When are you quitting?

Monday, November 18, 2013

I get asked this at least a few times a week by different people.  The comments and questions around my continued breastfeeding go something like this...

"How long are you going to continue breastfeeding?"

"You are still pumping three times a day?"

"He has 6 teeth?!  Aren't you afraid he is going to bite you?"

"He'll sleep longer if you give him formula."

"You should NEVER get into the habit of nursing a baby to bed!"

It seems rather crazy to me that the fact that I am breastfeeding my baby at 7 months isn't very common even though both the AAP recommends breastfeeding until a baby is 1 year of age or more and the WHO recommends breastfeeding until 2 years of age or beyond.

I feel there is quite a bit of breastfeeding support for mothers when they first have a child.  There are lactation consultants at the hospital, support groups during the day while you are on maternity leave, and a plethora of information on the web.  There is very little information and support out there for mothers who continue to breastfeed past 6 months.  Well, this is what I have found to be true.

For example, when I started feeding B solids a little after 6 months, I found very little information with regards to how I should go about doing that while breastfeeding.

Should I cut back on the number of breastfeeding sessions?  

How many times a day should he be eating solid food?  

Should I mix breast milk in with the food?  

Do I have to give my baby water, too?

Should I nurse right before I feed him solids or give him some time to digest before showing more food in his face?  

Should I pump at night if he sleeps so that I can maintain my supply?  

When and how do I wean my baby?

Once I wean my baby do I have to give them cow's milk as a replacement? 

Yeah, not a lot of info out there and what I have found is sometimes conflicting.  I think the issue is that by 6 months many moms have quit breastfeeding so there isn't the need for all the information that there is when baby is first born.  The information that I got from my doctor doesn't totally jive with what I believe in either.  She has told us to start him with cereal, which we decided not to do.  Also, she has told us to give him water and I don't really know how much he needs that, either.  I thought breast milk was good enough.  I feel like doctors aren't that that supportive of breastfeeding, which is surprising that I am not feeling that way from my doctor when she said she breastfed both of her kids until they were 2 when I originally interviewed her.

Recently, I have noticed that B's breastfeeding habits have been changing, and not for the better.  He has always been an "in and out" kind of baby.  He eats to eat and that is it.  2-3 minutes on a side MAX.  Lately it is a struggle to get him to eat for more than 2 minutes on one side before he decides to start looking around or tries to squirm out of my arms.  I have started pumping less at work.  He has even been eating less out of a bottle when I am at work.  He went from eating 4-5 ounces every 3 hours to now eating 3 ounces every 3.5-4 hours.  This all seemed to correspond to the fact that we had started giving him 2 solid meals a day; fruits in the morning and veggies at night.  He seems to have less and less of an interest in eating except for in the middle of the night or right before bed when he is tired.

Of course I googled this, wanting to know if it was normal 7 month old behavior, and the results that I came up with weren't exactly what I was wanting to hear.  Most of the articles I found dealt with infant self-weaning.  A few of the articles were centered around teething, which seemed a little easier for me to take.  I found myself getting worked up over the fact that I am still breastfeeding at 7 months, enjoying the experience and wanting to continue, and not at all prepared or supported for where I am now or for the future.  Honestly, I am doing what I think I should be doing, not knowing if it is the right thing to do or not.

So as I paw my way through the dimly lit forest that is breastfeeding past 6 months, alone.  I can only hope that I am still doing the right thing.  I really wish that there was more support guidance out there for mothers who breastfeed longer.  I could really, really, use it right now.

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6 Responses to “When are you quitting?”

  1. You can do it! Follow your baby's lead. Remember he should be getting the most nutrition through breastmilk until a year old. Right now, he's just experimenting with textures and taste. I nursed my oldest for 22 months. Towards the end, even my family started asking when I was going to "quit." Just shug it off and say whenever it feels right for us or something. Good luck!

  2. You must not be in an area that supports breastfeeding! Where we are, you almost get looked down upon for NOT breastfeeding. I've had several friends who couldn't due to milk supply and they felt bad that they couldn't breastfeed - almost inadequate. It's funny how their are different perspectives around the country.

    We made it to 13 months, but I only stopped because we wanted to try and get pregnant again and I still hadn't gotten a period breastfeeding. But I couldn't tell you anything about food, water, etc. I totally don't remember - even having just watched my friend's kid once a week for the last year who went through the meals/water/etc. It's just a blur.

    Good luck!

  3. I'm so sorry you feel so alone in this! I breastfed until my first daughter was a year old (only quitting because I was ready to start TTC again) and I plan to do the same for my second. The difference is that I feel very supported by friends and family (nearly all of whom have breastfed...many until their child was nearly two). My best piece of advice is to seek out a few other women who have breastfed (or currently are breastfeeding) an older baby. Even if they're online. Their advice and support could be invaluable. Wishing you the best!

  4. What you described of B's current breastfeeding style is very similar to what it was like when LB was around his age. I'd say totally normal! He is much more active, curious about his environment, and generally busy these days right? He has places to go, people to see. ;) Beginning around 6 months LB would only nurse "well" (as in not pop on and off or only nurse for a minute or two) if we were side lying in a relatively distraction free room. This was a pain on my days off work because I had to structure our days around being home at the times she typically wanted to nurse as it's hard to side lie out and about. Now at 9 months old she is definitely nursing less during the day because she's eating more food and she's very active, but again if I take her somewhere with minimal distractions she'll get down to business. Anyway, know that you're not the only one out there with a squirmy, busy baby and B's changing patterns don't mean he is weaning. You're doing a great job!

  5. Sorry people aren't supportive. B should get all his liquid needs from your milk, no water needed. Good on you and keep it up :)

  6. As others have said, I find it strange that people are so surprised about continued breastfeeding at seven months - it's very normal here (and supported by all kinds of guidelines). I have always looked to the site kellymom for advice; although I haven't specifically researched nursing while also introducing solids, I imagine it's got some good thoughts on that too. Barring that, I hope you've found good guidance on your questions. So much of it is conflicting, though, as you said ... just like it is for just about everything baby-related!