Tag Archives: extended breastfeeding

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Monday Musings: On extended breastfeeding

Recently I was asked, “What would you have said if someone had told you  that you would be nursing well beyond the first birthday when you had started your breastfeeding journey?”

My answer:
I would have told them they were on the crazy train…that I was never going to nurse beyond the first birthday. My plan was to meet the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation of exclusively breastfeeding for six months, and then breastfeed our child until their first birthday.  It was going to be one and done in all senses of the phrase: one child for one year, and then I was going to be going back into my career and dancing.

God had other plans for me…he must have laughed as he was growing me.

As it turns out, as Puma was approaching her first birthday, I told Daddy Bruss that I didn’t think we were close to being done with breastfeeding.  She still felt so small, and nursing a soon-to-be toddler wasn’t weird, as I had imagined it might be.

She went on to nurse for 22 months all together. There was a time when I got pregnant  when she was 18 months old.  At that point she started to decline breastfeeding. When I miscarried, she was back to the breast as she had been before the pregnancy.

She weaned herself at 22 months…about two weeks after she weaned, she asked to nurse again.  We tried, but it seemed the milk was all gone.

We went on get pregnant again (how could I say no to my amazing husband who has provided me my dream life?!!), and we welcomed Night Owl to the family.  He got to nurse for about 18 months.  When I got pregnant with Charger sooner than we had planned on being pregnant again, I started having contractions when I was nursing. Out of fear of miscarrying again, we made the choice to do an “emergency wean” and over the course of a week that breastfeeding journey came to an end.

Charger had different plans when I got pregnant with Otter, as we expected, around the time he was 18 months old.  I tried to wean him, because I was having contractions again every time I nursed.  He flat out refused.  I sought help from our IBCLC, Debbie Gillespie, and my La Leche leaders…they had lots of suggestions, none of which worked for us.  I decided to go with prayer and lots of self-talk.  For whatever reason, he was not ready to stop breastfeeding, I knew of other moms who had breastfed through pregnancy so I knew it was possible. I told my body every time I nursed that the oxytocin that was being created was just for milk and not for labor.

Eventually the contractions subsided.  I watched Charger’s bowel movements turn back to baby poops as my colostrum came in the last month of Otter’s pregnancy. He even told me the milk tasted saltier than usual. But he was not ready to stop nursing.  By the end of the pregnancy I could only nurse him for a few minutes at a time, once in the morning, once in the evening, and it always had to be in side-lying position.

We welcomed Otter to the family when Charger was two years and two months old.  He was thrilled to have creamy milk again – he LOVED it. It totally helped to have a nursling with a good appetite and more stomach capacity to ease engorgement. We set some guidelines down – Otter first, him second. We started offering other alternatives to comforting instead of going back to nursing now that he was enjoying milk again.

His third birthday came and went…still nursing.  When Otter went on an 11-day nursing strike around her first birthday (he was 3.5 then), I was so grateful to have a nursling to keep my body informed that I still needed milk.  As the two nurslings got older, they had fun with nursing.  Every once in a while they would nurse together.  They definitely had ideas about which “side” was theirs and got upset if the other would start nursing on their side first. Mostly, they enjoyed the camaraderie of having something in common, and would call out to each other when it was the other’s turn with mommy.

Charger went on to nurse through his fifth birthday.  Around that time, we did wean him. I really felt that at five years old, he could give it up.

To this day, he still tells me at least three times a week that he wishes he was still nursing.  When I ask him why, he says because the milk was warm.

Otter is turning five years old in October. I don’t know what we are going to do when we hit her fifth birthday. Since weaning Charger, I have learned that mammals nurse their young until they lose their milk teeth.  In the case of humans, that is the loss of what we call “baby teeth”.  Which does mean that all our children weaned too soon – and that we do as a country. None of our children had lost a tooth before they weaned. I really don’t know of anyone except our first Bradley Method teacher who was nursing a seven-year-old when we met her.

For anyone who is reading about extended breastfeeding for the first time, let me assure you that it is not the same as nursing a newborn, or even a toddler.  She only nurses in the morning or in the evening.  Sometimes once a day, sometimes twice a day, sometimes not at all.  Nursing is still her safe place, our place of connection.  Every once in a while, when she is inconsolably upset, she will ask to nurse and we will connect during the course of the day.  I can’t express milk anymore, but I see it and hear it as she nurses.

I can only go back to what I know. Breastfeeding is a dance between the mother and the nursling.  The lead and the follow changes, and as long as both partners are willing, the dance can continue.  Charger definitely has memory about breastfeeding, so I know Otter will, too.  I want those memories to be peaceful for her, not ones of regret. So we will continue, dancing as long as it works for both of us.  I try to treasure each nursing session, never knowing which is going to be our last.

