Friday, June 22, 2007

Breastfeeding and introducing solid foods

Yes, yes, I know – this title probably seems a bit strange on my blog, as I'm not even married yet. However I very much hope to become a mother someday, and therefore I'm fascinated by what we're currently learning in Infant Nutrition course.

Our teacher, who has a lot of experience in the field, is very much pro-breastfeeding. He keeps stressing to us over and over again the health benefits of breastfeeding for both baby and mother. Mother's milk is the best, natural, balanced nutrition for a baby; breastfeeding has great benefits for the baby's immune system and helps create a strong and special bond between the mother and her child. If there are no specific reasons not to breastfeed (for example, if the mother takes certain medications), breastfeeding should always be the preferred option.

Did you know that…

… Formula babies grow faster than breastfed babies? This is often a source of concern for breastfeeding mothers, but in fact this is because when giving formula, it is more difficult to monitor how much the baby actually needs, and signals of satiety don't appear as strongly as when breastfeeding. In other words, breastfed babies get exactly what they need while formula babies are often overfed! Eventually the size difference between the two groups disappears.

… Babies might be allergic to formula? That's because most of the brands contain cow milk protein. If this is the case, they are often transferred to soy based formulas, and we know those contain phytoestrogens!

… The recommendations about how long the baby should be breastfed vary, but currently no source states a period shorter than 6 months? According to American Association of Pediatrics, the recommendations are to breastfeed exclusively until 6 months, and then, while introducing other foods, continue breastfeeding until 1 year.

… There's no need to introduce solid foods too early? Even when the baby is growing well and seems interested in eating solid foods, waiting is safer than rushing. Mother's milk is designed to supply all of the baby's needs, and we don't want to cause food allergies while the baby's immune system isn't fully mature. This is especially true for cereals, which may trigger an outburst of children's celiac; this may cause a delay in growth and development. In addition, the baby's digestive system isn't mature enough either, and there may well be not enough amylase for successful digestion of complex carbohydrates. Because of that, now it's suggested that the first solid foods should be fruits and veggies rather than cereals. However, many doctors aren't aware of the dangers in starting solid foods too early.

… When introducing a new sort of food, it's better to give one thing at a time and wait for a couple of days? This will help you notice which food is a source of allergy.

Of course, those of you who are already mothers probably know most of this stuff; I'm so happy I have the opportunity to learn! Now more than ever I'm convinced I'm going to breastfeed if God blesses me with children.

46 comments:

Sheri said...

Anna, not only is breastfeeding better for your baby, but it's better for mommy too... my midwife shared with me many stats about it lowering the cases of breast cancer and regulating hormones. Not to mention that it's an amazing time of bonding!

I nursed both of my sweet girls till they were 13 and 14 months old. I wouldn't change that time for the world!

Mrs. Brigham said...

This probably sounds silly, but I am always very happy when I see a woman who understands the importance of these infant feeding issues before she even has a child on the way! The United States has an atrocious breastfeeding rate, almost no support for breastfeeding, and doctors who still push cereal and other solids at a very young age. The amount of disinformation of infant feeding is stunning and the medical profession and formula industry are largely to blame for the state of things in the U.S. I do know that even just across the border in Canada, their breastfeeding rate is much better than ours. They also have a wonderful; support system in place to assist mothers with nursing; something the United States really does need.

My daughter's former pediatrician advised us to start giving her cereal when she was three months old. I was shocked, not only as this recommendation is contrary to what his professional organization's official stance on infant feeding, but because my daughter is also a preemie. We did not follow his advice, but rather began letting her experiment with some solids around seven months of age with bananas being her first food.

Buffy said...

In the UK breastfeeding is now the norm. This is a complete turnaround from even only 10 years ago when a breastfeeding mother was something of an anomoly!

Anna S said...

Sheri,

How old were your girls when you started solid foods?

Mrs. Brigham,

Cereal?! For a 3-month-old? What was that doctor thinking? And why on earth would such a tiny baby need anything else but her mother's milk?

Haus Frau said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mrs. H said...

I exclusively breastfed both of my boys, until they started stealing the food from my plate.

