Thursday, January 5, 2012

Weaning on my mind.

Well, it’s almost been a full year of nursing my baby boy. Can you believe it?

When family & friends would ask: “So, how long are you planning on breast feeding?”

I would answer a quick and pointed: “for one year, when he no longer needs formula or breast milk.”

Well, it’s here and I am starting to rethink my goal oriented answer. At that point, I was just wanting to MAKE IT to that point; which felt like 10 years when your child is only 3 or 4 months old. One year seems like. . . . well, forever.

It’s not. It’s here. And because it has almost been a year, I have had some fantasizing thoughts about going to the mall for an unlimited amount of time with no baby to worry about. I have had daydreams of going on a hot over night date with my husband with no plans of having to rush back by 6am to feed my child. But, is this really a good reason to deny my child the object of his affections?? :-)

When I say ‘affections’ I mean, affections. Daniel does not take a bottle, he does not drink pumped milk from a sippy cup, he does not really even like much of any liquid unless it is from the source. He in one year old, and he still nurses five times a day, at least.

So, as the time is nearing, and I thinking about weaning because it’s “time” I have also been taking cues from Daniel, and he is in no way close to ready. So I started to do some research.

I am anxious about fully weaning him for a multitude of reasons, but I am mainly afraid that I will be stopping a very nutritious and beneficial add-on (breast milk) to his diet to give him something less suited for his body (cows milk)and chance that he won’t like it, and refuse to drink it, giving him nothing.  Part of this “anxiety” comes from being a new mom and not knowing what is past this step of babyhood, but truly, I don’t think Daniel will automatically take to cows milk. And why would he when what I can give him tastes better, and made JUST FOR HIS BODY?!?!

Now, before I share my research, I want those of you reading moms to know, that I am in NO WAY condemning you for choosing not to breast feed, I am not trying to make you feel bad for not being able to continue. I am just sharing my research as a way to share my decision.

I found that from

  • Human milk expressed by mothers who have been lactating for >1 year has significantly increased fat and energy contents, compared with milk expressed by women who have been lactating for shorter periods. During prolonged lactation, the fat energy contribution of breast milk to the infant diet might be significant."
    -- Mandel 2005
  • In the second year (12-23 months), 448 mL of breastmilk provides:
    • 29% of energy requirements
    • 43% of protein requirements
    • 36% of calcium requirements
    • 75% of vitamin A requirements
    • 76% of folate requirements
    • 94% of vitamin B12 requirements
    • 60% of vitamin C requirements

    -- Dewey 2001

    • Nursing toddlers between the ages of 16 and 30 months have been found to have fewer illnesses and illnesses of shorter duration than their non-nursing peers (Gulick 1986).
    • "Antibodies are abundant in human milk throughout lactation" (Nutrition During Lactation 1991; p. 134). In fact, some of the immune factors in breastmilk increase in concentration during the second year and also during the weaning process. (Goldman 1983, Goldman & Goldblum 1983, Institute of Medicine 1991).
    • Extensive research on the relationship between cognitive achievement (IQ scores, grades in school) and breastfeeding has shown the greatest gains for those children breastfed the longest.
    • "Meeting a child's dependency needs is the key to helping that child achieve independence. And children outgrow these needs according to their own unique timetable." Children who achieve independence at their own pace are more secure in that independence then children forced into independence prematurely.

    I never even contemplated the benefits to MY health of breastfeeding, but I found that for me:

    • Extended nursing delays the return of fertility in some women by suppressing ovulation (References).
    • Breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast cancer (References). Studies have found a significant inverse association between duration of lactation and breast cancer risk.
    • Breastfeeding reduces the risk of ovarian cancer (References).
    • Breastfeeding reduces the risk of uterine cancer (References).
    • Breastfeeding reduces the risk of endometrial cancer (References).
    • Breastfeeding protects against osteoporosis. During lactation a mother may experience decreases of bone mineral. A nursing mom's bone mineral density may be reduced in the whole body by 1 to 2 percent while she is still nursing. This is gained back, and bone mineral density may actually increase, when the baby is weaned from the breast. This is not dependent on additional calcium supplementation in the mother's diet. (References).
    • Breastfeeding reduces the risk of rheumatoid arthritis. (References).
    • Breastfeeding has been shown to decrease insulin requirements in diabetic women (References).
    • Breastfeeding moms tend to lose weight easier (References).

    With that said, I have ultimately chosen to follow Daniel’s lead, yet, getting him down to 2 feedings a day. For the remainder of the time, I will really concentrate on getting him delicious, nutritious food he can eat with his hands.

    Thanks for joining in on my thought processes as I wean my little guy. :-)

    1 comment:

    Sarah said...

    I'm proud of you for listening to Daniel's cues. It is so easy to just be done at a year b/c you want your body back, and your life back, but I believe you are doing what is best for your child. We let Cyrus to drop his feeding on his own. By 14 months he was down to 3 times a day, by 16 months he was nursing for 3 minutes in the morning, and 3 minutes before bed...Weening was a lot less emotional b/c I knew he was doing it on his own and I wasn't denying him for my own selfish desires. We were done nursing by 17 months. Good luck!

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