Monday, August 25, 2008

My Beautiful Booby Baby

So my little squalling newborn has grown and thrived on essentially my milk alone. She is still not a big solids eater. If she eats 2 green beans for dinner, I am thrilled! I think this is natural, and the way things probably used to be before Big Formula and Big Baby Food. She never was a fan of us feeding her solids... ever. When we started at 6 months it was more every few days trying solids, but now that I've been reading more, our culture is one of the earliest weaning and solid feeding cultures out there. Most other cultures read the baby for readiness signals when it comes to solids. Can Baby push to sitting alone? Does baby have at least one tooth? Does baby have a pincer grasp to self-feed? Claire had none of those at the 6 month mark!

So we just would try some solids every now and then. Finally about 2 weeks before she hit 12 months, she finally started "liking" solids. I am not sure if liking is the right word, though. I think she just wasn't ready. So on the same page, she's definitely not ready to wean yet. She doesn't drink well out of a sippy cup yet, but that's ok...I have plenty of milky for her needs!

Magical Mama's Milk bar is open 24/7/365 for Sweet Baby Claire. I read that only about 10% of babies are still nursing at the one-year mark, despite the US stats that 70% of moms leave the hospitals nursing. I don't know how the stats stack up at the 2 year mark. But I do find it incredibly interesting that the AAP only advises nursing mothers to do so for one year. This may lead many mothers to wean before they or their baby is ready.

Here is what it comes down to: "Even though the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends breastfeeding "for at least 12months, and thereafter for as long as mutually desired," extended breastfeedingis not a common practice in North America. Some even frown on the practice,saying it spoils the child or keeps the child from gaining independence.However, there are many benefits to breastfeeding beyond oneyear."Ok, so keeping that in mind, it's almost TO ME, like the AAP doesn't want to "upset" anybody who views things differently. Why breastfeed past one? Well, they are making toddler formulas now that go until age 24 months. Hmm. Seems like they are finally starting to realize that maybe 1 year olds need MORE nutrition. I would copy and paste this article, giving it credit of course, but I don't want to violate any copyright laws.

The English teacher in me would cringe! So read this short page: All of these benefits do not suddenly stop at a certain age. It's not like I'd wake up one day, and find my breasts leaking water instead of Magical Mama's Milky (OR MMM). When I first fed Claire at the hospital, it was pretty amazing, and it has only gotten better. I think that a lot of the pressure to stop prematurely is sad. It's mostly due to a lack of education. I'd actually be interested in reading ANYTHING that promoted early weaning. A child will not initiate self-weaning until 18-24 months. (If it happens earlier, it's Mother-Led weaning or a nursing strike.) I believe very strongly in child-led weaning.Even though Claire isn't eating tons of solids or drinking from a sippy, she is down to very few nursings during the day and when she does nurse, it's very fast! It's not like when she was a newborn and nursed every 2 hours for 30 minutes plus per session!

I don't know how I turned into a Lactivist. It just sort of happened. What is a lactivist? Go here to find out Basically it is a person that is active in promoting lactation. I really enjoy attending LLL meetings. So much that I attend multiple groups! It's great for Claire to socialize with the other babies and toddlers, and I love how educated and well-read all of the attending moms are. I always learn something.Perhaps it's my inner-dork that loves learning. Gotta feed that! It's also an incredible comfortable environment for Claire and I. And as another mom once said, "I can never get enough of the Mommy/Baby/Booby talk." Perhaps it's the irritating comments I've gotten about the sling or the front-carrier. I really want to sit down with someone who says something negative and talk with them, but who has the time?

Just yesterday at church, some old lady said, "You carried her for 9 months in the womb, and she turned one, and you've still got her in that thing?!" I said "Yup! I sure do!" in an overly cheery manner and walked away. I'm not sure if it was just a conversation starter, but I didn't have the desire at the time to talk to her. :)So don't you find that picture of Claire nursing really gorgeous? It's from a mom's-eye-view. I have several other ones, but they are mostly for me, and for Claire when she's older and wants to know about her nursing stage in life. (Like if she has a little sibling or more and asks if she was a baby, did she do that?) So I have some pictures to show her.ALRIGHT. So back to the AAP guidelines. WHY, may I ask, does WHO advise mothers to breastfeed for a MINIMUM of TWO years. Why 12 months different? Well, clearly America is lagging behind in the area of breastfeeding knowledge, which I think goes back to the whole prudishness of the USA in general. Just take the example of all the nude beaches in Europe. It's normal. It's NOT a big deal. It's not even a big deal on regular beaches and at pools for people to change openly and for women to go topless. It's normal for kids to go naked until much later (think pre-puberty-age). Now I'm not one to go flashing my boobs around while nursing in public. I always am discreet, but I don't think a woman should have to be, if she wants to nurse openly like she does normally at home. Check out this information

