Tag Archives: breastfeeding

Wonderful Breastfeeding Poem Video By Hollie McNish

I’ve been done with breastfeeding for a while, but I still wanted to share this video about breastfeeding. It’s been making the rounds because it makes a really great point. I was fortunate enough to be mostly supported by family and friends when I breastfed my kids, and even the ones who didn’t like it at first got used to the idea and even became supportive in time.

If you can’t see the video for any reason, there’s a transcript in its description.

I can’t imagine how awful it wold be to have to run home or to a bathroom stall to breastfeed a baby rather than just find a comfortable spot and take care of things. That never made any sense. Babies need food, and that’s the simplest and most appropriate way to handle that at the time. I’ll admit to liking it when I knew there was a women’s lounge available, but that has more to do with the more comfortable chairs than the privacy. If a bench or plastic chair was all that was available, that’s what I used, and considered myself fortunate if my baby didn’t try to overexpose me, as babies may try to do whether or not you use a cover or otherwise try to be discreet.

I wish more moms could know that kind of support when they breastfeed their children. It would really help. There are so many advantages for mother and baby to breastfeeding, why give it up unless that’s really the best path for either. Giving it up for embarrassment is my least favorite reason to give it up, but much more so the fault of the society surrounding the mother than the mother herself. We shouldn’t shame or embarrass a breastfeeding mother; we should give her the space she needs to care for her child.

What’s So Green About Extended Breastfeeding?

I got a question from a reader about a month ago asking what’s green about breastfeeding, especially past age 2. While it’s easy to say it’s better for the environment to breastfeed an infant than to formula feed, it’s harder to say what’s so great about it as your child gets older.

I have to admit, I don’t really think of extended breastfeeding as a specifically environmental issue. It’s certainly popular among eco friendly moms, but others do it as well. A lot of research shows that it’s good for the child and the mother.

The early benefits of breastfeeding are simple. Breastfeeding means you don’t have to buy formula and all the supplies to go along with formula feeding. The only thing you must have is you. That’s less waste right there. The breast pump and other supplies are nice if you want to let others feed baby sometimes, but not an absolute must. The fewer supplies you buy, the more eco friendly it’s going to be in those early days.

The greatest benefits of breastfeeding, both for the normal duration and extended, may be emotional. There’s no bond quite the same. The bond between a formula fed baby and mother is still utterly amazing, but it’s a different sort of intimacy from breastfeeding. Breastfeeding has an emotional impact on mother and child, especially when it’s enjoyed by both. If it’s not still being enjoyed by both parties, I’m a firm believer in saying that it’s just fine to call it quits. You still love your baby and will still be loved by your baby.

Health Benefits of Extended Breastfeeding

Extended breastfeeding has proven health benefits. It cuts down on the odds of ear infections, diabetes, heart disease, and other health disorders. It also has health benefits for the mother.

This may not seem like a “green” issue at first glance, but one’s use of modern medicine can most certainly have an ecological effect. Too many medications make it into the water supply either through improper disposal or by its presence in urine or feces after you’ve taken the medicine.

Fewer medications making their way into the water supply may not be specifically about breastfeeding, but it’s something to think about.

Having just dealt with a still breastfeeding nearly two year old with a really bad cold, I can also state that extended breastfeeding is wonderful when a child gets sick. There’s no greater comfort food.

Eco Benefits to Extended Breastfeeding?

Beyond simply cutting down on the odds of needing medications to treat a sick child, there’s one very basic ecological benefit to continuing to breastfeed an older toddler: You’re using less cow’s milk.

Most cows are not kept in an ecologically sensitive way. You can improve matters by buying organic milk from grass fed cows, but your own milk is still the best. It doesn’t have to be transported from a distance. It doesn’t have to be stored in any containers. You don’t have to give it in a cup or wash the cup after. It’s there when your child needs it.

Overall, I have to say that extended breastfeeding really isn’t about being green. It has some benefits that can be described as being eco friendly, but that’s not the main benefit at all. It has much more to do with the health of the mother and child, with potential long term health benefits. That’s what makes it so popular with “green” moms. Extended breastfeeding is one more way to try to do the best things for our families. That it’s not bad for the environment is just a little plus.

When Do You Wean?

When it works, breastfeeding is a delightful activity for mother and child. It provides the best source of nutrition for an infant, as well as health benefits to the mother. It’s the most environmentally friendly way to feed a baby as well, needing no extra equipment such as bottles, and no need to buy can after can of formula. But inevitably the time comes when you start to think about weaning.

