Modern Mom, M.D.

FREEDOM!!!

Posted on by Christina

I am happy to report that we officially completed (and survived) the weaning process. It has been three weeks since my little boy has breastfed and life is good. I have learned so much during this whole process and have even been completely surprised by a few things.

First, it was a lot easier than I expected. After a few failed attempts around the age of one I was TERRIFIED to try again. I think this round went so much more smoothly because he was ready. Cognitively he understood that we thought he was too old to breastfeed. He also understood the words, “I love you” that came out of my mouth every time I told him he couldn’t breastfeed. I felt better as a mother, this time around, knowing that he was not taking my refusing to breastfeed as rejection.

Second, after a few rough nights of saying no to night feedings he started sleeping through the night on a regular basis. Holy cow! I am such a better person, wife, mother and doctor when I have had 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. I have had about three weeks of good sleep and I feel like running five miles every morning while simultaenously reorganizing my entire home and office. Next time I will say no to the night feedings SO MUCH EARLIER!

Third, that boy was drinking a lot even though we were down to only one feed a day. I think he genuinely liked the taste of breastmilk because it turns out he was drinking about 6 -8 ounces of milk a night. How do I know this? Engorgement reared its ugly, painful head the day after I stopped. It was like right after he was born all over again – pain, tenderness, and anxiety. After three days of cabbage leaves, decongestants, cold compresses and lots of hot showers I finally felt better. I had no idea he was eating that much. As soon as I weaned, his appetite for dinner improved tremendously and he started having a bed time snack of vanilla yogurt. Ha ha.

And finally I am most suprised that my body (AKA boobs) are back to normal. I was begining to worry (vainly) that breastfeeding would, in fact, ruin my body. Not true ladies! Yay!

Now I can focus on other things in my life and perhaps blog about something other than breastfeeding!

11 Responses to FREEDOM!!!

breastfeedingmotherof3 says: May 21, 2014 at 5:11 pm

I believe any amount of breastfeeding is wonderful. I believe we are doing our best to raise our children the best we can. BUT, as a pediatrician, people look to you for advice and rely on you to give them accurate information. The amount of misinformation you have given about natural term breastfeeding is upsetting and disappointing. I would encourage all the mothers reading this blog to research extended or natural term breastfeeding. Kellymom is a good place to start. I hope people know these are just your opinions and not fact.

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Christina says: May 22, 2014 at 9:31 am

I am so sorry that you feel I am providing misinformation about breastfeeding. If you are aware of good studies that show extended breast feeding has proven benefits please point me in that direction. When arguing with my husband about when to wean I tried very hard to find randomized controlled trials that proved breastfeeding after the age of one was beneficial. To my disappointment I could find none. I even went to several conferences about breastfeeding and asked that one question – has breastfeeding after one been shown to provide any benefits in any research. Again there has not been any evidence from peer-reviewed scientific-solid studies. I honestly feel that my blog is very pro-breastfeeding. Among my practice here in Texas I am actually teased because of how much I support breastfeeding. So please understand your comment surprises me!

I also do not intend to present my experiences as “fact.” I am simply documenting my experiences as a mother through the eyes of pediatrician. As far as when to wean, I do think it is a personal decision because at this time there is no solid research supporting a specific age. Please also keep in mind that some women decide to wean for reasons they may not want to discuss. Some women want to get pregnant again and can not do so while they are breastfeeding. Some women find breastfeeding a talking toddler uncomfortable. Some women don’t want their child to remember breast feeding. I think we should applaud every mother, breastfeeding or not, weaned at 6 months or weaned at 4 years of age.

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Teresa Ellis says: May 22, 2014 at 12:40 pm

I am so glad I read this! Vivian was my third child and she was the first to nurse past six months. As for my first two I just simply ran dry and had formula to back me up. I had no idea how hard it would be emotionally, for both of us, to wean her from the breast. It became a battle of wills you could say. I had to tell her it wasn’t time yet when she just WANTED to. I was down to three, then two, and finally the bedtime feeding. As of last week she suddenly quit requiring the bedtime feeding. Now mommy has to get over it and find a new way bond.
Thank you for sharing your experiences. They help us see that even as a pediatrician, you have struggles just like we do.

God Bless

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Christina says: May 23, 2014 at 1:43 pm

I am so glad you found my posts helpful. Since so many women are now breastfeeding (YAY!) I have found that many are alone trying to figure out a way to wean their baby without traumatizing them. In my experience I felt frustrated with the lack of advice from my community of peers and from the internet. And so many websites seemed to suggest to keep doing it until the child decides to stop. I couldn’t do that for many reasons, but mainly because I am thirty-five and want other children. For me, I could not get pregnant while breastfeeding. I was desperate to wean and there really was very little information to help. I hope the books and websites I mentioned helped. I have no doubt that you have found more ways to bond with your Vivian!

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Sarah says: May 22, 2014 at 1:58 pm

I too find your misinformation surprising. The WHO actually recommends up to the age of two. Breastmilk does not decrease in value the older your child gets. That’s like saying an apple has less burrito nap value after you turn 5. I do agree with you that it is uncomfortable for some women but maybe that is because of this type of misinformation and the fact that women’s bodies are so totally over sexualized. But that’s an argument for another day. Anyway, here is some good information to add to your research.
http://kellymom.com/ages/older-infant/ebf-benefits/

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Sarah says: May 22, 2014 at 2:07 pm

Oh autocorrect. I did not mean burrito nap, I meant nutritional. That made me laugh!

