Thursday, March 5, 2009

A few thoughts on ecological breastfeeding

I had never heard of ecological breastfeeding until one or two ladies commented here suggesting that I'm doing it. To tell you the truth, I didn't think about following a system or a certain parenting philosophy - I just did what seemed most natural, right, and workable with our baby.

The term "ecological", however, awoke my curiosity. Up until now, I associated the word "ecological" only with carbon output, water conservation, etc. So I did some reading about ecological breastfeeding, and it turns out that much of what we do - nursing on demand, no use of bottles or pacifiers, staying close to baby - is indeed part of the ecological breastfeeding approach.

Some of the "Seven Standards" of ecological breastfeeding, however, simply wouldn't work for me. For example, co-sleeping with my baby during the night. I'm not a light sleeper, and I might roll over in my sleep, which would make co-sleeping simply unsafe. Nursing during a daily nap sounds great, but my baby usually takes her long nap so early in the day that I'm not tired enough yet to fall asleep.

As for avoiding schedules, I think a more accurate guideline would be to avoid setting rigid, arbitrary schedules. I didn't dream of setting one so early, but Shira kind of put herself on a loose schedule on her own. And I think we all benefit, and everyone's needs are much better and easier met, thanks to having a simple daily rhythm.

From what I've read so far, it is implied that a baby will want to nurse, and should be nursed, very, very often to meet her emotional needs. However, my baby truly doesn't seem to want the breast for anything but food. I almost never unlatch her. I'm perfectly content to prolong this quiet time with her, and remain in my comfortable armchair or bed. But when she is done, she pushes the nipple out and won't take it again. She can be fussy because of various reasons, and if she isn't hungry, the breast will not comfort her - holding, walking, talking and singing will, though.

I do believe she is nursing just enough - she seems calm and happy throughout most of the day, and has normal, regular stools. So, either I'm missing something, or I didn't get a very ecological baby...

And finally, and I really, really hope this doesn't offend anyone, ecological breastfeeding seems - to my inexperienced, untrained eye - to be very focused on prolonging the period of postpartum infertility. It just seems a bit unnatural to me to think of breastfeeding mostly as birth control. Breastfeeding will naturally space births in most cases, but I don't believe this is supposed to be our primary consideration.

Your thoughts?

46 comments:

Persuaded said...

i have to say that i just *love* how in tune with shira you are. you my dear, are what one would call a natural mother, and your dear child is very blessed indeed:)

Mrs W said...

It really annoys me when people somehow equate the dangerous practice of co-sleeping with that of successful nursing. What crock!

Also, even if I had been able to nurse, I refuse to be a continual pacifier. I have things that need to get done, and a silicone or latex pacifier is just fine for baby.

I really think people go overboard on the whole "bonding" experience.

Linda T said...

Dear Anna,
I'm an older mom (five children ranging from 31 - 12) and a grandma of 6. I did what you did, although back when my first was born I don't remember there being a particular term for it. Instead of "schedule", we tried to establish a rhythm. All family members - baby and parents - adjust to the needs of the others in the family. The lingering part of nursing wasn't quite as feasible after the first one :-), but I enjoyed that nursing time with each of my babies.
I agree with you that birth control shouldn't be the primary consideration. For me, that would add a level of stress and a "management" attitude that would be counterproductive to all the other benefits of nursing. It's an aspect to consider, certainly, but not the main one.
Continue to enjoy this wonderful gift!
Blessings from another
"Mrs. T"

Everybody's Mama said...

I think you are on the right track in that you do what works for your family. I bottlefed my first baby but always regretted it. I was young and did not have another nursing mother to help me or lend support. So I was a bit scared of trying as it seemed rather strange and foreign to me, I had never been around anyone who nursed their baby! Fast-forward to the present. It took 12years before our 2nd came along but we now have 4 children! I have breastfed the last 3 and although my overall approach remains similar each baby is different in their needs and personalities. Also as your family grows you must take the older children's needs into account. Although the postpartum infertile time is a wonderful "perk" I would hate to get too caught up in prolonging it. Oh, and that is something I forgot to mention in my comment to your post on pregnancy and breastfeeding. When I breastfed through the pregnancy my cycle began right away postpartum. I guess my body did not recognize any difference. So if that had been a major concern of mine I think I would have been setting myself up for a depression!

Rachel said...

I think you may notice as Shira grows and changes, that schedules may change as well as her desire to nurse more and for more than just nourishment. Growth spurts bring much change especially in eating and sleeping habits.