There are a lot of differing ideas about when to wean. Some say sooner, some say later. But what really matters is what works for you.

Early Weaning

Some say to wean early. My mother-in-law tried that when I was breastfeeding my first, wanting me to wean at 6 weeks, then six months, and on it went. For some mothers, that’s the right choice because they can’t afford the time it takes to breastfeed, or it’s painful for them, or they have to work and no place to pump. These things happen, and it’s not always possible or reasonable for a mother to continue breastfeeding, even when she wants to.

And of course some simply don’t want to. It doesn’t appeal to them for one reason or another. While this means they’re going to have to use formula, I’m a firm believer in bodily autonomy, and that means they have the right to not breastfeed.

Weaning at One Year

A lot of moms wean their babies at one year. It’s a time recommended by many pediatricians. Babies no longer feed exclusively on their mother’s milk by this age, and are easily enjoying pureed foods. It’s also felt to be a safe time in most cases to introduce cow’s milk, as an allergic reaction is less likely as baby gets older.

Weaning at Two Years

Age two is another popular time, as the World Health Organization recommends at least two years of breastfeeding. The baby has become a toddler and can chew many foods.

Child Led Weaning

Child led weaning is my personal favorite. It’s more comfortable for mother and child, if the breastfeeding relationship has lasted this long. You rely on signals from your child to decide when to wean.

This age varies tremendously. My two oldest self weaned by 18 months. My youngest is firmly in favor of continuing the breastfeeding relationship, at age 20 months.

Child led weaning can lead to extended breastfeeding, with children aged 3, 4 and more before they want to wean. It takes some extra dedication to breastfeeding to let your child decide when it’s done. On the plus side, you get to enjoy the closeness of breastfeeding for as long as your child cares to continue it.

When breastfeeding works, it’s one of the most beautiful parts of the mother-child relationship. No one can get as close to a baby as a mother who is breastfeeding. Giving a bottle of expressed milk lets others participate, but it’s not the same as nursing a suckling child. It can be more than an obligation; it can be a delight.

As for my current breastfeeding situation, I’m giving very gentle nudges toward weaning, mostly making other drinks more readily available. She’ll take the hint or not, it’s not a major matter of stress for me, although I’m ready to be done.

Women Shouldn’t Breastfeed Where?

It amazes me how shocked some people get about the idea of breastfeeding in public. Until fairly recent times, mothers had no other choice. They did not just stay home when they had a baby, yet that’s what some people think mothers should do now if they aren’t willing to give their baby a bottle.

I came across this article about 9 Most Awkward Breastfeeding Situations via Mother Nature Network. The situations and reasoning they have are pretty ridiculous from my perspective.

Don’t breastfeed in church? I like my mother’s description: Feeding God’s creation in God’s house in God’s way. Where does that go wrong exactly?

There’s an article on the subject linked to the gallery on this one. It’s not as bad as the gallery, but some of the comments are depressing, especially the ones who think that women nurse in public to get attention.

No… and if you think you only ever see women nursing in public by flopping her breasts out for all to see, you’re probably right.

They’re the only ones you see. The rest are so discreet you don’t notice them at all. And there are more of them.

Nursing in public is not done to get attention. It’s not sexual. It’s nothing like urinating, defecating or having sex in public. It’s feeding a baby. Not so different from feeding oneself, except baby’s food comes directly from the mother’s breast.

No, it’s not always discreet. Babies don’t always allow that. They pull off randomly. As they get older they move the mother’s clothing around. They don’t all tolerate a nursing cover, nor should they be expected to. It gets hot under those things, and the ability to have eye contact with their mother as they nurse is a big thing for babies.

I truly detest the notion that moms should just stay at home with their babies. It’s usually stated as being in the baby’s best interest, but it isn’t. It’s isolating to the mother and child. It’s also impossible in many cases, such as when the mother needs to run errands. And there’s no reason to expect any human being to be chained to their home 24/7 just because they’re caring for another human being. We all have the right to a social life.

That said, I’ll agree that when possible sick babies should be kept at home. It’s not always possible, and most moms try their best.

Of course, if a mother were to refuse to breastfeed in public and doesn’t carry bottles of either pumped breastmilk or formula, then she’ll be criticized for having a hungry, screaming baby. Breastfeeding is much pleasanter for all. If the mother gets a little exposed, you only need to look away. It takes more effort to get away from the screams of a hungry baby.

Breastfeeding in public has allowed me to take my kids when each was a baby on airplanes and not disturb the other passengers. They just nursed through takeoff and landing, and didn’t need to cry at all. I’d call that a win even for anyone sitting close enough to realize what I was doing, although usually I’d be traveling with enough family that no strangers would be right by me.

