As I mentioned in my previous post, Adelaide had Roseola this week. Decreased appetite was a symptom. Adelaide was nursing less and she even threw food on the floor instead of devouring it (so not like her).
The first sign she was nursing less came Saturday morning when I woke with sore, almost painful breasts. Adelaide had been “on the boob” like normal, but she must have been consuming less. Still, I didn’t realize how this was affecting me until I went to work on Tuesday and got very little milk when I pumped during the day. Since she hadn’t been eating well all weekend, she had been signaling to my body that it didn’t need to produce as much milk – it just wasn’t needed. While I had been getting between 12 and 15 ounces each day (it used to be even more in the fall), I only got 6 ounces on Tuesday. Some people might take this as a sign to begin weaning. I am not one of those people.
So, I’ve decided to step-up my game. I’ve been pumping three times at work instead of only two. I’ve been pumping at home before I go to bed – something I’ve never needed to do in the past. I’m determined to get my supply back up – or at least to try. My fridge is full of breast milk. With pumping just a few ounces a day at work, I could probably make it another month and a half and accomplish my goal of nursing until Adelaide’s first birthday. But, I’m not done with nursing. And I don’t think Adelaide is either.
Everything I’ve read says that there’s no reason to stop just because she turns one. One year is a good goal, but as a stop date it’s pretty arbitrary. While Adelaide can technically consume cow’s milk at a year old, cow’s milk is made for baby cows. Human milk is made for baby humans.
Now I want to pause here to say that I do not judge others who may be feeding their babies cow’s milk or formula for whatever reason. I’ve always said that I wanted to breastfeed if I could. I wanted to do it for the first year and made six months of exclusive breastfeeding my goal. I wasn’t sure how breastfeeding would be for me or how I would handle pumping while working outside of the home full time. I have friends that have struggled and for different reasons have already weaned. I’m of the opinion that “breast is best,” and as a breastfeeding advocate, I think it’s great when mom’s try to breastfeed – whether that be for two years or two months. Even two weeks is better than nothing! For me, it’s important to try and to seek out support when it’s tough. It’s not the same choice everyone makes and I support that. Fortunately, I’ve had a pretty easy time of it. If things had been different, my choices might have been different as well.
Anyway, I recently ran across this list of reasons to breastfeed beyond a year from BestforBabes.org. I didn’t always think the way I do now, so I feel it’s important to post the reasons here and not just link to the article. These are the reasons I want to continue to breastfeed, the reasons I’m working hard to regain my good supply.
- After 1 year, human milk has significantly increased fat and energy contents, compared with human milk before 1 year. Babies’ brains are growing and NEED the extra fat & especially human cholesterol.
- In the second year (12-23 months), 448 mL of breastmilk provides (Dewey 2001): 29% of energy requirements, 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 . Note that this is exactly what baby humans need; cow’s milk is designed to grow baby cows which have smaller brains per body mass.
- 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). In other words, the longer that toddlers are allowed to nurse, the lower their risk of disease. There is also a proportionate increase in IQ for babies and toddlers who breastfeed longer, i.e. higher IQ for breastfeeding over 1 year vs. 6-12 months.
- 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).
- In cultures where mothers and babies are not pressured to wean prematurely, babies self-wean naturally between 2.5 and 7 years of age, with most babies self-weaning around age 3 or 4. (Dettwyler)
- The longer babies are allowed to nurse the better socially adjusted they are. Per the researchers, ‘There are statistically significant tendencies for conduct disorder scores to decline with increasing duration of breastfeeding.’”
- Breastfeeding toddlers (babies > 1 year), helps them learn to self-soothe and self-regulate, manage frustrations (some parents report avoiding the “terrible twos” altogether) and lessens pain from bumps and bruises (breastmilk contains analgesics, i.e. natural pain-killers). Nursing toddlers are easier to handle in the doctor’s office, too!
- Breastfeeding toddlers (babies > 1 year) helps them make a gradual transition to childhood, “Meeting a child’s dependency needs is the key to helping that child achieve independence. And children outgrow these needs according to their own unique timetable.” Children who achieve independence at their own pace are more secure in that independence then children forced into independence prematurely.
- The longer mothers breastfeed, the lower their risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and heart disease.
- Older babies/toddlers nurse fewer times per day, most people are usually unaware they are nursing.
- Babies that are old enough to “ask” to nurse are also old enough to say “thank you”, one of the sweetest experiences any mother can experience!