While the seven standards of ecological breastfeeding are focused on natural child-spacing, the theory in and of itself, benefits mom's health as well, setting guidelines that if followed help her deal with the change in lifestyle a baby brings in a more natural way. In this day and age, many women have a baby, thinking they can be a mother and have everything else too. This thought process leads to mom being dissatisfied with herself and motherhood. Having a baby changes your life and if it doesn't, you're not mothering in the way God intended.

I applaud you for checking Ecological breastfeeding out. As moms we all have to find our rhythm. This works for some and not for others.

Rachel said...

As for what Mrs. W said about co-sleeping being dangerous, she needs to check her facts.

Those proponents of co-sleeping are not selling a product. Those who say it's not safe, are! They want you to buy cribs and all the accessories. Yet another thing that's all about money making.

Women have co-slept with their babies since the creation of the world and the human race has flourished. Co-sleeping has saved the human race. If women hadn't done it, their babies would've been eating by wild animals or froze to death. It's not just about bonding - it's about survival. Co-sleeping greatly reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, which is unheard of in countries where mothers co-sleep as the norm.

www.mothering.com/articles/new_baby/sleep/family-bed.html

Clamorous Voice said...

I think that 'ecological breastfeeding' sounds like a complicated name for that which is mostly common sense - with the pointed exception of co-sleeping. It's a dangerous and unnecessary practice!

A lot of eco/natural practices are trumpeted as a return to former, simpler times, but I think it's telling that we have always, always had cradles. Visiting even humble Tudor homes, you /always/ see a cradle; even though buildings were unheated and the rest of the family probably sharing beds, the baby was /always/ wrapped up warmly in a cradle, not taken into bed with the parents. Think of the classic Victorian image of the baby in a drawer or basket or box rather than a crib, in poor families - no co-sleeping for them!

Obviously there's no way we should replicate all historical parenting methods, but I think that here, historical precedent is sensible and right. It's a sign that if (as it does for many) co-sleeping feels counter-intuitive and unsafe for a woman, she's on the right track!

Rosemary said...

We know that each little one is different, and has different needs and wants. One of my 4 children never had enough nursing time. She was constantly on the breast night and day. She slept with us because it was the only way I (or the rest of the family) could get any sleep. My other 3 children had their own patterns, but were more like your Shira. I nursed on demand for all 4 of them, and co-slept with the one. I did not nurse to postpone getting pregnant again, but I did nurse into the first year. We didn't add solids until almost a year. The reason was that I believe there is nothing better for baby than mother's milk. I became pregnant with number 4 while nursing number three, when she was eleven-months old. The nursing was less often at this point, and I guess it enabled me to get pregnant. My toddler stopped nursing at about 15 months, and I was six-months pregnant.
I have learned with babies and nursing their are no hard and fast rules, just basic guidlines and the following of baby's lead.

Anonymous said...

Just as cribs have been around for generations, so have various forms of pacifiers, from rags to thumbs.

I breastfed on demand but could never follow the 'seven standards'. My babies were big, and after the age of 2 months, it was too uncomfortable to lug them around everywhere (I used strollers when out of the house). I also didn't co-sleep, although I placed the crib in my room for the first year, and did nurse when the baby awoke.

Even if a woman doesn't work outside the home, ecological breastfeeding seems unfeasible if you have children over the age of 3 or 4 who don't nap. The whole schedule just seems so focused on baby. What about the other kids?

Dragon Petals said...

You asked for thoughts, and I had three main ones while reading that I'd like to share. :)

As far as co-sleeping is concerned, I too was a very deadweight sleeper. But it's amazing how in tune we are with our babies even when we are sound asleep. One time I woke up from deep sleep to put my arm out against the baby, within a split second of my husband rolling on top of him. Another time, I woke up WHILE I was grabbing my daughter by the foot - she had managed to learn to roll over that very night and almost rolled off the bed, but I caught her. And one last incident I'll share, is that once I woke up to find my son not breathing. I panicked and shook him a little and he resumed breathing immediately. I'm scared to think what would have happened if he was in a crib. But co-sleeping is not for every family. My son moved to a crib at around eight months of age, and my daughter is about to move into her own room now at a year. They are both very light sleepers and need their own space, and that's what's right for them.

