The milk still flows- September 1, 2011

A friend asked me this week, “How long did you breastfeed?”  I paused and said, “Oh!  I still am.”  This response was met with a slight look of surprise.  I went on, “Well, I mean, I’ve gone this long.  I might as well go the full 12 months!”  Charlotte will be 10 months old tomorrow.  (::sniff:: ::sniff)  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for at least 12 months.  Another mom friend asked me, “How have you done it for so long?”

Honestly, I’m not really sure.  
I had no idea I was so in the minority here, but apparently I am.  I noticed most of the babies’ bottles in the fridge in Charlotte’s class were marked with “F” for Formula versus her bottles marked with “BM”.  (That’s Breast Milk, not the other BM, but after I typed it I thought “eww”, and felt it needed further explanation.)  Then I read the latest US Breastfeeding Report Card released last month by the CDC.  It showed 28.3% of mothers were still breastfeeding at 12 months.  So, yeah, I’m in the minority here.  
If you didn’t read it, take a look at this post on breastfeeding and formula.  I got a lot of emails and Tweets about that one.  
I’ve really been shocked at how well breastfeeding has worked for me.  Make no mistake, my Medela pump owns me.  Owns me.  During a typical workday I’m lucky if I nurse Charlotte twice.  Now that she want’s food, it may be even less.  I pump three times on top of that.  I’ve just now started cutting back a pump, so I’m wondering what that will mean for my supply.  I’ve said before, I’m just lucky my bra cups runneth over.  Most moms who stop nursing tell me it’s because they couldn’t keep up supply once they went back to work.  
I’m really glad I chose to breastfeed.  It’s been wonderful.  I’ve heard from some that Charlotte didn’t suffer any crazy sicknesses these 10 months because she continued to get antibodies from breast milk.  I don’t know how true that is. I’m no immunologist, but she seems healthy to me.  Her pediatrician’s office promoted breastfeeding and had lactation consultants on their nursing staff.  That was extremely helpful!  Selfishly, I slipped back into my jeans pretty quickly postpartum thanks to the milk.    
Eventually the boobs will go into retirement until Baby Version 2.0.  I have several feelings about weaning…
  1. Sadness- “Oh!  My baby is no longer a baby!  She’s so big!  Her babyhood has been too short!”
  2. Pride- “I’m a milk-making machine!  I’ve done it for 10 months!  I’ve never had to buy a single thing of formula, ol’ Bessie has nothing on me!”
  3. Happiness and Peace- “Okay, I’ll be ready to stop after she turns 1.  It will be time.  For almost two years my body has been working for her.  Pre-pregnancy, during pregnancy, and nursing for a year.  It’s all been for her.  It will be hard to break that tie, but she’ll be ready.  My body has helped make her body strong.”  
  4. Excitement-  “My body will become my own again.  I’ll get back on a birth control pill that helps clear up the pimply disaster that is my skin instead of the one that helps ensure a good milk supply.  Maybe I’ll have a few more martinis.”  
I know groups like La Leche League promote extended breastfeeding, but I don’t want to do that.  Their book The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding was excellent when I started nursing, but I didn’t find the chapter on weaning particularly helpful.  I don’t think I want to be breastfeeding Charlotte at 2 or 3 years old.  That’s just a bit much for me.  If they can ask for a boob, it’s going on too long.  
I need some advice blogosphere.  Weaning.  What are your opinions on it?  How did it work for you?  

8 Responses to “The milk still flows- September 1, 2011”

  1. jeanna says:

    I am so glad you posted this! We are at almost 7 months of exclusive breastmilk, most of which comes straight from the tap…aka Owen rejects the bottle. I haven't pushed the issue because I am staying at home with him. I will be interested to hear how the weaning goes and hubby and I agree 12 months is the longest we really want to go.

  2. Heather says:

    I am so proud to have breastfed justin for 13 months! I would have kept going but he weaned himself. I stopped pumping around 10 months. I was still able to nurse him 2-3 times a day with no supply issues. For the last month or two he would only nurse once a day and my supply held. I even went on a work trip for 2.5 days and still had milk when I got back. But he was done. :( congrats on making it so long! It's definitely bittersweet when it ends.

  3. pinkflipflops says:

    I have no idea how/when I am going to wean. The child barely likes bottles so it feels like I will be nursing her for life. ;) Realistically, barring any supply issues I'd like to continue breastfeeding/pumping til she is a year. I think at a year I will stop pumpig and maybe slowly stop breastfeeding/follow her lead.

  4. C. Beth says:

    My opinion–weaning is so personal! I did do extended breastfeeding (almost 2 1/2 years for Chickie, 18 months for Zoodle.) People would ask how long I planned to nurse, and my answer was, "As long as it works for both of us." I think THAT'S the "right" answer! Because that can be 18 months/29 months for me, or 12 months for you, and 3 months for someone else, and 4 years for someone else…and all of those can be "right."

    I'd like to tell you weaning will be easy on Charlotte, and it probably will be…but might not be. Either way, it's just one of those things every mother/child has to figure out, and you WILL figure it out!

    You've done an awesome job giving her 10 months of mama milk!

  5. Katie Hennenlotter says:

    When I went to my annual check up after Will was born, Dr. Martin asked me if I had breastfed and how long. I told her seven months, and she also looked surprised and said, "That's a long time!" I, like you, was not expecting to be in the minority. Regarding weaning, with Will it just happened and really without any imput from me. Even though I worked and pumped twice a day, I'd nurse Will to sleep and when he got up in the morning. I never had supply issues. In fact, I tend to have too much milk. Then, one night when he was seven months old, I offered him the boob and he just turned away from it. I thought, "Man. That's weird." I planned to keep pumping regardless of whether he physically nursed, but from that moment, my boobs drastically started producing less and less until they just stopped. It was like they and Will were in some sort of agreement and my input really wasn't necessary. I have no explanation for it except for they just knew that Will was done with them. They'd been pumping fine for pretty much Will's entire life and my supply was always more than enough. It was bizarre the way they just stopped. So I bought formula for the last five months before whole milk was acceptable and we were all good.

    My supply has been just as ample with John and just as responsive to pumping. I plan to nurse him to one year. John has quite a different personality from Will and I don't think he'll be turning away from me any time soon, so I think the one year weaning might be a bit of a challenge. He's a man who likes his comfort. That being said, we're planning to generate baby three next summer (we like March babies) and my period stays away until I stop nursing. At least it did with Will and I've yet to see it since John was conceived. We'll see. Also, I've learned that each baby is different and that all the "strategies" that worked with Will really don't work on John. So you and Charlotte will figure out weaning and then you'll figure it out all over again with "version 2.0." I do love nursing though. Babies are so sweet when they nurse.

  6. Katie Hennenlotter says:

    Sorry *input*. And sorry for writing so much. I just have a lot of feelings.

  7. Enjoy Birth says:

    Great job!!! For my boys, they self weaned at about 15 months. I just stopped offering, but would nurse when they wanted to. It ended up being just in the morning and at night after a few weeks. Then within a few more weeks they just stopped wanting to. I would have been happy to nurse longer, especially with my 3rd (I just didn't want him to grow up, knowing he is my last) but they just stopped on their own.

  8. Nessa says:

    My daughter weaned herself. She started cutting out feeds at 13 months and was all done in about 3 weeks. The only thing I did was offer her a sippy cup of cow milk (she never really took a bottle well but a bottle could be the same thing) and/or food first. Boobs last resort. I know it doesn't happen that easily for everyone – but worth shot.

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