As you know, I’ve chosen to continue breastfeeding Aiden past his first birthday. If he self-weans at any time, I’ll have to come to terms with that. If he doesn’t, I’ll make a decision some time past his 2nd birthday about when we will stop. That’s a long time to be wearing nursing bras that were doing absolutely nothing for my self-confidence.
Despite the fact that I’m now stronger than I’ve ever been, after a few months of personal training, I’ve not dropped all my baby weight… and was not my ideal weight when I got pregnant, either. I blame years of chronic pain. And muffins.
Anyway, I was feeling a little down about myself and my uniboob was no help. Let’s face it, nursing bras are ugly. I did my best to find a nursing bra that looked good and was comfortable, but even then, it left something to be desired. Plus, nursing bras made me feel more like a mom and less like a woman… you know?
So, I decided to give myself a lift – quite literally! I bought new bras… non-nursing bras! I headed over to Calvin Klein, my favourite brand of bras, and bought two underwire bras that would fold down for easy access when nursing. I figured that, being well established in my nursing and not nursing a newborn, I wasn’t likely to have any plugged duct issues that underwire can make worse.
It was the best purchase decision I’ve made in a while. And heck, I might as well enjoy the cleavage that breastfeeding is giving me, right??
We all have heard about the famous baby smell. I can concur that it’s true – and it’s amazing. Though I hear fully formula-fed babies can smell a little differently, I know for sure that Aiden has a scent all his own. It’s not connected with baby soap – since we only use that every week or two – or shampoo – that’s every month or two. It’s just… Aiden.
From what I could research, a baby’s scent may operate as a pheromone. For sure, my reaction to how Aiden smells is different to that of other babies – they all smell different from each other.
Though the scent has faded as he’s grown up, it’s still there. I notice it most on the top of his head and mostly when he’s breastfeeding. When I’m nursing, my body releases oxytocin and, aside from making me feel emotionally connected to Aiden, it seems to increase my sense of smell. My nose becomes flooded with his baby smell – it’s quite a heady rush.
Do you still savour the baby smell? When does it go away?
Yesterday, during Aiden’s 12-month check-up, I had confirmation that my Doctor is, indeed, anti-breastfeeding. I had suspicions before, after she quickly put Aiden on formula at 3 days old and when, at 6 months old, she urged me to add a bottle of formula back into his day just for the “added benefit.” We didn’t, of course, since he was breastfeeding just fine. But, yesterday trumped all.
The doctor began innocently enough, asking if I had yet started Aiden on whole milk. I said I had not, but was considering adding some into his day either with meals or after naps. I said I planned to continue breastfeeding. To that statement, she said things such as…
“It’s unfortunate that Canada has adopted the WHO standard to breastfeed past 1 year.”
“If you don’t wean at one-year, you may have a boy who is still breastfeeding in pre-school.”
“He needs 20oz of milk per day to get enough calcium and vitamin D. Cheese and yogurt are not enough. How do you know how much breastmilk he’s getting? Do you measure it? He is probably only getting 2oz per feed, and that’s definitely not enough.”
“In Africa, mothers breastfeed because they have to. In an industrial society, we have the opportunity to do better by our children.”
“Past 4 months, babies have all the antibodies they need from breastmilk and that’s enough.”
And what does she justify her opinions on? Her 18 years of experience. She doesn’t acknowledge the bodies of research that indicate that breastfeeding is highly beneficial for both mom & baby.
Sure, I’m open to adding in whole milk. I know Aiden doesn’t always nurse well during parts of the day. But I think it’s highly irresponsible for a Doctor to imply that it is unnecessary to continue breastfeeding my baby.
We’ve had a lot of ups and downs with this breastfeeding thing. You were very good at nursing, right from day 1, even though it took Mommy some time to make all the milk you wanted. You kept at it and, really, it was your favourite thing to do. You even did it while sleeping.
Now you’re almost one year old, a toddler!, and I plan to keep right on breastfeeding you – even though 12 months was my initial goal. However, I’d like to ask that you refrain from the following:
- Biting me. I know you don’t do this often, but I’m not a toy or a teether.
- Pinching me. I know that roll of fat that gets created when I hunch over is quite appealing, but mommy doesn’t love being pinched.
- Giving me a dental exam. My teeth are just fine, I just saw a dentist. No need to go poking around.
- Cleaning my nose. I prefer a Kleenex.
- Pulling my hair. I know you think it’s pretty, but you need to be gentle with Mommy like you’re gentle with the cats.
- Making me do gymnastics to nurse you. I already go to the gym, so I’d prefer if you nurse in the position you’re put in rather than squirming and kicking and rolling, making me shift and move to nurse you.
- Nursing only on the left side. The right side is perfectly acceptable too and it really misses you.
I know our days are probably past when I can just nurse you anywhere and anytime. Nursing can be a very special time together, so please just enjoy it! I hope we can continue to enjoy these moments together for some time. Just… please remember I’m not a toy.
As I posted yesterday, I was struggling with the possibility that I might need to wean Zayden before I really wanted to. When I was at the JBCC drop-in today, I decided to talk to Kit, my favourite public health nurse, about the situation. She gave me some information that really helped me put things in perspective. Just because my milk supply is decreasing doesn’t mean I’m stuck in an either/or situation where I either fight my body to build up a supply or switch entirely to formula. I can do both.
First she told me, that weaning him off breast milk completely probably wasn’t the best option as long as I was still producing a fair amount of milk because he can still benefit from the milk that I have until he is well over a year. She gave me a couple of options if I felt he needed more than the milk I was able to produce. The first was to increase the amount of solids I was feeding him, so that he would no longer seem frustrated and unsatisfied when my milk ran out. But given that he already eats quite a large volume of solid food, that is probably not the problem. She then advised me to supplement his breastfeeding with formula when I felt it was warranted. She also said that I didn’t necessarily need to bottle feed him. Instead I can offer him formula in a cup along with his meals or after a breastfeeding session.
It’s not quite the breastfeeding scenario I imagined, but it feels like a better option than giving up completely…at least for now. I know that in a few months time, I will be going back to work and will have to reduce his feedings then. But I can live with delaying the inevitable a little bit longer.