Regarding the comfort nursing - oh yeah. You are "lucky" that Shira doesn't need to nurse all the time, only when she's hungry. That is so great! My daughter wanted to be attached to me like a little parasite pretty much constantly. I'm talking if she didn't have a breast in her mouth for maybe five minutes, she would panic and want to suckle again. Now at a year she still nurses every 15 minutes or so - except if I am out of her sight, in which case she can go for a couple of hours. So it's clearly not for nutrition - she's just infatuated with her milkies. :) And both my son and daughter *needed* to be sucking on something (and a pacifier wouldn't do) while sleeping. Take it out of their mouths and they would scream. They both stopped that spontaneously, but for the first however many months... that's the ONLY way any of us got sleep.

FINALLY, as far as breastfeeding for birth control purposes? Erm... I'm sorry but I don't buy it. I know that in some cases it does work, but coming from someone who was definitely breastfeeding on demand (and a lot, at that) when her cycle came back, and had another "oopsie" baby while pumping round-the-clock... For me anyway it doesn't work. And I'm sure I'm not a freak of nature. Breastfeeding MAY delay fertility, and that's fine because it's natural, but I definitely wouldn't list that as a reason for breastfeeding.

Dragon Petals said...

And also, I would like to respectfull disagree with pretty much everything Mrs. W said in her comments. Co-sleeping is NOT dangerous if you practice some very simple guidelines, which I won't get into here. It is not for every family but for those who do choose it, it can be a perfectly safe thing to do. And it is a simple fact that for co-sleepers breastfeeding through the night is very often the case and can be beneficial.

As far as being a continual pacifier... I have nothing against artificial pacifiers. My kids wouldn't have any of them, but I tried to introduce them at times. But either way, they are babies for such a short time, that I really don't think there is much more important than just cuddling your baby as much as he or she needs mommy. Of course, at the end of a long day of nursing when you are *really* sore, it would be nice to stick a sucky in her mouth and just cuddle her without your breast hanging out, but hey... You do what you can.

As far as people going overboard on "bonding" ... huh? I'm really not sure what that's supposed to mean. How bonded is "too" bonded? ;) If she meant that you can bond even without nursing, I totally agree! My son was bottle fed and he and I are bonded just fine. But breastfeeding was still a good experience and a different sort of bond I shared with my daughter. I don't felt I went overboard with either. :)

Michelle said...

My Desiree is the same way - she only nurses for food, not comfort. Co-sleeping also doesn't work for us...ever. I'm a very light sleeper so every peep out of our babies wake me up - they tend to be subtly noisy at night.

C.W. said...

Dear Anna,
I love hearing how you are handling these changes in your family. It sounds as if you have a thoughtful approach to baby Shira's needs. She is a blessed child to have such a self-less mommy!

I also kept a loose schedule with my five babies. It brought much peace to them and to me. The babies were relaxed because their days followed a familiar and comforting pattern. I felt at peace because I knew what the next need was (i.e. she's not hungry - she needs a nap). Also, it was easier for me to notice when something was really wrong; if the baby didn't respond to the usual feeding, etc., I would know to check for a different problem. Sometimes it was a hair wrapped around a tiny toe and sometimes it was the beginnings of a virus or another problem. In any case, I was always glad to pick up on babies cues quickly.

Also, I appreciate your approach to the topic of breastfeeding as birth control and your willingness to have another baby soon. There were times went I felt overwhelmed at having 5 babies in eight years, but now I am so glad that God sent them that way. I could not have known that my fertility would fade so quickly (though we are still praying for more children); I'm glad that I was willing to have babies in those early years of our marriage.

God bless,
C.W.

Mau said...

My husband and I are Catholic and have taught NFP, including ecological breastfeeding for several years.

As an experienced NFP teacher I would like to note one thing about the 7 standards. For many women, not all 7 standards need to be followed completely for ecological breast feeding to successfully space children. Some women only need to nurse on demand to achieve ammenorhea. Others need to practice 3 or 4 of the standards, and still others, like myself, need to practice all 7 standards, including the daily nap. Isn't it wonderful how we are each created so completely unique?

While I personally love the 7 standards and practiced them while nursing my last three children, I always felt hesitant about teaching them to other parents. People have very strong opinions about "proper" bonding and child rearing and I never wanted anyone to believe the way I do it is the ONLY way.

It has been my experience and is my opinion that the vast majority of parents truly want the best for their children and do want a strong bond with their children. The way in which we go about achieving these goals is very individual. What I love and what works for our family may not work for someone else, but that should not devalue their methodology.