It says that both the AAP and WHO recommendations for solids are 6 months. MINIMUM. So why do so many doctors say 4 months is ok to start solids? Sad, really, very sad. No wonder America has a weight problem. Too much, too soon. I am not dissing any mom who has chosen to use formula in her baby's diet. A few months ago, I would have dissed more, but everyone makes their own decisions. I think every prego woman should read this site, as well: just think more moms would breastfeed or TRY HARDER if they knew the risks of NOT breastfeeding.

After reading all the stories in the LLL publication NEW BEGINNINGS of difficulties breastfeeding preemies, through cancer with one breast, etc, etc, I just think some people give up too soon, which is sad. I think formula should only be available with a doctor's prescription for babies that are in need of a medical intervention due to failure to thrive, or for adopted babies, of course, or for women with special circumstances when it comes to the breasts or milk issues. I think doctors need to be better educated as well, but perhaps BIG MEDICINE wants us to be a nation of formula feeders, so we get sick more and pad their pockets better.I thought twice about posting the picture above, and tried to find one that showed as little areola as possible, but why? Is it any more offensive than say, the statue of DAVID (where you can see his "junk").

I personally find the whole bottle and pacifier culture more offensive because these are substitutes for the mother. So that 4 year-old you see walking around the store with the paci really just has a breast dildo hanging out of his/her mouth.I didn't mean for this post to get so long, but I find I still have more to say on this topic. Basically, no, we are not weaning yet. I would be honored to nurse Claire till she's 3 or even 4. But I know by that point as well it will be at bedtime and other occasional instances. Nummies are her world. And I can't take her world away. Nor do I want to. If she still wants it; she still needs it. "You can lead a horse to water, but you can NOT make it drink." Because as any mother knows, you can't make a baby take a breast if it doesn't want to. Perhaps I've said too much, but I feel like it's too little. But that's it for today.


Pam said...

Gorgeous picture!

Amy said...

Wow, Maria, tell us what you really think! :)

I nursed Mary Grace until she was 28 months, through my pregnancy with my Claire and 9 months of tandem nursing. Claire is 17 months, and while I'd LOVE to wean her because I have been pregnant or nursing or both for almost 4 years (it'll be 4 years in November), she's not ready. I'm actually nursing her as I type this. Ha ha.

I used to feel exactly the same way that you do about formula - that it should be prescription only. However, having seen the struggles of some of my friends, friends who have had to go back to work 6 weeks after their babies were born, friends who tried to pump but couldn't make enough milk, and so on, I have to say that until our culture becomes more supportive of families, mothers, and breastfeeding in general, formula needs to remain an option for all parents. There are just too many things that interfere with nursing in our culture, the expectation that we'll cheerfully return to a paid job at 6 weeks post-partum being the main one.

Also, when you see a mother giving her baby a bottle in public, don't forget that it could be expressed milk. She may be too embarrassed/shy/uptight to nurse in public. Or the baby may be adopted - any number of things. So be careful not to give her a hard time because a lot of moms are out there getting the hairy eyeball for doing the best they can - whether they're nursing or bottle feeding.

Take care!

Amy said...

Oh, I forgot - the medical establishment will never make formula a prescription, anyway, because then insurance would have to cover it, and it would cost them a fortune.

Ok, that's it. :)

strwberrryjoy said...

I totally agree with everything you said, formula would never be covered by insurance! Our culture has the worst maternity leave policies ever! And we have really abnormal expectations! Who feels well at 6 weeks post-partum! And I'm "really" not trying to judge or give hairy eyeballs...this was more towards moms who never try to breastfeed (and I gave my little adpotion disclaimer), or towards those who push others to wean prematurely.

Patty said...

I LOVE that pic!! And I have found myself to be a lactivist as well. I used to be kinda disgusted at the whole bottle thing, but now I'm just sad. Mostly I'm sad because we, as a nation, havve given up our common sense and allowed a medical establishment to dicide things for us, even whe our own insticts tell us something different. Keep in mind, I'm in that establishment, but nurses are primarily women, and docs, although they have caught up a bit, docs are still mostly men, and I love em, but they don't get the whole biological attachment, instinct thing... So, thanks for the post!! I love it!