How to Avoid Comments About Breastfeeding

This is a tricky subject, but one worth addressing. With my recent post about Kourtney Kardashian weaning and subsequent comments (plus the fact that it’s been on my mind with Peanut now two), I figured that I may have some information to share regarding the subject. I have managed to make it 2 years without any real negative comments about breastfeeding. I am constantly surprised that one fellow mom’s mother/mother-in-law/grandma/pediatrician tells her to stop. I am baffled by the stories of moms who are told to leave Target, Ikea, or swimming pools because they’re nursing. I am thankful every day that I haven’t had to be in one of those situations.

I know a lot of it has to do with luck. Yes, I am lucky for not being confronted about nursing Peanut. I am lucky that people around me are at least tolerant of breastfeeding. I am lucky that I haven’t been around the wrong stranger at the wrong time. Beyond that though, I believe there are some things that help you to avoid getting harassed for doing such a beautiful thing.

1. Get educated. As I’ve said many times on here, I am not a very verbal person. I think I feel the need to keep repeating myself because I am such a blab online, but if you’ve ever met me in person I think you know how little I actually speak up. Even in a one-on-one conversation, I am the person who often forgets words I’m trying to speak of, gets nervous and starts to do things like stutter, and even just avoid the conversation in general (watching a toddler is a useful way to do this). If you’re one of the people that hasn’t noticed this about me, you’re either one of the few that I don’t feel uncomfortable speaking around or you’ve caught me on a subject I have knowledge about.

That’s it, knowledge. Having actual facts ready and at your disposal helps immensely when dealing with a verbal opponent. If you walked up to me and started arguing with me about coffee beans that are destroying the rain forest, I would likely have some opinions about it, but not be able to back them up. This goes for even things that you feel so strongly for, but you don’t have the facts. So do yourself a favor and come up with at least one argument against any and all things people may say to you against breastfeeding. If someone were to tell me that nursing my toddler didn’t provide any nutrition, I would tell them that even if it didn’t, it would still provide immunities. If someone were to tell me that nursing my toddler will stunt her emotional growth, I would tell them that studies actually show that babies and toddlers who are securely attached are more likely to show independence later in life. I have little “comebacks” prepared for every reason someone could possibly come up with for telling me I shouldn’t nurse my toddler. Beyond these comebacks, I don’t really know where I’d go, but hopefully I never have to get that far. Which brings me to my second point.

2. Act more confident than you are. I’m sure it works to my benefit that I have this blog. I think most people who know me also know about it (and a few even read it! Ohaithar!). I don’t know if having the blog makes people understand I’m serious about this stuff or if they just don’t want me to talk bad about them on it. :-P You don’t have to have a blog about breastfeeding to avoid being hassled though. Just make your opinion known. I’m not talking about going around screaming “I breastfeed my child and you better not talk crap on it!!!!” There are simplier ways to make your opinions known. Being myself, if a conversations steers anywhere near breastfeeding, I tend to start awkwardly spouting facts about how great it is (I didn’t learn all these facts for nothing!). Simply making it clear that you’re not budging on your opinion may even help the “helpful” mother/mother-in-law/grandma/pediatrician/etc. understand that they can’t “help” you.

Now lastly,

3. Expect the worst. Quite pessimistic, eh? Not really. I don’t sit around dwelling on the fact that I may be confronted, but I just let it cross my mind. It’s a fact. As I adjust myself for Peanut to latch on while we’re sitting in the rec center watching Daddy play basketball or she’s cranky at the store or she hurt herself or any other reason a toddler may suddenly decide that she needs milk right now, I acknowledge the fact that I could be confronted right then and there. Sometimes I think about the laws of my state regarding breastfeeding in public. Sometimes I just remember a couple of the facts that I know. Sometimes I do nothing at all beyond being aware.

It seems like most moms who are confronted about nursing in public by a stranger are taken aback. If you’re not prepared for “the attack”, you won’t ever see it coming. You’ll be bamboozled and even the biggest breastfeeding advocate may find herself at a loss for words. So just know that it could happen to you at any time. It doesn’t matter if you’re nursing a newborn or a 4 year old. It doesn’t matter if you’re using a cover or not. You could get some snarky comment from an idiot who thinks they know more than you, so be prepared to show them how much of an idiot they really are.

