Now I do not plan on naming names but I do need to get something off my chest – so to speak…
I am sure most of you know that Ken and I promote a breastfeeding as long as possible lifestyle. In fact we plan on my breastfeeding Emanuel well into 1 1/2 or longer. This was the plan with the twins although I was unable to go past 7 months due to health issues on both sides. This is not some "crazy scheme" we have thought up, we have researched and discussed this before we were even married. Breastfeeding is natural and if you CAN do it – God Bless! There are people whose lifestyles and/or bodies simply cannot make it work, even, in rare cases, babies who refuse to breastfeed from the very beginning, or more commonly, infants for who it is not a simple thing to do. I know of people who have pumped and bottled, breastfeed for as many months as they could and then moved to formula, not breastfed at all and even a friend who has gone as long as 4 yrs with her youngest. What works for your family is what is best. Our twins are perfectly fine with my breastfeeding, it is part of our lives and they have learned to grab things for mommy when she needs them, to not bug the baby and to be "good boys" (most of the time) while I am busy.
Now onto the reason behind this mini diatribe (is that the right word??)… in our lives there are a very small few (1 or 2) who are NOT supportive of this lifestyle AT ALL and this has caused a little stress on us. They did not breastfeed their kids and simply do not seem to see the positives behind it all. This is THEIR opinion and they are allowed to have it – what hurts for us is that they cannot seem to let go and understand we respect that this is not the path they did or would have chosen but for us, and we think for Emanuel, this is the best choice. In fact our pediatrician is EXCITED that we intend to breastfeed as long as possible, going the child led weaning route (where they gradually taper off according to their wish to feed or not). I know there are other people in our life that feel the length of time we plan (and yes this is not just MY decision – Ken is 110% behind this as well – you can ask him… he is the one who has done most of the research and is my best and most vocal supporter – I LOVE YOU DEAR) to breastfeed is excessive or odd but they are still supportive. I REALLY appreciate that. We do not ask that you follow our lead or even truly understand where we are coming from – just accept that this is what we are doing.
I have reasons behind this choice so I will lay them out for everyone:
#1. YES over the years the standard keeps changing – but never a SHORTER length of time for the optimum period of time to breastfeed – always LONGER. In fact in the past couple years they now say to hold off on solids until 6 months (unless the baby shows that they need more food than breastmilk/formula) this from the prevous 4 months. Apparently the beginner foods – cereals, fruits, veggies, are given even at 6 months more for practice, a learning of textures and tastes and some nutrients. A baby’s tummy is really not ready to break down the more complex foods so when you DO give solids really young (as was done in the past) all it does is fill them up leaving less room for the simple breastmilk (or formula) that their bodies need… this is also why I ALWAYS breastfeed first and then solids. We have a lovely pattern where I will breastfeed and then an hour later he is basically asking for his solids. It works for us. In fact our pediatrician suggests we go past a year to get the best for Emanuel. At this point I am no longer his MAIN source of nutrients but I am still contributing.
#2. Breastmilk is there for BABY. What is in my breastmilk in the very beginning is what my baby needs best. Then, over time it changes… you do not have colostrum the entire time you breastfeed – just the first few days. In fact I can breastfeed Emanuel while pregnant and continue to do so while breastfeeding the new baby – this is because there is still something there for him in the nutrients while it is tailored to the new baby. This is not to say I WILL since I tend to get VERY sick when pregnant and drop weight so it would probably be too big of a strain on my body. Anyway – my body is not going to continue taking from my reserves to produce breastmilk if it is not going to help Emanuel. He is still getting nutrients from me – how is that a bad thing?
#3. Bonding, breastfeeding after the nutritional value is, after all, a bonding ritual. Emanuel and I have, from birth been blessed with this bond. In fact he was kept with us from the moment of birth until getting checked over by the peditatrician and bathed before going home (which we did all in the same day!). The nurses and our doctor wanted us to start breastfeeding as soon as he was measured and cleaned. Ken read somewhere that until he is taken from me to be cleaned it is instinctual for him to squiggle and wiggle his way to the breast to start eating. After he has been taken away and cleaned that ability is lost. Now speaking from experience, the bond is different when you are allowed 100% access to your baby at birth and begin breastfeeding from the very start. With the twins we did not even get to hold them for almost the first week and breastfeeding did not start until close to 2. That is not to say that I have NO bond with the twins, but it is different. I can honestly say that if I had 10 more children (NO WAY but still) I would want to do what we are doing with Emanuel. Breastfeeding is comfortable and positive for us. Now for many other people it is an exercise in frustration… if it is a not a positive experience then by all means DON’T you will be tense and baby will be tense and it will just not work…
#4. Now here is one alot of people can really understand… it is CHEAPER to breastfeed than to buy formula. Trust me we KNOW! With the twins at the height of their formula intake we were going through a tin every 2-3 days… that is $20.00 CDN each time!
