On Lactivism

April 17, 2010

Lactivism is the advocacy of breastfeeding. I consider myself a lactivist which should come as no surprise since I am nursing a toddler. Lactivists come in all forms and I try to remain mindful that I want to be the nice, helpful, non-judgemental kind of lactivist. I am unconvinced that militant lactivism is of benefit to anyone.

I wanted to share a few great lactivist links that I recently came across:

Newborn Breast Crawl – This is a really cool video of newborn babies crawling – yes, crawling! – up to the breast. Breasts shown, so you may not want to watch this one at work. Watching this I was reminded that babies are born to be breastfed.

Why Seeing Breastfeeding is Important – I’ve always nursed in public, though I find myself cutting back just a bit now that Calvin is getting older. I do believe that breastfeeding anywhere and everywhere is an important step in normalizing breastfeeding. I think nursing in public paints nursing in a very positive light: a content baby and a mom who can be anywhere she pleases.

Take the Risk and See – Give Extended Breastfeeding a Try – There probably aren’t too many first-time moms who plan to be in an extended nursing relationship. My personal set-in-stone nursing goal was to nurse exclusively for six months and to continue to nurse until the first birthday. After I made that goal, I would evaluate and move on from there. That was seven months ago and I haven’t even thought about weaning. Why would I stop giving him the perfect food? Why would I give up the ability to comfort and soothe him at the breast? And of course there is one of my favorite side benefits – why would I want to lose my ability to consume a little extra junk food?

If Calvin doesn’t show some interest in weaning soon, then I think I may end up tandem nursing. Honestly, I have mixed feelings about it. But I feel that the downsides to tandem nursing don’t even compare to the downsides of forcing a milkaholic toddler off the breast. The average human weaning age is somewhere between two and five years old. While I probably will not pursue a 100% child-led weaning method, I will certainly continue to use gentle techniques that show respect both to Calvin and to the nursing relationship that we have established.

5 Reasons to Comfort Nurse

February 13, 2010

1. Nursing comforts a baby. Do we really need to say more?

Apparently we do…

2. Nursing shows the baby that he can turn to his mother for comfort. He can connect with her when he needs that.

Nursing does not teach the baby to turn to food for comfort. Try offering a nursling a snack when he is in need of serious comfort – my own nursling would certainly push any food away.

3. The breast is the ultimate pacifier.

Most people would not have any problem with giving a child a pacifier when they were upset. If he’s not sucking on the breast, he will find something else to meet the need. Instead of a plastic baby soothing device – why not use the part God gave you?

4. Nursing takes the baby’s mind off of pain.

A nursing baby is a relaxed baby.

5. Nursing fosters a sense of security.

When he is attached to his mother, he knows that no harm can come to him.

Nursing isn’t just about imparting nutrition to the nursling. Connection and comfort and closeness are also important parts of a nursing relationship.

My son is 17 months old and while we don’t comfort nurse nearly as often as we once did, it is still an important element of our nursing relationship. As a toddler he gets his fair share of bumps and bruises and I can quickly comfort him when it becomes clear that he needs something more than a hug. When he is tired or overstimulated I can rejuvenate him with a quick nursing session. When he is bored and I need him to sit quietly for awhile, nursing is the go-to solution.

Thank you God, for creating such a wonderful way for me to connect with my son. I really cannot imagine what I would do without this handy solution for most any problem.

Night weaning a toddler

January 20, 2010

I was the picture of patience for the first year of my son’s life. I co-slept, nursed on cue, wore him in a wrap – I was everything a good AP mama should be. But towards his first birthday my nighttime patience began to fizzle. Co-sleeping had previously been the perfect solution for meeting both Calvin’s needs and my needs, but now it seemed to have lost it’s magic. Around eleven months we decided to transition him to a crib. It was bittersweet; I missed being next to my sweet babe, but I also relished the chance to stretch out in my bed. Thus began my own hybrid style of parenting; very influenced by AP thought but thoroughly mixed with things that work for our family.

Contrary to many modern parents, I continued to nurse my son on cue – even at night – throughout the first year of his life and into the second. I did this for many reasons. One, I believe that he needed the nourishment and the comfort. Two, I believe that it was safest to meet his needs and not try to encourage him to sleep through the night. Three, I wanted to wait until I really felt that he was ready. Four, it is just the thing to do if you are AP. Five, it was helping me burn lots of calories even at night. Six, I was afraid of making changes, especially after one failed attempt when he was about 13 months. Seven, as long as he went right back to sleep and didn’t wake too often, I really didn’t mind. Eight, I believe that to some extent, this is par for the course when it comes to extended nursing relationships. Nine, I had spoken with other nursing moms who said that things started really improving between 18 and 24 months, and I thought I could hang in there until then. Read the rest of this entry »