Actually, they stole it from my mouth. It sounds disgusting, I suppose, to an outsider, but it felt really natural to me. I would put food in my mouth, and start chewing. The baby would watch me, and when he thought I had chewed long enough, he would put his mouth to mine, and I would pass him a little, like he was a baby bird. "Homemade baby food." It was the baby's idea, not mine. They both started doing that when they were 8 or 9 months old.

I would say I nursed them until such-and-such an age as well, but they still nurse. My older boy nursed at least once daily until he was 4. And nearly at the age of 6, he will still occasionally nurse a little, if he's feeling particularly snuggly. (Maybe once a month or less) My younger boy still nurses once or twice a day, and pretty often at night. He's 3 1/2.

I'm not nearly so "granola crunchy" as I may sound from this. My mother breastfed her children, but I knew of no one else. In fact there was even opposition from much of the family that I breast-fed at all. (Babies in my husband's family are fed solids at, no kidding, 2 weeks of age.) So, I was pretty much on my own figuring out what was right and natural to do.

Emily

Anna S said...

Haus Frau,

As you understand, I'm not speaking about medical contra-indications here. There might be various complications that can prevent a mother from breastfeeding, and it doesn't mean that a mother who can't breastfeed will not bond with her child. I think it's very sad when people are judgmental and don't hesitate to jump into conclusions.

However, I think that breastfeeding should be our primary choice.

Lydia said...

Absolutely! I have several friends who are mothers, and most of them breastfeed. There's an entirely different attitude and dynamic in the families of those who don't. My mother was lucky to have a doctor who was aware of all the many benefits; a lot of doctors actually reccomend formula.

I've already made up my mind, so I don't see anything odd in you doing so.

Lean Not said...

I am not yet married either, but there is NO question that I will nurse my babies if I ever have any. My mother always felt very strongly about it. She did everything that a parent could do to ensure that her baby (me) had the very best opportunity to be healthy, and of course that included breastfeeding. Now, as an adult who is perfectly healthy, I appreciate her dedication. God made the mother's milk, perfectly designed for that child, and I would want my baby to have nothing less than that.

Plus, I hear it's a great way for the mommy to lose the pregnancy weight! :) (hey, I'm not gonna pretend I don't care about that!) ;-D

Anna S said...

Mrs. H,

What, in your opinion, is the benefit of breastfeeding for a longer time? I hope it's not too personal, but I would love to hear what made you decide you're going to breastfeed for a longer time than the official recommendation.

(In certain countries, the recommendation is to breastfeed until only 3-4 months - and guess what, the maternity leave is only 3 months! Therefore I think we should always try to look deeper and see what the guidelines are really built on.)

Lean Not,

Yes, that's another benefit! Some say breastfeeding made them gain weight but in fact, producing milk means wasting a LOT of energy! If a woman has a good, balanced diet and doesn't eat more than she needs, pregnancy weight should come off pretty quickly.

Mrs. Brigham said...

Mrs. H,

I burst out laughing when I read about your children stealing food from your mouth! My little girl is nearing eight months old and has begun to do this to her daddy. :P

Anna,

I would like to think that her doctor wasn't thinking, but who knows ;o) My dear grandma raised her babies when it was recommended to give them cereal in their bottle at around five weeks of age. Bless her heart as she tries to understand the new thinking on solids, however, she is always concerned that my little one is not getting enough to eat.

I hope you do not mind me butting in to answer your question about extended nursing, but there are many benefits to breastfeeding past one year and this is the norm in many cultures throughout the world. :o) Nursing toddlers still recieve nutritional and immunity benefits from mother's milk and have fewer allergies, among other things. Nursing toddlers are also found to need orthodontic care less often, and even when they do need orthodonitcs, their treatment is less extensive. Extended nursing also has plenty of benefits for the mother as well, including continued reduction in her breast cancer risk.

My mother-in-law nursed her babies until they self-weaned. My husband was nursed until he was 3.5 years old and my sister-in-law until she was around four years of age. I plan to nurse my daughter until she she decides to wean, unless I become pregnant first. Women can safely nurse when they are expecting, but this would probably not be the best choice for me as I have had a preemie and this can up the risk when you have a history of premature labor.

