Category Archives: extended breastfeeding

25 Things I Want Breastfeeding Moms to Know

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1. We’ve all had days when we wanted to give up.

2. There are breastfeeding helpers out there who won’t judge you. Keep looking till you find one who makes you feel safe and supported.

3. Breastfeeding isn’t all or nothing.

4. Breastfeeding looks different for each mom and baby.

5. It’s normal for newborns to never want to be put down. Ever. And it’s normal for them to nurse all the time, sometimes more than once an hour. Really.

6. Almost all moms will make enough milk if they nurse often enough, but for a small number of moms, this isn’t the case. Low milk supply is a real thing, and if you have it, you deserve good, kind, thoughtful help.

7. Tongue tie really can impact breastfeeding. Tongues that are tied down can’t milk the breast properly (leading to low weight gain) and can cause a lot of pain.

8. Tongue tie isn’t always the problem, or isn’t always the only problem. Breastfeeding difficulties are usually multi-faceted, which is why all moms deserve the skilled help of a good IBCLC.

9. I wish all good lactation consultants were covered under insurance. But we are not there yet. Please spend the money to get good help. Most lactation consultants don’t cost more than a good stroller or a baby swing. Most lactation consultants will spend two or more hours with you and provide follow-up.

10. Most breastfeeding problems can be solved by going back to basics. If your nipples hurt, you probably just need to change position, shape and hold your breasts, or unlatch and start again. If you aren’t making enough milk, you probably just need to nurse more frequently. Start with the basics before assuming anything more complicated is going on. Trust biology, your body, and your baby.

11. Lactation cookies and herbs can really help, but they are only helpful if combined with other treatments for remedying supply issues.

12. Breastfeeding isn’t meant to be done alone. Find your tribe. Go to a breastfeeding support meeting. Find moms online who have babies your age. It can make a huge difference.

13. Some babies sleep long stretches and fall asleep easily. Some do not. It (usually) has nothing to do with how you are feeding your baby. It’s usually just genetics and temperament.

14. There is no magic age when babies should stop nursing in the middle of the night. Some babies need the nutrition well past the first few months, and many like the nighttime connection for years.

15. You should breastfeed for as long or as short as you want. It is entirely up to you (and your baby).

16. It is NEVER anyone’s place to judge a mom who chooses not to breastfeed. There are so many reasons why a mother might make this choice, and none reflects poorly on her mothering or her level of care for her child.

17. How much you pump doesn’t always reflect how much milk your baby takes at your breast. Most babies take more than the pump extracts; some take less.

18. Working and pumping mothers deserve all the respect and love in the world.

19. Exclusive pumping moms do too.

20. Babies who never latch are rare, but this does happen, and it is one of the hardest things I have witnessed as a breastfeeding helper. These moms deserve the right to mourn the loss of at-breast feeding, but they need to know this doesn’t make them any less a breastfeeding mom.

21. All mothers have a right to feel whatever they feel about how breastfeeding went for them. All feelings are normal. All feelings are real.

22. Whether or not you breastfed or were breastfed matters in many ways, and in many ways it doesn’t matter at all.

23. Breastfeeding, above all, is love. It’s one of many ways to exchange love with your baby, your toddler, or your child.

24. Children need to grow up seeing breastfeeding. It makes breastfeeding normal. It teaches them breastfeeding positioning, behavior, and more. This is one of the key ways we can increase the breastfeeding rates in our country.

25. Breastfeeding is normal. Breastfeeding is intense. Breastfeeding is simple. Breastfeeding is beautiful.

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It’s World Breastfeeding Week, and I will be sharing breastfeeding photos all week on my Facebook Page. Please come over and take a look. I’ll post as many pictures as I get. Email pictures to me at wendywisner78@gmail.com.

