Posts Tagged ‘nurse’

Bittersweet Endings…

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

Last picture I have of Izzy nursing

On Monday, November 19, I nursed 21 month old Izzy to sleep, not knowing it would be the last time he nursed. Had I known, I would have savored it…fully immersed myself in the moment with him. Stroked his head.¬†Synchronized our breathing. Held him close.¬†Listened intently to his suckling.¬†However I did none of¬†that. Instead I just assumed we had many more nights ahead of us and routinely nursed him to sleep without a second thought about it. Well turns out, I am no longer a nursing mama…and my feelings about it are all over the map! I admit there were a few many times over the last 21 months of nursing that I thought “I can’t wait to be done!”.¬†Although now that we are actually done,¬†a part of me is kind of sad. Looking back over the past several months, it should have been apparent the end was near, but I didn’t fully realize how soon it would sneak up on us.

If you were to ask me how to wean a baby, I wouldn’t have an answer for you. Well¬†I guess my answer would be to either get¬†pregnant (as was the case with my first two boys) or go¬†on vacation, lol! Traveling seemed to have the biggest impact on weaning with Izzy.¬†Over the summer we were out of town for 12 consecutive weeks. During that time there was a great deal of extra stimulation, additional attention and affection from extended family members, and very little in the way of a daily rhythm or routine. Plus there was a lot of new and¬†exciting foods around all.the.time for us to enjoy. During that time, Izzy¬†started¬†to¬†nurse¬†significantly less and generally only asked to nurse when he was tired.

During the last 6 weeks or so, Izzy primarily only nursed to sleep at bedtime with a few exceptions here and there. Then we went on vacation to California over Thanksgiving and he stopped asking to nurse to sleep. One night I even laid right next to him in bed reading a book and he just snuggled up against me and fell asleep. That is when I realized we were done.

Nursing Izzy is something I have done every single day, multiple times a day, for the past 21 months…and it feels strange to suddenly be done. I am happy we enjoyed 21 months of nursing together. And I am happy to have a break from breastfeeding before getting pregnant with baby #4. But at the same time I am having hard time knowing that that part of our relationship has changed. It truly is bittersweet.

Interestingly enough for the first time ever, Izzy pretended to nurse one of his stuffed animals the other day….after not nursing for 9 days himself….go figure! :)

Izzy pretending to nurse his monkey

I would like to do something special to mark the end of nursing, but haven’t figured out what to do. Did you do anything special to honor the end of nursing with your child? Would love to hear some ideas from readers!

In the meantime, I am thankful we still have co-sleeping and babywearing!

-Sarah

Top 5 Reasons I Like Breastfeeding a Toddler

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Ah, toddlerhood. There are moments I thoroughly enjoy this¬†age of discovery and playfulness.¬†However more often than not I feel completely¬†frazzled by the two second attention span, the¬†constant need to touch, pull, climb, dump, etc. and the “hold me now! put me down! hold me now! put me down!” stage of toddlerhood.¬†Inevitability the demand of “hold me now! put me down!” typically occurs in direct opposition of what is most convenient for mama.¬† For example at the library it would be much easier if my toddler would let me hold him/wear him so I could check out our books.¬†Nope, not happening. Instead he squirms and screams in my arms until I eventually put him down and gently say “okay but you need to stay close to mama“.¬† HA! He runs away from me as fast as he can,¬†pulling¬†books off the shelf and giggling hysterically the entire chase. However when we are at home and I would gladly let him run around and pull all of our books off the shelf so I can do whatever, he of course wants to be held.

There are many aspects of toddler development that make this stage particularly challenging for parents. There are days where I actually cannot imagine surviving the intensity of toddlerhood without breastfeeding. Here are the top 5 reasons I like breastfeeding my toddler:

1. It’s the only time I get to sit down and¬†they stop moving. Literally! Although this does backfire on me at times because on the rare occasion I do sit down (without the intention to breastfeed)¬†he¬†of course immediately comes running toward me signing ‘milk! milk!’. The association between¬†”mama sitting” and “time to nurse”¬†is incredibly strong in my little one almost to the point I have to be sneaky about sitting. I confess to¬†periodically hiding in¬†our pantry for a few minutes simply so I can¬†sit down¬†alone.

2. If they are sick and¬†uninterested in¬†foods/liquids….no worries! There have been several times when my little ones have been sick and¬†I am so thankful we practice extended breastfeeding. I am certain it has helped us avoid what could have been serious episodes of dehydration because while they refused foods/liquids they were happily nourished with breastmilk.

3. Makes almost any task far more enjoyable for them. For example my son hates having his nails cut, but if I cut them while he is nursing, he hardly seems to notice. Same with having his hair combed. Actually the hair washing and combing thing got to be so difficult we recently decided it would be easier to buzz his long shaggy locks. About 3 seconds into the haircut, he decided he was done with it. Instead of letting him go around with a random patch of hair shaved off, I offered to nurse him and my hubby was able to finish cutting his hair in peace.

BEFORE

DURING

AFTER

4. I carry a magical, powerful sleep induction tool that is readily available anytime/anywhere! This is hands down my favorite part of nursing a toddler. When we are out and about and he’s tired and cranky, no sweat!¬†Just latch him on and he’s in dreamland shortly thereafter.

