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Please educate me about CLW

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Hello,

My baby is only just 7 months old and is exclusively breast-fed, so I'm nowhere near weaning, but I feel like I do need to start thinking about what my nursing plans are. DD is our first baby, and we've always planned to space our three mythical children between two and three years apart.

I've been lurking here for a few days. I first came in the hope that I'd find some stickies full of links for newcomers and such, as one can find on a lot of the other boards. Since no such stickies exist, I've just been reading a bit and picking up what I can. I've seen some references to "the literature" on the topic, but no links.

I'm concerned by the comments that I've seen from several posters referring to feelings of extreme resentment towards their older nurslings while pregnant or nursing a new baby. I would hate to feel that way about my dd, but am torn since we really don't want to have large age gaps between our children.

I'm also curious about breastfeeding a non-baby in public. I live in the Netherlands. For those of you familiar with the home birth culture here, you might assume that they are in favor of all things "crunchy." Not so. Most Dutch women wean at 3 months because they usually go back to work at that time and find pumping impractical. So I am already a long nurser in this society. That is not to say that I will let this affect my weaning decision, but I am interested to know if you all nurse your children in public, or only at home at nap time or bed time or whatever. If in public, what kind of reactions have you received? When I was 8, a friend's mother still nursed my friend's 3 or 4 year old brother. I remember that I found it weird, but I was (and still am, unfortunately) a product of my American upbringing.

Finally, if I do decide to do CLW, I'd like to be armed with some facts about how healthy it is, and not only in developing societies where access to clean water and organically grown fresh produce is not a given. Not only would I like to read this in order to become convinced for myself that this is the right thing to do, but I'd also like to have this so that I can respond intelligently to the inevitable questioning that I will get from just about everyone I know. We chose home birth (in the US) for our first child and we chose not to vaccinate her at all. These decisions were (and continue to be) met with a lot of resistance from friends and family, as I'm sure you've all also experienced. I feel the most confident in the face of this resistance when I can fall back on facts, rather than just my own gut feeling that I've done the right thing for my baby.

Oh, I almost forgot: I read a thread in which reference was made to a child self-weaning. The poster said that the child hadn't nursed in a few weeks and then decided to nurse again. Is there still milk? This surprised me. I figured that if the frequency was down that low, they'd basically be empty.

In short, if you have some good bookmarks that you would share with me on the following topics, I'd be greatly appreciative.

--the physical or mental health benefits of CLW for mother or child
--nursing through a pregnancy
--how does nursing work with extremely infrequent feedings
--anything else that a person in my situation might find interesting
**also, your own experience with breastfeeding an older child in public (or your decision not to feed in public)

I know that I'm asking for a lot of information. We all have major time demands placed on us by our children. If the group is interested, I would be more than happy to summarize any information that I receive as a result of this posting such that it could be made into a "newcomers" sticky. I think that a lot of people who are curious about this topic would find this extremely beneficial.

Thank you,
Sarah
post #2 of 19
I think it's great that you are looking ahead and learning! Here is what I can offer on the topic:



--the physical or mental health benefits of CLW for mother or child

Katherine Dettwyler, an anthropologist, has found that the natural age of weaning for humans is between 2.5 and 7 years. She has many informative articles at the site along with this one:

http://www.kathydettwyler.org/detwean.html

The longer you nurse, the more protection against breast cancer & other reproductive cancers

Supports child's immune system while it is still developing

Kids nursed the longest show lower incidences of conduct disorders later on

Teens who were nursed the longest as children show more positive attachment to their mother during adolescence

One other benefit is that continuing to nurse thru toddlerhood is nature's built-in "destressing mechanism" for a child too young to do it themselves

Here is a link that shows how breastfeeding affects the total health of a child. It is clear upon reading thru it that even tho many studies do not go past a year, there is an obvious correlation between longer breastfeeding and improved health.

www.lalecheleague.org/cbi/Biospec.htm

At the same link there is also reference to protection for mothers who breastfeed against osteoporosis, and to one study that showed mothers who breastfed longer had later onset of menopause and also fewer hot flashes during menopause.

