Category Archives: World Breastfeeding Week

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All My Reasons

I wrote about how extended breastfeeding looks in our family last week (HERE).  As I wrote today’s post for SPB, it occured to me that I have so many reasons why this choice has worked for us that I have never written down.  I will share five that I can think of right now.

Why do I breastfeed children long after they can ask for milk??

P.S. that is a common reason why people say they are disgusted by extended breastfeeding, “Once they can ask for it, it’s over.”  FACT CHECK: Did you stop giving your child other liquids or solids once they started speaking??? A: NO! Nobody in their right mind leaves a small child alone in the kitchen to fend for themselves simply because they can make requests. Just because your child can ask for milk does not singly disqualify them from being breastfed ever again.

It keeps us connected.
Toddlers are a force of nature to be reckoned with.  Constantly moving, constantly building new skills, and testing the limits of what they can do (or break!).  These little balls of energy can be a challenge to keep up with as they learn about the world around them and their place in it.  Breastfeeding has provided the opportunity to look them in the eye and share a moment of stillness in an otherwise crazy day.

It provides more good stuff as they age.
The older the child, the more antibodies and DHA are found in the milk.  So, as your child grows in exploration, the mother’s body naturally increases protection against all the things the child is touching and putting in their mouth.  In addition, the DHA brain-building component increases as your child’s age increases.  It continues to increase throughout the breastfeeding relationship to keep up with brain growth, which has a one-year growth spurt.  If biological breastfeeding is followed through until a child loses their milk teeth (aka baby teeth), they will receive the benefits of DHA through all the years of brain growth, which plateau between 5-7 years of age.  (True statements!! I will add some references to this section tonight when I don’t have our homeschool day looming ahead of us!)

It protects me.
The longer a woman breastfeeds, the less likely she is to develop breast cancer.  This one is huge for me since two of my aunts are breast cancer survivors.

Find the study HERE

About the study from an American Cancer Society article examining the claim that breastfeeding lowers cancer risk.  Overall, the article says that more research is needed, but I liked their concise summary of the study.:
“For every 12 months of breastfeeding (either with only 1 child, or as the total period of time for several children), the risk of breast cancer decreased by 4.3%, compared to women who did not breastfeed. Risk decreased by 3.4% for each child breastfed, compared to women who did not breastfeed.  This lower risk did not differ by women’s age, race, numbers of births, age at birth of first child, family history, or country of residence.”

Even though the American Cancer Society says that more study is needed, the fact that several studies have shown some decrease in risk is enough for me to err on the side of caution and keep breastfeeding as long as the Sweet Peas are willing to keep on nursing.

It makes me sit still.
Between homeschooling, projects, and a list to work through every day, I am my own tornado moving through the house.  Breastfeeding makes me sit down, breathe, and take a deep breath.  It forces me to respond to my Sweet Pea instead of doing “one more thing”.  Once the days of babywearing are over*, sit-breaks to breastfeed provide think-time in an otherwise busy day.  I usually practice a little meditation to settle down and be present with my Sweet Pea.

It helps me forgive them.
The constant testing, NO responses, testing.  It can be so frustrating when all you want to do is get from Point A to Point B in a straight line, and they insist on taking every detour and side-trip along the way.  The biological hormone loop that happens with breastfeeding not only makes more milk, it makes us fall in love with them a little bit more every time we put them to the breast.

There are days when this response has been the only thing to keep me sane.  I am eternally grateful that we have had this biological mechanism in play during Otter’s Reign of Toddler.  No matter how crazy the day has been, they end with me cradling her in my arms as she nurses to sleep and turns back into a sleeping angel on earth.  And me squeezing her a little tighter, and maybe shedding a tear or two as I thank God that we have survived another day.

It brings them back from the brink.
Speaking of testing boundaries and going over the edge, having the option to offer nursing when all else has failed to solve a problem has been a great boon.  Crying? Tantrums? Disappointment? Frustration?  Mommy can fix that with one cradle into the breast and a little warm milk can solve a myriad of toddler acting-out scenarios.  Is it forever? Absolutely not…yet while it works, it feels like a miracle.  LIttle by little, they start to say, “No!” and honoring that helps us to help them learn more coping mechanisms when they are ready to learn them.

So there are five of my “whys” – hopefully this will help you with words to say to the people in your life who are questioning your choice to breastfeed beyond six months or the first birthday.  Breastfeed on your terms – you will not regret doing what your instincts are telling you are best for you and baby.

*Going back to work with Puma made me an expert in breastfeeding in a carrier.  Hence, hands-free breastfeeding *and* getting things done.  I usually wind down daily use of carriers or slings on a regular basis after the second birthday simply because our children get too heavy to wear all the time.  I know plenty of families that babywear well beyond this age; just like breastfeeding, it’s a personal choice dependent on what works for the family.