Have you been confronted when nursing in public? Have you dealt with “well-meaning” (or possibly not even attempting to be “well-meaning”) family telling you it’s wrong to nurse? How have you handled situations of being confronted? Do you think any of these things help to avoid getting confronted or am I just a very lucky Mama playing Russian Roulette?

The Benefits of Breastfeeding {a Sick} Toddler

As I mentioned yesterday, we have the flu around the LG household. Lucky us?

Over this week (and past sick-times for that matter) I’ve really learned a great benefit to breastfeeding a toddler: breastfeeding a sick toddler.

No, I’m not saying I enjoy breastfeeding my toddler more when she’s sick. Actually, sometimes when she can’t breathe it’s annoying that she won’t stay latched and if she’s in pain at all, she certainly makes it known to my nipples. Really though, it’s a great benefit to still be breastfeeding. How so? Let’s go over some of the things that suck about having a sick toddler (and a sick mommy for that matter) and how they’re remedied with breastfeeding.

1. Sick kids don’t like to eat. I know of many-a-parent that give their kids pretty much anything they want when they’re sick because at least they’re eating. Actually, my in-laws brought Peanut gummy candy and chocolate cookies the other day probably with that same thing in mind. It’s hard enough to get any toddler to eat, let alone a sick one. This is where the breastfeeding comes in handy. Even when they refuse the yummiest candy in the world, most kids won’t turn down some milk. I was actually reading this funny thing online regarding breastfeeding sick toddlers. The toddler gets sick and they revert back to drinking mostly (if not only) breast milk, so they start having breastfed baby poo again! That actually happened to Peanut once over this ordeal so far and it was nice to not have a stinky diaper! My husband almost thought it was diarrhea though, so make sure not to take them back to the doctor for a new symptom that’s really nothing!

2. Sick kids don’t like to sleep. This one sucks anytime, but I would say especially so if mama is also sick. Last thing you need when you’re feeling awful is to be kept awake by your kid who is also feeling awful. Throughout this illness, it seems like Peanut is constantly on the verge of passing out, but won’t do it. All it takes is to get her to relax just a little bit and she’ll be knocked out. Guess what gets a grouchy kid to relax a bit? Breastfeeding! I swear Peanut falls asleep faster when she’s sick than when she’s well! I even used this just to calm her down for a bit. I was napping on the couch and she wanted me to get up, so I offered her milk and fell back asleep for another 20-ish minutes!

3. Giving sick kids medicine sucks. Medicine is often a necessary evil, but when we can avoid it and still get healthy, it’s definitely for the best. If you’re reading this blog, you probably already know about all of the goodness inside of that awesome breast milk. The important part in this sense is the antibodies. I have yet to have Peanut be sicker than me. Any illness in a small child is definitely cause for alarm, but she never gets super bad. I’m certain that a part of that is that I’m giving her antibodies through my milk that help her to get better faster. I also notice that her stomach and throat never seem to upset her very much, even when mine are killing me. Maybe this is because they’re frequently getting coated with the good stuff? As I said in my post yesterday, when considering whether or not to give Peanut the anti-viral medication, we specifically took breastfeeding into account. Do we really need to give her this medicine when she A. Doesn’t seem that bad, B. Is getting antibodies through my breast milk, and C. could have serious side effects from it? We decided no. Without the breast milk there giving her antibodies for the exact illness she had, we may have chosen differently, regardless of the possible side effects.

 

There are a lot of reasons that Peanut continues to breastfeed. I know that we’re getting to the edge of a lot of our friends’ comfort zones, but I want you all to know that I don’t plan on stopping any time soon. We will stop when Peanut is ready and not a day before. I will spend all the time up until then cherishing not only the special bond that we have through breastfeeding, but also the physical benefits we continue to get from it every single day (and the convenience of it for that matter). Weaning is not an active process, but something that happens gradually with time.

What Is Weaning?

In the rocking chair
with you hitching in my arms
your head against my chest
I’m holding you so tight
How did we get to this place?

