I Think My Nursling Is Weaning

Posted on January 8, 2010. Filed under: Breastfeeding | Tags: , , , , , |

And I am happier about it than I thought I would be although I am a little sad too. Graham has been down to two nursings a day for months now. He did it on his own. Sometimes he would nurse three times but mostly just twice. He would always nurse in the mornings, he HAD to, it was his coffee and then once in the afternoon. For the last week he has only nursed in the morning. He never asked at any point during the day. Then today, he didn’t ask this morning and never asked at any point. I can’t believe it really because that morning nursing has always been such a big deal to him. I am almost 14 weeks pregnant so maybe it tastes different, he never acted like it did though. Maybe there isn’t enough, I haven’t been very good about taking pre-natals and I don’t eat much. Maybe it’s just time. He just turned 21 months on the 5th (REALLY????!!!).

I had intended on nursing through the winter and weaning him at two, which will be in April, but I suppose if he is done then great. There are so many benefits to breastfeeding through the second year and I was hoping to continue those benefits. I believe child led weaning is the best method but I was going to gently encourage him in the hopes that by the time the new baby is born he would be done. Of course, I was mentally preparing to nurse both for a while because I didn’t want to upset Graham by weaning him then nursing a new born in front of him, that’s kind of mean.

Now if only potty training was that simple….

***UPDATE

A week after this was written it seems that my son is weaned. Over the next week, he only asked to nurse after waking up in the morning one time. A couple of mornings he was fussy and whiny like something was off (like not nursing) but he didn’t ask and I didn’t offer. He didn’t ask at any point throughout the day either. The last few days he’s woken up in the morning without so much as a thought of nursing. I guess it’s official, we are done! I am a little sad it’s ending but glad to finish this pregnancy without breastfeeding. I am also glad that I won’t have to worry about breastfeeding jealousy because by then he would have been weaned nearly six months. I was prepared to tandem nurse if necessary but I am kind of glad he weaned himself on his on when he was ready. I  feel accomplished!

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The Benefit of Breastfeeding Toddlers

Posted on August 25, 2009. Filed under: Breastfeeding, extended breastfeeding | Tags: , , |

I am still nursing my almost 17 month old. He generally nurses twice a day, sometimes only once  and sometimes three times but average twice. He HAS to have his morning nursing to start his day. It’s his morning coffee. During the day he may ask to nurse once or twice more depending on how busy we are and he if he thinks about it or not. He sleeps through the night and hasn’t had a night feeding since he turned one with the exception of a few nights where he was teething or not feeling well. I have no intention of weaning him until he is at least two and hope that he doesn’t self wean before then as he has a lactose sensitivity and I have no intention of giving him cows milk, especially while we are in Korea because the organic kind isn’t always available and I refuse to use the other kind plus I generally believe cow’s milk was intended for calves and not my toddler.  If he chooses to drink a little milk here and there later on (if he outgrows the lactose sensitivity), I won’t mind, but I certainly am not going to get into this whole idea of requiring or forcing him to drink a preset number of ounces of it daily. I feel confident in our very veggie heavy, very low processed food diet that he will get the proper nutrition and healthy fats without supplementing with cow’s milk.

People are often times surprised to learn that I am still nursing. The response ranges from ‘oh wow’ (as in ‘that’s cool!’) to ‘ooooh wow’ (as in ‘you freak!’). I have learned that the more shocked one is the less likely it is that they ever breastfed or they breastfed only a few short months. I am surrounded by mostly mainstream moms so it is not surprising to me and I actually enjoy telling them  because I hope that I am planting seeds in their minds for their own babies.  That said, I do enjoy sharing the information with them on the benefits of breastfeeding and extended breastfeeding.

Because my toddler nurses about 2 times a day off both sides for a total of about 15 minutes, I am estimating that he gets about 12-15 ounces of milk. I am not really sure as my breasts do not leak or get engorged and haven’t in months. I haven’t pumped in over a year so I probably couldn’t use that as a reliable way to tell what kind of supply I have either, I am pretty sure that I wouldn’t get much out if I tried. But just based off every thing I know about breastfeeding, I think I have a pretty fair estimate.  Below is a breakdown of what the nutritional value is of that amount of milk.

  • In the second year (12-23 months), 448 mL (15 ounces) of breastmilk provides:
    • 29% of energy requirements (calories)
    • 43% of protein requirements
    • 36% of calcium requirements
    • 75% of vitamin A requirements
    • 76% of folate requirements
    • 94% of vitamin B12 requirements
    • 60% of vitamin C requirements

    Dewey KG. (2001) Nutrition, Growth and Complementary Feeding of the Breast-fed infant. Pediatric Clinic of North America

These are amazing numbers, especially considering how tough it can be to get a toddler to eat sometimes! This is also way better than an artificially made vitamin as the vitamins from the breast milk are better assimilated by the body and the mother would never have to worry about vitamin toxicity. It’s perfectly made and balanced.

In addition to dietary benefits, there are many other health benefits.  Nursing toddlers have fewer allergies and  are sick less often.

  • The American Academy of Family Physicians notes that children weaned before two years of age are at increased risk of illness (AAFP 2001).
  • Nursing toddlers between the ages of 16 and 30 months have been found to have fewer illnesses and illnesses of shorter duration than their non-nursing peers (Gulick 1986).
  • “Antibodies are abundant in human milk throughout lactation” (Nutrition During Lactation 1991; p. 134). In fact, some of the immune factors in breastmilk increase in concentration during the second year and also during the weaning process. (Goldman 1983, Goldman & Goldblum 1983, Institute of Medicine 1991).

Some people think that nursing a toddler will create a clingy child. I completely disagree. My little guy is so independent that it drive me insane sometimes (like in the parking lot when he won’t hold my hand!). La Leche League’s statement for this is:

Breastfeeding a toddler helps with the child’s ability to mature. Although some experts say a toddler who is not weaned will have difficulty becoming independent, it’s usually the fearful, clingy children that have been pushed into situations requiring too much independence too soon. A breastfeeding toddler is having his dependency needs met. The closeness and availability of the mother through breastfeeding is one of the best ways to help toddlers grow emotionally.

Breastfeeding can help a toddler understand discipline as well. Discipline is teaching a child about what is right and good, not punishment for normal toddler behavior. To help a toddler with discipline, he needs to feel good about himself and his world. Breastfeeding helps a toddler feel good about himself, because his needs are being met.

The research is out there and the data proves it true: extended breastfeeding is healthy and beneficial. The American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommends that “Breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child..”  The World Health Organization and UNICEF recommend that babies be breastfed for at least two years.

I think it’s important to have maternal instinct validated at times. I would nurse to at least two or beyond anyway but it is nice to know that the facts and data are on my side.

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