Posts tagged ‘breastmilk’

What? Your toddler still nurses?

I never thought I would be breastfeeding a toddler.  In fact, when I was pregnant, I figured I would nurse for 3 months–you know–for bonding.  Then I’d return to work and pump for as long as I could handle it.  Then we’d switch to formula(I had mistakenly thought formula was as good as, or better than breast milk).

Then I took the baby care class offered at Kaiser Hospital.  The early middle-aged male pediatrician gave all sorts of useful information, but when he got to breastfeeding, I was shocked when he said that babies should be breastfed until at least age 2.  WHAT?  I would have expected that from my midwife, but not this man.  He proceeded to tell us that “science has not yet identified, much less been able to replicate, LITERALLY hundreds of components of breast milk.”

I didn’t even realize there were hundreds of components of breast milk!

He went on to discuss vital immunological functions of breast milk, how important breastfeeding is in establishing a baby’s sense of fullness and thus reducing later occurrence of eating disorders–but I’d sort of tuned out.  I had NEVER heard that the American Pediatric Association recommends breastfeeding until at least age 2 and learning just how vital it truly is for the lifelong healthy development of the little tiny person that was growing inside of me turned everything I thought I knew upsidedown!

Two years seemed like such a massive amount of time that I promised to stick with breastfeeding for 6 months and see how it went from there.  After the initial difficulties of the first 6 weeks (it’s unfortunate how many moms quit breastfeeding during this time, thinking it won’t get better), it was pretty much smooth sailing, so I said I would go to a year and see how it went after that.   Well, after that, it was a part of our life and was easy and sweet and I knew I could make it to two.   Luckily, I’ve been able to stay home with our daughter, so that’s helped.

Now she is two and a half and weaning has been the challenging part, because she really loves to nurse for comfort and it’s what she’s known all of her life.  I really started weaning about two months ago, when we dropped the post nap nursing and replaced it with sitting on the potty immediately upon waking.

She’s also gone through phases of sleeping all through the night and then waking for several nights in a row, wanting to nurse.

We are slowly weaning now and, to my great surprise, weaning from night feedings turned out to be relatively easy and painless, though I initially did it because of pain.

I had already stopped the post-nap nursing, just to get her used to the idea of waking up without “muk.”  This had been nearly two months.  Before I night weaned, Mylah had become EXTRA needy for a couple of weeks and was nursing all the time.  At night, she began to wake at least once per night to nurse and, for about 4 straight nights, she woke 2-4 times per night and would cry and protest when I would try to put her back in her crib, from our bed.  It would have been all too easy to just let her sleep with us, but that would demolish the idea of separate beds and none of us sleep well when she sleeps with us.  When she wouldn’t be kicking one of us in the head or throat, she would want to stay latched on to me all night.  The 4th and final night of this was it.

After nursing before bed and screaming when I would put her in her crib–then nursing her a little more in hopes of calming her down–then having her wake up 2 hours after going down and again 2 hours later and screaming when I tried to put her back to bed, I just let her sleep with us.  She sucked all night and by morning, I felt like a wreck and my “muk” were so raw and sore that I couldn’t nurse her if I wanted to.  That morning, when she wanted to nurse, I told her, “Mama’s muk is ouchy–it’s broken.  You had too much muk last night and now it’s ouchy and broken.”  I knew she would understand that.  Throughout the day, when she would ask, I would just remind her that the muk was ouchy and broken.
By night time, they’d had enough rest that I could nurse her before bed and I put her down.  When she woke up a couple of hours later, I told her muk was ouchy and broken and she wasn’t having any of that.  She fussed but I put my foot down and let her cry it out.

The next night, I decided to try something different, because I’m not a “cry it out” fan.  I’d read some posts by moms who night weaned and most said what worked like a charm was offering water–not milk, formula, a snack or anything fun–just water, quiet and a hug.  Those moms said this worked in just a couple of nights.  I’d tried the water and hug thing before and it didn’t work–she had just screamed louder and more angrily.  This time, with her knowing the muk was broken, when she did wake up, I came with a bottle of water and took her into our dark living room so we could sit quietly(my past experience was if we had stayed in her room, she would just scream more).  She had some water and asked for muk.  She wanted daddy, tv, toys.  I told her, “It’s night time. It’s time for sleeping. Daddy’s sleeping. Toys are sleeping, TV is sleeping.  Mama wants to sleep, too.”  She whimpered, but had some more water and said, “Want my fan.”  She’s been wanting to sleep with her fan on–I think she just likes the noise because I don’t actually point it toward her.  So we returned to her room, let her admire her night-light, turned on the fan and she went back to sleep.

That’s been what I’ve done for over a week now and some nights she sleeps straight through, other nights she might wake once.  This also helped us drop the pre-nap nursing.  So now, she nurses when she wakes up in the morning and for a few minutes, before going to sleep at night.  She occasionally asks for “muk” during the day and, if there is time, I usually let her nurse at random times.

Last night she awoke at 3am, crying for water(“Want my water!”).  When I woke up and took her to the living room, she said sweetly, “Want muk, Mama.”  As much as, in that moment, I really did want to nurse her, in the quiet darkness, I told her it wasn’t time for muk, it was time for sleep. “Want fan, Mama.” And with that she quietly went back to sleep.