It was a simply request
on both sides
a request for comfort and love
in the way she knows best
a request to simply try
try to survive without

The clash caused upset
caused screaming, tears, anger
Don’t touch me!
Feelings hurt, but with understanding
This is hard
harder than we could have ever imagined

Even when I let you lead our way
I still must set limits
but how do I know those limits are right?
How can they be right when they cause you pain?

This is a poem I came up with while I was attempting to get Peanut to go back to sleep without milk. She had just gone to sleep less than an hour before, so she definitely had a full belly. She wasn’t sick as far as I could tell. She seemed to just randomly wake up and stay up for whatever reason. This is a fight we’ve had before, but it’s hard every time.

Of course you all know I’m against cry-it-out. What you don’t know is that my child does cry in the room with me. When she’s not falling asleep, but is really close, I sometimes unlatch her and try to get her to finish falling asleep on her own. I don’t particularly want to night-wean, but it would be nice if she could sort of fall asleep on her own. I feel like it’s the natural progression with the fact that she’s mostly sleeping through the night now. (knock on wood)

She of course fights it and gets upset. It does end up working sometimes. I’ll tell her “Just try and if you can’t, then you can have milk.” Sometimes she tries and it doesn’t work. Sometimes she tries and actually falls asleep on her own. Sometimes—like tonight—she tries, it works, then she wakes back up within a few minutes and gets milk. Either way, I try to stay consistent and make her try to go to sleep on her own before I give her milk, even if it’s just for 30 seconds.

While this feels like the natural progression, it also feels awful. I don’t like making her cry at all. Heck, I don’t like her crying at all. And when she’s screaming at me “Mama mil mil mil Mama mil!!!” it makes me want to cry too. I could solve her crying right then and there, but I don’t. I am choosing to let her continue crying when I have the answer to her problem—literally—right in front of me.

At the same time, I feel that she’s old enough that I can set some limits. In the day time, she’s mostly okay with it. If I’m in the middle of something and I tell her to wait, she may have a bit of a tantrum, but after she’s done she’s on her merry way. It’s only when she’s trying to go to sleep that she screams and cries like this.

So followers, what do/did you do as your nursling grew to set limits? Did you set limits?

Nursing Manners

Peanut has suddenly had a dramatic change in her nursing manners. She’s always been “bad” when she’s going to sleep. For whatever reason, no matter what I do, I can not get her past twiddling one side while nursing on the other while going to sleep. I tell her no. I threaten “no more milk”. I actually stop giving her milk. None of it has worked and it’s incredibly frustrating, but I deal with it. I just keep telling her no and such until she gets sleepy enough that she doesn’t do it anymore or that I can hold her hand away.

The problem is now in the daytime. I feel like we’ve gotten to the point in our nursing relationship where I don’t have to give her milk every single time she asks for it. I’m not trying to wean or anything, but sometimes it’s just down right inconvenient. For instance, while I’m trying to have a conversation with someone and I know that she’ll just pull off if I let her nurse because she wants to talk too. Or when I’m in the middle of doing something on the computer. Or even just when I needed to delay it tonight until we got everything situated for bed.

Seems reasonable, no? Well, Peanut would say “no”. Actually, she’d probably say “NO!!!!!”

If I tell her no, she has a fit. Most of the time, it’s just a bit of whining which is fine. She does that whenever she doesn’t get her way. Then, if I continue to say no, she’ll start pulling at my shirt. She’ll pinch my breasts like I do to try to decide which side I nursed on last. She’ll even lick either any bare skin she can find (generally my arm or neck) or even my shirt. Not that I think this is her intent, but I find all of these behaviors very disrespectful and outright embarrassing.

What I’ve been doing is setting her on the floor and telling her that she can’t get back up because she’s being mean to Mama. I often explain to her that those behaviors don’t get her milk, asking nicely for milk gets her milk (also often with the stipulation that when Mama says no, you do not get milk). I even sometimes resort to leaving the room because she is so persistent.