Once again Anna, I believe you have very good natural sensibilities. You know what is best for you, Shira, and your family. You should go ahead and do what has come so naturally to you.

This is a great discussion and I think it is wonderful you are putting out different ideas and methods, even if you are not personally 100% behind them.

Bethany Hudson said...

Sophia nursed relatively often in the beginning (every 2 hours during the day and about every 4 at night). But, she, too, did not want to nurser for anything other than food. When the food was gone, she was done of her own volition. As she got older, she started doing about 3.5 hours during the day and 6 hours at night (one night feeding) The benefits of ecological breastfeeding (amenorrhea) were not inhibited by this and lasted nine months.
~Bethany

simplebeauty said...

Well,

I've never heard of this "system" before either. I think that you are a good momma and that you listen to God and do what you believe is best and your happy baby is the blessed results!

Good job momma Anna!

Erica said...

Thanks for this post. I hadn't heard of ecological breastfeeding before. I was doing most of them without knowing it. It has been 12 months now and I still haven't began menstruating yet. Which is kinda nice to be able to avoid that hassle. I co-slept with both of my children. I am a light sleeper though mostly. I think it makes children less anxious. I also enjoyed the cuddling time very much. :)

Mrs W said...

The problem is that the nursing nazi's have told me that the ONLY way I can bond with my baby is to nurse them. Nursing was NOT going to work for me as no matter what I ate to try and stop my milk being acidic, it burnt my baby's mouth.

Some woman once tried to tell me that co-sleeping was Biblical. The only place I see it in the Bible is where the woman rolled over on her baby and killed it and then both women went to Solomon to try to get to keep the baby. Not really a positive story about it...

Rachel said...

Well, my personal experiences are just that, personal. I found that we got into a rhythm, where we would nurse immediately upon the baby's awakening, play for a while, and then another diaper change, and back to bed. Wake up in a couple of hours, and do the same thing (when they were little). Being that close with your little one day in and day out allows you to see the changes that need to be made as the need arises.

*Personally*, I couldn't even have the little ones in the room with me--every single sigh, snuffle, wiggle, etc, woke me up. Now I have 5 dc, all under 9, and I have *got* to get some rest. I know some women who use the co-sleepers that attach to mom's side of the bed. I know some who use a basket or bassinet. Others for whom (like myself) wee one is in a crib in another room (although with a monitor on) to let mom keep an ear on what is going on...

Its all about what works for YOU and your family. Not what works for the mom down the block. Sure, listen to the advice, but take what works, and discard the rest. Don't let all of the advice givers and their conflicting advice get to you.

GL with your little Miss T. :-)

Nurse Bee said...

My baby will nurse for an hour or longer if I let her. I think she will basically use me as a pacifier. And at night if she wakes up, I do bring her to bed and feed her there as i find it easier on me and she falls asleep more readily.

Every baby is different. As is every mother. Something different works for everyone....that's one reason there is so much information out there. So read up, but take it with a grain of salt!

Tereza said...

I didn't read all the comments but seriously.....you're great for being so strong to just do what you see benficial/fit/good for your child and yourself/hubby!
If you love your child and aren't being completely selfish.....everything else will fall into place...be it beastfeeding a certain way or how you sleep!

Mrs. Amy @ Clothesline Alley said...

I inadvertently practiced ecological breastfeeding after our nursing issues were resolved, since everything on the list were choices we had chosen to make, long before we'd heard of the term and would have been the most convenient for my family's lifestyle. :o) Oddly though, I had my fertility return by nine weeks postpartum, which I am assuming had to do with the need to exclusively pump and use a nipple shield for the first few weeks. However, I didn't fall pregnant again until Peapod was six months old and then again when she was eleven months old....but you know how, sadly, those pregnancies were not viable. :(

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you're doing GREAT! "Experts" can always make us feel inadequate. Wish I would have had your wisdom with my first. I finally started figuring it out with the third.:)

Mau said...

Mrs. W;

It is such a shame women are made to feel guilty and like bad mothers for not nursing their children. Are they saying then that adoptive mothers cannot bond with their children properly? Ridiculous!

If I were asked, I would hope that I would gently encourage a new mother to nurse her child exclusively, but I also realize we live in the real world where not every woman can or even should nurse. What wonderful times we live in that we modern women have options available to us. In ages past, children that could not nurse might have starved.

Tammy said...

I think you and baby Shira have found the perfect balance. :o)

Kimberly said...

I have nursed all nine of my children, and can honestly say each childs needs are different.