--nursing through a pregnancy

haven't done (yet?) that so cannot answer


--how does nursing work with extremely infrequent feedings

Supply and demand holds true... my three year old nurses once or twice a day... I make enough milk for those feedings. Sometimes he even skips a day... no worries. If he nurses more once in a while that's ok too.

When my first son weaned, I could still express a drop or two of milk for many months. My sister could still get a drop of milk for several years after weaning.

--anything else that a person in my situation might find interesting

the nursing aversions (feelings of not wanting to, getting the creepy crawlies at the thought of it, feeling like saying NO!! and running out of the room ) I've gone thru since ds turned two are related to the return of AF... but interestingly, my anxiety at those moments is sometimes related to ds's stress and when I nurse him even if I don't quite want to, we both calm down.


**also, your own experience with breastfeeding an older child in public (or your decision not to feed in public)

I believe it is really good for the general public to see nursing children of all ages... ds nursed frequently in public all during the first two years and from two to three with decreasing frequency... now it is rare. My hope is that women will nurse wherever they need to, without the apology of a coverup. Breastfeeding is not impolite. It is not reasonable for strangers to expect us to fulfill their petty need to be comfortable with how a baby eats.
post #3 of 19
I generally don't give these things too much thought, but rather do what feels right at the time.

I slow down on NIP as soon as we start solids and water- if baby can be delayed with a snack and/or a drink in public, I'll offer that before offering to nurse, but I'll still nurse if the child needs to. Older children tend to get easily distracted in public and often prefer to nurse in the privacy of home, so without doing anything special, I find that NIP gradually reduces as the child gets older.

As for people making rude comments, I've found it best not to try and "convert" them. Simple answers like 'Isn't he kind of old to be nursing?" "apparently not, he's still doing it, isn't he?" or "When will she stop nursing?" "In about 5 minutes." Just having the attitude that what you're doing is normal and natural prevents a lot of people from reacting negatively.

I didn't completely stop DS from NIP until he was about 46 or 47mo (almost 4yo) and I restricted him to only nursing at home in bed. The resentment I had been feeling was a sign that it was time to make changes to our nursing relationship. Now he's nursing once or twice a day and we're both pretty happy with this- though I'll admit I'm looking forward to his weaning!

Keep in mind that people often vent here because it's a safe place to vent. Sure, we all get frustrated at times- it's inevitable with parenting- and we just want a place to vent where we're not going to hear "so wean her already!!" Don't let the number of "problem" posts scare you away from CLW or having another baby- there might not be as many "aww, this is so sweet!" posts because that's normal, every day stuff that isn't always worth talking about.

I will say there's nothing quite as sweet as nursing a toddler while the unborn baby moves inside you and your toddler carresses your belly. Well, maybe tandem nursing while your toddler caresses the infant's cheek. It's been over 9.5 years since I've experienced that and I still remember!

You don't need to decide RIGHT NOW if you're going to do CLW or not. Just nurse when it feels right to nurse and set limits when it feels right to set limits.
post #4 of 19
I'll add a couple of links to the really good ones velcromom posted.

http://aappolicy.aappublications.org...rics;115/2/496
In my opinion, the AAP is ultra-conservative on this, but at least they state that there is no harm in breastfeeding into the third year and beyond.

http://www.kellymom.com/bf/index.html
Kellymom has a lot of good information, all referenced.

The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding a minimum of two years, and as long thereafter as mutually desirable, but I find their website difficult to navigate - anyone else have the right link?

My son self-weaned before he turned 6. We often nursed in public until he was 3, at which point we slowed way down on NIP. Mainly because he was more interested in what was going on around him and partly because I was concerned about the possibility of receiving negative comments that he might understand (never happened, by the way). After he turned 4, he typically just nursed at bedtime. After turning 5, he began to stretch his nursing sessions out, by days, then weeks, and finally months. Since breastmilk production is all about supply and demand, this gradual weaning was comfortable for me too. Hope this helps.
post #5 of 19
Great links!

And GOOD FOR YOU for getting all this info ahead of time!

--the physical or mental health benefits of CLW for mother or child

I think velcromom covered this wonderfully! Basically the longer the nursling nurses, the more benefits the nursling gets - and the more benefits mama gets as well!
Also- when nursing through pregnancy/tandem nursing, the older nursling gets the added benefit of a second "dose" of colostrum, which returns toward the end of pregnancy and is abundant in supply for the newborn as well as the older nursling (your milk "comes in" as it normally would after baby is born).