Nursing In The Dark

My son will be three in September. Nursing has been changing lately. Most of it is done at naptime and bedtime/wake-up. I realized today that I can’t remember the last time he nursed during the day. A couple of times I have asked him if he wanted to, when he was really upset and I sensed that nursing could help him relax. He declined. I know the way weaning usually works: there is a lot of back and forth. Nursing sessions aren’t just dropped overnight. So I’m not ready to say that he is never going to nurse while we’re snuggled up on the couch again. But I have no way of knowing for sure. Maybe he’s just done with it.

I feel proud of him for not needing that afternoon or mid-morning nurse with the urgency he did before. And I feel a sense of wonderment about it because my older son wasn’t at this point when he was this age. I feel a bit of sorrow too, of course—that bittersweet feeling you get as your child reaches a milestone.

So lately we have just been nursing in the dark. Sometimes it’s light enough for me to watch him nurse—other times not so much. In just a few months he might be done napping, and that session will slide away. Today I realized all this with a rush of feeling, and so I decided to take pictures of our naptime nurse, in the half-dark.

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Oh my child, growing, changing, loving, breaking my heart, putting it back together again.

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It Goes So Fast…I’m Holding On

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My two-year-old requires that I spend about half his nap lying with him/nursing him. Well, not requires it, but that’s how it’s always been. And if I don’t come to him, he will take a shorter nap and probably be cranky. So when he stirs, I come. I check Facebook, maybe try to write something (thank god for the “Notes” app on my phone), close my eyes for a bit.

At this point in my life as a parent (8.5 years!), I don’t really think about my  “parenting” choices, at least not in the way I used to when my first child was a baby. I obviously err on the side of crunchy/attachment parenting. But I don’t really think about it. What I do or don’t do is just…whatever. Just part of life. Nothing to be pored over or analyzed. It basically works, and if it doesn’t, I’m too tired to question it.

But it occurred to me this afternoon that there are a ton of parents out there who don’t or wouldn’t or simply can’t spend half of naptime lying there with their children. Some are working mothers, some have other kids to be with during naptime. Some have kids who have teddy bears, pacifiers, or blankets to cuddle with. Some just don’t have kids who need as much sleep assistance as my kid does. I totally get that. Every mom and kid does what works for them.

It was recently “Pajama Day” at my older son’s school. He was supposed to come dressed in PJ’s, with a favorite stuffed animal. Like his brother, he never had a teddy bear or another security object.

My son said, laughing, “I guess I’d have to bring you to school that day, Mom.”

He doesn’t sleep in our bed anymore (yes, they do eventually stop) but we lie together each night before he falls asleep and his dad or I (usually me) stay with him until he’s out.

My 2-year-old requires much more of me still. Naps, all night his body next to mine. I realize this level of need, sleep interruption, and closeness is not for everyone. I forget how strange it is to some people only because I have been parenting this way for so long and it feels like second nature to me.

Can I tell you why I do it? Yes, it started partly because I’m lazy, and going to my babies anytime they cried was easier than figuring out a different way to soothe them. Yes, I believe in breast as soother as well as nutrition source. Yes, it was just my instinct to do it.

But I also do it because I’m holding on. I’m holding on to their childhoods by holding onto them. My eight-year-old barely even wants to cuddle before bed anymore. I’m lucky if I get a second of it. Before I know it, he won’t even want me to lie near him. He’ll just go into his room, shut the door, and collapse into bed.

My two-year-old, though. He lets me hold him. He wants that. He’s small enough to still curl into me. His damp head in the May night still smells a little like a baby. OK, a lot. And I just don’t want to rush it. I can’t. It hurts my heart to think it will end. I know it will. I’m certain of it.

So, even though I sometimes get frustrated when my “off” time is interrupted; even though I sometimes feel touched out; even though I sometimes wish I could sleep alone, I go to him anyway. I lie there in the dark, mostly just waiting, sometimes just resting, often zoning out on my phone.

I’m taking him in. I’m stopping time for a second. I’m holding on.

