Friday, June 2, 2006

Reflections on Breastfeeding

Well, I believe that it is now official- Keelan has weaned. No boob for 5 days (I think). He has not been indicating that he wants it, other than occasionally pressing his face into my chest momentarily (as if to say HELLO OLD FRIENDS). Our pediatrician was right, it was much much easier than I thought it would be.
What an incredible experience this has been... I had such high expectations of nursing with my daughter, and all of the problems I had nursing her were devastating to me. I weaned her at 7 months old. So with Keelan, I decided to lower my goal a bit, to 7 months. I figured that if I was able to tough it out for that long with Coralie, I could do it again. I had also hoped that things would go easier this time, but it was not to be. (THE CHEWING! AAA!) It took him a full three months to learn not to chew while he nursed. Plus, I couldn't nurse without props (a nursing pillow) and getting him to latch on correctly sometimes took multiple tries. This made nursing while out and about very awkward. I was discouraged for a long time. Then, somehow, magically, shortly after he improved his technique I stopped needing props (I think he was 4 or 5 months old). The lactation consultant had said that this would happen, although I was dubious at the time. Finally, for the first time ever, I *enjoyed* nursing. Nursing while out and about was no longer a problem (although I always nursed in the car). I was able to revise my goal and aim for 12 months. However, I also had decided that if Keelan decided he wanted to wean before that, then I was going to go for it. I saw no reason to *insist* that he breastfeed until 1 year if he didn't want to. He's been winding down for about a month now, now that he prefers the relative instant gratification of the bottle to the work and waiting of the boob. He's just not a patient little man LOL.
I had a great lactation consultant who was not at all judgemental and gave me no grief about needing to supplement Keelan with formula. However, I have developed some peeves with other breastfeeding 'resources'... two words: MILITANT LITERATURE. The breastfeeding literature I have read is incredibly negative and judgemental. Going on about the 'horrors' of formula and how supplementing with formula will ultimately make me 'fail' at nursing. I mean, how do you think this negativity makes those of us who *have* to supplement with formual feel? This is not what to tell people when you are trying to convince them to nurse! Most experts seem to gloss over how *hard* it is, and say that supply problems are rare. Supply problems are not rare (I never made more than 50% of their daily intake with either of my kids). A lot of babies don't just catch on in a few weeks. A lot of moms I've known who nursed were working out the kinks for weeks or months. People need to know *why* to do it, in laymans terms. Other moms I know who chose formula over breast said, 'I know breastfeeding is better, but...' but do they know *why* it's better?? Passive immunity! Reduced risk of obesity! Burns calories! Suppresses menstruation (my personal favorite LOL)! I've always maintained that it really isn't my place to judge other moms choice not to nurse, although I admit it is very hard for me to understand why someone would choose to formula feed merely for their own convenience. Everyone's situation is different and I'm not always privy to all the details.
I had wondered whether or not I'd feel bad that I missed the 12 month mark by only one month, but truthfully, I don't. The weaning process has been so gradual, and on his terms, that this just really feels like a natural stopping point. I am so grateful for this breastfeeding experience, especially since Keelan will be my last child.

I'm really not looking forward to the return of Aunt Flo... I've had none since September of 2004. *sigh* All good things must come to an end.

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