--nursing through a pregnancy

Nursing through pregnancy is safe for most women. There are NO studies that show that nursing through pregnancy causes miscarriage or is harmful to the fetus. It is important for the mother to keep herself healthy, up her protein intake, keep herself hydrated, etc.
http://www.kellymom.com/pantley/pantley29.html
http://www.nursingtwo.com
http://www.kellymom.com/bf/normal/fertility.html
http://www.kellymom.com/nursingtwo/faq/01safety.html
http://www.kellymom.com/nursingtwo/f...lyweaning.html
http://www.kellymom.com/nursingtwo/r...-while-bf.html
"Adventures in Tandem Nursing" by Hilary Flower
"Mothering Your Nursing Toddler" revised edition by Norma Jane Bumgarner
"Nursing Through Pregnancy and Beyond" by the Nursing Mothers Association of Australia

--how does nursing work with extremely infrequent feedings

Breastfeeding works on a supply and demand basis. Even with infrequent nursing, some mamas still produce milk. Some moms "loose" their milk, yet still "dry nurse" their nurslings.

--anything else that a person in my situation might find interesting

Pregnant nursing and tandem nursing are more common than you may think - and "older" nurslings are more common than you may think, too - it's just that many of them no longer nurse in public (either because mama doesn't feel comfortable or the nursling doesn't often feel the need to).

My story - When pregnant with my oldest child, I decided to give nursing a try for 3-6 months. I was still nursing and found myself pregnant when my oldest was 9 months old. I did a lot of research, reading and talking to knowledgeable people and decided to trust my instincts and nurse through pregnancy. I then tandem nursed Alex (ds1) and Zack (ds2). When Zack was 15 months old I got pregnant with Haley (dd). Alex (then 3.5 yrs old) and Zack were still nursing, so I tandem nursed them through Haley's pregnancy. Alex, Zack and Haley triandem nursed for over 18 months until Alex self-weaned on his fifth birthday. I then tandem nursed Zack and Haley and got pregnant with Coren (ds3) when Haley was 2.5 years old. I tandem nursed Zack and Haley through pregnancy and am now triandem nursing Zack (5), Haley (3) and Coren (12 weeks).

Some people, including medical professionals, FALSELY say that nursing through pregnancy can be harmful because it causes uterine contractions (causing miscarriage or preterm labor) and takes nourishment away from the baby causing poor fetal development and low birthweight. Your uterus does contract when you nurse, but the contractions are less intense than an org@sm so if sex is ok, then nursing should be also! As far as taking away from the fetus - it doesn't unless the mom is very unhealthy and undernourished, and then it would happen anyway.
To give examples on how untrue the above is -
My firstborn, 9 days "late" was 7 lbs 2 oz at birth.
Ds2, whose pregnancy I nursed ds1 through, was 8 days late, born after 3 days of podromal labor during which ds1 nursed at least a dozen times a day, and weighed 9.5 lbs!
Dd, whose pregnancy I tandem nursed through, was born 4 days "late" weighing 8 lbs 4 oz.
Ds3, whose pregnancy I tandem nursed through, was born the day after his EDD weighing ...... 10lbs 14oz, 22.25 inches .... definitely not a low birthweight baby!

**also, your own experience with breastfeeding an older child in public (or your decision not to feed in public)

I continue to nurse my almost 5.5 year old in public - as well as my 3 year old and my 12 week old! I've gotten some strange looks, but not many comments and I have the information and responses to back myself up. I'm well prepared, as you will be also since you're collecting all this information. Mostly when someone has a comment for me such as, "He's STILL nursing?" I simply plant a huge smile on my face and say, "YES! Isn't it WONDERFUL?!? I LOVE the fact that he continues to get all the benefits of mamamilk and of our nursing relationship. He's such a healthy, happy, independent kid and I couldn't imagine why I wouldn't nurse him. I've read so many studies and done so much research and have decided that it's the best thing for us to do!" I haven't found anyone brave enough to argue with my enthusiasm or my information. On the occasion that someone like an OB questions me, I simply state the facts and offer him the sources of the studies/research - and ask him for his sources for the "information" he's giving me about the "need" to wean.