If you care to research extended breastfeeding at all, do check out La Leche League's information page here: http://www.lalecheleague.org/NB/NBextended.html
They have a lot of great links on it. :o)

Mrs. Brigham said...

Lean Not & Anna,

Breastfeeding unfortunately does not always work for weight loss, nor does it always keep a woman's fertility from returning. This varies greatly across the board and can even vary on the individual woman, even from pregnancy to pregnancy. In many cases women do lose weight, but even with proper diet, exercise, and exclusive breastfeeding, pregnancy weight may not just melt off.

Autumn said...

Being only 14, I don't know much about breastfeeding. But I have heard that a baby that is breastfed doesn't get ear infections very often for their whole life. Mom breastfed all of us, and none of us have ever had one. I have also heard that breastfeeding makes their stool not as stinky so that helps too! lol

Anonymous said...

I breast-fed all three of my children. It was tough going in the beginning, & there was a lot of discomfort with my first. But I soldiered on, & it was largely because I knew of the benefit to my baby. After a couple of weeks it became much easier. I grew to enjoy nursing so much!

It's always available, it's always the right temperature, it saves money. And yes, it does make weight loss easier! These, among many other reasons, I'm sure, should be enough to interest most women in the practice of feeding their babies this way. It's just so ideal!

After I'd had our last child, the hospital where I gave birth had a lactation nurse on staff, & she was extremely helpful to all the moms. And I felt that I learned so much new information, even though by this time, I was an "experienced" breastfeding mother. I learned that I could have continued nursing my first baby even though I was pregnant again with my second, simply by eating a bit more (I stopped at 9 months, & I think she could easily have gone til 11 months). But there are no ill effects, it's just something I would have done had I known better.

Did you know that the distance babies can see when they open their eyes is the distance between our faces & the crook our arm? This is the design of a loving God!

Brenda

Sarah said...

Anna,
I so appreciate your willingness to address difficult questions before they arise in your life! I am the same way. I think it will be a great comfort to have these decisions made prior to the time they are needed.

One thing I wish, though, for new moms, is that older women would give them a realistic picture of the start of breastfeeding. So many of my friends have been discouraged, embarrassed or frustrated by the pain and discomfort initially found when breastfeeding. Often, the stop nursing in frustration before they reach the more blissful and celebrated stage. Older women, please make yourselves open and vulnerable so that younger women can benefit from your knowledge! I think more women would persevere if they knew the discomfort was temporary. . . As a single gal, I'm glad I know in advance so I will not be surprised or prideful should the Lord choose to bless me with children to breastfeed. . .

Serena said...

Somehow, I find myself discussing this subject a lot! I've been breastfeeding my daughter for 17 months now. She shows no signs of wanting to stop, and that's fine with me.

The U. S. recommendation for breastfeeding was recently raised from 6 months to 1 year, I believe. I was told that one reason for this was to try and lower the birth rate, since many women don't menstruate while breastfeeding. I guess they couldn't think of a good argument against having babies, so they hope that if you breastfeed you'll naturally be less likely to get pregnant??? I dunno. Another reason that was suggested to me was this: If the recommendation is 6 months, women are more likely to make it until, say 3 months, then stop. But if the recommendation is 12 months, when the woman only makes it to 6 months, well, at least she made it halfway (when it would have been the full recommendation before). Did I make any sense with what I just said?

I read recently that if a woman breastfeeds for seven years (total! not each child!), her risk of developing cancer is practically nil. So, if one has just three children, and breastfeeds them for a little over two years each, you're less likely to get cancer! There's an argument for extended breastfeeding!

The United States has an abysmal support system for breastfeeding mothers. If I didn't live near THE BEST LACTATION CONSULTANT IN THE WORLD, who knows? My daughter may have ended up on formula. The blessed woman practically saved my life, and, I think, did save my sanity. (Not to mention the health benefits for my daughter.) The nurses at the hospital? NO HELP. In a 'breastfeeding friendly' hospital, no less! When I think of the pain I could have been spared, my blood boils. Because of this, I am always telling new mothers the following:

Breastfeeding is NOT supposed to hurt. If it hurts, GET HELP, and get it fast. If you must pay for a lactation consultant, it is worth it! If the lactation consultant doesn't help, get another one. It's worth it! It is so convenient, inexpensive, healthy, and precious! Relax. Your baby is getting enough to eat, and you WILL get the hang of it. Breastfeeding is NOT supposed to hurt!
(And so ends my "To New Mothers" rant.)