Alas, the behavior is not improving. Actually, if anything I would say that it is worsening (she hadn’t done the licking of my shirt thing until today). This isn’t a deal breaker, but I greatly feel the need to make it stop. I know that patience is a big thing to ask of a 21 month old, but she needs to at least learn that when Mama says no, she means NO. Period.

Any suggestions? Has anyone else dealt with these kinds of behavior before? Possibly it’s just a stage?

How Long Is Too Long?

I’ll be the first to admit that I used to think extended breastfeeding (which I prefer to call full-term breastfeeding instead because of the negative connotations of the word “extended”) was weird. I specifically remember saying when I was pregnant that if they can ask for it, they’re too old.

Guess what? They start asking for it from day one. They ask for it by crying at first, then maybe pointing, then maybe signing, then maybe actually calling it something. We choose to call it milk. I’m sure that one day Peanut will come up to me and say “I want milk!” and I will give it to her. Why should I stop giving her something she loves (and something that benefits her immensely) just because she can form the words to ask for it?

Valerie posted a question on Facebook as her status:

1.5 years old and still bf’ing. Should I be concerned? How long should I let my son bf? #breastfeeding

After all of the responses (many positive about her breastfeeding and many not) I decided to pose my own question.

Breastfeeding becomes inappropriate/gross/sexual/etc. beyond age {fill in the blank}. No repercussions, just give me your honest answers. Treat it as a poll.

I was amazed at some of the ages/markers that people came up with on both mine and Valerie’s posts.

Of course, people said that the don’t need it anymore when they’re a toddler. While it is not technically necessary when they are older (yes, I consider breastfeeding necessary when they are infants), toddlers still enjoy many benefits of breastfeeding. The first six months are more important than the second six months which are more important than the third and so on, but a child still continues to benefit from breastfeeding as they get older. Actually, there are studies that show that the longer you’re breastfed, the more you benefit from some of the benefits like less illness and higher IQ (mentioned in this article).

Another common marker for stopping breastfeeding that I hear is “when they get teeth.” I tend to think that people who come up with this one don’t have children. Maybe if you don’t have children you don’t realize how young they are when they get teeth? That’s the only logic I can follow with this one. The majority of kids get their first teeth at six months, but some get them as early as two weeks! So if you stop when they get teeth, they don’t even get to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation! The same goes for “when they can walk” because the majority of kids start walking at one year and that doesn’t make it to the World Health Organization recommendation.

There were a lot of different qualifications. Some people throw out random ages without any explanation (because nursing at 2.99 years is different than nursing at 3 years?). Some people say a binky or thumb is better than breastfeeding beyond a certain age (which is actually bad for mouth formation and speech). Really, there are as many qualifying milestones or ages as there are people.

So what’s my end point? I know I always say that I’ll nurse Peanut as long as she wants, but at the same time I can’t see myself breastfeeding a seven year old. Though if you talked to me a year ago, I probably couldn’t see myself nursing Peanut now. I believe that breastfeeding is inherently non-sexual (unless you’re an adult with a fetish I suppose) so I don’t believe that it can ever be perverted (as some people mentioned on the threads). The bottom line is that there is no end point. No one can decide this end point for you and you can’t even decide your end point. To quote Justice Stewart (without the intention imply breastfeeding is obscene, because it’s not) “I know it when I see it.” You’ll know you’re end point when you’re there—and it’s different for every breastfeeding relationship.

The Joys of Breastfeeding a Toddler

Welcome to the Carnival of Breastfeeding! This month is about the joys of breastfeeding. Please read the other blogs in the carnival (listed at the bottom of this post).

Peanut,

You turned one on March 20, 2010. My original goal was to breastfeed you until you turned one and now that we’re here, I have no plans on stopping. There were so many joyous things about breastfeeding you and now there are more new joyous things about breastfeeding you as a toddler. Some of these things make life easier and some of them just make life that much happier. I truly do not know what I would do without breastfeeding.

Emotionally. I breastfeed you to get you to sit calmly when all you want to do is chase the dog. I breastfeed you to make you stop crying when you fall down the stairs. I breastfeed you when I want to relax on the couch for five minutes because I’ve been chasing you all day. I breastfeed you when you’re teething and whiny and I want to pull my hair out.

