EBF that you recommend?

Also, I already get the weird looks when people find out I'm still BFing at a year, I can't imagine what they'll think about EBF. People generally have no clue and should just mind their own freakin' business, dontcha think? Such is life. Anyway, thanks for the post.

1:30 PM  
Blogger Amanda said...

LOL, Ally! No, that's not me gracing the cover of New Beginnings. She does sort of look like me but I don't think Grace was ever that small- even at birth- and dainty gold watches and necklaces paired with denim shorts really ain't my thang!

HALLELUJAH, Amy! Kudos for you for pumping for this long. Like you I tossed the pump the day Grace turned one and I never looked back.

As far as how it all works... I really don't know. http://www.kellymom.com is a great site for everything BFing and EBFing so be sure to check it out. Grace nurses anywhere from 6-8 times a day when I'm not working and 3-4 times a day when I am working. Milk production is supply and demand so as long as there is a demand, you make milk. I don't think our supplies are as fragile this far in the game.... thus why we can now not pump and still have milk.

Fortunately for me, no one has batted an eye when I say I'm still Bfing.

2:24 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

As somebody who runs a blog called "Booby Juice," I love to read about these "ah ha" moments and hope to experience it myself.

I wasn't able to EBF Lucas. I know most of the BF literature says babies don't wean themselves, but at 11 months, Lucas suddenly refused to nurse any more. In fact, he would kick and scream when I brought him to the breast. Then, a week later, I got my period for the first time since before I was pregnant!

Problem solved, or so I thought. But Lucas would never nurse again. Despite my pleading, crying and attempts. So for the last month, I pumped and gave him expressed breast milk via a bottle. When Lucas was 12 months old, and after pumping at work for 10 months, I stopped pumping and so was the end of my BF experience with Lucas.

With Justin, I hope to EBF, and so far our nursing relationship has been so different than my BF relationship with Lucas. I can't describe how it's different, but it is.

So again, thank you for sharing. And hopefully in 7+ months I will be writing about the start of my EBF relationship with Justin!

5:03 PM  
Anonymous Wendy said...

I hope I get to that understanding, as well.

I nursed Amber for 8 mos. I am currently nursing Sam for almost 7 mos. My goal is to nurse him to, at least, a year.

I do sit back and dream of nursing Sam as a toddler. Having him come up to me and ask for boobies (or whatever we will call it)and then go off to play. I dont know how it will be introduce to calm down tantrum, but I am sure I will learn.

I hear it is much more pleasant to nurse a toddler than a baby. I can only guess it is because it is not their sole source of nutrition.

Wendy

8:19 PM  
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