Formula, at best, is an inferior substitute for a perfect food. In Brazil, and I'm sure other countries as well, formula is available only by prescription. I think that making formula less readily available in the U. S. would help a bit. Mostly, though, the support needs to be there!!! I think, also, that if more women actually stayed at home with their children, it would help rates, as well.

I've been very cautious in introducing foods to my daughter. She'll eat practically anything, but I prefer to take things slowly, so that she might enjoy more foods later on. You have to watch people, though, They like to feed babies, and will give them practically anything (peanut butter, strawberries, you know, nothing too allergenic...hahaha!)

Anna, I'd be interested to hear what you have to say about soy and the phytoestrogens therein. I don't feed my family soy, but when people ask why, I don't ever have a really good answer. "Um, 'cause there's estrogen in it, and, um, we don't need any more hormones than we have (lame laugh)..."

Tracy said...

Anna,
I breastfed all four of my children for about one year. They atarted on veggies rather than fruits around 5 months. I didn't want them to develop a taste for only sweet foods. This went against my DRs recommendations, but he didn't fight me on it either.

It saddens me that women give up so easily. Breastfeeding can be very hard at the beginning, but if they stick it out, it is so rewarding.

Mac was my first and toughest. I insisted on no water or pacifiers in the hospital. I did the same at home. He eventually caught on, but it was really tough.

There is nothing in the world like having your baby at your breast, and having them lovingly look into your eyes and flash a sweet grin, and go back to your breast!

Anna S said...

Mrs. Brigham,

No, breastfeeding is certainly not a 100% remedy for weight loss. And it doesn't always space out births. But it definitely has a good chance to help to both of these! :)

Autumn,

Yes, a reduced rate of ear infections and asthma are among the benefits of breastfeeding!

Brenda,

Indeed, I knew that (about the distance babies can see). We learned that in Developmental Psychology. We were so wonderfully and beautifully designed by God!

Sarah,

Yes, many women stop breastfeeding because of initial discomfort, and that's a shame. We should be better prepared, and talking to someone experienced really helps!

Serena,

When you say 1 year, do you mean exclusive breastfeeding? I meant 6 months exclusive, then another 6 months breastfeeding while introducing other foods.

Maybe I will make a separate post about soy in the future. The amount of phytoestrogen in soy isn't too bad (and certainly no worse than the amount of hormones we usually get in our meat and poultry), and soy does have health benefits - for adults. Not for babies. There have been suggestions that soy based formula might cause early sexual development later on. It hasn't been proved, but still, I'd rather be on the safe side.

Tracy,

Was the hospital staff breastfeeding-friendly? I think it's such a shame young mothers, especially those with a first child, aren't encouraged enough to breastfeed.

Collin said...

Anna,

Yes, the hospital was breastfeeding friendly, BUT every hospital that I know of will give the baby a bottle of water , especially if the baby has jaundice, and most people feel that pacifiers are fine. Mac had a poor sucking reflex, and I was afraid that if he found it easier to get satisfaction somewhere else that he would not breastfeed.

As to the problem of painful breastfeeding, NO it should not hurt. Ladies, I'll be a little frank kere. The Lord made our breasts to be a sensitive area. Your husband can help toughen your nipples during the pregnancy.:0) I'm sure you all get the drift. You can also rub a dry washcloth across your nipples to toughen them up. Sorry for the blunt honesty, but some may find it to be helpful.

Anna S said...

I assume this was Tracy who posted as Collin :) :) :)

Tracy said...

So sorry. I just realized that I posted as Collin! Oh, he would be mortified if he knew.

Anna S said...

*giggles*

Melissa said...

Anna,

This is a great post! I too am very excited about breastfeeding my children and watching them grow healthy from getting their nutrients from me! Even as a child I thought, how neat it is that God gives mothers free milk! haha

I'm glad to see a post like this, keep them coming!