Physically. I breastfeed you so I can put your hair in pigtails without you trying to run away. I breastfeed you when you’re hungry and I forgot to bring snacks (as if you can ever forget to bring snacks when breastfeeding!). I breastfeed you when you wake up in the middle of the night. I breastfeed you so I can do homework or write my blog (like right now).

Bonding. I breastfeed you to make you laugh because tickling, funny faces, and especially chomping on your arm are that much funnier with a boob in your mouth. I breastfeed you when you want some mommy time. I breastfeed you so you’ll play with (and sometimes hit) my face, chest, and hair. I breastfeed you so you’ll stick your hand down my shirt because we both think it’s hilarious. I breastfeed you so I can see your face light up when I ask and sign “milk?”.

I’m so thankful that we’ve gotten through our rough spots and have the ability to continue this wonderful relationship. I mean, who would want this?

Here are more post by Carnival of Breastfeeding participants! More will be added throughout the day.

Year One

In just over a week, Peanut will be one year old. Wow… that’s crazy.

Of course, being a type A personality—as you all know I am—I love to plan everything and am very goal-oriented. When I was pregnant, I made a goal to breastfeed for one year. I figured I would breastfeed for one year, “have my body back” for at least one year, then give it away to another fetus in my belly, then breastfeed some more. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends at least one year (though the World Health Organization recommends at least two). It seemed very logical to me and I figured that once she was able to drink cows milk that there was no reason to do it anyway.

Boy, was I wrong.

Approaching her first birthday, I very quickly decided that I was no where near ready to stop. I’m very happy to have met another goal, but that doesn’t mean it ends here. I know many IRL friends and family read my blog and I’m sure all of you are starting to think I’m crazy (ha! Like you didn’t already?). When I was pregnant I remember specifically saying “Once they can ask for it, it’s time to stop.” So I know exactly what you’re thinking.

Why would you want to breastfeed a toddler? Let me break it down for you.

1. I have worked my ass off for this. Pardon the language, but there’s really no polite way to say that and still keep the meaning it needs. Breastfeeding in the beginning sucks. I know that everyone wants to pretend that it’s all butterflies and bubbles and it’s so natural of course they’ll just pop out and latch on, but really it’s hard work. I had cracked nipples, we battled thrush for over the first month of her life, and she had reflux so bad (nothing to do with the breastfeeding, just a reflux-y baby) that she ate at least every hour for the first six months. If we’ve worked so hard to get where we are, why would we suddenly stop just because we’ve hit the age limit?

2. I don’t know what I’d do without it. I know, I know, one day I’m going to have to learn how to parent sans boob. Does it have to be right now? No. When I did Peanut’s hair today, I fed her so she’d stay still. When she was really grouchy yesterday, I fed her on the couch for a full half hour (which we haven’t done in some time). Every night when she goes to bed I feed her to sleep. I don’t know how to parent without breastfeeding and I don’t feel the need to learn just yet.

3. I don’t care about your comfort. This post is so delicate and polite, don’t you think? I realize that breastfeeding a toddler gives some people the hee-bee-gee-bees, but I don’t care. I feel that every time that I nurse Peanut in public, I’m giving some more people the experience of seeing breastfeeding in a positive light. Look over there at that mommy and her beautiful little girl. They’re so happy. I want to be a happy mommy with a happy little girl when I’m older. I can affect other little girls in a way they won’t even remember when they become mothers, but showing them breastfeeding positively will help them get that never-ending determination to breastfeed that I had.

4. Oh, the benefits. It is the most well-rounded nutrition that she will ever experience. It continues to give her antibodies that protect her against illness and when she does get sick, it will be for less time and less severe. Breastfeeding longer helps prevent allergies and asthma (something I am personally plagued with). The longer I breastfeed, the higher her IQ is likely to be. I am meeting her emotional needs which  helps her to be well adjusted. Giving her emotional security fosters independence because she feels safe to be independent. Breastfeeding longer will give me a decreased risk of reproductive cancers, osteoporosis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

There are many reasons I will continue breastfeeding Peanut, but the most important one is I love her and it’s what works for us.

andrew koenig