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Sweet Peas, Pods & Papas: All About Birth, B@@bs & Babies

Nursing By Example

World Breastfeeding Week 2013 Blog Carnival - NursingFreedom.org and The San Diego Breastfeeding Center

Welcome to the World Breastfeeding 2013 Blog Carnival cohosted by NursingFreedom.org and The San Diego Breastfeeding Center!

This post was written for inclusion in the WBW 2013 Blog Carnival. Our participants will be writing and sharing their stories about community support and normalizing breastfeeding all week long. Find more participating sites in the list at the bottom of this post or at the main carnival page.

***





My breastfeeding journey has spanned 88 months of the last 8.5 years.  When I was a new mama at the age of 31, I never imagined that almost one-quarter of my life would be spent breastfeeding.  This is one of the things I got to do on my 40 birthday in June:


I had the basic challenges feeding our first two children: uncomfortable engorgement, pain latching on one side, raw nipples.  I was so determined to breastfeed that I persevered without help.  I was working at the time, and the only breastfeeding support group in my area met at night.  I didn’t want to take away from the time I would spend with my husband and daughter as a family to leave the house, because after all, this was natural!  I assumed pain was part of the process.  Thankfully, I did not suffer any permanent damage.  The pain subsided around two months postpartum and I breastfed those children for 22 months and 18 months, respectively.

I got pregnant with our third child much sooner than we expected, and because I was having contractions every time we breastfed, my doctor recommended that I stop breastfeeding.  I was heartbroken about that because of all children, our second really needed the benefits of extended breastfeeding.  He has had food allergies since birth, and on top of that, he had an episode of RSV as an infant that left him with symptoms of asthma.  He definitely could have benefitted from the extra immunity and nutrition of toddler feeding.  However, I knew I would regret a miscarriage so we weaned within a week of deciding to preserve the pregnancy.

Because our third was breech before he was born, I sought out chiropractic care.  We continued chiropractic care after his birth.  Although this is not the answer to everyone’s discomfort while breastfeeding, a little adjustment at ten days postpartum made all the difference to us!  I breastfed without pain and learned that just because breastfeeding pain is common, it is not normal.  I now know that any mama who is experiencing pain needs to get help early and often from qualified lactation educators to address any issues, and to prevent further complications or damage to the nursing relationship.

After he was born, I started the process to become a childbirth educator.  As part of my training, I had to attend two La Leche League meetings.  At one of the meetings, I met a mom who was in her third trimester and still nursing her toddler.  After the initial shock and heartbreak, I pulled myself together and started asking her questions.  Did she have contractions when she nursed?  Was it uncomfortable?  What had her doctor said?  I learned that nursing through the pregnancy had been possible for her, so that was one sliver of hope that maybe I wouldn’t have to do an emergency weaning if I got pregnant again.

I also got more involved with our local birth community.  Thanks to the different events around birth and breastfeeding, I kept running into a mama who nursed through her pregnancies and was nursing toddlers!  Not just one nursling, but two at a time!!  Wow!  This really opened my eyes to the possibility of nursing past the second birthday – here was living proof that tandem nursing was not just for twins.  Tandem nursing could also apply to siblings of different ages.

Empowered by these examples, I was determined to at least try to nurse through a pregnancy.  My original goal was to allow our child and I to determine the end of our breastfeeding relationship together.  From the anecdotal stories I have heard about pregnancy and breastfeeding, I figured one of two things would happen.  Either our third child would stop nursing if and when the milk changed flavor after the pregnancy was established, or that he would lose interest once the milk dried up or changed to colostrum.

Well, much to my surprise, I neared the end of my pregnancy and I still had a nursling.  Now he was two years old.  I could see that I had colostrum – and I could smell that it was salty.  I asked our child, “Are you sure you still want to nurse,” to which he emphatically shook his head, “yes,” and continued on. 