That day is coming, and my season as a breastfeeding mother will come to an end.  I hold on to the promise that a new season awaits, one in which my accumulated knowledge will still be able to serve and encourage other breastfeeding families although I am not an active participant any more.

 

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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.

 

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Breastfeeding a Toddler

I posted a little bit about our choice to let our children self-wean over on our SPB blog since it’s Breastfeeding Awareness Month in the USA.  Based on one of the comments that post received on FB, I am going to write more about the “hows” of breastfeeding an older child here today.

As of today, Otter is about two months shy of her fourth birthday, and continues to show interest in nursing.  I plan to continue until she self-weans.

1.) How it works for us.
I am not breastfeeding a toddler or a preschooler as often as I did a newborn.  I want you to know that the analogy of “a dance between two people” is applicable.  Unlike ballroom dancing, in our relationship there is no set leader or follower.  Sometimes I set the boundaries, sometimes my Sweet Pea says no or demands, “now!”…all are acceptable in our breastfeeding relationship.  I encourage you to find what works for you.

It became clear to me that Otter was using breastfeeding as a way to control access to Mommy.  If she didn’t want anyone else to have my attention, then she would demand to breastfeed and would make it impossible to do anything else.  That is when we started to set some boundaries and expectations, and pretty much stick to them.

The boundaries in our relationship: I told her she was always welcome to nurse first thing in the morning, or before bedtime at night.  If she wanted to nurse during the day, she would have to wait until I could lay down with her in bed, or until we could sit in our nursing chair.  If her teeth get involved, it’s an immediate cessation of that nursing session (this does not happen more than once or twice a year).  I also told her that nursing is primarily done at home.  When we are out in public, I ask her to wait.  Occasionally, there are exception: the times that I know she is super-tired or overstimulated and nursing really *is the answer*, we will nurse.

2.) Why my husband supports it, even with a male child.
My husband became an advocate of breastfeeding as we took our first Bradley class in 2004.  I will let him share why he has, and continues to support extended breastfeeding.

Extended Brestfeeding: A father’s viewpoint. By Bruss Bowman

Krystyna and I are parents to 4 wonderful, healthy and happy children.  We committed to together to have the best, healthy pregnancies and labors for all our children.  We took Bradley method birth classes for our first two children and then became certified to teach Bradley and have helped well over a hundred couples on their own personal birth/parenting journeys.  That philosophy of healthy pregnancy/labor/parenting extends into breast feeding of our children, the health benefits of which are well documented and I support whole-heartedly for all our children and extending to those families that we have helped through Bradley as well.
I was posed the question of father’s support for extended breast feeding, that is (in my opinion) a breast feeding relationship that extends beyond 2-3 years.  It is an interesting question for me, given my support for the healthy, natural path of pregnancy, labor and breast feeding; yet a big part of me is unquestionably old school…I wasn’t dragged kicking and screaming to my first Bradley class, I went with a desire to support Krystyna to best of my ability whatever that path might be, but I certainly had a level of skepticism.  Yet my skepticism has fallen away through the years as I have learned and experienced, first hand and through our students, the undeniable benefits of the things we teach and live everyday.
So back to extended breast feeding, this was yet another challenge to my old school dogmatic thinking and I was not 100% comfortable with our family doing this.  But like so many things that came before,  through some introspection and prayer I did become comfortable with this extension, not so much of breast feeding itself but of Krystyna and my commitment to healthy, happy children and being the best parents we can be.
I will tell you that the single thing that made the difference in my decision to support extended breast feeding was the trust that I have in Krystyna as a great Mom who *always* does what she believes in her heart to be the very best things for our children.  Given that trust, her strong desire to extend her breast feeding relationship with our last two children is reason enough for me to support her parenting choices as I have done since we walked through the door of our first Bradley class.
Everyone’s parenting journey is unique to them, so ultimately you must do what is right for you as partners and parents.  Dads, if you are faced with similar circumstances, it is important to communicate and to remember the big picture of health and happiness for you and family.

 

3.) Extended breastfeeding in our family.
All of our children have been breastfed past their first birthday.  They nursed 22 months, 18 months, five years, and 3 years&counting, respectively.  The more I learned, the more committed I was to continuing the breastfeeding relationship until the child self-weaned.