My youngest daughter and I are still very much attached at the breast. She nurses often, and still at night. I really just follow her lead, as this time in our life is so short.

She has 8 teeth coming in right now,and is spending a lot of time on the breast. It's ok with me, because this Mama needs some rest.

My cycles just returned, and I am grateful for the break. C-sections are extremely difficult for me to recover from, and we are at the place where we are trying to discern Gods' will in our life regarding more children.

My children have been pretty evenly spaced just using nursing. While I have studied NFP, and used it at times, I don't believe it is Gods' will for my life. I feel perpetually on a diet from my husband, when Ifeel most tender and loving towards him.

Elusive Wapiti said...

"...no use of bottles or pacifiers"

There's a whole 'nother reason to avoid bottles and pacis: bisphenol A, a compound in many plastics, which mimics the action of estrogen, and can cause harmful side effects in both girls and boys.

hotelindialima said...

Wow, what a ton of feedback! The reality of it, to me, is that no system is "THE BEST WAY". Mothering is an instinct, and the best way to figure out what to do is to learn to listen to your baby, and follow your instinct. The thing that makes it even more challenging is that every baby comes with his or her own personality. What works for one can be impossible with the next.

It is really REALLY!!! important to me to remember to be kind to other mothers. There is so much judgement between women concerning who works, who is home, who is co-sleeping, who isn't, who is breastfeeding, who is using bottles. The judgement comes, I think, because we are a bit insecure about whether we are doing the best ourselves.

There are millions of ways to be a GREAT mother. As a mother of two, who chose breastfeeding and co-sleeping, who stayed home some and worked some, who used disposable diapers and sippy cups now deemed toxic, my best advice is to listen to the baby, and go with your gut.

Kyle, Amanda, and Tobias said...

I agree wholeheartedly with your points on avoiding strict schedules rather than avoiding routine and a basic structure to your day. My son has a very nice routine that is wonderful for all of us, he gets lots of sleep and eats at regular times, and I can plan how to get my tasks accomplished during his sleeping hours so that when he is awake I am more free to focus my attention on his. You are very wise to have already learned that your baby has many physical and emotional needs that cannot be met by nursing alone. I hate to see crying babies essentially plugged up by a mom offering the breast every time no matter the cry.

I agree that ecological breastfeeding when taken to the extreme does seem to seek to extend postpartum infertility unnaturally long. I think our bodies naturally are infertile for 3-12 months after giving birth because our body needs that time to recover from the demands of pregnancy. After that though, it's really personal choice of whether to have another child, not a matter of the mother's health. And personally I was relieved to have my natural cycle return at 6 months postpartum because I could return to fertility charting and know that my body was working as it should with a predictable rhythm.

Gothelittle Rose said...

Will I be cosleeping? Well, I don't know if you'd call it that. I plan to have the bassinet right next to the bed for the first several weeks. I had no bassinet for my first, and didn't feel right putting him in the crib in the other room, so he slept in his carseat next to the bed. My mother coslept with most of her children just fine, but I have a pillowtop mattress... I think we might co-nap sometimes with baby on top of me, but I don't think I trust my mattress for a baby.

There are so many ways to bond with a baby if you can't breastfeed. I had that problem with my first, and I was weak enough after the birth that I couldn't hold him for the whole bottlefeeding time, so I would put my hand on his bare leg and look into his eyes. It worked! I hope to breastfeed this one, though.

Don't worry about 'ecological' whatever. You can go too far one way with insistence that you should bottle-feed, have the crib in another room, put baby on YOUR schedule, etc. but you can go the other way and end up freaking out if you aren't following The Rules set out by the environmental groups. I think the point is to just enjoy your baby.. don't force her to have a schedule, don't force her to not have a schedule, don't make her do things she doesn't want/need to, don't deprive her of things she wants or needs...

For Mau, as a matter of historical interest: If a mother could not nurse before the days of formula, it was more common for another woman in the community who had a young child to nurse both. Yes, a baby can nurse at another woman's breast, yes, a woman who had a single baby can adjust within a day or two to the increased demand of another baby, and even grandmothers have been known to be able to 'coax' their milk production back into service by an infant's attempts to suckle. Neat, isn't it?

My husband's mother lived in military housing when he was an infant, and there was another woman there with a baby his age. The two used to babysit for each other, and whichever baby happened to be in the room and hungry was nursed by whichever woman happened to be taking care of the baby at the time.

Blue Castle said...

