In San Francisco it is the norm to exclusively breastfeed your child for the first 6 months. If you are a stay-at-home mom, like myself, most of us will breastfeed the first 12 months. And at one-year old, it is over!
With my first daughter, I don’t recall weaning being a big deal. I do remember 2 – 3 nights of a little complaining when I offered her a bottle of warm milk instead of the boob. Our second is a different story…
Little girl, M, has a strong personality, and we see it in everything she does. She is not letting go of her special mommy time without a fight. I have successfully got M down to 3 feedings a day.
I always swore that I wouldn’t be the type of mom who offered my child my boob every time she crawled up and gave me a snuggle. Not that there is anything wrong with that. I have just been strict and feel that there is a time and place to breastfeed one’s child – for us that is first thing in the morning, mid-day (usually before her afternoon nap), and before bedtime.
When my children were infants, I felt different about when and where I would breastfeed. It was usually anywhere and everywhere because as an infant, when you are hungry, you are really, really hungry. And, infants don’t know how to wait long.
Now that M is 12 months old, I tried to drop the mid-day feeding, recently. She cried before falling asleep for her nap, as I expected, but it was no big deal. She slept fine. But, when she woke, she fussed and fussed and fussed. My husband looked at me and asked me what was wrong with her.
Could it be that she wanted “mommy milk” (as we now call it to distinguish from cow’s milk)? Once I fed her she was fine and went about her busy self. It has been a few weeks, and I am not sure if I am ready to try to give up the mid-day feed again.
Some moms talk about weaning like it is no big deal. Drop a feed here, drop a feed there. Some moms I know are still working on it. I always said that when my child can lift up my shirt or verbalize that she wants milk from me, then she is too old. But, is she? That is the question I am now pondering as I snuggle with my baby each time and see (literally) tears streaming down her little face as I feed her.
At our 1 year well-baby check-up, I got my pediatrician’s point of view. My pediatrician is no-nonsense and tells me how it is – that is what I like about her. Her comment: “I’m ok with you doing that” when I told her that I was still breastfeeding M. She indicated that at this age it is emotional and not nutritional.
“What about antibodies?”, I asked. Her response: “negligible”, meaning that M wasn’t getting many more than she already has. She then reiterated that she needs to be drinking cow’s milk – which she doesn’t – but that is a whole other post!
So, I double-checked to see what the American Academy of Pediatrics had to say. They stated, “Babies should continue to breastfeed for a year and for as long as is mutually desired by the mother and baby.” (http://www.aap.org/breastfeeding/faqsBreastfeeding.html)
Hmmm…I then checked in with the La Leche League – but their site made my head spin with too much information, so I shut it down fast.
As for those antibodies, I do brag that my children do not get ear infections. Big girl has had 1 that I know of, and we opted not to treat it with antibiotics. And, little girl has not had one yet (hope I didn’t jinx myself). So there must be something to it, right?
So, what am I going to do? Being that it is cold and flu season, I think I am going to use the antibodies excuse and keep feeding M a little bit longer.
I am shortening the duration of the feeds, which although she is not happy about it, it is helping me be less strapped to her. My new rule is that when I hear her stop swallowing (meaning that she is now just suckling and not drinking milk), it is time to unlatch. I do this at night by singing her a bedtime lullaby (Braham’s lullaby to be exact) and then count backwards from five. At nap time, I simply count backwards when I am done in order to let her know it is coming.
The mornings are tough. That has always been our cuddle time, where I let her nurse as long as she wants. Why? More advice from the pediatrician – and this was from her personal experience not clinical – “let baby nurse once a day for as long as she would like, and she won’t use a pacifier or suck her thumb.” It has worked with both my girls! So, letting go of that morning feed is going to be the hardest.
Maybe one day I will simply wean her cold turkey. I told my husband that I want to leave for the weekend and let her forget about it. But not now, maybe in the spring when it stops raining here in Northern California. In the meantime, I am going to enjoy cuddling with little girl M because before I know it, she is going to be a big girl, too.
Did you breastfeed your child? If so, how long did you breastfeed for? And, do you have any advice for A. Roselyn?
This is an original World Moms Blog post by A. Roselyn of San Francisco, USA.
Photo credit to http://www.flickr.com/photos/28332173@N03/3315953152/. This photo has a creative commons attribution license.