Puma self-weaned, Night Owl was an emergency wean since I was pregnant with Charger and I was having a lot of contractions when I nursed.  I learned more for the next pregnancy, so I was able to nurse Charger through Otter’s pregnancy – and wow, was he excited when the rich, creamy, newborn milk came in!  You can read about that experience over at the Nursing Nurture webpage, where I shared about our breastfeeding journey. (Part 1: Breastfeeding Through Pregnancy, Part 2: Tandem Nursing)

I weaned Charger a little after his fifth birthday.  If I had heard Dr. Nils Bergman speak about the evolutionary biology of breastfeeding sooner, I would have let him nurse until he started losing his milk teeth, aka baby teeth.  Having learned that all other mammals nurse until the milk teeth fall out, I will be letting Otter nurse until she starts losing her baby teeth, or until she decides that she is finished nursing, whichever comes first.

4.) Tandem Nursing
With the help of my IBCLC and my La Leche League group leaders, I felt ready to tandem nurse.  I set the expectations of what was going to happen well before Otter was born, and I kept reassuring our then toddler that I was still going to be his mommy, and he was going to be able to get milk when we felt he needed it.

Expectations:
The baby was the baby, and she was going to nurse first when she was hungry and he wanted to nurse at the same time.  Since he was a big boy, I encouraged him that he could eat lots of neat things with his teeth; not the baby, she’s too little.  No fun for her. I also had a stack of books next to the bed that we could read together while he waited patiently.

As soon as the baby was finished nursing, he would be invited to nurse.  Or if the baby was napping, of course I would be available to him.  Little by little, that time turned into snuggle time.  By the time he was three, he was only nursing in the morning, for naps, and at bedtime.

Every once in a while, I would nurse them together. I didn’t really care for it at the time, so I didn’t do it very often.  Later as I realized our time as a tandem was ending, I regretted it.  There are so many lovely stories about children’s bonds who are nursed at the breast together.

The two of them did enjoy taking turns.  Sometimes they got possessive about which “side” was theirs, however, most of the time, it was a comedy.  One would finish and call out to the other, “Hey – it’s your turn!!” And a conversation would ensue between them about turns, sides, and which breast had more milk that day.

5.) Other places I have written about extended breastfeeding if you are interested:

Our Journey Into Tandem Nursing May 2012 intro about our chosen path

Still Tandem Nursing August 2012 update

Tandem Nursing – Extended  July 2013 update

My Take on Toddler Nursing – Today August 2013 photojournal of “gymnurstics”…thank goodness that was only a phase!

Nursing By Example: The power of peer-to-peer support

Nursing a Toddler: Benefits, and why it’s good to follow your instincts and your children’s cues

Extended Breastfeeding: the science behind why it’s beneficial

Breastfeeding & Tandem Nursing: Encouraging parents to follow the right path for their family

Now that I know people are looking for more info, I will be adding more links to the breastfeeding resource page about tandem nursing, how to deal with biting and nursing strikes, and other topics related to nursing older children.

In the meantime, I hope this gives you a clearer picture about what breastfeeding older children looks like.  It isn’t common, however, it would be nice if it was normal.

 

 

Wordless Wednesday: Earth Baby

In honor of Earth Day, here are some fun images from our students and our family images from last summer…cloth diapers, hiking, extended breastfeeding past the first birthday…see how we interpret the phrase “Earth Baby”

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Wordless Wednesday: 5 Favorites

WE have had so many neat submissions on different topics that are important to creating a healthy family…here are five that demonstrate a different value we have:

Breastfeeding

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Babywearing

Babywearing on a hike

Babywearing on a hike

Co-sleepingBLOG SPF ww cosleep2

 

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Whole Food (and french fries!)

Night Owl eating out - nothing on the menu appealed to him, so he ordered his own smorgasbord for lunch!

Night Owl eating out – nothing on the menu appealed to him, so he ordered his own smorgasbord for lunch!

 

 

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Milestone Monday! I survived NIP…

…with a toddler!  As you can see from the picture…this kiddo is active, and clearly not a “baby”.  I think for the most part as a general public we are more comfortable with babies being nursed in public…toddlers…not so much.

Otter is pushing me much farther out of my comfort zone.  The oldest nursling I had breastfed in public was Charger…and I stopped nursing him in public right around his second birthday as my pregnancy with Otter was progressing.

She is now 29 months old, and this “baby” of ours will not take no for an answer.  She wants her “leche” and she wants it now!  So, I nursed her in front of a whole bunch of folks and horses at the gymkhana we went to yesterday afternoon…and it was no big deal!

Now, while I am working on setting boundaries and we are negotiating this NIP thing, it was a relief to be able to feed her and do so without any comments of negativity from bystanders.

What’s your share for Milestone Monday?

