"Many women have described their experiences of childbirth as being associated with a spiritual uplifting, the power of which they have never previously been aware...To such a woman childbirth is a monument of joy within her memory. She turns to it in thought to seek again an ecstasy which passed too soon."

Grantly Dick-Read

Monday, October 4, 2010

My response to Tianna

Tianna commented on the post below about my breastfeeding story. She had some questions for me, and my response was too long to post in the comments section. If anyone else has any other advice to offer on this subject (the logistics of nursing an older baby), please do contribute!


Tianna, thank you :) I have been inspired by many, many women, so I am so happy to do the same.

(Nursing my two month old at the Grand Canyon...can't even tell, right?)

I do not, regularly, use a breastfeeding cover. I have gotten good enough at it where I can nurse very discreetly. I always have on a tank top underneath my shirt, so I will pull up my shirt and then pull my tank top down underneath my breast. I'll cover my breast with my hand while the baby latches on, then my shirt will cover the rest of it while she nurses (I realize that I am a small-chested woman, so this works for me, but it may not work if you have a large chest...I don't know about that because I don't have a large chest!). When she gets distracted and pulls off, I quickly pull my shirt down. That means I am always very self aware and never show anything. Most people don't even realize I'm nursing. There are times when I do use a cover. Often it is in a social situation where I feel uncomfortable because I know others feel uncomfortable with me nursing, like around lots of guy friends, etc. Sometimes, I do leave and go to another room because being around people is just too distracting. When the baby was small, I would nurse in Sacrament meeting without a problem. More often now, I go to the lounge because it is less distracting for her.

I am not perfect at nursing on demand. She still uses a binky and I like that. But I have tried to be more aware this time and offer her my breast when she cries, rather than offering her a binky. She will nurse anywhere and in any position. She nurses while I chase the toddler around, getting him off tables, etc. She nurses while I clean up toys. She nurses while I hold her brother. She is really adaptable because she loves it so much.

Max was not difficult to wean, but I think it is because I never really, really nursed him for more than just feedings. By the end, he was nursing three times a day. Gradually, we stopped nursing before his nap - I just would lay him down with his binky instead of nursing him. Then, instead of nursing him in the morning, I'd take him right out of his crib and we'd go eat breakfast. At night, I just didn't nurse him one night and that was that. It was really easy to wean him (easy logistically but not easy emotionally), but again, I feel that it is probably because I never really nursed him for much more than nourishment. I do not know how it will be with Maude, since I've approached the whole thing much differently this time around. However, I'm not worried about it. I am quite comfortable with nursing her as long as she needs it. Yes, even if she is 2 years old. I know that is not culturally acceptable, but it feels right to me and I believe that relationship is very important...even past one year old.

Max never drank milk. He doesn't like it. I don't like milk either. At first, I was concerned about it. But after a lot of research and prayer, I decided it wasn't a big deal. We are made to think that dairy is where we get all of our nourishment, but that's simply not true. In fact, too much dairy can cause problems like inflammation and over-production of mucous. He eats a very well balanced diet and he eats other dairy products like cheese and yogurt very well. If you are concerned about liquid intake, you could offer almond milk, whole milk or raw cow's milk, or rice milk. I don't recommend soy milk.

As for the babysitter goes...here are my thoughts, and I realize that this may not be how everyone thinks, but it is how I feel. When I am a nursing mother, I try to remember what a privilege and blessing it is to be a nursing mother and to be the only one who can provide that nourishment for my baby. That means that I may have to sacrifice things while I am nursing. For example, I cannot leave my baby overnight or for more than a few hours at a time. But, to me, that never feels like a sacrifice, because honestly, I do not wish to be away from my baby or toddler for that amount of time. For me personally, if I need to get away and have time to myself, an hour or two is enough for me to feel rejuvenated. If we go on a date, that is trickier. I will make sure to nurse the baby right before we leave, and we will go on a short date. Or, if needed, we'll come home and feed the baby, then go back out. I have not had success with pumping after the first few weeks of the baby's birth. I don't pump more than just an ounce or so, so I don't even try. I just realize that a bottle is not an option for me, and leaving them for a long time is not an option either. As long as I realize that it isn't an option for me, it doesn't feel hard or annoying. Honestly, it doesn't bother me, though I know, for some women, it is very important for them to be able to not feel "attached" in that way. Or for others, who work, it is a necessity to be away. I don't have any advice on that front because I have not been in the situation where I've had to leave my baby for work.

When the baby is older, they can go longer between feedings. I find that it is much easier to leave the baby as they get older. Before the baby is 6 months old, I rarely leave. If I do, it is for only an hour and a half. Or else, I am rushing home feeling stressed that the baby is hungry. Once they can eat solids, you can distract them with that until you return.

Do you have any other questions? Did I answer everything you were wondering?


  1. Because I just posted photos of myself over on At Mother's Breast, I've been thinking the past couple days about my own breastfeeding story. I think I will write it out entirely and post on my blog soon.

    I think you answered all Tianna's questions very well.

    I've been blessed to have a pretty easy time breastfeeding. Although I did get mastitis for the first time after nursing for more than 2 years! For me, I haven't worried too much about all the logistical factors. I've never counted feedings in a day or timed feedings. I offer the breast when the baby is fussy. If she refuses it I try to figure out what else she might need. I use the pacifier a little bit. Mostly when she's tired but doesn't want to eat. I am pretty much always holding my baby, so I'm able to read her cues quickly and easily.