I was pregnant with my first child when I first heard about "ecological breastfeeding". Yes, you can go a little overboard with this thinking. It's best if you do what works for you, your baby, and your family. Personally, my kids never had pacifiers. They both slept with me until they were about 1 year old. I never had any safety issues with them in bed with me. I pushed the bed against the wall, and then slept with the baby between me and the wall. For the first couple of weeks with my first son, I was getting up and having him sleep in a crib. It was miserable. I couldn't get any sleep. Co-sleeping was what saved my life - and sanity. I was able to nurse him without coming fully awake, yet I never rolled over him either. From what I've read and researched, unless a woman takes medication or drinks alcohol, they will not sleep so deeply that they would roll over their sleeping child. I had a lot of people give me guff for co-sleeping, but it was probably the best decision my husband and I made when it came to sleeping arrangements while they were babies.

Ace said...

Hi Anna,

Every baby is different and the wise Mother is able to meet the needs that THEIR baby has. My first Princess would nurse NON STOP. If she was sad, hurt, scared, tired, hungry...you name it she wanted my breast. Second Princess is NOT interested UNLESS she is hungry or is sick.

If you simply follow what your baby tells you she needs you will be GREAT! God gives each child the Mother who has the potential to be their GREATEST Mother...and we can only do that by KNOWING our sweet babies and doing that by being with them, praying for the Good and Mighty Lord's guidance and doing it.

Sounds like you are doing a great job and using your discernment. That is very wise!

Glad to hear things are going well and you are enjoying every minute. If you do have more, they will be much more fleeting LOL.

Many Blessings :)
Ace

Ace said...

Anna, I just wanted to add that while you don't co-sleep (and it is best to do what works for you) I do and have done so safely with TWO babies now. I do NOT take ANYTHING that would impare me (not even cold medicine) while nursing and I sleep with just my baby and me with the baby in the crook of my arm, up by my head and able to reach my breast at will. I did this as needed because I NEEDED sleep and it worked for my TWO allnight nursers. The General did NOT sleep with us for the most part. I also take GREAT care in positioning myself with pillows so that it is not POSSIBLE for me to roll over. This allowed me to save my First Princesses life twice.

If most will look into co-sleeping, it has been done sucessfully for thousands of years and in the instances where there was a death it was usually because the Mother was impared (alcohol or medication). I know many do not do it and I think that is fine, if you don't think you should..you shouldn't.

Many Blessings :)
Ace

Karen said...

All babies are different! You are lucky to have one who doesn't want to nurse all the time. If I didn't occasionally pry my little one off, she would nurse literally half the day. And I too have things to do.

I think it's difficult to give advice to other parents because each individual child is so different that so many things that work for one will not work for another!

It's also a matter of choice. I hate to see mothers judge each other for different parenting styles. At the end of the day if baby is safe and healthy, who cares. It's whatever gets you both through the day.

Julia said...

It sounds like you are using common sense for what works in your situation. I've never heard of ecological breastfeeding, but I did follow all 7 steps. Mainly it was because my son needed it. He was what some would call a high needs baby. Shira sounds more like my daughter. I fed her on cue and carried her in the sling, but she demanded so much less, and she was content to be put down sometimes. I find that lifestyle is not as baby focused as it sounds. Baby is involved in family life by being there and taking it all in, but that doesn't mean he/she is always the center of everything. Much time can be spent sitting on someone's lap or nursing while mom is involved with something else.

Cosleeping is an individual preference thing, IMO. My babies slept with me, and it meant that I actually got to sleep at night, so I was refreshed and better equipped to handle life the next day. Plenty of people can't sleep well with the baby near them, so I'm convinced that it is a highly individual thing. I never felt my babies was in any danger. I don't have the study handy, but I believe I read somewhere that in most cases where a baby suffocated in a parent's bed, the parent had some sort of healthy issue like they were on sedatives or something. Did anyone else here read about that?

Julia
www.greensummervillian.wordpress.com

Johanna said...

My experience with my three children is that each one is so different that if we try to force them into a model we have read about, no matter how much we agree with it or love the idea, we will run into problems! I practiced flexible scheduling with my first baby. He thrived on it! Very few times did he "demand" to be fed before the three hours we aimed for were up. If he was hungry at 2 hours, of course I fed him, but we were scheduled very early on. I thought our ease with this system was because it was such a great system and would work for all my kids. Imagine my shock when my second baby would have nothing to do with it at all!! He nursed at least every two hours around the clock for almost 6 months. If I never slept with him nursing, I wouldn't have gotten much sleep! Now my third is somewhere in between. I find that taking my cues from my baby (as you are doing with Shira) is a great approach. Because my current baby is not the only child in our house, he has to adjust some, but I cannot see forcing a baby into some mold when it will just cause frustration for both mom and baby!