Breastfeeding: With All My Heart

I love this theme:  Anyone who has breastfed knows that it is definitely a journey.  It is not always easy, it is not always convenient, yet we persist because their is a core belief inside of a breastfeeding mother that it is the right thing to do.  I know very few breastfeeding mothers who do it out of obligation; though they exist.  No mommy wars here: I am by no means saying that mothers who went the formula route love their children any less.  I am marveling at the fact that there is a proven biophysical response built into the breastfeeding relationship that makes us fall a little more in love every time we breastfeed – and I am fascinated at the way our bodies work.

With that, here is a great family picture of a mommy nursing a baby, a big sister nursing her dolly, and daddy looking on in love at his family:

BLOG ww140219 spf.1Although I have shared the next two before in other posts, they went along with the heart theme in the pictures.  Here are our breastfed babies, who in all, have been breastfed a total of 125 months:

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Charger was my big helper on picture day - he helped brush them with melted butter, and then we sprinkled them with our cinnamon-xylitol blend.

Charger was my big helper on picture day – he helped brush them with melted butter, and then we sprinkled them with our cinnamon-xylitol blend.

 

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Thoughtful Thursday: Nursing a Toddler

So Otter is now comfortably and officially wearing the “toddler” name.  She is 28-months old, and she is a good size for a two-year old.  We are fast approaching her “half-birthday” as some people call them, and I have to stretch my comfort zone to keep nursing in public.

Up to this point, the oldest child I nursed outside of our home has been no older than two.  When I was pregnant with Otter, Charger and I came to the agreement that I would only nurse him at home.  Although I restricted the place, I didn’t put restrictions on how often once it became apparent that he had no interest in weaning.

Otter hit the two-year mark back in October.  I started telling her, “Let’s wait until we get home,” to get very strong resistance…and when you are sitting in church with a family of six, already sticking out like a sore thumb in our Episcopal church, the last thing we want to do is draw MORE attention to ourselves…and Episcopal churches don’t generally have crying rooms…and our children like to sit in the second row next to the choir loft…so I would nurse her to keep the peace all around.  And, I am okay with nursing – I like all the toddler benefits of nursing so I do not necessarily want to wean at this point.

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So here we are, well into the twos…and there is still no sign of wanting to wean.  Up to this point, she has always been fed “on demand”.  I am now at the point when I want to start setting boundaries.

These are the expectations I am starting to voice out loud, with the intention of having them set in peacefully, without having a tantrum (either one of us!):

  • You are a bigger girl now – I want you to wait until I am finished doing schoolwork with your siblings.
  • You are a bigger girl now – we will start waiting until we get home to nurse.
  • You are a bigger girl now – you can play, do a puzzle or read a book until mommy can sit with you to nurse.

I am trying to give her options that still say “Yes” to nursing while still starting to teach her that I am not a 24/7 milk bar.  While I had no challenge with that in the newborn, or even the 1-year old phase, I am starting to feel like she uses nursing as a way to get attention, or to take attention away from her siblings.  She also plays little games when she is nursing, which make it very hard to do anything else except pay attention to her.  So, big lesson as I am writing this…we need to start doing one-on-one activities that do not include breastfeeding!

By the same token, I know I am not ready to wean, especially her.  Breastmilk is still a bioavailable food source, still chock full of nutrients for a toddler.  It is still a way for us to connect.  I will definitely miss the breastfeeding chapter when it’s over.

Most importantly to me, both of our nurslings are still getting anti-bodies and immunities when they are fighting viruses or bacteria.  As a matter of fact, last week Charger was bugging me to nurse more often one day, and trying to be a good wife and honor my husband’s wishes that he be done nursing, I said no.  I felt terrible when he woke up throwing up the next day.  A few extra nursing sessions that day and he was back in good form the following day.  And, we are back to our once a day, if and when it happens, nursing schedule for him.

I know I can’t nurse them back to health forever, however, I will probably think twice about denying either of them the next time they want to nurse more often than the current status quo.  Or, maybe, just pump or express in Charger’s case so that he can still get breastmilk although that would miss the exchange of information from his saliva to the breast for the immunities he needs…I don’t know.  I will figure it out if and when we get there.

I could definitely use some pointers – this is new territory for me.  What have you done to set boundaries with your nursing toddler?  Or maybe you don’t?  Tell me more…

Beautiful Breastfeeding

Thoughtful Thursday: On Weaning

What are we going to talk about today?  Weaning!

But it’s Breastfeeding Awareness Month – how does weaning fit?

