This is a really lovely guide to some benefits of breastfeeding according to how long you do it: ‘if you breastfeed for four to six days…’, etc: peaceful parenting: If You Nurse Your Baby…. It does have a bit of a bias toward extended breastfeeding perhaps but nonetheless it does encourage and support women to breastfeed for as long as works for them and their families – knowing every little bit helps and we are all doing the best we can!
One of the most common questions I get, when people are surprised that I am still nursing a one year old (which isn’t that often as it isn’t surprising to that many people) is ‘does it hurt?’ and the answer for us has been: ‘no!’ Okay, there is an exception and that is when baby is teething. At those times her latch gets a little – shall we say? – funky and, especially at the end of a feed when she is not really getting any milk anymore but is comfort sucking and/or drifting off to sleep, then she lets go of the strong latch and – yikes – it hurts as her teeth feel sharp like needles on my nipple. Yowser. The worst has been if she has, at that time, actually pierced the skin, then each time I go to breastfeed, that same tooth that caused the problem naturally finds the groove it pierced last time and digs into the wound – not good.
I dealt with that by just feeding consistently in a position different from the one in which she caused the pain in the first place. Since it was when she was falling asleep that she bit me and hence we were lying down at the time, I basically just feed her with me sitting up (classic cradle position) for a few nights and have found that gives the breast enough time to heal, totally.
But as you can see, that is an exception that proves the rule – and the rule is that if she is breastfeeding it doesn’t hurt (it is only if she isn’t actually breastfeeding but falling asleep with my boob in her mouth while teething that there is danger). So, Anya has had teeth for months and months now and I can sincerely say it has been a great experience 99% of the time… thankfully. Afterall it is all about the position of the mouth. I can suck my thumb without biting it, can’t you? I guess babies evolved to not bite the boob that is feeding them.
NB Photo is not of me and is by HoboMama.
After mentioning the other day that I am practically the only person I know who is exclusively breastfeeding (no pump), I went to a La Leche League meeting, this week. Deep in-breath. I spoke to the facilitator who explained to me that the La Leche League, which I know by reputation and from consulting their website (http://www.llli.org/), is dedicated to supporting women with natural breastfeeding, wherever possible. No expressing, no bottles, just you and your baby.
What a relief to find that I am not after all alone, the one woman who still wants to do it this way, in the whole of Silicon Valley. There are more of us, a silent movement of mothers doing what feels right (for as long as it feels right).
But hey, I’ve got to tell you, if I were to have a second child it is very likely that I will pump. As right as this has felt, it is hard work; it is a sacrifice even as it is a joy. Sometimes beautiful things take effort. Not sure I have the energy in me to do it twice. We’ll see. For now, I rejoice in having found sisters in natural nursing and finding, I am not, afterall, a ‘weed’.
A few weeks back (at around three months), Anya suddenly took a leap in her ability to breastfeed at speed. She became a much more efficient little sucker so that now she can empty one breast in about five minutes when it used to take close to, oh, forever (fine, okay, about 45 minutes then she’d drift off and… yeah, no: forever)!
Hoorah, this is great for me (and her). She no longer lives permanently attached to my breast. We have more time in our day, now. Phew.
I like to read my way into new situations. Not everyone does, I know. Some people like to feel their way in, follow their instincts. That is fine, too. But for you fellow readers, here are some of the books that most helped me in this journey:
– “Having a Baby, Naturally” by Peggy O’Mara. This was my go-to book. One which I consulted and turned to at every step of the process from conception through to lactation.
– “Spiritual Midwifery” and “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth” by Ina May Gaskin, goddess of homebirthing – definite MUST reads
– “Happy, Healthy Kids” by Ian White – love him. I will say this book doesn’t offer much new compared to his past books and workshops, but it is nice to have all the info referring to Australian Bush Flower Essences for kids in one place (with a few new insights)
– “You are your Child’s First Teacher” by Rahima Baldwin Dancy – just lovely; like being hugged into motherhood
– “What to Expect when you are Expecting”, ubiquitous but kind of handy for a factual, medical
– “Attachment Parenting: Instinctive Care for Your Baby and Young Child” by Katie Allison Granju – a bit hardline, but provides a good overview
– “Parenting the Fussy Baby and the High-Need Child” by Dr Sears. I also read his books on breastfeeding and baby sleep and found them all really helpful, encouraging and reflective of many of my own views.
– “Dad’s Pregnant Too” by Harlan Cohen – which was great for helping K get and feel more involved
– “Misconceptions” by Naomi Wolf – really ‘normalises’ some of the darker sides of a pregnant woman’s psyche and of the medical practices surrounding childbirth in Western countries
I would also recommend the following films:
– “The Business of Being Born” – by Producer Ricky Lake, a great expose and exploration of our medical culture and the current practices of childbirth in America.
– “Birth As We Know It” – a crazy Russian film about waterbirths and ice plunges for pregnant women – really quite amazing!
A friend of mine told me that she decided to stop co-sleeping when her baby crawled on top of her in the middle of the night to help himself to a midnight snack. Hey, to me that sounds great. ‘Do what you gotta do, just don’t wake me!’
Breasts – aren’t they great?! (no, not in that way, boys!)
I have had breasts for so many years and they just stood there, doing not very much at all, a bit of entertainment, that is all… and now, suddenly, when I needed them, they lept into action producing milk. This is all the more astonishing to me because I have always been so flat chested. Now it turns out I am actually over producing milk. It is great to know they are small but powerful!