 

WW: Breastfeeding Awareness Month

Our theme this month was “Nature’s Best” as we celebrate Breastfeeding Awareness Month here in the USA.  This statue from Peru is a perfect way to kick off this post:

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So here are the #beautifulbfing images sent in by our readers, and some from way back in our personal archive to share with you – only one has ever been shared before, and I’m sharing it again because it was taken by one of our older children.  I love love love that they see breasts as normal and functional; and that sleeping mamas and babies are picture-worthy.

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Breastfeeding Awareness Month #beautifulbfing #normalizebfing #NBM14

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Tandem Nursing – Breastfeeding Awareness Month #beautifulbfing #normalizebfing #NBM14

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Puma breastfeeding one of her babies on an evening stroll – Breastfeeding Awareness Month #beautifulbfing #normalizebfing #NBM14

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From covered…

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…to confident and posting #selfies on social media

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Breastfeeding Awareness Month #beautifulbfing #normalizebfing #NBM14 #extendedbreastfeeding #biologicalbfing

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Breastfeeding Awareness Month #beautifulbfing #normalizebfing #NBM14 #extendedbreastfeeding #biologicalbfing

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Breastfeeding Awareness Month #beautifulbfing #normalizebfing #NBM14 #extendedbreastfeeding #biologicalbfing

Black Breastfeeding Week & Mocha Manual

Until Next Year…

(Image from https://www.facebook.com/MochaManual)

August has been Breastfeeding Awareness Month in the United States for several years now.  It kicks off with World Breastfeeding Awareness Month on August 1-7th.  This year, a group of concerned lactivists proposed a Black Breastfeeding Week to close out the month.  It has been met with unexpected and vehement opposition.

I would expect anyone who reads about pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding to understand why this is necessary.  Our black citizens have more incidence of lower birth weight and prematurity than other ethnic groups.  The black community has higher prenatal and maternal mortality rates than any other segment of the population.  And, they have lower rates of breastfeeding than any other ethnic groups.  This is not race mongering.  These are cold, hard and pathetic statistics in a day and age when we are supposedly “enlightened”.

We can all agree that breastfeeding offers the best start in life.  Our human milk is made just for our human babies, and it evolves to meet their needs as they grow into toddlerhood.  If there is a group that needs to hear this message loud and clear, then absolutely, dedicate a week out of the month to raise awareness.  End of story.  Start of advocacy.

Instead of arguing whether or not this is necessary, jump in and ask, how can we help?  I don’t care what race, color, creed or orientation, if you say your group needs help with increasing the number of Motherbabys choosing to breastfeed, and then going on to have successful breastfeeding relationships, then help is what they should get.  End of story.  Start of advocacy.

Breastfeeding is not an exclusive club.  The whole point of Breastfeeding Awareness Month is to educate people *everywhere* about the benefits, the struggles, the need for support, and the myriad of options (besides formula) that are available to families who want to feed their babies human milk.  When a group acknowledges that their is a disparity in breastfeeding rates and wants to do something about it, then by all means, give them the time and attention they are asking for.  Breastmilk is free, local and sustainable…what do we lose by ensuring that all mamas have equal access to correct, accurate and inspiring information and support?

We have enjoyed sharing our breastfeeding anecdotes, reflections on our journey as breastfeeding mamas, and pictures of breastfeeding and the lifestyle choices that support breastfeeding with you this month.  Did you see any black MotherBabys?  Me neither.

You can count on this: next year, we will be helping our sisters who want to see all the benefits of breastfeeding to improve outcomes and quality of life for the MotherBabys in the black community.

Now that I am ready to jump off my soapbox, please share with us.  Did you learn anything new this month?  Were you inspired by a mama in your community?  Please let us know – we love reading about your breastfeeding milestones.

Breastfeeding Here, There, and Everywhere: Toddler Edition

Today’s Wordless Wednesday is prompted by the theme for the final day of Nursing Freedom and San Diego Breastfeeding Coalition‘s Blog Carnival.  Enjoy these images of breastfeeding mamas around the West Coast, and be sure to check out breastfeeding babies over on our Sweet Pea Births blog.

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Pacific Grove, CA – Washington Park

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Anaheim, CA – Disneyland

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Payson, AZ – Big Latch On 2013

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Payson, AZ – Big Latch On 2013

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Payson, AZ – Big Latch On

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Payson, AZ – Big Latch On 2013

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Camp Verde, AZ – Montezuma’s Castle National Monument

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Chandler, AZ – the rare tandem nursing photo snapped by Puma while most of us were sleeping!

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Chandler, AZ

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Anaheim, CA – Disneyland

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Phoenix, AZ – The Farm at South Mountain

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Roseville, CA – Doctor’s Office!