Monday, July 18, 2011

Pregnant and Nursing... The WHAT?! WHY?! And What's it like?! Of it.

"international toddler breastfeeding symbol"

Because you know you're curious :-)

I've been getting a few inquiries about still breastfeeding Jericho so I thought I'd clear the air a bit.

Yes, if someone would have told me two years ago that I'd be in this boat I probably would have gagged a little, too. I won't lie, in our culture, it's definetly unusual (oh, heck, it's downright WEIRD!). Before I quit caring about 'culture' I would have had a rough time with it. I remember the days when I had issues looking at my newborn boy and imagining nursing next week let alone next YEAR and the year after that! It's ok to think I'm weird or that what I'm doing is strange. I totally understand it. Two years ago I would have thought so, too.

It IS weird and strange *in our culture* but it's definetly not wrong. Let's explore that a bit :-)

First off, WHY?

Breastmilk never ceases to be nutritious and perfectly utilized by the body. It's full of vitamins, minerals, enzymes,antibodies, probiotics and good ole' mama lovin. Just like raw cow's milk only made for human consumption! Did you know that there's a 'black market' of breastmilk being sold to body builders because of it's beneficial makeup? I've heard stories of wives sneaking breastmilk into their husband's coffee or smoothie thus healing them of intestinal issues they may have had (no, I didn't do this when Jaden had his GI bug... If I HAD milk I probably would have tried though. Don't tell him that...). Here is a tidbit of info I found of the nutritional makeup of breastmilk during the 2nd year of life (I know, Jericho is technically in his third year of life but this is as close as I can find):

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

Astounding! Who needs a daily multivitamin with stats like that?

Here is a great article for of information about extended (nay, "full-term") breastfeeding:

There have been studies done that show that children were designed to nurse until somewhere between 2.5 and 7. Worldwide we see that babies are nursed FAR longer than here in the United States. And not just 'third world' countries, either. If you want more info, feel free to explore the above link.

WHY?! #2

Because I KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that my baby still needs it. It's the deepest, most natural comfort during the perilous toddler years. I swear, I don't know how moms handle tantrums and owies without using 'booboos'. Instant silence! Ahhhh.... It's the BEST and most comforting way for me to know that he's getting a balanced, well rounded, protein based diet (again, toddlers are renowned for being picky. It's really, REALLY a lot harder to deal with this without breastmilk. I know this now that my pregnancy hormones have diminished my supply). I fully believe that every child needs the comfort and nutritional that mama's milk has to offer until they're ready to give it up. That belief is what's motivated me this far.

WHY? #3

I've addressed nursing a toddler but what about nursing during pregnancy? And my planning on nursing both Jericho and our newborn at the same time unless Jericho weans (HA!!!)? My motivation there is that I want Jericho to wean because *he* was ready, not because I got pregnant. Also, from what I've heard nursing your toddler along side the "intrusive" newborn helps qwell sibling rivalry a bit. I truly believe it will help Jericho know that he is still my baby and will never be replaced. It will be a GREAT retreat for him when he's feeling left out (because let's face it, that WILL happen). Also, I'm thinking it'll be easier to relax more often if Jericho is still nursing. Lay in bed. Latch on newbs. And latch on toddler. And sleeeep! Again, I want him to wean because *he* was ready, not because another child came along.


I won't lie. It's HARD. And really easy. I actually think it would take me a ton more work and energy to wean than to just nurse. And I'm lazzzzzy. The hard part is that since my milk supply dwindled he's been wanting booboos constantly. It's like when there was milk, there was a definite starting and stopping point. He would need to nurse 5 times a day (upon waking, before nap, after nap, before bed and one time in the night. Like clockwork). The milk would flow, slow down, Jericho would get full and stop. Now that my milk is essentially zippo (just colostrum) there is NO end. He wants to nurse very frequently. I have to set up boundaries because the feeling of nursing makes me feel crazy. I will admit this. It's OK to set boundaries with a toddler!

Around 18 weeks is when my supply started to drop. It's also when nipple soreness kicked in. OUCH!!!!!! It hurt like a mother. It felt a lot like nursing Jericho when he was a newborn and had a bad latch. It DID give me great opportunity to practice my relaxation exersizes I will use during birth, though :-) Doing that REALLY works to diminish pain!!!

I just realized last week that I haven't been sore in a while. No, what I experience now is far worse. I call it the "urge to dropkick the baby and RUN!!!!!!!!!!!" Am I allowed to say that? I can handle nursing for only so long (maybe 3 minutes a side) before I get restless legs and this extreme frusteration. It's considered normal during pregnancy but I suspect it has a lot to do with systemic yeast issues. Pregnant women tend to be yeastier if they're prone to it (*raises hand*) so that's my theory.

Interestingly enough, when Jericho had a horrid GI bug and mysterious fever that lasted at least a week and a half (3 1/2 weeks later he's still not back to normal) he nursed like crazy and I never had that urge. My body must have known that my baby needed me. But now that he's better my urge to throw him outside is back and worse than ever. The other day was the first time I thought, "WHY the heck am I doing this?!" I am truly excited for my milk to come back.

Over 4th of July weekend Jericho suffered from his first ever forementioned GI bug along with a soaring fever (it almost made it to 105* one night). It was the first major illness that we had to combat without breastmilk. Sure, there are still benefits to the colostrum he's recieving. But the amount is miniscual and I'm not researched enough to know if that contains enough antibodies to help his immune system much. On Sunday morning, the day before the 4th of July, the boy woke up with a fever and guess what else? A dry diaper. I panicked. He was surely dehydrated. I was angry and terrified and felt guilty that I had no breastmilk to offer. And dumb for never considering this could happen. Afterall, that had never happened before as he normally gets plenty of liquid when nursing. I put a breastmilk donation request on a Facebook page called Human Milk for Human Babies and recieved a response almost instantly. Praise God! My boy had breastmilk for the first time in 3 months on the morning of the 4th.

Let me say it again. Everything is easier with breastmilk.

Tandem Nursing

I have no idea what it's going to be like nursing two. I've read enough to know that every experience is different. I'm honest enough to admit that I've never been the type that just loves to nurse. I experience d-MER during the milk letdown and after (basically major depressive feelings and anxieties take over. Google for more into). I do it for the benefits for my baby, pure and simple. I suspect it will range from a great way to establish peace to driving me crazy. It'll be worth it, though. These moments of baby-hood are so fleeting and I know I'll look back fondly.

And the big question is....

How long am I planning on nursing for? Admit it, you're wondering that! I honestly have no clue. Right now, if I'm honest, I hope Jericho will wean 6ish months after the baby's born. But for now I don't plan on forcing it. Just... Hoping. I really doubt I could go longer than 3 1/2 or 4, though. But then again, nursing an older one is so different from a baby! From what I hear they start to only want to nurse in the morning and before bed. And then only before bed. If it was only one or two times a day, I think I could last a while. But I'm not planning on anything. We will see, I guess!

So, there's my story. Hopefully you feel slightly less curious or creeped out. I only touched the tip of the iceberg of the benefits and normalcy of nursing through toddlerhood. Feel free to Google if you're interested!