Breastfeeding and Weaning

Posted by  | Monday, January 19, 2009  at 1:00 AM  
We originally discussed this topic on Prayer of Hannah in November 2007. Here is the link to my original post where I shared about my experience nursing Lydia, the incredible (and unequaled) benefits of breastmilk, and practical steps you can take to ensure success. I don't want to duplicate that information, but really encourage you to start with this post as an introduction to our discussion this week.

When we originally dealt with this topic, I was still nursing Lydia and wondering about weaning. So, I'd like to take this opportunity to share my experience with weaning. . .

Lydia loved to nurse just as much as I loved for her to nurse. Around 11 1/2 months she finally began to eat food and, pretty much without resistence, cut down from 6 feedings a day to 4. We stayed like this for several more months, but I never got my period. We wanted more children and I was anxious to see if cutting out more nursings would start my cycle. Around 14 1/2 months I cut her down to 2 feedings a day - morning and night. She objected, but in a couple days adjusted and we were both happy to have those two precious cuddle/nursing times a day. My husband and I talked about it and decided 18 months would be our goal for me to wean her. When she was 16 1/2 months old we traveled to Thailand and, during that 2 1/2 week trip she nursed like crazy! I decided not to worry about it (and isn't it amazing that your body's supply can adapt like this!) and, when we got home returned back to our 2 times a day schedule. Gradually I would try to drop a night time feeding - by giving her milk in a cup during her bath and making sure she was full and then reading books and distracting her from the idea of nursing before sleeping (the morning feeding was the last one I dropped). When Lydia was 20 months old I had to travel for 4 days without her so I decided to just go ahead and nurse her until 19 months - which would give her a month to be weaned before I just "cold turkey" left her alone with Josh. I was hormonal and cried and sad to wean her, but, again, thought about the goal and knew we were not getting pregnant while nursing - which is probably the only thing that gave me the strength to not give in and keep nursing her until she weaned herself - whenever she might choose that (I do think infant-led weaning is super cool and would love to do that one day!). Eventually I would just nurse her at some random time every other day, and that was mainly because I would be in pain and need to have the milk eaten! (Interestingly, I never got an infected clogged duct in my breast until I started the weaning process.) It was hard for her and me (I noticed her being more clingy) but, ultimately, I was the parent and had to make the decision. I stuck with it and, within a week of weaning, she seemed adjusted and fine. Today, when she sees my chest she'll say, "Baby's milk" and we talk about how soon I'll be feeding her two brothers :).

I am a major advocate of breastfeeding. Breastmilk truly is God's perfect food for our babies and there is nothing else that even comes close (I do NOT consider formula an equally good or even close alternative). I do understand, though, that there are, in rare instances, special circumstances that necessitate the need for formula. Praise God there is that option there in these circumstances!!

I hear many women say they just didn't produce enough milk to feed their baby. I was reading recently about the quality and quantity of milk your body can produce. The question posed was, "If a mother's diet is lacking in certain vitamins, will her milk also be lacking?" Answer: No, her body will still make milk with all the vitamins/minerals it should have. However, the QUANTITY of milk she will be able to produce will definitely be affected. It made me wonder if our fast food, junk food culture had even given second thought to whether or not the lack of nutrition we give our bodies affects even the quanity of milk we are able to give our babies. . .

I am now pregnant with twins and can't wait to get to nurse these two little blessings. My goal and prayer is that I will be able to nurse them just like I was able to do with Lydia - and never need to supplement with formula. The next time we revisit this topic, I hope to be able to write on my experience nursing multiples!

11 comments:

ChezDeshotels said...

Thanks Krista for the wonderful post and I so agree with your first post about the sucess has much to do with how many bottles you have. I understand those painful times since we had a new baby 6 days ago and this is my first expereince with breastfeeding. Wow can we say I have been in some pain with engorgment but Lillian has latched on great and I have a great supply of milk. During the first two weeks your body makes receptors to how much mik to produce so I am trying to nurse Lillian and then pump immediatly following so I can produce enough to supplement my sister's baby who is 9 weeks. Because of a health issue she has her body produces 0 milk and and so my other sister (she has a 6 month old) and I are supplementing her baby. I pray I continue to be sucessful because my sister's passion is breastfeeding and she grieved so much about not being able to. I can't say enough about the positives of breastfeeding even in the middle of the pain and also one more thing I totally agreed with Krista on is your husband's support. In is invaluable and nessasary!

Mallory, Amy & John Mark said...

Krista,

Thanks for great wisdom on this topic. I loved breastfeeding my son and am pregnant with a daughter due in May. I had a lot of trouble during the natural 9-month weaning time and had to supplement then. I would love your advice on how you got through this time.

Also, I struggled with birth control methods that were safe while breastfeeding. Some hormonal methods reduce your supply, and there were a few non-hormonal methods (which I prefer) that were not an option to our family for health reasons. If you're willing, I'd love to hear more this week on how you ladies managed this balance. I still don't know what we'll do after baby #2, because we do want to take a break for a couple of years, Lord willing.

