Tuesday, October 7, 2008

On extended breastfeeding

The Bean is coming up on 18 months now. Damn does the time fly fast. She is not a baby anymore, but a firecracker of a little girl.

We are still breastfeeding. I committed to breastfeeding full time for her first year. Right around her first birthday, I stopped pumping at work (which was incredibly freeing). We quickly dropped to nursing just twice a day: first thing in the morning and last thing before she goes to sleep. I figured we'd use that schedule as a transition for awhile until she felt ready to stop nursing altogether.

Well here we are six months later and we're still nursing twice a day. At Bean's last checkup, the doctor asked what my plan for weaning was. Um, I don't have one.

It's actually pretty freaking awesome to be able to nurse Bean at this point. Nursing is no longer the centerpiece of my life, but we still get to enjoy that quiet time together each morning and evening. It's so nice. Especially on weekend mornings when Bean wakes up and I'm dying for just a few. more. minutes. I can bring her to bed and let her nurse while I grudgingly admit that I have to wake up.

And at night, nursing is usually followed by a few minutes of cuddling before I put her to bed. This is a rare treat, as my go-go-go daughter rarely sits still for more than a minute.

So, while I doubt that we will nurse past her second birthday, right now I would be loathe to give it up.

Unfortunately for me, it's decision time. My doctor has recommended a particular medication for me. I know I need it. But I also know that it comes through in breast milk. And I also know there are not adequate studies on the long term effects of children exposed to this medication via breast milk. My doctor doesn't view the decision as an either/or prospect. She thinks that since there's no data showing a negative impact of this medication that it should be considered safe. I strongly disagree.

I know that it is almost impossible to monitor the long term effects of a drug on normal childhood development. Even for something as common as hormonal birth control, they really can't say whether the exposure via breastmilk might have a subtle effect on, say, sexual development. Virtually all medications have warnings about pregnant and breastfeeding women, and that's because we just don't have the data to be able to what is safe and what isn't.

So for me, it is an either/or decision. And for now, I'm choosing breastfeeding.


ScientistMother said...

Breastfeeding was very hard for me to give up, but now monkey still has some regular milk while I hold him, so we still get some of the me time. I agree that not knowing for sure = big risk when it comes to your children.

Jane said...

Good for you! I am still breastfeeding Baby Jane, although we're down to 1 feeding now (morning). Like you, I have no weaning plans....I just figure that one or both of us will know when it's time to stop, and then find a graceful way to stop.

canuck_grad said...

So when you stopped pumping at work, was she drinking regular milk from a cup during the day? And if so, how did you work up to this? (i.e., offer regular milk in cup first, then breastmilk in bottle afterwards, etc.). My little guy is just about 6 months now, so we're just starting to feed him solid food, which has gotten me thinking about this issue, even though it's a bit down the road for me. I'm planning to breastfeed full time until he drinks enough regular milk during the day, and like you, keep breastfeeding morning and night as long as we both are enjoying it. Hopefully I won't be back at work until he's about 10 1/2 months, so it won't involve too much pumping. And he's already not keen on his feeding around lunch time lots of days (he eats all night long instead), so I think we'll be OK.

Anyway, I'm rambling as it's late and I'm tired. Basically, would love to hear a bit more details about how you accomplished the move to only 2 feedings a day. Thanks! :)

The bean-mom said...

Oh, I am so with you on this post, in so many ways. My Baby Legume is also a go-go gal, and nursing is one of the rare times that she stays still for a cuddle =)

And I am with you on being leery of breastfeeding while on any kind of medication. That's why I've never taken hormonal birth control while nursing.

Anonymous said...

Good for you :)

I fed until 18months and then I had to have surgery, and I guess I felt the time was right. I also didn't want the drugs to pass to my babe so I gave it up. It was a little earlier than I would have liked but it is a decision only you can make. My doctors I have to say were not very supportive but that didn't feature in my decision. L

canuck_grad said...

So I just went back and read some older posts and realized that some of my questions were answered in your post about stopping pumping at work. Which I read before and had forgotten all about (I'll claim mommy brain). So when you introduced whole milk, did you give her that in a bottle too, or only in a cup? And did you do it gradually?

Belanii said...

At 2.3 years now, we've gradually decreased nursing from 1x day before bedtime, to 1x week. Munchkin has learned to fall asleep on his own from daycare, and I noticed w/ his increasing toddler independence he doesn't ask to nurse as often as he did at 18 months. In fact, at the exact period I considered adopting a complete weaning strategy, he began to wean himself. I'm glad I went along with his "clock," and I'll really miss nursing him :(

ScienceMama said...

We only gave Bean cows milk in a cup. We started sending cups to school, first both containing breast milk, then one breast milk + one cows milk, then both cows milk. We transitioned over the course of about 2 weeks, and it was much easier than I expected.

canuck_grad said...

Thanks! Nice to hear it might not be too hard when the time comes. Anyone I know in real life who has breastfed stopped early enough that they had to switch to formula in a bottle first. I think 9 months is the longest anyone I know in real life went, most only 3-4 months.

Anonymous said...

I have been breastfeeding my baby boy from last three months, I don't think I would be able to carry on for another month, things are really getting tight for me now.

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