Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My Breastfeeding Rant (and 15-month stats)

Alas, I have no pictures for you today, only stats from Hannah's 15-month checkup and an overly long rant on breastfeeding.

Weight: 20 lbs 6 oz (15-20th percentile)
Length: 31-1/2 inches (80-90th percentile)
Head circumference: 48 cm (totally forget the percentile, but "everything looks good.")

Hannah took her baby doll to her appointment, and I told the doctor that we sometimes say things like, "It looks like the baby is tired, I think it's time for her nap" to get Hannah to nap more easily. It's a great trick, one that I highly recommend., and it worked at the doctor too.  After inspecting Baby's eyes, nose, and mouth, the doc inspected Hannah's eyes, nose, and mouth, not that Hannah has ever done poorly with the doctor, but she is getting old enough to be confused by it. Unfortunately, Baby was useless when it came to  easing the pain of the two booster shots that Hannah took to the right thigh.  I used to think that sticking an infant was the hardest thing in the world because you couldn't explain to them what was going on and they are so helpless and vulnerable, but now I think that sticking a toddler is harder because they trust you and also because they are capable of more accusatory facial expressions, expressions that say "How could you, you traitor!!"  I thought she'd never forgive me for pinning her arms around her while the pediatrician pumped her full of pain, but after the pediatrician left, I whipped out my secret weapon and let her nurse until all was right with the world again. My what magical boobs you have mommy!!

When I told the pediatrician that Hannah was still nursing she said, "Good for you!" and then asked if I still felt full and then emptied...I guess trying to figure out if I thought Hannah was actually getting sustenance or just comfort.  It was a harmless question phrased delicately but it confused me and temporarily offended me.  I don't like vague, delicately phrased questions because it takes too long for me to decipher them and then once I've managed to figure out what the person is actually asking me and managed to give them the answer they were fishing for, I end up trying to figure out why they phrased it like that and whether or not I should be offended and whip out the boxing gloves. Usually there is less thinking going on and more offense taken/whipping of the boxing gloves. Maybe part of that is the lingering new mama insecurity. Maybe I'm just a psycho hose beast. Either way, it makes me think that being a pediatrician, especially one for babies, must be one of the hardest jobs ever because you have to deal with post-partum women and new mamas like me....Eeeek!  I prefer questions like this: "are you still producing or is she just nursing for comfort?" To which I would answer, "yes, I am still producing, and yes, she does occasionally nurse more probably for comfort."

The nursing thing has had me all confused lately. In the beginning when asked how long I planned to nurse, I always just said, "at least until she's 1" and figured I'd figure it out after that, but I hadn't figured anything out when she turned 1 so I tried to start weaning her, mostly because it seemed the most socially acceptable thing to do, but then she got that terrible rash and the stomach virus, and her molars started coming in (they're in now), and the doctor said her canines are coming through now, so at each of those hurdles, I quit the weaning and let her nurse on demand to get through it.  At this point, I am mostly successful at keeping her from nursing mid-morning (the first and only one I cut); however, she often makes up for this nursing later in the afternoon/evening, so we are often still nursing four times a day despite my earlier efforts at taking us down to three.

I asked my two mama friends who nursed their kids past age 1 for their take on the subject. Well, I only asked the one recently, but I talked to Libby, my guru, a long time ago.  Both her munchkins pretty much weaned themselves sometime around 1-1/2 if I'm remembering correctly....My other friend has three kids, and she nursed the first one until she was 6, at which point her second child was 2, and at which point she said, ENOUGH! and cut them both off.  The third child was then also weaned at 2, and her feeling is that 2 is the magical number because it's when they hit their independent phase anyway. I love that line of thinking!

In addition to pooling all two of my friends, I poked around the internet a little bit and found the following snippet from Anthroposophical Medicine, Breastfeeding and Weaning by Rise Smyth-Freed, RN:

"Benefits from both the process of breastfeeding and from human breastmilk for a human baby are now quite well known.  These benefits include intact immunological development, superior nutrition with resultant superior growth, appropriate maternal-infant bonding, enhanced and superior development of the child into a productive independent human being and reduction of nonproductive illness (chronic illness like allergies, asthma, repetitive ear infections, diabetes and even heart disease).  The American Academy of Pediatrics now asks its Board Certified Pediatricians to recommend breastfeeding for the first two years of a baby's life.  Non-pediatricians may not be aware of these knowledge advances in the field of Pediatrics and other medical specialties like Neonatology, Neurology, Cardiology, Endocrinology, Immunology and Gastroenterology.   The World Health Organization's guidelines are to breastfeed for at least the first 3 years of the child's life.
Risë Smythe-Freed, RN, BS, is a registered nurse since 1981.  She is an Anthroposophical nurse, President of the Anthroposophical Nurses Association of America and Board Member of the Artemisia Association for the Anthroposophical Renewal of Healing."

No, I don't know what anthroposophical means, but since allergies and asthma run in my family, I like the idea of being able to reduce the risk of Hannah ending up with either, so 2 it is!!  If I'm lucky, she'll wean herself sometime in the next 8 months so that I don't actually have to do anything. That would be great. In the meantime, I'd like to get rid of that before bed nursing. I see it as being the hardest to shed, and also, it's the only one that occasionally gets in my way, like if I want to go out to dinner with friends or something and don't want to have to be home by 6:30 to nurse.

Hannah is at least drinking milk now, thanks to Kylie who downed it last time she came over to play. The cow milk seems to make her have poop that burns holes in her butt (like the kind of crazy blisters/sores she was getting in August) so we're sticking with rice milk for the time being.  I don't know why cheese and yogurt don't bother her like that, but they don't...All else is right with Hannah's world at the moment.


  1. Yay, Hannah! way to GROW!

    Nurse as long as you are both comfortable with it!!! I started getting antsy with both kids around 12-14 months. I didn't like being tied to them or the (especially the)pump so much. Esther weaned herself at 15 months i want to say. I was hoping she'd stay on the boob longer because of out trip to sri lanka i figured the nursing would give her a better immune system and help with ear popping on the flights but she wasn't having it. Asa i did encourage in the weaning direction but it wasn't that hard. i would have more interesting things going on during the nursing sessions (movies, play time, esther, loud music, etc) he'd be into those things more and wouldn't nurse as long. I think what really did it for him though (unfortunately) was being sick, it made it harder for him to nurse so i didn't produce as much and nursing sort of piddled out. We do the enriched rice milk with our kids. They've never had cow milk (except in cheese and yogurt) because i'm afraid their penchant for ear infections would be even worse. Asa gets a sippy cup of milk at bed time while we're reading and rocking in the rocking chair. Unfortunately, Asa is getting his second year molars and not much gives him comfort these days.

  2. I hear ya on the pump thing!! If I had to pump, I'd have weaned her LONG ago! I hate that thing!! And you know, I never thought about it, but yeah, Hannah doesn't nurse when there are more fun things going on either....That's a good tip to remember...Of course, my problem is that she'll not nurse during an exciting day but then really put up a fit when it's time to wind down if she hasn't nursed earlier so it ends up biting me in the butt later.

    Our rice milk is enriched too--just as much calcium as cow milk! Woohoo! And I don't know, but it seems to me that that would count as a whole grain...right? No?? An added bonus!

  3. Anna had trouble with the cow's milk at first but then she got more used to it. I say nurse her as long as you want!


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