Melissa

Check out my new blog
ladybeautiful.blogspot.com
(it's up and coming :D)

PandaBean said...

Breastfeeding for me is what I feel has been my biggest "failure" as a new mom. I was only able to hold out for about 2 weeks. :( I wanted very very badly to bf exclusively, but my DD had very bad jaundice and would sleep all the time and be very very difficult to wake for feeding.
I had NO support AT ALL. I live in the middle of no where and can't get to the city, which is an hour away, very easily. I tried LLL, but they only had listings for ppl in the city. I tried calling the help line for the hospital I gave birth at, but they were always closed when I called or no one answered the phone, it would ring and ring until I got a message to please try back later.
I gave birth on a Friday. Apparently, the consultants at the hospital only work Monday thru' Friday and Ameila had a good latch and I could hear her swollowing, so I didn't think I needed any more assistance. Boy was I wrong!

Everything I had read said a mother's milk comes in within 2-3 days after birth and the baby doesn't need to eat until then. Again, God's hand at work! :) My milk didn't come in until almost 5 days after birth and my baby was crying hungry!

I tried to get help every way I could think of in my post-birth, mentally messed up/slow state. My G-ma never nursed, my mom says she nursed, but then how could she have been feeding me cereal at 3 weeks? I tried to ask my MIL, who works post-partum mother/baby care, but she didn't seem to understand that I needed help, and she /did/ live on the other side of the state, 2 hours away.

My biggest reccomendation is to get help. Find a lactation consultant well before you give birth and develope a relationship with them, same as when you're looking for a pediatrition.

Stopping breastfeeding after only 2 weeks was the hardest and worst discision I feel I have made for my child. I still have a hard time with it now and then, 4 months later, especially now that Amelia has jumped from the 50th percentile for weight up to the 97th percentile, while height went from 50th to 75th.
I have started her on rice cereal twice a day, a tsp for breakfast and a Tbsp for dinner, but I plan on taking it really slowly from here. The doctor had recommended, but not pushed, cereal for her reflux, but I decided to wait at least until the 4 month mark for that. My mom keeps trying to push her eating farther than I want.

My lesson this time around is to get help, as I said. The next time I get pregnant, I'm going to do everything I can to find help well before I could possibly need it.

OH! And if your baby has jaundice, breastfeed breastfeed breastfeed! DO NOT listen to someone if they talk about "breastfeeding jaundice", that is misinformation (that I got and learned was wrong a little too late) from the 70s.

If anyone has tips for me on how to get help so I can do this better the next time around, please please please let me know. Go ahead and post at my blog. As I said, this is something I feel really strongly about and I work really hard at not beating myself up over this and I don't want to go through this again.

Thank you all, sorry about the huge comment, and God Bless!

Alexandra said...

I had problems breastfeeding both children. My son(age 9) had a some temporary muscular problems with his mouth which made latch-on impossible. With my daughter(age 21 mos.) I had a lot of health problems due to thryoid and infection issues. Still, I persevered with both and they got breastmilk exclusively for more than a year. Thanks to my trusty Medela Pump-In-Style, I was able to manage. I've had that pump for nine years, and it still works great.

I worked a full-time job with my son, and spent many a time hidden in the bathroom with my pump...always trying to find an outlet! You can also get a plug for the car...I used to go to my car to pump with my nifty snap-on breastfeeding privacy cover.

Anyway, you can still get your child breast milk even if you are unable to actually breast feed. I don't think enough moms know this and give up.

My daughter was a very late solids eater, but my son started earlier. He really wanted the food. I went with the individual child's readiness, within reason of course. I wouldn't have started my son earlier than four months on solids. He was a big eater, and ate all sorts of veggies. He had no qualms about any food...if you served it, he'd eat it! My daughter was pickier, and still is.

Anna S said...

PandaBean,

I'm very sorry for what you had to go through. :(

Did the doctor suggest specifically cereals for the reflux? I mean... such an early exposure to gluten. While I'm not an expert on child feeding, I think other types of solid foods could also help, did you try?

Alexandra,

Thanks for mentioning the important point about pumping your milk! My mother did that, not with me, but with another child; whose mother couldn't breastfeed him. Fortunately there was enough for both of us, even though I was born a miserable 1,9 kilos and needed plenty of food :P

Lean Not said...