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Christina says: May 23, 2014 at 1:17 pm

I really do appreciate your comments as they have opened up an area of discussion that needs to be had among breastfeeding women. Again, I am not saying that there is a specific age that a child needs to be weaned. It really is a personal decision. My blog is a document of my thoughts as a mother and a pediatrician. Without a doubt I do not think that my way of parenting is the right way. I try to convey this over and over again in my blog by constantly admitting my mistakes. I am a firm believer that we are all unique individuals and families with our own specific needs. There is no single right way to parent a child. Regarding breastfeeding, The American Academy of Pediatrics specifically recommends that a child be exclusively breastfed until 6 months with continued breastfeeding at least until the age of 1 or thereafter. I have not deviated from these recommendations in my actions or in my writings on this blog.

I have viewed the research mentioned on Kellymom.com many times before. I actually have accessed Kellymom.com often when issues with breastfeeding came up and have found it very helpful. However, when looking at the evidence for “extended breastfeeding” I was not convinced.

I read three main “advantages” to extended breastfeeding on this website for the child. First, they argue that breast milk remains highly nutritious. While I can not argue that breast milk remains a great source of nourishment, I have concluded that as a mother living in a country fortunate enough to have ample food options for my toddler there are other ways to meet his nutritional needs. I guess I am saying that I am glad that breast milk is nutritious, but so are fruits, vegetables, milk, cheese, lean meats and whole grains. If I lived in a developing country with poor access to food and vitamins, I would definitely have concluded to breastfeed my child as long as possible. The WHO recommendations have been mentioned in my previous blog entitled “Weaning Woes.” Since the WHO makes recommendations for the entire world, where 1 in 8 persons are chronically malnourished, I understand their recommendations but do no feel they apply to my situation. Just because breast milk remains nutritious, that does not mean a child older than one must obtain his nutrition from breast milk. Those are two separate statements. The former has been proven, the latter has not.

Second, the website mentions that breastfeeding helps protect children from infection. The evidence for such protective effects has been shown repeatedly in well-designed studies. I have even mentioned this benefit in my blog entitled “Weaning Wins.” Yes, for many women this is a reason to continue breastfeeding well into the preschool years. I have mentioned in my previous blogs that I didn’t wean Gavin for this very reason until winter was over in order to help keep him well. Unfortunately for my son, apparently if your mother is a pediatrician exposed to many viruses, it may not work that well. We spent many weekends (and a few weekdays) nursing him through the flu, the stomach bug twice, many ear infections, RSV and even croup. While breastfeeding does protect children from illness, it is not 100%. I have no doubt that breast milk has kept many children well. Unfortunately for me this protection was not strong enough of a reason to keep on going once spring arrived and once my child was older than one. I do have the benefit of knowing that toddlers can handle being sick with viruses much better than babies. I’m sure we will have our fair share of colds this winter, but he will be much stronger to fight them off at that age.

Third, the website states, “breastfeeding contributes to your child’s social and mental development.” I agree that there have been a few well-designed studies published in reputable journals that support this statement. What has not been proven is that EXTENDED breastfeeding has such an effect. The website lists three studies to support their argument. The first study was performed in the Philippines, where some people may have poor access to food and where these children may actually receive essential vitamins, nutritients, and calories from extended breastfeeding. Again, this does not apply to my situation. The other two studies sited on the kellymom.com website simply show evidence that breastfeeding for longer than 6 months is beneficial to a child’s social and mental development. Neither of those papers studied extended breastfeeding (breastfeeding past the age of one). I hate to be negative, but the studies do not provide evidence for what the website is stating.

The website goes on to state that extended breastfeeding is normal. I agree that many women breastfeed their child into the preschool years and I have stated before that I have concluded it is a personal decision. I hope this helps clarify my thoughts and conclusions I have made about my own personal situation.

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Another modern mom:) says: June 25, 2014 at 12:28 pm

Dr. S., You rock and I admire you for being a working mom who managed to breastfeed 18mos. Wow! I salute you. I was only able to make it to 8mos and I remember you lending support at appointments with my daughter which made me push on. Thank you. I remember crying at work while pumping in my office because students kept knocking on the door and it threw me off and in result I would get less milk. It was beyond difficult. So, the fact that a doctor with crazy hours who still managed to be successful in this endeavor is simply remarkable. I’m so happy that you now get sleep and your body back. Good for you! Woot. Also, I couldn’t agree more with your above comment. As a professor I always turn to the scientific literature, too. I was also unable to find solid empirical evidence that shows true benefits past a year though I never thought your entry warranted any further explanation/defense. You are a wonderful working mom and I’m grateful you are my daughter’s pediatrician. :)

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Christina says: July 7, 2014 at 8:53 am

I also wanted to say I’m so sorry you were crying while pumping because of all the interruptions. It makes me so sad to think you were that stressed. I know there have been plenty of moments when I’ve shed tears trying to make it all work. It should make me feel better to hear other women go through the same thing, but it still makes me sad. Women have a lot to shoulder these days! Cheers to you for carrying on despite the stress of pumping at work. I’m not sure I would have been that persistent.

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David says: September 12, 2014 at 11:21 pm

I wanted to breaetfsed my twins but wasn’t sure how it would go. They were 6 weeks premature and nursing was very hard for them plus they never wanted to eat together (I think it was so much work for them that they distracted/over stimulated each other).I was determined to make it work though and we finally found a system that worked for us. My pump was my best friend. I pumped after EVERY feeding and even still overnight once they stopped waking. I would nurse one and at the same time, bottle feed expressed milk to the other one. The next feeding, I’d switch whoever had the bottle last got the breast and vice versa. We did have to supplement with formula too since they were so small and my milk took forever to come in.My son weaned himself at 8 months and my daughter went to 13 months.My 3rd child was BF exclusively through 7 months then nursed through 16 months. It was so much easier the 2nd time around, with only one baby who was FULL term!

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