Breastfeeding. It’s what I’m all about as a lactation consultant. I have built an entire career around helping you to breastfeed your baby. Part of the reason that lactation consultants even exist is that our culture didn’t always place such a high value on breastfeeding. But now it seems like the pressure to avoid formula is everywhere. In fact sometimes it seems that everyone around you is concerned about whether or not your baby gets your precious milk. Continue reading
Category Archives: benefits of breastfeeding
Breastfeeding Help from your Physician? Maybe Not.
Breastfeeding is something that every mother and every baby has a right to do. More importantly, it is widely accepted as the preferred way to feed a baby. We can all rattle off numerous health risks to mom and baby that can result from artificial feeding. It follows, then, that our health care providers—especially those who are charged with the task (and privilege!) of supporting new mothers and vulnerable infants—would be well versed in how to support the breastfeeding dyad. Tragically, this is sometimes not the case. Continue reading
Nursing Your Older Baby or Toddler
The word breastfeeding typically conjures up soft-focus images of mom/baby blissful, peaceful togetherness. The baby is still, looking up into mothers eyes, or perhaps drinking with eyes closed. Mother has a dreamy look on her face as she enjoys the warmth and glow of oxytocin. It is a beautiful, serene picture.
As you baby grows, things may change. You will still get those sweet, sleepy nursing times. But when awake, your older baby will want to move. She may even want to move while she is attached to the breast. She may put her foot in the air. Or on your shoulder! She may want to nurse standing up or upside down. She will want to see the source of the noise across the room. She wants to interact with big sister without letting go of your precious breast. And often, she doesn’t seem to realize that the breast is attached to YOU! We often call this “acrobatic nursing.”
Some older nurslings will find it absolutely necessary to keep at least one hand busy throughout the nursing time. Your baby may want to play with your hair, your necklace or a toy. He may even want to hold the other breast. Even though all of these behaviors are perfectly normal and developmentally appropriate, I’m the first to admit they can be annoying.
Breastfeeding is a relationship between 2 people. If there is something going on during breastfeeding that is painful or you simply don’t like it, it’s perfectly ok to say so! When your newborn baby didn’t latch correctly and it hurt, you broke the latch and tried again. If your toddler is amused by pinching your belly fat while she’s nursing and you don’t like it, you can let her know it’s not ok. It’s completely appropriate for you to set limits. It’s your body! If, on the other hand, you find your nurslings acrobatics amusing and cute, by all means, enjoy!
One of the truly wonderful and often overlooked benefits of nursing toddlers is the immediate pain relief it provides. Toddlers fall—a lot. They bang into things. They get frustrated by what they can’t do yet. A quick dose of your milk will often cure whatever has made your toddler dissolve into tears. Whether it’s rage or pain, nursing is nothing short of miraculous.
Enjoy your nursling. This time is short. Soon he’ll be running around having fun with his friends and will simply be too busy to cuddle with mommy. Oh, ok.. maybe just a little!
See also, “Breastfeeding and Biting: Tips to Avoid Those Teeth!” And “Weaning: What’s Normal?”
Thankful for Breastfeeding
Recently a client sent me a nice note with a generous check. She had been feeling gratitude for the help she received to breastfeed her son. There were multiple lactation consultations in her home, a frenotomy (the procedure to release a tongue tie) and body work for baby. There were many up-front costs–some of which were not covered by insurance. Here’s what she wrote: Continue reading
Weaning: What’s Normal?
I am often asked, “How long should I breastfeed my baby?” My standard answer is “As long as both of you desire!” But sometimes parents are looking for more details about what is normal and what is the expected age of weaning. I usually quote from one of the leading experts on this topic, Dr. Katherine Dettwyler. Dr. Dettwyler is an Anthropologist who, among other things, studies breastfeeding from an anthropological perspective. Her research has been a gift to our profession and to mothers and babies all over the world.
Since I am asked this question so frequently, I decided to write a post about the subject. And since I see no need to re-invent the wheel, I asked Dr. Dettwyler for her permission to post this excerpt from her paper, “A Natural Age of Weaning.” Thank you, Dr. Dettwyler, for your gracious permission to reprint a portion of your paper here: Continue reading