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30 Reasons My Toddler Wakes Me Up in the Middle of the Night

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You could say I’m a lazy parent when it comes to nighttime. I’d rather have my kids in my bed than have to get out of bed and tend to them. Probably at this point, my toddler would sleep better if he didn’t have me near him to bump into, and to remind him of his boob addiction. But, alas, every attempt at nightweaning that I have tried (OK, I don’t try very hard) just makes the two of us more exhausted, and when I’m exhausted, I just give up.

Then, there are a few precious weeks of decent sleep, and I think, “This isn’t so bad. He’s practically sleeping through!”

But then the crazy begins again. And I’m so tired I pour orange juice in my older son’s cereal (he used wake up as much as his brother, and now sleeps like a log, so there is hope). And I write a post chronicling all the many reasons I have been woken up in the middle of the night by my toddler in the past week.

Here it goes…

1. It’s too hot.

2. It’s too cold.

3. He wants to show his grandma the part in the book where the crane lifts the ice cream truck up into the air.

4. Boob.

5. Seltzer (is mine the only toddler who drinks seltzer?).

6. The seltzer I gave him an hour ago lost its fizz.

7. Water.

8. The water’s not cold enough.

9. Boob.

10. “I just need you, mommy” (stop melting my heart when I want die I’m so tired).

11. He wants to go back to the wedding we went to three weeks ago.

12. “Where’s Daddy?”

13. We need new batteries for his toy drill (thanks for the reminder, buddy).

14. Boob.

15. Other side.

16. “There’s no milk left, Mommy!”

17. “Where are you, Mommy?” (as I mentioned, I sleep right beside him).

18. “Don’t take me to the place where there are snakes” (this was many months ago, and he showed no fear at the time).

19. “I want a lollipop!” (half-awake, half-dreaming).

20. Kicking me in the head.

21. Kicking my husband in the head.

22. Kicking his brother in the head.

23. Can’t find his socks (he never wears socks to bed).

24. “I just need your milk, Mommy!” (I have been playing dead for the past few minutes).

26. “Can I please have your milk, Mommy?” (heart melts again—and where did this kid learn manners?).

27. “I want to watch TV” (NO!).

28. “No, Mommy, it really is morning.” (Have you ever tried arguing with a  two-year-old?)

29. “I want a granooool-ya bar.”

30. At 7am, when it really is time to get up, and I’m attempting to untangle myself from his arms: “I just want to sleep, Mommy.”

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I Nurse Him Because

I have heard it all about long-term breastfeeding.

“Stop nursing when he’s old enough to ask for it.”

“After a certain age, it’s for the mom’s benefit, not the child’s.”

“He’s never going to be independent.”

“As soon as he has teeth, you need to stop.”

“Inappropriate.”

“He’s just too BIG.  Only babies breastfeed.”

“It’s just gross.”

Etc.  It can get MUCH nastier than that too.

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This post isn’t an argument against any of that.  I don’t have the inclination or the energy to argue.

This is just me and my son, right now, 2 1/4 years in, what nursing means to us.

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The other day he hadn’t nursed quite as much as he usually does and when he finally started nursing, my other breast leaked right through my shirt. That hadn’t happened in many months, and it reminded me just how much nursing changes as you continue.

I’m not the leaky, milky mess I was when he was a newborn.   My breasts are soft, flaccid.  I can sleep on my belly now.  I don’t wear a nursing bra anymore.  My body is becoming more and more my own.

Sometimes he just wants to cuddle when he wakes up in the middle of the night. Sometimes he wants a snack in the afternoon, instead of our usual nursing session in the armchair.

It will be years before he fully weans, but in these subtle ways, it is happening.

I am grateful for these moments we have together, nursing. And sad (a little heartbroken) to see them go.

So here’s my list, off the top of my head, of why I nurse my toddler, right here, right now.

