Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Whole Nine Months

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This post was written as part of The Breastfeeding Cafe's Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to www.breastfeedingcafe.wordpress.com. For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today's post is about breastfeeding thoughts. Please read the other blogs in today's carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th through the 31st! 


 

Now that the pregnancy is over, I thought I'd do an overview of what it was like to breastfeed through pregnancy because it's something that I get a lot of questions about.

Before the pregnancy, I never felt "touched out." Twiddling didn't bother me. The only times that my nipples were particularly sensitive were when I first started breastfeeding and when Margaret was sick or teething and had increased how much she wanted to nurse. Teething and sickness nursing usually lasted just a few days. Then I got pregnant.

We found out I was pregnant a few days before Halloween. I decided to make our breastfeeding goal her second birthday, which was 5 months away at the end of March. After that, I decided I would be ok with weaning if it happened and if it didn't I would be ok with tandem nursing.

In November and December I suddenly had very sensitive nipples, and unlike my previous experiences, it didn't last for just a few days. The worst was the initial latch and once she was on, it got better. I just had to bite the bullet for 2 seconds.

In January my supply dropped. How do I know? First, Margaret was nursing a lot more. That meant she was either having a growth spurt or was desperately trying to get more out of me. She also started eating a lot more. In December, if I made her pancakes for breakfast, she would eat a pancake. In January, she would eat three. She started eating whole sandwiches for lunch instead of five bites.

Also around this time in January and February, the twiddling was getting to me. I started discouraging it while she nursed when she was awake, but didn't do much about it if she was nursing in her sleep. I didn't feel like enforcing new rules on a half-unconscious toddler would be productive. Toddlers aren't rational and they are even less rational while trying to sleep. I wanted to keep any teaching of new boundaries for times when she was fully awake.

Then her birthday came and on that day, she started teething her last set of molars. I was ok with her weaning, but those teeth ensured that she wouldn't. She needed me for comfort. Also, it was in March that my colostrum started coming in. It was just a little, but I had something.

By the time May rolled around, we had moved to California and had new surroundings. I was also getting really tired of the night twiddling, so I started discouraging that, too. I would take her hand and move it away while saying "Stop." She did "get it" eventually. I still do that when it happens.

I also started trying to get her to fall asleep without depending on me as much. My goal was to be able to unlatch her and she would finish falling asleep on her own. It wasn't a very lofty goal and so we did succeed. When she is about 70% asleep, I unlatch her and she'll roll over to face McKay and fall the rest of the way asleep. This had an unseen benefit: she didn't need to nurse as much at night because if she was mostly asleep, she could fall asleep on her own. We cut down nighttime nursings from 5 times a night to 1 or 2. This was wonderful. I felt less touched out and we were all happier.

My colostrum was now in at full force. This meant that Margaret had to learn how to be quicker at getting to the potty. Colostrum has a laxative affect. She got the new pottying down, though, and we only had one poop miss during that transition.

The end of June and July came around. I started thinking about the fact that she only had a few weeks left of being an only child. I actually started initiating more breastfeeding and cuddle times with her. I wanted to make sure we were in the habit of getting Margaret and Mommy time before the baby came so we could continue once the baby arrived.

Breastfeeding while pregnant is hard. At times it felt like our relationship was strained because of it. There were times I felt so touched out that I wanted to throw her across the room. But there were times that she was amazingly sweet and we were able to work through most of the issues. I also got to practice patience, which is something I always need a lesson on. Would I do it in the future? It depends on how I feel at the time, how old my nursling is, and the temperament of the nursling.

How has tandem nursing gone? I don't think I can really get a good idea of what tandem nursing will look like at this point in time. The first couple of days were hard because Margaret would put all her weight on my empty afterpains-tormented belly. Not fun. And then my milk came in and she would put all her weight on my full and aching breasts. But once my body has healed and regulated itself and we practice new breastfeeding positions, I think we'll be able to get this down and it will work out well.

 
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12 comments:

  1. What are going to do when Margret enters kindergarten???!!! Are you going to go to her class room every few hours... and say, “Margret time for breast?” I'm pretty sure that Margret is old enough that she doesn’t need to be breast fed. I think that if you had it your way, you would breast feed her until she graduated from High school!! You are one extremely odd mother.

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  2. sounds very similar to me and mine right now. he will ask if my nipples are sore if not he wants milk. but he understands that sometimes he cant nurse cause its no fun for me.

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  3. Cindy, I'm not sure where you get the idea that I would nurse until she graduates high school, especially since in this post I write, "I decided to make our breastfeeding goal her second birthday, which was 5 months away at the end of March. After that, I decided I would be ok with weaning if it happened."

    And while we're going with baby led weaning right now, it doesn't mean I'm not putting some limits on it: in fact, I mention how I've done that through this pregnancy. If you'd like more information about baby led weaning and what it is and isn't, I recommend this link: http://www.llli.org/llleaderweb/LV/LVMarApr87p23.html

    Did you read my post? You are one extremely odd commenter.

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  4. Nice post, your children are lucky to have you for a momma!

    Mothering is so much about supporting our children so they can become caring independent beings while modeling support for our own journeys.

    Your story reflects the real-life ambiguities and challenges we all face as we mother and love. I tip my own hat to you and thank you for generously sharing.