Autumn,
I have heard that, too, about the stinky diapers. :) I wish I could say that it also worked for us to prevent ear infections; but I was breastfed for plenty of time, and I had tons of ear infections growing up. Probably more ear infections than any other childhood illness, in fact.

Here's a slightly unrelated tip, though: ear infections can be treated very effectively (and inexpensively) by eating raw garlic. Sounds gross, but after years of expensive antibiotics, my doctor recommended eating a clove of crushed garlic in a spoonful of honey three times a day. It was such a wonderful natural antibiotic that I didn't have to take the regular kind any more. And it's not so bad once you get used to it, especially if you have a piece of candy waiting for you to wash it down! :)

Serena said...

Anna--I'm sorry, I just completely missed the second part of your statement on that part! Yes, breastfeeding exclusively for six months, and then breastfeeding with other foods for the next six months is what I meant. And what you already said!Did I clear that up? I feel like I'm being confusing again.

I do know a woman who breastfed exclusively for 12 months. Her milk was apparently quite sufficient for her daughter!

I've avoided soy for myself while pregnant and nursing. (And I obviously don't give it to my daughter.)

PandaBean said...

Yes, the doctor specifically suggested rice cereal, which is gluten free.
Thank you for your sympathy. I was in tears last night after writing my comment. It's still a big issue to me and I really don't want to have the same thing happen with my next child, whenever that may be.

God Bless!

Mrs. Brigham said...

Panda Bear,

You did a wonderful job nursing in your circumstances. My daughter was a preemie with latch problems and jaundice and I know how difficult it is to nurse AT ALL when facing such problems. Any mother who does the best she can in such a situation is amazing!

If you want to nurse when you are pregnant again, I would HIGHLY recommend you get in contact with a good International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) during your pregnancy. The IBCLC I had found was instrumental in helping me get my daughter to breast when everything was going very wrong. I am not sure how I would have done it had God not blessed me with her expert help! My daughter's ped office had a IBCLC on staff, so you might want to call around and see if any docs in your area might have a similar service to offer.

Taking a breastfeeding class at a local hospital might be very helpful. Many hospitals, women's health centers, and the like offer them, along with birth classes. Birthworks is a wonderful prenatal class that covers everything and anything related to pregnancy and birth. These classes are a bit longer than a normal prenatal class, but well worth the time.

Also try to get in contact with other nursing mothers in your area. Mothering.com discussion boards have a "finding your tribe" area that frequently has local playgroups and meetups for moms in your local area. Meetup.com also has many Mommy Milk meetups. You may also be able to meet women at the above mentioned Birthworks classes or LLL meetings, if you are able to find one. I come from a family of non-breastfeeders and having the support of my "cheerleaders" was a HUGE blessing.

Giving birth with a certified-nurse midwife or with the help of a doula at a hospital is another way to make nursing a success. CNMs and doulas are frequently trained in breastfeeding education and can help you establish nursing within an hour of the birth to really get your nursing relationship off to the right start. They can also help you avoid interventions that may lead to nursing problems in the early days.

I hope these tips might help you. They were all little parts of what helped me get through the first rough weeks of nursing. I hope they might be able to do the same for you. If you check out my blog, I have quite a few breastfeeding links that you may find helpful. The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative would be one that is especially helpful, as you may have a "baby friendly" hospital in your area!

Anna,

I was typing this comment up before and my cat stepped on the keyboard before I finished. I am not sure if it was entered in or not, but if it was, please just ignore it. Thanks :P

Anna S said...

Lean Not,

Last year, I took a course about plants used in natural medicine throughout the centuries, and garlic has a place of honor! It helps for SO many things, thanks to the 'magic substance' allicin.

Mrs. Brigham,

It seems the cat eliminated the comment you started writing, since I didn't get anything but this comment. :)

Thanks for sharing your experience! While not remotely close to becoming a mother yet, I just LOVE the breastfeeding links on your blog.

Alexandra said...

Panda,

If you have trouble getting milk in again, get yourself a hospital grade breast pump. If you use it every 3-4 hours for 15 minutes it will stimulate a lot of milk(baring other issues that might be going on). The more you use it, the more milk you'll produce. It's good for initial engorgement too.