Breastfeeding in public has allowed me to run errands even when my babies were small and nursed more frequently. It’s great for soothing babies who would otherwise be screaming as I tried to get things done out of the house. A full tummy solves many problems when you’re that young.

Breastfeeding in public has allowed me to participate in church services. It has allowed me to enjoy a good meal out with friends and family.

I won’t say I flaunt anything, as I try to keep things covered, but do people sometimes see a bit more than they would if I weren’t breastfeeding? Absolutely. You can’t control a baby that perfectly. They wiggle, move and play. They pull clothing aside. They remove covers.

I can limit that and do, but there’s only so much to be done for it. I’m not a mind reader, so there’s no way to know in advance that baby’s going to pop off at a particular instant despite suckling strongly just a moment before.

Moms, don’t let articles and commenters get you down about where you breastfeed. Most states acknowledge your rights to breastfeed your baby any place you’re allowed to be.

How Long Does Breastfeeding Make Sense? Should It Be a Law?

I got the comment the other day. Most breastfeeding moms know this one or a variant of it: “How long are you going to keep indulging her?”

It came from someone surprised to see that I am still breastfeeding my toddler. She’s 18 months old now and going strong on the breastfeeding. When do you stop?

My answer has always been “When it’s right for both of you.”

Breastfeeding my toddler is still a lot of fun for me. Not always pain free, as she’s pretty acrobatic about the matter at times. Flipping upside down, seeing how many times she can change positions during a nursing session, testing out her own version of that old saying, “You can’t take it with you.”

The minimum I recommend is one year, if it’s working out for the mother. There are legitimate reasons why a breastfeeding relationship ends sooner, and that means any you can manage is a good thing. But if you can make it work, do your best to make that year. It’s what’s recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

There’s nothing wrong with going longer, but be ready to hear comments from people who don’t understand about breastfeeding a child who is capable of eating solid meals. You are still giving your child great benefits with your breastmilk.

A maximum age is hard to define. There have been more extreme cases where children 8 years old are still breastfeeding, and most will call that excessive That’s incredibly personal to those who choose to go that long, and it’s far longer than I’d want to go. But I won’t say it’s flat out bad for the kids.

Breastfeeding isn’t just food for your child. It’s about health benefits and comfort.

Breastmilk provides antibodies to help your child deal better with illness. It doesn’t mean your child will never get sick, but it helps.

Breastfeeding is one of the easiest ways to comfort a child, whether from an injury or because your child is just worn out. Being held close and allowed to suckle calms children down faster than just about anything else much of the time. The bonding time is great for mother and child.

So How Long to Breastfeed?

My favorite duration for breastfeeding is “until the child decides to wean.” It’s the most relaxing way for me, personally. My older two self weaned by 18 months; this one looks to be going strong a while longer yet.

My second favorite is “as long as you can stand it and your lifestyle permits.” It’s not second best really, as many people have lifestyle or other issues that require weaning before the baby chooses it. You have every right to decide when you are done with breastfeeding. It’s your body, not your child’s, even if babies and toddlers get really possessive of their mother’s breasts at times.

The important thing is to have a happy and healthy mother and child. If that’s not at all due to medications or other issues, that’s how it goes. If that’s three or more years because you’re both that comfortable with the whole thing, it’s your decision. The right length of time to breastfeed is more about what works for you, not what everyone else is telling you is the exact right amount of breastfeeding.

Should It Be a Law?

Don’t be ridiculous. Of course it shouldn’t be a law. I don’t care what Gisele Bundchen said.

What breastfeeding moms, and moms in general need from the law, is support. Laws that make it easier to breastfeed, especially in public. That’s legal in many places now, but not everywhere.

We need laws that give moms more paid maternity leave. Paternity leave for dads would be nice too. But it’s easier for moms to breastfeed if they have more paid maternity leave. It would allow breastfeeding to be better established before mom has to return to work.

This isn’t just an issue in the United States. It’s an issue worldwide, especially in countries where families can’t afford formula, but are often given free samples, which disrupts the proper establishment of breastfeeding. Nestle’s business practices are a strong example of a company’s business practices interfering with breastfeeding.

We need obstetricians and pediatricians who are well trained on the subject of breastfeeding. We need better education for mothers rather than a “breastfeeding support bag” filled with formula and coupons for formula.

We need social support and acceptance that a woman’s breasts are not just about sex.

And we need support for moms who are struggling with breastfeeding or cannot do so.