I think it's wonderful that you're giving this thought and gathering information.
post #6 of 19
:

Thanks for the great questions Sarah, and all of the great answers and resources mamas.
post #7 of 19
You've gotten some really great info already, so I'll just add my story!

I did not prepare for breastfeeding at all, no books or classes... Just planned on trying it out. I somehow ended up exclusively nursing for almost 1 year, and then on until DS weaned a few months after his third birthday.

I think it's really easy to be overwhelmed by the idea of nursing a walking, talking kid when you've got an infant in your arms. They nurse so much! DS slowed down gradually after a year and by the time he was about two, he mostly nursed for things like naps, bedtime/waking, and comfort when upset. More importantly than the change in frequency was the time each nursing took! At 2 and 3 DS would usually latch on, nurse for a couple of minutes, and then run off happy as can be! Toddlers have really different nursing habits than infants.

Oh, and the thing that first made me question the standard "wean at a year" advice was the fact that if you wean a 12 month old you're supposed to give them milk of another sort instead! Why would I wean a baby just to give them cow's milk? Doesn't it sort of show that they're biologically still supposed to be nursing if they still "need" milk?

Along those lines, the other benefit I really appreciated was how breastmilk fills in the gaps in my toddler's diet. I didn't have to worry if DS was only eating bananas or cheerios for a week... Up until he was 2 or so, breastmilk was a *huge* part of his diet and I know he was always getting what he needed. (Note: I was in school full-time once DS was two, so our situation would probably be different if I had been able to be home with him all day.)

Nursing in Public: This seemed to gradually decrease on it's own. I wasn't opposed to nursing in public, but DS just didn't ask much as he got older, unless he was really hurt or upset.

I think it's so great you're reading up on this while your babe is young! Follow your heart!
post #8 of 19
Hurray for you for asking these questions.

It's possible to nurse and meet the needs of mother and child for a very long time. There are no documented and real risks developmentally or emotionally. There are many reasons to continue.

The feelings of confusion or resentment that some moms experience can be managed and mitigated - and I've personally found doing so to be worth it.

I could describe to you what it's like to nurse a child over 5, but it's *very* hard to get that on your end of nursing. But, yes, it's "worth it". Even if there is not much milk. Breastfeeding is not just about the milk; it's about the relationship, the physiological mechanics, the routine, the security and the love. As the child gets older and more mature, they add to their toolbox and nursing becomes a less frequently used tool, but not an unimportant one.
post #9 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by sarahmck
Oh, I almost forgot: I read a thread in which reference was made to a child self-weaning. The poster said that the child hadn't nursed in a few weeks and then decided to nurse again. Is there still milk? This surprised me. I figured that if the frequency was down that low, they'd basically be empty.
That was us!

Yes, there was still milk. Our situation is unique (although not here) because we are tandem nursing. My oldest nursling is just shy of 3.5 years and my youngest is 27 months. So, naturally, there was still milk for her as her sister is still nursing almost hourly. However, when my ds was 2.5 years, I weaned him When I got pregnant with our middle child, I went for an appt and had a pap, breast exam, etc---imagine my m/w shock when she got squirted with milk : He'd been weaned for over five months.

Now, I'm not even going to being to try to explain anything to you; everything you've been given to read and think about here is so wonderful! I never planned to CLW with my first. And I didn't. But I am doing my best with the girls to allow them to wean themselves....it's a struggle at times (see my PMS thread! ) but I *know* that this is what is right for us, for our family, and most importantly, for them!
post #10 of 19
I love all that information, thank you!

What is the difference between "extended breastfeeding" or "ecological breastfeeding" (I like that phrase, eco breastfeeding) and CLW?

Thanks!

--Heather

ETA: I come to this forum when I have tough times because I want help coming back to my true center, nursing until Maya feels she's done. So, you might find more "complaining" here because it's one of the only places we (or, I at least) can vent about it without being told we should "take care of ourselves" which too often means we should "wean." Taking care of ourselves is crucial, but, for me, it means following Maya's lead...
post #11 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by SereneBabe
What is the difference between "extended breastfeeding" or "ecological breastfeeding" (I like that phrase, eco breastfeeding) and CLW?