The best stuff is what comes in before the milk, the colostrum because it's got all your antibodies and other good stuff in it. So if you were bfing before the milk came in, you were still doing good! Your baby got some very special benefits.

We had an okay bfing clinic here at our hospital the first time, but I learned most online and in books. If you can't find live support, you can still do it with books and online help...pretty much the same info.

Mrs. H said...

Sorry I took so long to answer your question about what I saw as the benefits of extended breast-feeding.

Initially, my reasons for breastfeeding were based on the physical benefits for both mother and baby. The convenience and price were nice features too. But my decision to breastfeed beyond the first year were entirely based on the emotional needs of my boys.

The emotional benefits, in my opinion, far outweighed any others. For me, it would suffice if it were the only benefit.

Nursing has soothed them through innumerable difficulties. Often times, when little children get frustrated and angry, they can easily reach a point of "no return" where they cannot stop. Their reasoning is so immature that they are upset simply because they are upset. At those times, nursing is like an off switch. Terrible two's? Never happened. Boo-boos, nightmares, or any other time that they have needed comfort, nursing has taken care of it like nothing else could.

They wean themselves gradually (or sometimes suddenly) as they develop other ways of dealing with their emotions. Boys seem to need it longer than girls. (But then it seems to be a given that females deal with their emotions better, so I guess it makes sense.)

Emily

PandaBean said...

Thank you to those who have given me advice on how to get better help next time. I'm going to take my new advice and find a person to help well before I give birth so we can develop a relationship and make sure we can work well with each other.

God Bless!

Melian said...

*sigh* I agree with you so much, and I appreciate most of all that you (and most of the other commenters here) are encouraging, even to those of us who were not successful. I was so desperate to breastfeed my beautiful daughter, but I simply don't make enough milk. (My mother, and her mother had similar issues.) I took a breastfeeding course at the hospital and worked with my physician and lactation consultants at the hospital for weeks. At 2 weeks old, my daughter wanted to nurse every 20 minutes around the clock and quit making wet diapers. For her safety and survival, we had to supplement. Despite frequent pumping, changes in diet, herbal remedies, and even a couple of rounds of medication, my supply simply tapered off. I was only able to nurse for about 6 weeks. It was heartbreaking. There are only a couple of things that I might be able to try differently with the next one, and I hope that it works.

Fortunately, my daughter is thriving. She is happy, healthy and developmentally ahead. (Did I mention she is BEAUTIFUL?) I faced some pretty serious postpartum depression over this issue, and found great comfort in my dear pastor who reminded me that formula is a sign of dominion, and there for situations just like this one.

Breasfeeding truly is a remarkable thing. I am so thankful that I had the time that I did, and I pray for a more successful situation with future children.

You are wise to be considering issues like this before you are confronted with a shorter timeline. If you are committed, and have a good base of knowledge, it makes it much easier to face any naysayers that you encounter.

Anna S said...

Melian,

I'm so sorry you had to go through this. But even breastfeeding for a short time is good for a baby's immune system. You did everything you could. Sometimes there's just no choice but to use formula.

Emily said...

Very interesting, thanks for posting this Anna! It's amazing how God designed the whole way of babies being fed the right stuff and the right amount through their mothers.

Jess said...

Good comments... Echoing Mrs. Brigham, it's GREAT to see you learning these things and preparing for all of this NOW.

I have one young friend who is getting serious with a young man and she is a very conservative, thoughtful woman just like you. I have another young friend who is a very committed, very interesting young woman nearly engages as well. And yet, whenever I even MENTION having a baby, breastfeeding, diapering, etc., both of these young ladies act like I'm talking about retirement... as though it's THAT far off. You are wise to begin thinking on these things now.

Sarah made a good point about readying yourself for the physical pain that may come with the first few months of breastfeeding. It can be SOOOOO excruciating- I can remember nursing my first son with TEARS streaming down my face because of the sheer pain. But by about 4 months, with all three of my kids, there have been no additional infections, etc. And with my last two, there were no lingering infections, pains, etc. (Maybe just one day each with my 2nd and 3rd babies.)