5. It relaxes me and connects us. While this kind of goes along with my first reason, it is worthy of separate mention. Beyond the fact that I get to sit down randomly¬†throughout the day, breastfeeding actually releases¬†hormones (Oxytocin and Prolactin) that relax the mother. Nature’s design for breastfeeding is pretty cool, huh?¬†Also the opportunity to positively re-connect with my toddler on a regular basis throughout the day is beneficial, if not necessary to our relationship; because in all honesty¬†mothering a toddler is an intensely exhausting venture!¬†I am exceptionally grateful to have breastfeeding in my bag of tricks!

What do you enjoy about nursing your toddler?

-Sarah

Top 5 Ways to Increase Your Milk Supply

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

While having a low milk supply can be challenging and frustrating, it does not always necessitate supplementation. There are several simple things you can try at home to help boost your milk production.

1. Nurse your baby – Because breast milk production is a supply and demand process, typically one of the most effective ways to increase your milk supply is to increase the frequency at which you nurse your baby. Allow baby to nurse on demand or even offer frequently to assist in establishing a plentiful milk supply.

2. Examine Latch РOf course increasing the frequency at which you nurse your baby is only effective if baby is latching properly. A proper latch results in a more efficient supply and demand process. When baby is latched properly the breast receives adequate stimulation to signal milk production.

3. Nourish yourself – Making breast milk is a lot of work for your body. Be sure you are fueling your body with healthy foods, staying well hydrated, and well rested in order to maintain an optimal milk supply.¬† Consume foods that are known for increasing a mother’s milk supply such as oatmeal or Brewer’s yeast. Make yourself a yummy batch of Lactation Bars to enjoy. Or better yet, ask your partner or a friend to make them for you so you can focus on nursing baby and resting.

4. Avoid Use of Artificial Nipples РBabies, particularly newborns like to suck. It is calming and organizing for them to do so, hence the popularity of pacifiers. However allowing baby to engage in non-nutritive sucking at the breast as a source of comfort (as opposed to use of a pacifier) can be beneficial to the overall breastfeeding relationship and avoids any potential nipple confusion.

5. Consider Using herbs and/or Medications – If you have tried basic ways to increase milk production (such as the ideas listed above) without a positive impact on your milk supply, you might consider use of herbs and/or medications under the guidance of a health care provider. The most commonly used herbs to help increase a mother’s milk supply are fenugreek, blessed thistle, and alfalfa. There are also a few prescription drugs available to increase milk supply, however these are typically reserved as last resort options if natural methods have not been successful.

Have you experienced breast milk supply issues? If so what helped you be able to maintain an adequate milk supply for your nursling?

-Sarah

PS. Don’t forgot to submit your picture for tomorrow’s Fan Photo Friday!

Treating Clogged Ducts

Friday, March 9th, 2012

My 12 month old still wakes up to nurse about twice during the¬†night; sometimes more, rarely less. However during a recent trip to Colorado he slept a full 12 hours without waking once to nurse (I blame the altitude). Now you might be thinking ‘wow, how wonderful! I must have felt so well rested after a full night’s sleep?!’ I wish that were true. Instead I woke up at 4:30 in the morning painfully engorged on the left side. I tried to wake my son up so I could nurse him, but¬†he was so sleepy I¬†couldn’t get him to latch on. I tried to hand express some milk but was unable to. So I tossed and turned until he woke up a few hours later. However by then I already had several clogged ducts! :( And boy did they hurt!

A clogged duct is when there has been an obstruction in milk flow either on the pore of the nipple or further back in the ductal system. The affected area will feel swollen, sensitive to touch, and generally uncomfortable. You can usually feel a hardened lump, or in mine case several lumps, where the duct was blocked. A clogged duct is not necessarily a serious condition in itself, however if not treated promptly it can lead to mastitis. So how do you get rid of those pesky clogged ducts and get the milk flowing smoothly again?

1. Nurse baby on affected¬†side¬†as much as possible. (Of course be sure to continue to nurse on both sides, or you’ll wind up with clogged ducts on the other side as well). You can also hand-express or pump milk to help keep breast as empty as possible. You might try experimenting with nursing positions to see if you can angle baby toward the effected area helping remove milk more effectively. This might include using gravity to your advantage to assist in unclogging the blocked duct by laying baby down and nursing over him/her.

2. Gets lots of rest! Your body is working hard and needs plenty of rest to heal, restore, and balance itself so you can continue to comfortably nourish your baby with your milk.

3. Drink lots of water! Staying well hydrated is always important for breastfeeding mamas, but is extra important if you are experiencing clogged ducts. Drinking plenty of water is actually a helpful preventative measure against getting clogged ducts in the first place. Having a refill-able, easy to drink from, and easy to clean water bottle is a must-have item for nursing mamas!

4. Eat lots of healthy immune boosting whole foods and consider taking immune boosting supplements such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E, mixed carotenoids, and omega 3 fatty acids.

5. Embrace your inner hippie and ditch your bra and other any constrictive clothing. Let your breasts move freely to help aid in the removal of obstructions.

6. Use heat and massage to help remove obstructions. You can take a hot shower and massage affected area by hand and/or apply warm compresses directly on affected area.

7. If you are very uncomfortable you might consider taking an pain reliever/anti-inflammatory (ie- ibuprofen) to help reduce discomfort. If symptoms do not improve within 24 hours, you might consider contacting your care provider. Many of the symptoms of a clogged duct are similar to that of mastitis, however mastitis is an infection that often needs to be treated with medication.

My clogged ducts lasted about 2 and half days. The most helpful treatment for me seemed to be hot showers and massage, as well as nursing baby frequently.

Have you experienced clogged ducts? What tips or suggestions do you have for effective treatment?

-Sarah