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I nurse him because his big hazel eyes lock mine for 10 minutes on a dark December afternoon

I nurse him because he is two years old and curls his soft, buttery body into my lap, kicks his legs up to my face

I nurse him because I nursed his brother and every day his brother needs me less and less (and some days more and more) and I miss his small body curled into mine

I nurse him because I used to watch my mother nurse my sister and she’d stroke my mother’s neck and play with her necklace and life was slow and quiet then

I nurse him because it reminds me take a break and sit for a while

I nurse him because he says, “Milkies, please,” and I like that he calls it that–his politeness is adorable

I nurse him because oxytocin-joy spreads through my body as he nurses

I nurse him because it allows us to linger in bed on weekend mornings and after his naps

I nurse him because it’s the easy way: easy to get him to sleep, to get him back to sleep, easy to stop a tantrum before it happens

I nurse him because I want to and he wants to

I nurse him because I know our time like this is short, his need for nursing temporary and outgrown in its own time

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I don’t enjoy every second of nursing him.

It would be strange if I did.

In the middle of the night when he pulls on my lips and eyelids and keeps me wide awake when everyone else is sleeping, I want him off me NOW.

But then he falls asleep and sighs and I smell his head that smells exactly like him and it’s just the two of us breathing together in the midnight winter night.

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I don’t think everyone needs to nurse their toddler, their preschooler, their child.

But I do know it is normal to do so, that suckling is a biological need that began with nursing, and nursing is the most natural way to fulfill it.

I know that nursing past a certain age doesn’t fit with everyone’s image of mothering.

That’s OK.

But this is what feels right to us, and many more mothers and children than you might expect.

And so, we nurse.

Like this.

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And like this.

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This is our normal, our reasons.

Our love.

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Would you like to share your reasons, the ones unique to only you and your child, wherever you are in your breastfeeding journey?  Comment below 🙂

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To the Mom of a Nursing Toddler

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It’s ok that you’re the only one who can get your child to take a nap.

It’s ok that you’re the only one who can put your child to sleep at night.

It’s ok that you can’t imagine a night away from your child.

It’s ok that you can imagine a night away from your child.

It’s ok that you sometimes resent your child’s very big need for you.

It’s ok that you sometimes feel so full with radiant love when you think of your child’s very big need for you.

It’s ok that your child always, sometimes, “still” nurses in the middle of the night.

It’s ok that you offer to nurse your child when you are tired and you want to sit still on the couch for a few minutes.

It’s ok that you offer to nurse your child to ward off a tantrum.

It’s ok that you “still” offer the breast.

It’s ok that you sometimes really, really don’t want to nurse and you offer something else instead.

It’s ok that you sometimes feel touched out.

It’s ok that your skin sometimes crawls while you nurse.

It’s ok that you spend lots of nursing sessions zoned out on your phone.

It’s ok that you find warm, cozy pleasure in nursing your child.

It’s ok that you can’t imagine not sleeping right beside your child.

It’s ok that your child doesn’t sleep with you so much anymore.

It’s ok that you don’t know when you’ll wean.

It’s ok that you have no idea how your child will ever stop nursing.

It’s ok that you have a plan to gently, slowly wean your child.

It’s ok that you want to speed things along with weaning.

It’s ok that your nursing toddler nurses more than your friend’s nursing toddler.

It’s ok that your nursing toddler nurses less than your friend’s nursing toddler.

It’s ok that nursing glues the two of you together, and you “still” often feel lost when you are separated from your child.

It’s ok to wonder when you will have your life back, your body back, your sleep back.

It’s ok to savor the smell of the two of you melding together.

It’s ok to not want your old life of “freedom” back.

It’s ok to want only this.

It’s ok to resent this.

It’s ok to feel all the feelings all at once.

All of it is normal.

Mammals have nursed their babies into toddlerhood and beyond for millions of years, feeling the complexity of emotions along the way.

Nursing never has and never will look just one way for every mother and child.

Listen to your child, listen to yourself.

Accept what is. Don’t read into things too much. Go with your instincts.

Feel the love.

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