Funny you posted this... I was just over at Musings of a Housewife, and she tallied up how many months she had been nursing or pregnant, and so I figured mine out: Out of the last 69 months of my life, I've been pregnant or nursing for 66 of them. Timely post in my blog-round-readings! :)

Anna S said...

Hi Jess,

I had no idea you visited my blog before! Have you been lurking? :)

Anyway, good to 'see' you here. It's so valuable to hear the thoughts of another experienced Mommy. About this pain. How long does it last? From what I know, I got the impression it's something passing, that has to do with oxytocin. Or is it something else?

Jess said...

I read all the blogs that link to my blog or from women who comment on my blog from time to time... what can I say? I guess I HAVE been lurking! :)

Not every woman has severe pain, but I'd venture to say that the majority do, at least with their first baby.

With my first, he was in the NICU for the first week and so I had to pump - definitely NOT the most natural option for a first-time nursing mom... it hurt like the dickens! Within a week or so, I had a br-ast infection... and it lasted for a full month. I don't know how graphic you want me to be, so if you want more info, go google mastitis and read about what happens physiologically to the mom- it's VERY painful.

With each subsequent child, thankfully, I've only had one DAY (each) of mastitis, and I've learned to nip it in the bud with TOTAL bedrest, LOTS of water, warm compresses, etc... My wonderful husband (or mom if she's around and he's not) sees to the children and everything else so that I can get over the mastitis, and then I'm usually back to normal within a day or two.

There are all different infections and problems that can spring up, but even despite the pain and then the lack of sleep that nursing means for the first couple months, it is SOOOO worth it, Anna. The benefits FAR outweight whatever negatives there are. The bonding, the convenience, the nutrition, the feeling that you are doing the best for your baby... it is SO worth it.

But it can take a HUGE amount of commitment on the front end- say- for the first four months. I always find that from four months on (sometimes a bit sooner), it's smooth sailing!

Hope this helps answer your questions!
Jess

Jess said...

Oh- and I should say, too, that besides those infection days, nursing in and of itself, doesn't hurt a bit! (Except for the occasional bite once they get teeth- which you've got to nip in the bud!) It is a very sweet time with your baby... very worth the time and commitment it will require!

Jess

Anna S said...

Jess,

I think it's good that now I'm aware of all the possible problems, but it doesn't make me discouraged the least bit. On the contrary. I think this way I'll be more prepared when that sweet time comes!

sealjoy said...

I loved your article. I am a mom to two 22 mo and 9 mo. My son bf exclusively for 4 mo, and then he started on solids because I got tired of fighting him off our food. He started dive bombing for sausage biscuits at 2 mo. He has a food radar like nothing else. He was born looking for food. He latched perfectly and bfing was only painful at first then it eased up.

My daughter was totally different. she didn't latch properly and had reflux so we had to supplement a little with cereal and medication. That helped enormously! I ended up with mastasis due to her latch problem, but eventually she did latch and everything fell into place.

My son weaned at 6mo due to my pregnancy, he was the first to know :D

my daughter is still going strong...

I just would want to say one thing, I know there is a vast debate over when to start solids and breastfeeding, but I firmly believe that God created us all unique and each mother & child pair is different. I let my children guide me in what they needed, and so far they are doing quite well with no problems (*fingers crossed*). But I am glad you don't get cross at those that don't believe as you do, because so many who end up having to do something other than the Utopian exclusive breastfeed until 9mo then intro solids and everything is happily ever after, we don't need to beat ourselves up because it didn't happen text book style.

Look forward to it, plan on doing it the best way, but in the end, children will always surprise you :D

Have fun in your future ventures.

God bless.

Sealjoy

Anna S said...

Sealjoy,

It's true that every child is unique and that not every child read the APA textbooks :P

sealjoy said...

I just had a thought about something you said here, while feeding my little one today...

Not all cereals have gluten, rice cereal has none, that is why a child with ciliac (I had it when I was younger) can eat it.

It is rice cereal that is recommended for infants with reflux.

Just FYI

Sealjoy

Anna S said...

Sealjoy: yes, you are right of course. I just pointed out too many babies are exposed to gluten way too early.