nursing firestorm

I went to bed last night without pumping and though this has happened before, it has usually been due to tiredness. Last night was different. I have officially cut my bedtime session. It felt strange to go to sleep both guilt free and unphased that I was not going to be able to send in three full bottles of milk to school with Caroline. She actually went with a bit less than two bottles and two full to brim bottle of "moo."

My appointment with Breastfeeding Resources was yesterday afternoon. I met with Robin to talk about my concerns and questions. I wanted to know how I would know if I was moving too fast, if the mommycentricness was a normal part of this and could I expect it to pass, how to incorporate whole milk, and how to handle the sure to be tough to let go of bedtime and morning meals. She was amazingly helpful, they always are there.

We also discussed the pressures of society and how now as I approach the American Pediatrics recommended 12 months of nursing, I am beginning to feel enormous pressure to stop immediately as soon as her first birthday rolls around. Comments come from all sides. "You must be exhausted." "Aren't you happy it's almost over?" The answer is no. I am not exhausted. I am filled with happiness and pride that I have been able to do something that I consider the most healthy thing I have ever done in my life, both physically and mentally. And no. I am not happy that it is almost over. Will I miss the bedtime milking machine sessions? um regretfully, no I will not. Did I resent them? no, not really. This time in my life and this special bond I have created with my daughter has made me so incredibly happy. It wasn't always easy, especially not in those early days that I read back now and shudder thinking about how I knew so little and was literally flying by the seat of my pants most of the time. I was grateful to have in my mother-in-law a nursing role model, someone who had done it, who reminded me that it would get better. I was also grateful to have a mother who did not nurse, who asked questions and told me how proud she was of what I was trying to do for Caroline. I feel like once I passed those tentative early days when sometimes stopping all together seemed like the only solution that there was actually no stopping me. While society kept reminding me that it was ok to take a break and supplement with formula, this just didn't make sense to me, especially after all my hard work to get things sorted out. So as her birthday looms, I am looking at it not as a stop date, but as more of a guide. Tomorrow will be a test for us as I offer milk instead of mommy throughout the day. I am not sure how it will go. I intend on redirecting her if possible, so long as it does not appear to cause her any distress. I am not sure which one of us will experience more distress? I wonder if I would want to continue longer if society was more accepting of toddler nursing.

Robin and I discussed this controversial topic of toddler nursing a bit and I told her that while I am certainly not opposed to the idea, I just don't see Caroline and I taking our nursing relationship in that direction. After having come this far, I want to do this right while honoring both of our feelings and needs. Caroline is already self-weaning by cutting feedings back dramatically and I don't think it will be much longer before we are walking downstairs to make her scrambled eggs for breakfast instead of feasting on mommy. It seems like a natural progression is taking place and I am going with it. She seems to be in the same place I am.

Robin did give me a very interesting article that I wish I could link to electronically, but the contents are not yet available online. While I am certainly not seeking to start a firestorm here, some of this information just begs to be shared for discussion purposes more than anything.

The World Health Organization and UNICEF in their Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding made recommendations on nursing, but I read them keeping in mind that this is a global strategy that also accounts for populations living in very rural non-tech saavy worlds where there is an overwhelming amount of poverty, malnutrition, and ill health which seems very much unlike my own little neck of the woods in suburban CT. (Is it though?) Their recommendation is exclusive breastfeeding for six months and continued nursing for up two years and beyond.

In a study conducted by Katherine Dettwyler with other mammals, and in particular primates, a number of factors were examined that influenced weaning age; quadrupling birth weight, attainment of 1/3 adult weight, gestation length, and dental eruption. For our closest relatives the chimp and gorilla, nursing is six times the length of gestation, which for humans would be 4.5 years old. With regard to dental eruption, primates wean when permanent molars come in, which for humans would be 5.5 or 6 years of age. This suggests to her that in "our recent evolutionary past" we may have nursed our babies until this age as well. Isn't that just interesting?!

Roman doctors whom penned the go-to "Dr. Sears" of their day that remained the standard of infant care until the 18th century believed that complete weaning should not occur before age 3.

A study was conducted early in the 20th century which found that out of 52 societies the US middle class limited feeding more strictly and stopped nursing earlier than all but one other society. Today the median (that is not the average, but the most common) age of weaning in the world is beween ages 3 and 5.

You might be thinking, well that was a different time and today we have artificial means of feeding babies which we obviously didn't have while we tended to the cave or debated the flatness or roundness of the Earth. Of all the interesting and emotionally charged information included in this article I found this little ditty in particular to be the most provacative:

Kathleen Huggins in A Nursing Mother's Guide to Weaning states that "some have even called the mass feeding of artificial milk...one of the greatest experiments ever undertaken on human beings." wow. What do you think?

What is Caroline Eating Today?

Yobaby yogurt
Mac and Cheese
Butternut Squash dices
Kiwi
Milk
Cheerios

Things we are trying this weekend

Pancakes with grated vegetable
Grated potatoes with eggs, cheese, and chopped ham
Turkey meatballs (thanks JEN!)
English Muffin "pizza"
Sweet potato fries


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