#5. Cuz I WANT TO.
I am sure there are many more reasons why we have chosen this route that simply are not coming to mind right now… I know that it has been said that he is old enough to have milk at this point so why are we still breastfeeding. He IS getting milk – mother’s milk – the best kind. Milk is hard on the stomach (cow) and as long as he is getting what he needs there is no need to rush into it. Right now I am working up to combinations of foods… he is trying cereals with fruit and veggies mixed in it in the next two weeks and then I am going to step up to cereal with a yogurt base. There is no rush, in time he will eat EVERYTHING.
I would like to deal with the comment we have gotten that we go too slowly with adding new foods. After all here Emanuel is days from being 1 and still on a diet of babyfood. Well… first of all – our pediatrician is not worried so why should you all be??? Emanuel did not need solids to supplement his breastmilk until 8 months old (this is actually younger than the twins) and even then he was picky and only wanted rice cereal. I am then adding slowly a new food every so often – which I also record (as I did for the twins). This way any negative reactions or allergies are easy to spot. For example – last week we gave him an apple mango combination that caused him to break out in a mild rash at both ends. Since I had already given him apple I know it is the mango and have backed off on it for a while and dealt with the rashes. This is also born out of the fact that the twins had a rather severe egg allergy that they are gradually growing out of. We went slowly adding foods with them and managed to figure that out the minute we saw the symptoms. I want to make this very clear we are NOT STARVING THE BABY! He will in time eat everything we do. The twins, in fact eat things that Ken and I do not – like fish. We are also very strict with sweets and sugared items. The twins drink only milk and water (another comment and eyebrow raising fact). We have tried to give them healthy watered down juices and they refuse them. Why worry? What is best for their teeth is NOT drinking juices and sugared drinks anyway.
I would like to add that though Emanuel is still breastfeeding and not yet on milk he IS drinking water out of a straw infant cup. Zander and Gavin taught him how to use it… we leave it at his level and he is able to drink water whenever he wishes. After breastfeeding we will often offer it to see if he would like a little "topping off." And every time we go to Emanuel’s check-ups we check in with our pediatrician.
I appreciate that what we are doing and how we are raising out kids (looking into homeschooling as well but that is another entry) is not everyone’s cup of tea but rest assured we ARE researching everything we do, we contact professionals and ask people who have done it already. I have resources both online and in person. We have a nice large support system and are both on board.
This is not to say I am going to "flop out a boob" and breastfeed in your face, if you are uncomfortable with it in your home say so. I do try to be discreet but if you do not want to see it and I am visiting please offer me a nice alternative to a public area. If you are in MY home, I am sorry but avert your eyes. This is how we live here and I would appreciate it if you would only bring positive energy into the situation. Children pick up on that after all. I can also promise that in public I will be using some sort of cover. We do not go into a restaurant and sit in the middle of the room so everyone dining there has to watch, but at the same time Emanuel deserves to eat just as much as you do!
I hope that this has answered some of the questions as to WHY we are going this route and what our intentions are. I will put down a site or two both here and under my list in regards to children so that you can get further information. Mainly I needed to do this just to let out some of my frustrations about those select few who simply seem against this without being hurtful. I will say no matter how many people speak out against us continuing breastfeeding or show distate – we are not going to change our parenting to suit the world. It works for us, please be content with that!
La Leche League (advocate breastfeeding worldwide)
Lactation Consulting Services Canada (resources for questions)
Breastfeeding Articles by Dr. Jack Newman (Candadian Dr who specializes in information about breastfeeding)
Dr. Jack Newman’s The Visual Guide to Breastfeeding (wonderful online resource)
Double Blessings Inc. (a resource for multiples nursing items)
So That’s What They’re For! (Breastfeeding resource book that I have found to be a MUST HAVE)
Mother of all Pregnancy Books (Canadian resource there is also a Baby, Toddler and Family book)
I hope these resources are useful. If you know of other sites that have been helpful please let me know ..