    This approach does mean that I don't leave her for very long or very often. But as you said, I'm totally ok with that. I feel like that's just part of life with a small baby. I like to think of the first 9 months as another gestation--just on the outside this time. But those first 9 months should mostly be spent in the mother's arms close to the breast. We mother's are our babies entire world at first. Treasure that time. It goes so very quickly.

    With my two year I don't nurse on demand anymore. He does nurse a lot more than he did before the baby was born because now I have nice creamy milk again. But I can tell him not right now or we'll nurse after dinner, etc. And his sessions are often quite short. When I need him to finish up I count down from 10 and then say blast-off and then he comes off. Works quite well most of the time. :-)

  2. Good answer, Kami. I have pretty much always breastfeed on demand, including for comfort, so I'm used to it. I now breastfeed without a cover the same way you described, though I used to use covers or find private places more, but the more I've nursed the better I've gotten at doing so discreetly.

    Neither of my babies has used binkies much, they just haven't liked them. Neither has ever really had bottles either. Every baby is different--My second likes to be held and rocked to sleep, has had some issues with spitting up, and loves solid food, while my first always wanted to nurse to sleep and never spit up and was not that interested in solids. Neither has ever really taken a bottle. I don't leave my babies with others very much. With #1, we took her with us everywhere we went--doesn't work as well now that we have two and we're still working it out, though I have been a little less paranoid that he is going to need me while I'm out than I was with my daughter. Now that he is eating solids, I am staring to be able to leave him longer.

    Nursing a toddler is different because it is no longer their primary nutrition source, so I feel okay starting to restrict nursing sessions after age one (nursing a certain number of times a day, waiting until we get home, etc). My daughter's weaning story in on my blog: http://birthunplugged.blogspot.com/2010/07/no-nutritional-benefit-breastfeeding.html

    I also have a list of links about modesty and breastfeeding here: http://birthunplugged.blogspot.com/2010/08/latter-day-saint-perspectives-on.html

    the third site on that list (Stand and Deliver) recently posted a drawing found in the LDS Church History Museum depicting an 1871 sacrament meeting which shows women nursing in the crowd: http://rixarixa.blogspot.com/2010/08/high-res-images.html

  3. This is my first comment on your blog, but I have a question that I would love some input on from other mamas with older babies.

    My son is 13 months old and still loves to nurse, and I'm glad because I love it too. I plan to continue nursing until either he doesn't want to anymore or I run out of milk. My concern, though, has to do with how much other food he eats.

    After he was 6 months old, I started trying to give him solid food. He HATED all those baby food purees and steadfastly refused every one of them, though he'd eat small, soft bites of whatever we were having that wasn't dairy, nuts, eggs, etc. When he was 10 1/2 months, I figured out that if I thickened baby food with rice or oatmeal cereal, he'd actually eat it. This went on almost until his first birthday, when he decided he was done with baby food, and that was that!

    Now, at 13 months, he'll eat pretty much anything I put in front of him, which means he gets a fairly well-balanced diet -- he just won't eat very much. As in, maybe 10-15 smallish bites and he's done. He does this for breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, and dinner. He is nursing between all these meals at least once just because, plus every time he goes down for a nap and at bedtime and a few times at night. Again, I'm good with all the nursing. I'm just worried that he isn't getting enough other food.

    Should I worry?

    What can I do, short of cutting back on daytime nursing (which I have been trying this week and HATE)?

    Please help!

  4. Kathryn...DON'T worry! That is totally normal. He's eating quite a lot for a 13 month old. Sometimes my two year doesn't even eat that much solid food in a day! (The not eating as much solids started after baby sister was born and the good milk came back.) Your son will eat more if he's hungry.

  5. Kathryn, I remember feeling much how you feel when my son was your age. I was constantly worried that he wasn't eating enough, especially because he did not want to drink any milk (and I thought "if he isn't drinking milk, how will he grow?!?" silly me).

    I would say your son is perfectly fine. Babies are amazing and know when they're hungry and how much they need to eat. As long as he is nursing and happy, I think he's fine. Try not to worry yourself! Good luck! And, thanks for the comment, glad to have you here! :)

  6. Thanks Kami and everyone else that commented! I think that does answer my questions. I remember having another question when I first read it, but now I can't think of any. The only comment I have is that I'm fine taking a baby with me places, but there are some places I can't. Like the temple. BJ and I have recently made a goal to go to every Utah temple in a year. Which is about once per month. But I can't take a baby in there with me. But I guess I can always try pumping for something like that.

    My other concern is with modesty. I couldn't figure out how to be discreet last time. It probably started with my rough start breastfeeding, so I would always just nurse in my bedroom because all my stuff was back there. And then for the next three months when I wore a nursing shield, it was just easier to wear a nursing cover. And then that just became the norm. So when she started flailing and popping off, I didn't know how to nurse without a cover, so it was back to hiding in bedrooms every time I nursed. Which was lame. So, I guess next time around I'll just have to keep experimenting!

    Thanks again for the blog!

  7. I know what you mean about attending the temple. That has been a hard one. I'd definitely say pumping would be great for that. For me, although it isn't ideal, I just haven't been able to attend as often as I'd like. Or, I have done things besides Endowment sessions. Now that Maude is older, I can start going again because she'd be fine to be left for that amount of time. I think whatever way you do things, the Lord will understand. He wants us to nourish our babies in the best way possible and if that means we can't make it to the temple as often as a non-nursing woman, I think he understands and is merciful.

    I also understand what you're saying about your situation with nursing and using a cover. I think no matter what way you nurse, as long as you feel comfortable, that is what is important. Hopefully next time, you will find a rhythm that works for you and not be banished to the room quite as much :(