Treasurekeeper said...

For anyone interested in where co-sleeping can be found in the bible, it is found in Luke 11:7, "Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed;". Obviously it isn't a commandment but it does seem normative at that time considering both instances of children sleeping in the same home as their parents they are sleeping in the same bed (Samuel appeared to sleep alone when he went to live with Eli). As far as the story of the prostitutes...even those days prostitutes lived pretty rough lives and I personally wouldn't recommend to a prostitute to sleep with her baby ;). If you are on medication (or alcohol and drugs) co-sleeping isn't a good idea for you. If you feel you are too heavy of a sleeper or you just don't want baby in bed with you co-sleeping is obviously not a good idea either :). I personally would get no sleep if I didn't have my constantly nursing six month old in bed with me. We do take precautions so that her little nose can't get burried in a too soft mattress and we have a barrier at the side so she can't fall off. While co-sleeping comes with its own set of precautions, I have known of several children who were hurt from falling out of their crib or their little arm or leg was broken from getting caught in the bars. SIDS is also a bigger problem for babies who sleep alone. That said, of course you can bond without co-sleeping :). I also believe you can bond without nursing if the circumstances preclude it but for those who may be considering co-sleeping, don't be afraid to try it. I love those quite moments spent with my fifth born and I don't really think either of us would find them quite as relaxing and peaceful if I had to get up every hour or two to nurse and then try to get both of us back to sleep in our own beds ;).
Anna, I wanted to say that I have been reading your blog for a couple of years now I believe. It has been so neat to see you go from an unmarried woman to a married woman to a mother so joyfully and gracefully. I pray the same sweet transition for my four, so far, daughters :). I also agree that ecological breastfeeding seems a little hyper-focused on the "birth control" aspect of it. While I certainly enjoy the break from cycling it isn't something I purposefully try to prolong. I look forward to that next baby too much to put it off on purpose :). I believe God knows best so I don't try to rush it either.
You are a great mama, keep up the good work God has called you to :)!

nineveh-uk said...

My impression of ecological breastfeeding to “space” children (I speak as someone who would use artificial contraception, just to declare myself) is that whilst lactation and extensive suckling may prolong amenorrhea for some, ecological breastfeeding as fully practiced delays subsequent pregnancy at least in part because a mother and father who are sleeping very badly, and a mother who has a baby attached to her body 24 hours a day, are really not in the mood for any further physical contact!

CappuccinoLife said...

We have co-slept and roomed in with all three. I have nursed on demand with all three, until they weaned. I think extended breastfeeding is ideal healthwise for both mom and babe. I practice "babywearing" for as long as my back will hold out. :)

*But* I have always thought that "ecological breastfeeding" was far to rigid for our family. If it happens that we fall into that category, fine. But I am not going to post a list of rules and worry about whether I'm following it or not. And honestly, although I see "primitive" breastfeeding practices touted as better, the thought of literally offering the breast for *any and all* upsets, and of nursing round the clock every 15 minutes (as is common in one african tribe) gives me the willies.

MamaOlive said...

I think, as I think upon reading the vast majority of your posts, that you are a very wise young woman.
Your baby is indeed blessed in you.

Sarah Jane said...

I think whatever your baby needs is what you should strive for. It sounds as if your little daughter is doing wonderfully well! You sound like a wonderful mother!

As for breastfeeding being a natural form of birth control. . .that didn't happen with us. I got pregnant with my son Judah when my first was 10 weeks old, and I got pregnant with Malachi when Judah was 7 months old, all because I was told that by exclusively breastfeeding I would be "safe" from getting pregnant! haha.

I love breastfeeding as a sweet bonding time with my baby. He gazes deeply into my eyes and feeling his warm little body next to mine is so incredibly sweet. "Using" him as a form of BC just seemes tasteless to me! :(

Anonymous said...

I see nothing wrong with trying to harness breastfeeding into birth control, as long as it doesn't interfere with the main point of breastfeeding. After all, I assume all the mothers here love their babies, but not everyone wants one every year or two, and it becomes quite a challenge to avoid that if you don't believe in birth control.

