If you read my last post, There's Something About Toddlerhood, you'll know that breastfeeding her has become quite challenging. She is very distractible and wants to nurse every time I sit down. She's also very vocal about her "NINNIES" and she loves to try and get her whole body into my shirt while she is nursing. And it doesn't help that she's very big for her age. She's as big as Natalie was at 3 and she is currently at 95% for height and 70% for weight at 21 months old. For those and several other reasons, my husband and I have decided to limit her nursing a little. I feel torn over this decision but I know in the long run, I am doing my best for her and still saving the relationship. I was starting to loathe the time nursing her and it's not so skin-crawlingly annoying now.
The negativity that we have received comes in two ways. The first is from those who openly exclaim, 'OMG are you still breastfeeding,' said with extra grossness emphasis placed on the word breastfeeding. The second is more subtle, a sort of ninja approach to disapproval. It's little comments like, 'Oh, but aren't you a big girl,' when she starts asking for ninnies or the ever popular anectdotes about children who breastfeed a long time are spoiled and their cousing Suzy is living proof.
First off, I really wonder why people feel the need to interject their opinion onto my breastfeeding my daughter. I certainly do not ask them to tell me how nasty they think breastfeeding, in general, is. And when compared to some of the crap they feed their kids, I can think of a whole lot worse to give Millie, nutrition wise.
Second, not their boob. I have a friend (Hello, Alaina!) who would say, 'If they can see my boob, they are too damn close and they need their eye poked out.' I'm more of the subtle, 'Can't you mind your own damn business,' camp myself.
I'd also like to clarify a few points about nursing an older baby or toddler or preschooler.
What nursing a child over the age of 1 is:
- Good tantrum control
- A way of reconnecting
- Annoying (sometimes)
- Nutrition for very picky eaters
- Not for everyone
- Detrimental to anyone's health or well-being
- Unusual (the average weaning age around the world is 4)
- Done because of sexual feelings
- Bad for a current pregnancy
It is generally considered safe to breastfeed while pregnant. There isn't much research directed specifically towards breastfeeding while pregnant, but direct inference would lead one to believe that it is safe.
At birth, a mother doesn't automatically make milk. The birth of the baby triggers a drastic lowering of several hormones and allows the prolactin secreted during pregnancy to overcome those hormones and produce milk. During the months post-partum, those hormones level out and progesterone and other hormones level off. In order to become pregnant, progesterone levels must be higher and be maintained at a higher level. It would seem that the progesterone and the prolactin are in a battle, but if they truly are (as in the period of time before any other source of food or nipple is introduced) then becoming pregnant in the first place is difficult. Decreased levels of progesterone and increased levels of prolactin would deter becoming pregnant and are a major reason that breastfeeding, along with other Natural Family Planning techniques are a choice of birth control for some families.
Breastfeeding also releases oxytocin, which is the hormone that is released during labor to help the uterus contract. As stated in the above, oxytocin receptors in the uterus are very minimal until such time as labor is warranted (about 38 weeks) and therefore the uterus is not succeptible to irritation by the oxytocin. The exception would be women who have had a preterm labor and or birth. The exception would be me. However, I didn't have any abnormalities during the pregnancy that I lost. I didn't even have my usual spotting and heavy cramping of early pregnancy and was not diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravardium as in my other pregnancies.
I was having a 'normal' pregnancy until one day, quite unexpectedly, our baby died. It had NOTHING to do with me nursing her sister. My body was prepared to do what it had to do in order for all three of us to survive as far as nutrition went. It was, however, deficient because of synthetic hormone use. I lost my baby because I had previously used birth control that was not approved for use in those with endometriosis (and my doctor knew this), not because I breastfed. Natalie weaned long before I got pregnant with Millie, so that was a non-issue in my difficult pregnancy with Millie.
I hope this novella clarifies a few things. It probably won't; I can always hope! In short, I breastfeed Millie because she and I want to. If you don't like it, I'd be glad to spew research and scientific evidence at you all day long. But right now, she's asking for "NINNIES" and I'm going to go with my old stand-by: MIND YOUR OWN DAMN BUSINESS!
Edit: I am not currently pregnant. Sorry!