Besides the mama example, I credit my success in tandem nursing to the support from my local La Leche League chapter.  One of the leaders had nursed an infant and a toddler and she told me what to expect.  She also told me how to handle inquiries about the amount of nutrients for each child.  Here is what I learned:
  1. Once my milk came in, it was going to be like sweet cream for my toddler and to expect a new surge of interest.
  2. Set firm expectations with our toddler – when we would be breastfeeding, and how was that time going to work: feed together, feed independently, would there be specific places that would be our nursing locations?  Once I set those parameters, stick to them since consistency works well with toddlers.
  3. Feed the baby first – she suggested making that a non-negotiable.  She also suggested to get my partner’s buy-in on that.  With both of us reminding our toddler that the baby nursed first, and my partner helping him wait patiently, we could be sure that the baby was going to get the nourishment she needed and that her needs were met before we traded the kiddos.
  4. I read and sent these two resources to a family member, who was the most concerned about tandem nursing and the baby getting nutrients.  It came up in almost every conversation as the due date approached.  HERE  is an article from the La Leche League website (they have since added THIS collection of links to their site), and HERE is another great link list from the trusted KellyMom page.

By educating myself on the possibility of nursing through a pregnancy, and preparing myself for tandem breastfeeding, I was able to accomplish my goal:  I was allowing our child to determine his weaning schedule.  I was honoring his need to breastfeed, and I was not feeling any remorse about the choices I made.  We welcomed a healthy daughter in October of 2011, and I have been breastfeeding both children since then. 

Yes, both.  As it turns out, we have just celebrated his fourth birthday.  I have never nursed him out in public since his second birthday, and very few people know that he is still nursing.  It’s not what you imagine with a newborn, round-the-clock and on cue.  We nurse in the morning when he wakes up, he tends to as

I didn’t think anything of nursing a two-year old…I started to wonder more about weaning when he was 3.5 over the holidays and we had houseguests.  However, the relationship has still been beneficial to both of us.  He is one of our healthiest children – any cold he does get passes quickly and without incidence.  Last winter, his little sister went on a nursing strike.  With his help, I was able to keep my supply up between his nursing and some hand expression.  He got a nasty stomach bug this spring – while it lasted 24-48 hours in the rest of us, he and his little sister only had it for a few hours.  Recently, he caught a cough that was going around.  As an experiment, I increased his breastfeeding – it seemed to help! 

In the last two weeks, I have definitely started to see a decrease in his interest to nurse.  Part of it has been the emphasis we made that he was going to be four, and we wanted him to start finding other ways to self-soothe when he was tired or upset.  My husband and I agreed that it was important to expand his repertoire of coping techniques.  I also think part of it is the natural weaning – although he still asks, he nurses for literally 30 seconds and then he is off and running in a different direction. 

I am finally going public with our nursing story because it may help another mama look at her choices differently.  I want other mamas to know they are not alone if they want to breastfeed through a pregnancy.  I want to lend courage to another mama who may feel pressure to wean a toddler although she and her nursling might not be ready.  My favorite idea that has guided me through this extended breastfeeding relationship is from our La Leche League leader: Breastfeeding is a dance.  Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow.  

I have extended that thought:  You continue the dance as long as it is mutually beneficial.  When one of you is ready to stop dancing, you honor each other with a mutually peaceful and loving transition.  

Wishing all breastfeeding mamas a beautiful dance with their nurslings!

The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation.  Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.  This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.