Pump it Up, Mama…Just Like That


Just the word makes me slump and sigh.  I started pumping when I was still in the hospital after my daughter’s birth.  After a 30.5 hour labor which ended in a Cesarian birth, due to my baby being turned funny (Back Labor), despite my best efforts at a natural birth and no bottles, she did receive formula for her first feeding, due to my surgery and a few hours in recovery.  After that, I had my mom and “Auntie Dana” to help put the baby on my breast to nurse.  She would nurse, but, prior to my milk coming in, she wasn’t getting much.  Nurses were concerned about my baby’s weight loss and a lactation consultant encouraged me to pump and use a supplemental nursing system (SNS), a tiny feeding tube which attaches to nipple or finger to feed the baby my breast milk.   Fortunately, I was at a certified “Baby Friendly” Kaiser, so they were really good about not pushing formula.  No one even said the F-word to me, with the exception of notifying me that giving formula would be necessary immediately after my baby was delivered, due to low blood sugar.

So I pumped using the hospital grade Medela pump and watched every drop as it dripped into the bottle.  We would cheer for every half-ounce.  Then, after the third day of pumping, my milk came in.  Wow, was there a lot!   I would breastfeed her first and then feed with the SNS on my finger(she would not take it attached to the nipple, but a finger is the closest feeling thing to a nipple).

When we got home, I continued to pump on a nice Medela Pump In Style Breastpump which my friend had given me after she had finished nursing her 2 children.  It was great.  She had not used it in over a year and it was easy to follow the instructions to clean the tubing and all of the parts.  I got lucky, with a nice, free pump, which is still in perfect working order.  I’m glad I didn’t have to pay $279 for a new one.  Yet, when I took a break from pumping for a few weeks, because my baby wasn’t taking to the bottle, and went back to pumping, suddenly I couldn’t get much more than 3 ounces after 45 minutes of pumping.  I started reading pump reviews and decided to try a Dr. Brown pump and then a Whittlestone.  While these were also great pumps, I didn’t do any better with them and realized the problem was not the pump, but my breasts no longer being used to pumping.  Even after a 3 weeks of sticking with it, my results were not any better and I came to the conclusion that, for me, at that point, the best pump would be my baby.

Nevertheless, twice, I was able to successfully purchase an awesome pump–used–and save a whole lot of money.  So here are my tips for finding a used breast pump and increasing the likelihood that it will work well for as long as you need it:

First of all, most pumps available to consumers are considered “single user pumps.”  Hospital grade pumps are made for multiple users because of the way the suction either can not or might potentially allow one users milk to come into contact with the motorized portion of the pump.  Medela, for example, makes a hospital grade pump, the Lactina, which is made for multiple users without contamination.  Their other pumps are made to be for a single user.   I’ve read notes of caution about using another mother’s pump and the suggestion about replacing all tubing, cups, valves, etc., prior to using a pump previously used by someone else.  I did not do this, as I felt safe that no contaminants would be present from my friends milk or breasts after a year of non-use and felt confident in my ability to properly clean my gently used pumps.

Okay.  If purchasing a pump on Craigslist, be sure to plug it in and try it out–not on your breast, but on a fleshy part of your body.  For most women, our tummy is a good bet.  You want to see the cup make contact well enough to create a suction and then you can see the surface of your tummy being sucked and released.  For some women, the upper part of your chest, just below your collar bone (the part you would see when wearing a tank top) may work, too.  Be sure you try each setting.  If you are not familiar with pumps, ask the seller to show you how to set it up and confirm that all the necessary parts are there.  If possible, bring a friend along, who knows breastpumps.  On Craigslist, though you will see people selling pumps for over $100, you can find even better deals and it should not take too long to find a good pump for around $60-$75.

Ebay is also a great source for used pumps, but be sure to check the seller’s feedback.  If you read their feedback and see more than one comment about an item they’ve sold arriving not as described or not in working order, find another seller.  There are a ton!  With Ebay, you will not get to try the pump out.  You have to go on the seller’s word about its condition.  The great thing is that Ebay automatically protects your purchase and, if the item is described as working and arrives non-working or described as “practically new” and arrives gross, dirty and cracked, you can easily open a claim with Ebay that the item was “not as described” and Ebay will look into it and refund your money, if the seller refuses to work with you.   Both pumps I purchased were from Ebay sellers and I had no problems.  When I did have a different item arrive broken, and the seller didn’t respond to my email, Ebay refunded my within a few days.  Look for items that have at least one good photo and a detailed and specific description.  Don’t forget to factor in shipping cost.  Sellers will charge anywhere from $14-$25 or more for shipping.  A seller asking for much over $25 for USPS parcel post either miscalculated or is just plain over-charging.  I’ve seen sellers charge nearly $40 to ship a pump USPS parcel post!  So watch for shipping charge when you consider your maximum bid.  For ebay, placing your bid as close to the end of the auction as possible will help keep your cost down, as well.  Be sure you know what you want(manual or electric, single or double, style or model, etc) and be sure you know precisely what the auction is for, as an auction may be selling the pump motor, only or just the accessories.  Be sure to contact the seller prior to bidding to clarify anything that is not specifically stated in the auction.

Good luck with your buying and your pumping!  🙂

In my next post, you can look forward to breast feeding, what no on told me…