Good Timing Working Out a Blueprint for Nursing Through the Second Year   Leave a comment

For the last few months I’ve been trying to work out a “plan” for the second year of breastfeeding. It’s amazing how difficult it is to answer the question “What does it mean to breastfeed for the first two years?” Now, four months into that second year I’ve finally got something worked out.

From the get-go I fully intended to breastfeed for at least two years, and at the beginning it’s easy to understand how it works. Actually making it work, now that’s another story. While pregnant I read/heard the descriptions of how to nurse a baby, but it was completely over my head and I didn’t get it. Sitting on my bed with Conan shortly after he was born I was completely blank and thankful for the Rachels’ help latching Conan on the first time. And we had our struggles: Conan’s neck and back tension meant he couldn’t open enough for a good latch when he was born, I was so emotionally not yet ready for visitors and Christmas that I got blocked ducts and mastitis two weeks in, I got a yeast infection and had to resort to gentian violet (we have a picture of Conan’s mouth stained purple to prove it), I got blocked ducts 3 times in the first 3 months with a handful of close calls since then, and between pumping and sometimes Conan as either a hoover or lazy latch I’ve had several rounds of bruised areolas (that’s how it feels anyway) with the most recent just a couple months ago.

With a newborn I found it easy to get into the groove of the feeding schedule and evolve over time, especially with the addition of “solids” in the latter half of the first year. In our society, though, where the vast majority of babies are no longer breastfeeding after 12 months, understanding how that evolution continues after 12 months is more challenging. Plus, there’s so much variety in situations and desires that everyone has to answer this question for herself. Even the World Health Organization, which recommends breastfeeding for the first two years, doesn’t give an explanation of what that means.

Back before Conan’s first birthday I started trying to figure this out, starting with the question of how long I should continue to pump. That’s when I first started getting frustrated because I saw so many times the phrase “you don’t need to worry about frequency of feeding because toddlers will self-regulate”. Ok, that’s fine if you’re home with your toddler but that it completely not helpful when I am trying to figure out how long to continue pumping at work. It is also unhelpful when your toddler shows no desire to communicate and never asks for milk (but expects it at certain ritual times and gets very excited when it is offered). I found a few discussion boards where it seemed the longest that anyone continued to pump at work was to 18 months. So I’ve been just continuing the status quo with that 18 month target in mind.

But I wasn’t really happy with a random 18 month target. It was like dealing with sleep and things like “at 5 months babies can sleep through the night” and then getting to 5 months and feeling like I wasn’t going to suddenly stop going to him at night and not feeling like there was anything unnatural or wrong about his behavior. So we just ignored all of that kind of advice and let him evolve at his own pace. Realizing that made me wonder if it is possible to do the same with breast feeding even if he doesn’t get to regulate me 5 days a week.

So I decided that I’m going to continue pumping until he no longer wants a bottle at day care. If that means I’m pumping for around 2 years, I’m fine with that. Along with that I also decided that I think he should continue drinking his day care milk in a bottle. It makes sense to me that he get my milk through a nipple, be it mine or a silicone one. When he starts supplementing with cow’s milk it should be in a plain cup. The sippy bottle should only ever contain water, just like mommy and daddy’s water bottles. I have no idea which nursing will go first/next, but until it no longer seems right I’ll just continue with the status quo.

These decisions were timely as a week an a half ago I got mastitis again, and it took me four days to get the ducts unblocked. It is looking like that may have affected production and Conan may need to start supplementing with cow’s milk at day care. Having just worked out a blueprint for breastfeeding in the second year, though I’m at peace with whatever happens however it happens (I think).

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Posted April 20, 2014 by mayakey in conscious living, food, parenting

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