A couple of ways…BAW is wrapping up, so it’s time to “wean” ourselves off of this topic.  (I couldn’t resist…sorry!!)  Secondly, it fits into Breastfeeding Awareness Month because weaning is part of the breastfeeding journey.  Have you thought about what you are going to give your baby after (s)he is no longer nursing?

Weaning is thought of as the “end” of the breastfeeding relationship.  As stated on the Baby-Led Weaning website, the reality is that the moment we introduce solids, we have started weaning.

How many other mammals continue to drink milk after they are weaned?  Think about that.  We are the only creatures that have figured out how to express milk from a maternal or non-maternal source to continue milk-feeding.  I believe we are the only ones to have found a way for milk to be consumed from something other than directly from a nipple attached to milk ducts.

While this helps make the case for extended breastfeeding (if you want to give them milk, it may as well be your own), it really is something to think about when you consider the age your child stops breastfeeding.  Think about this: milk from other animals is not made to help our human children develop – it’s made to be specific for their species.  Have you ever considered that this may be the reason so many of us are considered “lactose intolerant”?

If weaning happens when your child is under a year of age, you may very well want to supplement with formula.  We do know that scientists are doing the best they can to mimic human milk with that product.  If you are weaning a toddler, you may want to consider just going straight to water and skip alternative milk altogether.

Does your child need to drink milk after they wean?  We are conditioned to believe in the nutritional benefits of milk – how else will they get calcium?!?  I will admit, it’s hard to overcome our indoctrination.  Here is a list of Top 10 Highest-Calcium food sources.  Milk is third on the list.

http://www.healthaliciousness.com/articles/foods-high-in-calcium.php

Do you have time to read one more?  HERE is an article that talks about the benefits of probiotics.  While our family does not buy cow’s milk anymore, we are big consumers of yogurt products.  I read this article and it gave me peace of mind that we are making the right choice in that aspect:

“Babies whose mothers take probiotics while pregnant and those who are given the so-called “good bacteria” supplements early in life may be at lower risk for allergies but not asthma than other kids.”

This is the choice that worked for our family:  We drink water…a lot of it.  We drink it straight, we flavor the water with fruit and herbs overnight, or sometimes we make fruit-based teas.  If we drink juice, it’s homemade.  I juice fruit for the kiddos before I juice for myself in the morning.  I simply cannot justify store-bought juice anymore.  We will only buy Honest-Tea juice for a party – special occasions merit a little fun and which kid doesn’t like a “juice box”?

So anyway, I will close with this thought: Cassandra and I have really enjoyed sharing Breastfeeding Awareness Month with you.  We wish you all continued peace and joy as you and your nursling continue to do the breastfeeding dance.  Lead, follow, and when it’s time to exit the floor, may you do so with wonderful memories and the knowledge that whether it was for three minutes, three days, three months, or three years, you did something amazing.

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Extended Breastfeeding

Your baby is already past their first birthday…and the questions from “well-meaning” family and friends have started…

I needed this reminder today…Otter is almost 23 months old…and still nursing, and still very much wanting to nurse as needed…which means out of the home. I am guessing that I am going to grow again. I took heart from THIS article by Dr. Sears and I hope you will, too.

Quick quote from today’s link:
“Science is on your side. I have read many medical journals with articles proving the long-term health benefits of breastfeeding. The incidence of many illnesses, both childhood and adult, are lowered by breastfeeding  — diabetes, heart disease, and central nervous system degenerative disorders (such as multiple sclerosis) to name a few. The most fascinating studies show that the longer and more frequently a mom nurses her baby, the smarter her child is likely to become. The brain grows more during the first two years of life than any other time, nearly tripling in size from birth to two years of age. It’s clearly a crucial time for brain development, and the intellectual advantage breastfed babies enjoy is attributed to the “smart fats” unique to mom’s breast milk (namely, omega-3 fatty acid, also known as DHA). From head to toe, babies who breastfeed for extended periods of time are healthier overall. They tend to have leaner bodies with less risk of obesity. They also have improved vision, since the eye is similar to the brain in regards to nervous tissue. They have better hearing due to a lower incidence of ear infections. Their dental health is generally good, since the natural sucking action of the breastfed infant helps incoming teeth align properly. Intestinal health is also much better than those of non-breastfed babies, as breast milk is easier to digest, reducing spit-up, reflux, and constipation. A toddler’s immune system functions much better since breastmilk contains an immunoglobulin (IGA) which coats the lining of the intestines, which helps prevent germs from penetrating through. Even the skin of these babies is smoother and more supple.”

Need more reasons to stand firm in your decision to continue breastfeeding past your child’s first birthday?  Read the whole article from Dr. Sears HERE