Other blog posts in the Nursing Freedom and The San Diego Breastfeeding Center Blog Carnival
August 1: Community and Online Support 
  • If You're Worried About Your Kid Seeing Me Breastfeeding, You're Doing It Wrong — Dionna at Code Name: Mama is living the breastfeeding-as-a-cultural-norm dream. She has first-hand experience that kids, teens & adults who see breastfeeding accept breastfeeding.
  • Supporting Breastfeeding Online — Wendy at Breastfeeding Utah reaches out to birth and breastfeeding support professionals who are interested in knowing more about supporting their clients online.
  • Breast Friends — Mama Bree, guest posting at San Diego Breastfeeding Center, shares a baby's journey to blissful breastfeeding with a little help.
  • World Breastfeeding Week 2013 Blog Carnival - Online Breastfeeding Support — Other than buying and reading up on books, Jenny at I'm a full-time mummy finds that it is useful to read up on other mums’ breastfeeding experiences and how they deal with their obstacles.
  • It Takes a Village... — Meredith at Thank You Ma'am talks about the support she got from her family, especially from her own mom, who is a lactation consultant.
  • Community Support — Ashley at ModerationMama tells about her supportive community surrounding her breastfeeding journey, and she talks about the importance of the breastfeeding class she took while still pregnant.
  • Finding a Nanny to Be Part of My Village — Before returning to work, Gretchen of That Mama Gretchen, posting at Natural Parents Network, needed to find a trusted caregiver for her daughter. Someone who supported her parenting goals and was ready to become part of a family.
  • A Nursey Love Letter — When asked about her nursing support group, KassK of Get Born Tribe surprised herself with the answer: her husband!
  • We are mammals. — To be a mammal . . . what does that mean? Practicing Mammal educates us.
  • Building a Solid Foundation for a Successful Breastfeeding Journey — Tia at Tia's Sweeps Go 'Round shares how she built a strong support network to help her successfully breastfeed her newborn daughter.
  • Stubbornness and Support: My Breastfeeding Journey — Diana at Munchkin's Mommy shares her breastfeeding journey, from unhelpful nurses to a gentle guide, and her sheer stubbornness.
  • Looking online for breastfeeding support — The author at "Just" A Mom has found many ways to use the internet to support her mothering and breastfeeding journey, and she has learned how to keep her online experiences positive.
  • The Village that didn't feed — Nona's Nipples at The Touch of Life explains how our communities influence our choices. She explains how she came to breastfeed and how it was taken away.
  • Nursing By Example — Krystyna at Sweet Pea Births decided to nurse through a pregnancy and to try tandem nursing thanks to the support from her La Leche League leader and another mother in her community. Read about the resources that were helpful and the lessons she learned on her journey into tandem nursing.
  • A Burden Shared: How my IBCLC Lightened my Load — My IBCLC rocks!! smscott at In All Things...One Step at a Time's journey would not be possible without a huge contribution of time and energy from her IBCLC. Her difficult times were measured in weeks and months instead of moments.
  • Fathers Need Breastfeeding Support Too — Destany at They Are All of Me recalls that the biggest detriment to her breastfeeding success was her husband's strong disapproval.
  • Breastfeeding Support Over the Years — Valerie at Momma in Progress discusses the range of support she received over her seven-year breastfeeding journey.
  • Uncharted Territory: Breastfeeding — Michelle at Oh, The Simple Joys describes her change of heart regarding breastfeeding and the kind souls who helped along the way. From thinking formula was the norm to extended ecological breastfeeding, this is her story. Her story also includes breastfeeding after a hospital birth, dealing with inverted nipples, and the lactation consultant who helped to name her daughter.
  • Online Breastfeeding Support: Finding Success, Acceptance and Friendships — Author and CLEC Lara Audelo of Virtual Breastfeeding Culture shares how online breastfeeding support changed her entire life, and why so many mothers are drawn to it, rely upon it, and place such value on their virtual mother-to-mother connections.
  • Staying Connected---Online Breastfeeding Support for AD Military Moms — Breastfeeding in Combat Boots shares how important online support is to the success of breastfeeding for mothers serving in the military.
  • Breastfeeding and Community — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work discusses ways in which community affects breastfeeding dyads and makes suggestions for accepting and supporting nursing as normal and necessary.
  • World Breastfeeding Week 2013 Blog Carnival - Community Support — Jenny at I'm a full-time mummy has been breastfeeding NON-STOP since 4th March 2009, the day her first child Benjamin was born. Jenny shares who has been in her community of breastfeeding supporters.
  • Oversupply as a Blessing in Disguise: Milk Sharing and Wet Nursing — Tooele Birth and Breastfeeding, guest posting at Code Name: Mama, tells how she ended up donating breastmilk and wet nursing several babies. She shares the benefits from both a recipient and a donor.




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