Thanks!

--Heather

ETA: I come to this forum when I have tough times because I want help coming back to my true center, nursing until Maya feels she's done. So, you might find more "complaining" here because it's one of the only places we (or, I at least) can vent about it without being told we should "take care of ourselves" which too often means we should "wean." Taking care of ourselves is crucial, but, for me, it means following Maya's lead...
"Extended breastfeeding" (a term I dislike, as it's not REALLY extended) is used to define breastfeeding past the culturally common age of weaning (6 months, a year). I tend to think of "extended" breastfeeding as "sustained" breastfeeding - or NORMAL breastfeeding and weaning before a child self-weans as early weaning.

"Ecological Breastfeeding" is a term used to describe breastfeeding as pertains to fertility / preventing pregnancy. Look here for more info.

"Child-led Weaning" has different definitions for different people. To me it's following your child's lead, not putting limits on nursing that lead toward weaning, and "allowing" your child to nurse until they decide they are done nursing.

HTH!
post #12 of 19
Quote:
"Extended breastfeeding" (a term I dislike, as it's not REALLY extended) is used to define breastfeeding past the culturally common age of weaning (6 months, a year). I tend to think of "extended" breastfeeding as "sustained" breastfeeding - or NORMAL breastfeeding and weaning before a child self-weans as early weaning.
Hey! Something we agree wholeheartedly on! I don't like the term "extended" because it implies an artificial or unnatural approach. I can't think of an accurate term. I have a few phrases "honoring a natural breastfeeding relationship" or an "organic progression" or a "natural weaning".

Quote:
To me it's following your child's lead, not putting limits on nursing that lead toward weaning, and "allowing" your child to nurse until they decide they are done nursing.
I agree almost completely. I suspect I am inclined to think limits are less risky in terms of accelerating weaning and I'm comfortable with a greater "say" in the ending of the relationship. But I feel I did let my child participate, my limits did not accelerate weaning and that "done" was mutual.
post #13 of 19
Here is an article I wrote on the benefits of breastfeeding beyond infancy (I also dislike the term "extended breastfeeding" for the aforementioned reasons):

http://www.vegfamily.com/babies-and-...nd-infancy.htm

It also features recommended reading links after the article.
post #14 of 19
This is an awesome thread!

To add my own story, I started out intending to nurse my son for a year and then see how it goes. We then got to his second birthday and I decided to continue and see how it goes. Not long after that I found out I was pregnant with his sister. I researched and decided to continue nursing through pregnancy as the benefits seemed to outweigh any minimal risks for us. I did at that point start to set some limits on my son for MY comfort's sake as I had some issues with sore nipples for awhile. I found that staying well hydrated made a huge difference with that. He went from 4-5 times a day at age 2, to just twice a day (before nap and bed) just before his sister was born. Once she came and my full milk was back, he saw her nursing a lot and started asking more often again. I have let him during these first few months (he especially wants to in the mornings), but am gently working on getting him back to just nap and bed time for my own sanity's sake. He still asks in the mornings lately, but seems to accept my offer of a drink and a hug or to fix him his breakfast instead. I think he will be nursing down before nap and bed for quite awhile yet though. He turns 3 on Thursday. My little girl, I hope to do similarly and that she will nurse to at least age 2 if not 3 or more. She is 3 months now and still nursing exclusively.

One other thing I may add is that with tandeming, you have the option of nursing the kids at the same time or separately. I have found that we do some of both. I nurse them both at the same time for the before bed feeding as I put them to bed at the same time (easier on me! ). But the rest of the time, I nurse whoever needs it separately. I have no idea how long my son and I will continue our nursing relationship...I take it just one day at a time and see how we both feel. I believe that especially with an older nursling, you have to take the feelings of both mother and child into consideration with the nursing relationship so that you are both happy with it. For us, that has meant him having to ask nice ("milk, please"), no just lifting my shirt, and I reserve the right to say no at the time if it is not a good time, or I am just setting some limits. Of course, if I initially say no, and he seems to be really super upset or something, I sometimes let him anyway if he needs it.