Thanks again for so much insight. I look forward to this week's discussion.

Krista said...

Congratulations on your pregnancy and thanks for asking these great questions. I didn't have a supply problem, even later as I cut down nursings so I can't offer help from experience as to a lowering of supply around 9 months. But, if you are continuing to nurse routinely, eating healthy, and drinking PLENTY of water, it should be the exception rather than the norm for your supply to just decrease on its own to the point where you need to supplement. There are certain foods and herbs that decrease your supply as there are things that increase. Rather than type those here, I'm going to see if I can find my list and type it as a separate post.

As for birth control, we have had the opposite problem and found it difficult to get pregnant so don't have that worry. That said, we used to use charting (before we realized it wasn't necessary because I wasn't ovulating) and, done correctly, is EXTREMELY effective. I know many families who have chosen the timing and spacing of all children, never having a "surprise baby" simply by using this method correctly. The book, "Taking Charge of Your Fertility" by Toni Weschler is a good resource. In an nutshell, you take your temp at the same time everyday (before getting out of bed) and charting it. You can easily learn how to read your chart by the temp change and know exactly when you are ovulating and fertile.

Mallory, Amy & John Mark said...

Krista,

Thanks for the reply and the additional post. I have studied the rhythm method and natural family planning. When I was a Jman in Africa, I taught it to the women there- it was recieved very well by women who had often had 5-8 children.

I guess it's just a fear vs. trust issue for me- Number two was a surprise and financially a third baby would be a strain, but I need to learn to trust God and His perfect timing and blessings. I am still interested in hearing more about the barrier methods of birth control if any other authors (or commenters) have experience with those.

Thanks again!

The Hudgins said...

amy,
i've been wondering the EXACT same things.

Jaxon is almost 5 months and still nursing like a champ, and no sign of a period so I *think* we're safe, but we're using condoms just in case....

i know several people that have conceived while nursing though....

everything i've read is conflicting on the subject.

we're still trying to figure out what to do once he's weaned.

i'll be researching NFP for sure.

Mallory, Amy & John Mark said...

Tara,

My growing belly is proof that you can get pregnant while nursing. ;) I'm doing some research with the lactation lady at the hospital and I'll email you if I find anything interesting. Love the new pics on your blog by the way.

erinboydodom said...

I wouldn't use bf as a birth control. My baby is 7 months old, and my period returned when she was 6 months, despite exclusive breastfeeding! I was scared this would mess up my supply or the taste (and that she would stop eating), but she kept right along, and has been fine! I was so disappointed when it came back b/c I thought it wouldn't for a lot longer. I actually had two periods in one month! We just use condoms. They're not preferable, but we are in the middle of a move overseas at the moment and don't feel it is time to start "trying" for another quite yet.

Christina said...

I forgot to chime in on the birth control discussion -

I totally second the "Taking Charge of Your Fertility" book.

We first used a diaphragm as I didn't want to use hormones. Turns out that was too painful for me - probably due to endometriosis. I still consider this a great method, although my doctor thought I was nuts!

I switched to the patch for 9 months (mainly for medical reasons) and it was awful. When we went off I decided I was never going on hormones again for a variety of reasons.

Now we use TCOYF methods and if I'm fertile, we use condoms.

Wow - that seems like a lot of information to post on the blog!

Mallory, Amy & John Mark said...

Christina,

Thanks for your openess. I have a similar story- used a diaphragm our first year and half of marriage but then developed an allergic reaction to the spermicide. I went on the NuvaRing at the encouragement of my GYN which I regretted ever since. Not only was it expensive, it made me gain weight, moody, etc.

I am researching the use and effectiveness of the diaphragm (which I personally LOVE and think is a great non-hormonal option) without spermicide. There are also many natural spermicides made with lemon juice or vitamin C granules. Anyone have any insight on this subject?

erinboydodom said...

I was on the Nuvaring for about a year before I got pregnant, and I absolutely loved it. I didn't have any problems with weight gain, etc., and it regulated my period and eliminated cramping more than any other birth control I had been on. I was so regulated that I got pregnant the first month I stopped using Nuvaring.

That said, I have not gone back on it because I am breastfeeding and I also don't know if I want to go back on hormonal birth control for ethical reasons (which I am not really sure I understand everything involved in that).

Maybe you ladies should have a whole post on birth control sometime. It seems a lot of ladies are interested!

Curt, Mariah, & Carli Badura said...

Christina,

Can you do a post on endometriosis? I had surgery for it in 2001. We got pregnant fairly quickly in 2006 and really quickly in 2008, but I remember struggling with ?s about possible infertility after the surgery...

I want to look into TCOYF b/c I just started pills 2 weeks ago and despise how they make me feel (I've tried ~10 kinds over the past 9 years)

Mariah
www.cmbadura.blogspot.com

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