I guess I'm feeling some of the responses don't see why one would want to postpone having another baby. If you're on your first one or two or three, I can understand that. But do remember that a woman having 6+ babies often has serious varicose veins, perhaps bad teeth, and sometimes a weak bladder....among other issues. I know there are exceptions to the rule; but in general, it is what it is. Having so many babies can really harm one's health, as 'natural' as it may be. Besides the obvious strains of rearing so many, which some can handle and some can't.

Still, I find ecological breastfeeding does put the baby too much at the center. I do not agree with the poster who stated that many activities can be done while nursing or holding a baby. How can a mother cook among boiling pots, or bathe and dress her other toddlers, or wash the toilet, or go on a school hike, or any other activities motherhood entails, with a baby slung around her neck? I don't know how some primitive cultures do it; in fact, I'm not sure they do it at all. They usually have large extended families living with them to help out.

Most of all, I agree with the poster above who implied that such closeness with baby can hurt the husband-wife intimacy. How can one be intimate with a baby constanstly sucking? Or with a baby sleeping there in the middle, every single night? I can understand in times of colic, nightmares, etc, but EVERY night?

Most small children would prefer to sleep in their parents' beds, given the choice, even till age 6 or 7. So do those who co-sleep have 2 or 3 slumbering kids in bed with them while they try to get intimate? Or is this simply the best birth control of them all?

(btw, I realize that once kids all slept with their parents in the same room or even the same bed. You'd often find a few other relatives in the same room, maybe the in-laws, etc. Necessity dictated this arrangement; but times have changed, for the better, I would hope).

Anonymous said...

This is the anonymous above who wondered about the effects of co-sleeping on intimacy. I'd like to make it clear that I had all my babies sleep with me in the same room for the first year or two - but not in the same bed.

Robin said...

I read some of the first comments but not all. I've never heard of "ecological breastfeeding," and I agree with the commenter who said it sounds like a complicated term for common sense.

Like you, my daughter (1st child) and I fell into a routine. After the advice of too many older women family members who were moms in the 50's and 60's and were into the whole bottle feeding, cereal at 2 weeks old, never, never, never nurse on demand, get on a schedule NOW, I thought I was going to be the worst mother ever. My daughter WOULD NOT stop crying no matter what I did.

When all the "new baby syndrome" wore off, aunts and relatives went home, and I had some time alone with her, I acquiesced to her desire to nurse for long periods frequently, and, guess what! We found our rhythm. After a month of no sleep, I lay down with her on my bed, tucked under my arm, and fell asleep. We slept together for 6 hours! It was AWESOME!!

After that experience, I did a little research and agree that co-sleeping is not a dangerous practice. I'm on my third baby/co-sleeper. I'm so in tune with my son that I know what he needs almost before he does. Not dissing anyone who uses a crib, because I would certainly do it if it worked for us.

Left Right Out said...

Here in New Zealand we have one of the higher rates of co-sleeping deaths, mostly because of our large Pacific Island population. Families come here from the islands where it is so warm they just sleep on floor mats (often) without coverings and babies sleep with them. Then it gets much colder in parts of here, and they have baby in bed with them as well -- along with a lot of blankets, duvets, etc. Consequences are tragic.

My thought is that co-sleeping can be dangerous, but is not inherently so and is not an indication of the quality of parenting. I agree with all the people above who said find what works for you and your baby for both your all's well-being. I think much of parenting boils down to that (disclaimer: I only have one on the way, so who knows what I'll think in a year!)

My Darn Yarn said...

I think you are absolutely right!
Co-Sleeping - Don't get me started. I won't go into the dangers of other families co-sleeping, but the way my baby squirms around, the way my husband and I toss and turn and the fact the dog likes to come up and sleep with us sometimes... my baby would be suffocate!
I do believe in comfort nursing... to a point. My baby has set his own rhythm of eating; I cam look at the clock and say to myself, "Okay, he's going to get hungry here soon..." and usually he tells me a bit later. When I can feel and hear he's done eating, I may let him suck for a while, but I do have other things to do as well.
And he'll sooth himself with his thumb. I'll comfort nurse him if he's *really* upset or hurt (i.e. I accidentally scratch him with a finger nail).
It is true that I'm going to nurse into his first year, but that's because I know that's what is the best for him. I've even thought of, when he has stopped nursing, extract for our local breast milk bank. That way babies who are sick and their mothers cant breastfeed can have the same health benefits that my son had.
The way I see it, the prolonged postpartum infertility is a natural side affect of something I love to do.