• Mon, Jan 28 2008

Carnival of Breastfeeding: Beginnings and Endings

Welcome to the January Carnival of Breastfeeding! Today the contributors have written about “Beginnings and Endings” related to breastfeeding. Now that I am 14 weeks pregnant with my third child, I am facing a beginning and an ending, specifically the ending of my nursing relationship with my 3-year-old, and the beginning of my nursing relationship with my next child.

When I was pregnant with my second child, my first daughter nursed right through the pregnancy and happily tandem nursed with her new little sister. My experience this time around has been different. My 3-year-old simply is not as attached to nursing at this point. She had already cut back on nursing to about three times per day, and my milk supply dropped quickly. As my milk supply dropped, I found nursing to be more and more uncomfortable, and I found myself limiting the length (but not the frequency) of nursing sessions. Once I became pregnant, I experienced both breast tenderness and a further decrease in milk supply. Consequently, we are down to one nursing session per day, which my daughter self-limits. At this point, she mainly wants to know that she can nurse if she so desires, but when she latches on she quickly finds there’s not much milk and she’s not all that interested in nursing after all. I can see that she will soon wean altogether.

The very helpful book (should you find yourself pregnant and breastfeeding) Adventures in Tandem Nursing: Breastfeeding During Pregnancy and Beyond notes:

Reports seem to indicate that 26 percent of children self-wean during pregnancy…. Although 31 out of 57 babies, or 57 percent, of the children who were nursing at the beginning of their mothers’ pregnancies were no longer nursing by the end, the investigator specifically records that the weaning was baby-led in 15 of those 31 cases and mother-led in 16.

I guess I’d characterize our weaning as part mother-led, part child-led. At any rate, I think we’ll be among the 57 percent who are not nursing by the end of the pregnancy.

After nearly six years of continuous breastfeeding, I am looking forward to a little break. At the same time, though, I am mourning the nursing relationship and all the benefits for my child and me. Right now my three-year-old has a terrible cold and accompanying cough. If I had the milk, I’d be getting as much of the wonderful antibodies into her as possible to help her fight the cold and hopefully prevent an ear infection. As it stands, I’m worried that she’ll get even sicker. I can remember way back when my firstborn was just four months old, and a La Leche League leader with older children basically lamented, “That first illness after weaning is the worst. Your child gets more sick than usual because he’s not getting the antibodies from you. Not only that, but he doesn’t have nursing to comfort him when he’s not feeling well.” Subsequently I heard other leaders say, “Of course when you wean is up to you, but I don’t recommend it during cold and flu season!” Ah, wise women!

For more thoughts on breastfeeding “Beginnings and Endings,” read these entries in the carnival (updated throughout the day):

~ The Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog – Weaning
~ How to be a Badass Dad – The Breastfeeding Father
~ Leche Baby! – Weaning a Toddler
~ Mama Knows Breast – One Mom’s Story of Breastfeeding Challenges
~ Breastfeeding Mums – Beginnings and Endings
~ Adventures of Pip and Squeak – A Complicated Relationship
~ Nature Moms – Mama Knows Breast
~ Crunchy Domestic Goddess – Inauspicious Breastfeeding Beginnings
~ Tales of Life with a Girl on the Go – Breastfeeding Beginnings

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  • http://adventuresofpipandsqueak.blogspot.com Christy

    I just weaned my daughter last month while pregnant. She has been sick with a cold on and off for that entire month as have my husband and I as well. For some reason it did not occur to me that not nursing her was possibly a part of the problem though there were many tmes I longed to comfort her by nursing.

  • http://crunchydomesticgoddess.com Crunchy Domestic Goddess

    congratulations on your pregnancy. :)

    this is a great post. i appreciate you sharing your perspective on weaning. i, too, am contemplating weaning my 3 1/2 year old. while it’s been a wonderful 3 1/2 years, i find myself growing tired of nursing her – even once per day – while i am still breastfeeding her younger brother. i’ve done the tandem thing for over a year now. i think i am going to start encouraging her to wean in the next several months – hopefully by her 4th birthday in june. we’ll see what happens.

  • http://blog.reidelizabeth.ca MomOnTheGo

    So much of life is about beginnings AND endings. Your story highlights this.

  • http://halfpintpixie.wordpress.com/ Half Pint Pixie

    Good luck with the weaning, and congrats on the pregnancy. I am so late reading the carnival this month!

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