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ready, set, wean!

Posted Apr 23 2009 4:20pm

The American Academy of Pediatric's official stance on breastfeeding advocates "Exclusive breastfeeding for approximately the first six months and support for breastfeeding for the first year and beyond as long as mutually desired by mother and child."   Which sounds awesome in theory.  In practice, I frequently wonder exactly how many of the Academy's voting members on this policy were actually breastfeeding moms.

Don't get me wrong - I am completely pro-breast feeding.  If it is working for mom and baby.  It never ceases to amaze me how breastfeeding can simultaneously be one of the most natural things in the world and one of the most difficult. This is particularly true for Baby Bunchers, many of whom find themselves either pregnant or nursing (or both!) for a minimum of three consecutive years of their lives, frequently more.

I have long held the year-long breastfeeding goal as a standard I hoped to reach someday.  I nursed my oldest pretty much exclusively for nine months and then he kind of weaned himself.  Never much of a cuddler, he just really didn't seem to want to draw sustenance from me anymore.   He was a busy, busy boy and didn't want to be pinned down to eat.   I will confess that, as a first-time mom, I did worry that if I pushed through the apparent urge to self-wean that I would somehow force him to revert and get overly attached and  find it so hard to break the "habit" that I would be nursing a fifth grader.  
Figuring that we only had three more months until I could move him over to cow's milk and I might as well dip into those free formula samples from the hospital, I just kind of let it go. Good thing, too, because a month later I would find out I was already two months pregnant with his brother.  Who says breastfeeding is birth control?

Baby Number Two had issues.  Looking back, I think he may have had undiagnosed reflux, but I'll just say that in conjunction with his physical issues and his older brother's refusal to sit still for more than five minutes, feeding was a nightmare with him from day one.  I started supplementing at around three weeks, beat myself up daily for my inability to make nursing work, and finally signed off ( with much regret ) around four months.  And I regret giving up so soon to this day.

Enter Baby Number Three and I am hell bent on nursing to the one-year mark.  I have been supplementing a little since the beginning once my supply was established
(darn, that formula is a slippery slope once you start it).  Butwe've pushed through all the hurdles and continued nursing and now he gets maybe one 8 oz bottle a day, and not even every day.  We're now trekking along at almost nine months, on target to make the one year mark. 

But this week he started moving - alot.  So much that nursing has become a physical battle.  He now attacks the breast like a ferocious dog, sucks furiously to achieve letdown, and then can't be bothered to stick around for the payoff.  Nope - he's practically crawling out of the room with my breast clamped in his mouth.  When I am able to convince him to sit still long enough to eat, he's either poking my eyes out, clawing at my hair, or shoving his fingers in my mouth.  Or sometimes, instead of draining the breast like he did as an infant, he sips at it.  Luxuriously, at his convenience - when there is nothing more interesting going on in the room.  Somehow he didn't get the memo that breastfeeding is neither a Iron Man triathlon water station nor a tea party.

Once again, my little one's apparent lack of attachment to (or even interest in) nursing is weakening my resolve and threatening to keep me from the one-year mark.   But I'm determined to push through it this time.  Baby Number Three is the final chapter and this is my last chance to show the AAP once and for all that I can run with the big dogs. 

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