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  5. Because *I* think you are one of the coolest, bestest mothers I know I have given you an award. I hope it brightens your day after that first comment. http://www.breastfeedingmomsunite.com/2010/07/purposefully-self-absorbed/

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  6. to Cindy:
    "California compulsory education law requires everyone between the ages of 6 and 18 years of age to attend school..." (http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/ai/sb/). Margaret doesn't even have to go to Kindergarten - it's totally optional! And knowing Heather personally, I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that Margaret will not even be going to Kindergarten. (Correct me if I'm wrong Heather!) So that makes your original question pointless.

    I know and have known nursing Kindergarteners; there is nothing wrong with it. You question assumes there is an inherent wrongness with nursing a Kindergartener; you are wrong. And your reasoning is ludicrous! Age has absolutely nothing to do with a child's readiness to wean. That is like saying that all babies should have two teeth when they are six months old, no more, no less. Ridiculous. Babies develop at their very own rate and nothing you do or say will change that. It is a fact. You are not Margaret nor are you Margaret's mother, therefore, you have no right to even postulate as to whether Margaret "needs" to nurse or not anymore.

    Children are not clones, neither are all mothers. There are no blanket parenting tactics that work across the board for all families and individuals within those families. Heather is sharing what works for her and her children right now, in the moment. If it doesn't work for you, then leave it alone. There's no need to attack her over a difference of opinion. If you don't like what she does or how she does it, then don't read her blog. It's not that difficult to figure out!

    to Heather:
    Yet another well-written post! I had my ups and downs with nursing during my most recent pregnancy too. I've also had to deal with finding that balance in our nursing relationship. My daughter is even older than Margaret (I wonder what Cindy would think of that!) and has reached the ripe old age of three already! I had determined as well, that two would be our minimum age also and we would take it day by day thereafter. Emma is nearly ready for weaning. She talks often of her weaning party (just like in the scriptures) that we'll have when *she* decides she's ready to be done with Mama's milk.

    I applaud you for your efforts to be an example of righteous living and to enable women to take charge of themselves and their families and their rights in those roles!

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  7. Crystal,
    What the hell is wrong with you HIPPIES?? You think that it is okay to keep nursing a child that is in Kindergarten! A child that is five yrs. will be teased for being nursed... which will result in no friends. I quit nursing my child before he was even one yrs. old... That’s what bottles are for, and whole milk is also used to substitute the breast milk. Your child will know nothing if she doesn’t enter into kindergarten. Kindergarten fun for little kids, this is where they meet all the little kids their age and make friend ships. Kindergarten is also where you learn the alphabet, shapes, colors and how to read and write. Margret will be missing out on so much.

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  8. I love how honest you are. I feel like one day when I'm breastfeeding while pregnant (because I honestly don't think that Peanut is stopping any time soon) that I'll come back and read your post again and feel like I at least kind of know what's coming in my future.

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  9. Because this post is about breastfeeding, I'm going to end the derailment about school. There are lots of other places to discuss whether or not kindergarten has a monopoly on the alphabet, shapes, or social interaction for 5 years olds. This isn't.

    As for the breastfeeding, sure on one level, Margaret can get all her nutrition elsewhere, but by that argument, I don't need to feed her carrots either because she can get all her beta carotene and other vitamins from other sources. But that doesn't mean I should cut carrots from her diet. On another level, breastfeeding is so much more than what a nutrition label could tell you. Breastmilk changes in water content, fat content, and in the density of immune-building substances like stem cells on a daily and even hourly basis to mee the needs of the child. Additionally, breastfeeding beyond infancy has been related to increased health benefits along with better social adjustment.

    You don't have to nurse as long as I have. However, I'll continue to nurse Margaret as long as our nursing relationship is beneficial to both of us, and at the moment it is.

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  10. I love your blog and I am so thankful that you choose to write about topics that make some women uncomfortable.

    I appreciate your bravery so that you can connect to those of us who appreciate your words.

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  11. Cindy,
    I did not quit nursing my babies before they were one... that's what breasts are for. I don't even own a baby bottle and have never had the need for one. I have breasts perfectly designed for human nutrition. I don't substitute anything for breastmilk.

    Cow milk is for calves. Goat milk is for kids. Sheep milk is for lambs. Horse milk is for colts. Dog milk is for puppies. Cat milk is for kittens. Human milk is for babies. No substitutes *required*. A person may *choose* (or many even be necessary, rarely) to do things differently than this and that's okay as long as it is an educated decision. It's okay that Heather has chosen to do it her way. It's okay that I do it my way. And it's okay that you do it your way. We all decide what will work best for each of us.

    A part of our purpose as mothers here discussing these issues is to ensure that women are making educated decisions based on sound principles and knowledge. One of my personal missions in this life is to never be content with where I am. I want to continue to grow and learn new things. Which means I change the way things are done occasionally (quite often, actually) as I learn new things. We unite for support and encouragement as we grow together.

    (I'm leaving the schooling issue alone per Heather's request. For the record I do not see things as you do.)

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  12. What an awesome post. I found your blog from Edenwild. I'm wondering about tandem nursing and Lisa C suggested I check out your blog. I currently have a 14 month old who is still nursing and I'm thinking of having another but I'm worried about nursing. I am excited to read more of your adventure.

    Cindy, it's been studied by archeologists that it's natural for human babies to wean somewhere between 2 and 7 because that's when the Childs immune system matures.

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