Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Nursing Mommies

On Friday I went to a class on breastfeeding and weaning the toddler. "The toddler" came along, and ate everybody's snacks, thus proving how very well he is doing on solid food.

Now I love the breastfeeding center where this class was held--my initial experiences there made all the difference in our "nursing relationship"--but I left this class feeling annoyed and a little bit guilty.

Despite the drama of this post, I did not, in fact, wean. We now nurse twice a day--morning and night--and plan to continue to nurse for at least the next six months, somewhat to the dismay of Abba, who is convinced that the fact that he was weaned at 9 months made him the strong independent man that he is today.

I'm proud of the fact that Ive made it this far, and happy for the benefits I've been able to offer my baby. I'm also proud of the fact that, with some prodding, I've been helping him transition from babyhood to childhood by introducing three meals and two nutritious snacks into his daily routine.

So I walk in, expecting to find a room full of women who are heeding the APA's recommendation to nurse until 12 months. But instead, these women who are just now beginning to think about weaning are nursing their two year old children FIVE OR SIX times a day.

What more, the lactation consultant--a woman I trust and respect--then went on to say that children need--NEED--breast milk until at least 2 years. And that--from an immunological and nutritional perspective--cow milk just doesn't cut it.

Okay, to be fair, she said this to assuage the fears of those of us who were afraid that they were continuing to nurse for our own selfish reasons. But still, I'm dumfounded. To find out that more than most is not enough? Or just barely enough?

I guess that's what happens when become part of a "hard core" minority. You find out that what made you a hard-core extremist in one group is just the price of entry in another.

As much as support groups can be great, I think I'll forgo the peer support this time. I'll just go back to being a solitary extended breast feeder, proud of my accomplishments and happy with a happy medium.


mother in israel said...

Those of us who provide bf support have a problem. What is "normal" from the baby/toddler's point of view is not normal for our culture. The WHO and yes, the Gemara, both mention a minimum of two years. I don't know about the Gemara, but the reason the WHO suggests two years is because of diarrheal illnesses so common in the second year of life. BF is known to minimize hospitalization for diarrhea and shorten the illness, which kills children even in developed countries.
If you don't want to go back, I suggest getting hold of "Mothering Your Nursing Toddler" by Norma Bumgarner, or the LLL book called Weaning. And leave them where your husband will read them. And I'll introduce him to my boys one day.
At any rate I suggest taking bf one day at a time. Whatever you do is an accomplishment to be proud of. Kol hakavod for getting to this point.

Mahotma Mama said...

You have to do what you feel is best. Don't let anybody make you feel like you should do something that doesn't feel right for you. I didn't breast feed and while most people were supportive there were a few "Nursing Mommies" out there that made me feel like the scum of the earth. I would make my daughter stupid and sickly all because of my inabiliy. Well ha ha on them, my daughter is brilliant and healthy (poo poo poo, knock on wood). We are super duper close and in love and I was able to keep my sanity at a time when the word sane wasn't in my vocabulary. I did what was best for me which in turn was best for everybody. So having gone this far and your desire to continue is wonderful, and whenever you are ready to stop you stop and KNOW how fantastic you are. Because nobody in the world can understand you, your son or your boobs better than you. You rock!

Maya said...

Thanks for sharing this experience--it's really helpful. My daughter is now almost 10 months, and I really appreciate having a preview into these issues.

Ima Shalom said...

Mother in Israel, a question for you--why does the WHO have one standard for developed and undeveloped countries? Children in developed countries have better nutrition and medical care, as well as every available vaccine. Aren't their needs different, then, and perhaps less acute? Is this why the APA says 12 months?

Joyous Jewess said...

Congrats for finding your own path -- so hard to do in this very sensitive and intimate issue. I just weaned my babies (at 11 and a half months) and felt guilty that I "fell short" of my 12 month goal.... some how forgetting that at four months I was barely hanging on and thought I'd never even make it to six... They also came down with their first real cold immediately after I weaned them, which of course made me feel horribly guilty about "depriving" them of my antibodies.

Stacey said...

Here is the quotation from the aap guidelines. Notice the "at least 12 months"
Exclusive breastfeeding is ideal nutrition and sufficient to support optimal growth and development for approximately the first 6 months after birth....103 It is recommended that breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mutually desired.104