Sounds like you are doing great...congrats on making it to 7 months already, and I hope you continue to have a long happy nursing relationship!
post #15 of 19
This would make a good sticky...

love and peace.
post #16 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by trmpetplaya
This would make a good sticky...

love and peace.
Yes, I agree...this would make a GREAT sticky! Lots of good information and personal experience
post #17 of 19
Yup, I can't stand the phrase "extended breastfeeding," because it implies... well, you all said it.

I do like ecological breastfeeding because it's how we are, Maya and I... And I know it's mostly used in reference to fertility/child-spacing, etc. but, that link you provided is why I like to use it for our nursing (instead of CLW, a term about which I'm still not sure I feel connected to). Part 2 of that link (http://www.bellaonline.com/ArticlesP/art16877.asp) [how do I make a link in a post?] says:
-Weaning is slowly begun with the introduction of solids and a cup
-Liquids other than breast milk are introduced in a cup
-Weaning is never paced faster than the baby's preference
-Baby continues to receive the bulk of their nutrition from breast milk until the age of 1 (when more solids are introduced)
-The child continues to sleep with mother and night nurse
-The breasts are still used to pacify baby
-Seperation continues to be avoided

That just describes us really well, the last three items being those that so many of my friends aren't choosing and it's what brought me to this forum. I feel alone, sometimes, in making the choice to do those three things with no plans on stopping until Maya tells me she wants to stop.

Thank you so much for this thread!

--Heather
post #18 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thank you all so much for all your responses. This information has been, and will continue to be, incredibly helpful for me, not only in my decision-making process, but also in my lawyerlike defense of said decisions to my mother et al.

As I said in my original post, I'd be happy to try to condense all this information into one post that could be made into a sticky for newcomers:

Quote:
Originally Posted by sarahmck
I know that I'm asking for a lot of information. We all have major time demands placed on us by our children. If the group is interested, I would be more than happy to summarize any information that I receive as a result of this posting such that it could be made into a "newcomers" sticky. I think that a lot of people who are curious about this topic would find this extremely beneficial.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mom4tot
Yes, I agree...this would make a GREAT sticky! Lots of good information and personal experience
However, I agree with Mom4tot and others that the personal experience recounted in this thread, not just the links, accounts for a large part of its value, so I'm wondering if the thread, as-is, should be made into a sticky.

Long story short, if the moderator wants to create a newcomer sticky and feels that a summarization of this thread would be more appropriate for that purpose than this thread itself, please PM me and I will be happy to prepare the text with all the links and general pro/con points mentioned in the responses.

Thanks again!
post #19 of 19
I am 38 weeks, 2 days pregnant with #2 and still nursing my almost 3 yr. old on an hourly basis during the day. He has always been a very frequent nurser, and his daytime nursing schedule hasn't really changed so far in his life. I have found nursing during pregnancy challenging at times, but I am so glad I stuck it out. I am planning on tandem nursing for at least a year or two (since Julian is nowhere near weaning). Like you, I wanted kids 2-3 yrs. apart, and mine will be a few weeks shy of 3 yrs. apart. I am definitely glad it is 3 and not 2, looking back... Julian is much less needy and more helpful than he was a year ago. I think I'd be more resentful if he was still grunting his nursing requests instead of asking "Can I please nurse, mommy?"

Like everyone already said, the benefits of continued nursing are basically the same as short-term nursing, multiplied. Every year that you nurse, you reduce your chances of cancer, your child's chance of obesity and diseases, and increase your child's IQ, supposedly.

I still NIP regularly. I have never received any negative comments in 3 years, and I am happy to be an example to anyone who might have never seen a nursing toddler/preschooler before. And I'm not on the West Coast or some other bastion of liberalism- I live in Kentucky! Since my pregnancy has been apparent, I've gotten a few questions regarding what I will do when the baby is born- most people have never heard of tandem nursing before and think I will have to wean my son. I am always glad to inform them that it's possible to nurse 2 (or more).
I was once asked to cover up with a towel while nursing- I was at a private pool as a guest of a friend whose parent's were members, so I didn't push it. My son was still an infant, maybe 6 mos. old, and there were tons of women in tiny bikinis everywhere, but my breast was unacceptable. The employee who asked me to cover up expressed her support of BFing and told me she thought it ws ridiculous, but a member had complained and she was just doing her job. That is my worst NIP experience to date.
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