Nursing Naturally — Breastfeeding beyond a year

Breastfeeding, it’s the most natural and beautiful thing you can witness. All mammals nurse their young from birth until the littles are ready to go on their own. Most kittens nurse for about 6 weeks, orangutans nurse their young for 6 or 7 years. This is the norm for their species. No one questioned, no one tells them you should nurse longer, nor say it’s time to stop. It’s just something that is. But what about humans? How long is biologically normal for a human to breastfeed?  
Sadly, due to pressure to wean, mothers returning to work and lack of support, no one can say for certain, but there are some great facts we can use to draw conclusion as to what it could and could not be.
  
There are many reasons to breastfeed. Protection from disease is one of them. Did you know there is strong evidence that a mama has receptors on her breast that essentially read the baby’s saliva? This changes the composition of the milk sending antibodies to the baby through the breastmilk to help them fight infection. Pretty amazing right? God knows what he’s doing people! 

While Dr. Hinde said that this is just a hypothesis, what HAS been demonstrated empirically, though, is the oral pathway — mom kisses baby’s face and hands, ingests pathogens that baby has encountered in its environment, and then the appropriate antibodies are synthesized in her gut and transferred to her milk. Seriously, amazing what our bodies can do.

As a big contrast to the cultural negative views of extended breastfeeding in the US, in Mongolia, it’s celebrated and strongly encouraged. In fact, they declare the best wrestlers are breastfed until the age of 6. Breastfeeding is deep in their culture and an important piece. 

Nutritional benefits of breast-feeding continue well past the first year of life. Here is a great fact sheet on studies supporting these benefits.

La Leche Leauge has pages and pages of supportive articles from studies to beautiful articles of real life examples of extended nursing in other countries. 

What does the Bible say?

God invented breastfeeding and is in full support. Remember when God gave Hannah a son? She promised to bring him to serve in the temple when he was weaned. It’s believed when Hannah brought Samuel there when he was around 3 years old. His youth was mentioned in the biblical text, thus we know he was not an infant or toddler when he was weaned. In this article, Jewish tradition shows weaning took place between 18 months and 5 years of age.

Biblical text also point to Isaac winning around 2 to 3 years of age.

This 2 part article tells the stories of many biblical breastfeeding women. All blessed by God.

Studies

So what is the natural age of weaning? When will a child wean on their own? One researcher did an in depth look at primates to help determine. In all the primate species, researchers observed the brain size of the mother played a role in the age they weaned. They also looked at indigenous tribes around the globe to see when their children weaned. It’s the best way to observe since these tribes do not have any contact with each other nor Western culture. Results were very interesting. With an estimated human natural weaning age of between 2.8 and 3.7 years old. When did these indigenous tribe say their child land? It was around age 3. 

Of course, age 3 is the average age of weaning and some children may self ween before or after age 3. This is not a one size fits all.

Try as I may, I could not find any negative effects of nursing past a certain age. This study sought to find negative effects and turned up none. 

Breastfeeding Recommendations

The American Academy of pediatrics recommends exclusive breast-feeding for six months, meaning no other baby foods or cereals. They recommend continuing to breast-feed for at least a year and then as long as mutually desired between the mother and child. This does not say anything about cultural norms. 

The American Academy of family physicians has the same position of continuing to breast-feed as long as mutually desired by the mother and child. They have a great amount of educational information on their site. 
The world health organization supports exclusive breast-feeding for six months with complementary foods until at least two years of age, and then as long as mutually desired by the mother and child. 

La Leche Leauge is a global breastfeeding organizations offering support and resources to women for free. They say a mother and child nursing as long as they wish. http://www.llli.org/faq/bflength.html They support nursing a child until they outgrow the need, just as they would naps, clothes, sippy cups, security blankets, etc. Here is one mom’s journey

Obstacles
Sadly, despite all the research showing the benefits of extended nursing, many moms severely lack support. They are accused of being selfish (you cannot make a child nurse, trust me) or other untrue claims. What if your husband makes unreasonable claims and demands? This is a great article on that topic. 

Your husband should be your biggest cheerleader and advocate for his child. If he’s making false claims and threats, finding the actual root cause of his feelings can be helpful because the issue(s) will remain even when the child is weaned, thus nothing will be resolved. Forcing a child who is not ready to wean could cause clinginess, fussiness and sleep regression to name a few. In moms, it can lead to depression, clogged ducts, mastitis (a painful breast infection caused by clogged ducts), and resentment among other things.

Talk with your husband to come up with something reasonable. Is the child coming to your bed at night the biggest struggle? Maybe compromise trying to get the child to sleep in his own bed. If a compromise can’t be reached, seek counseling from someone educated on breastfeeding. Seem biased? Are you going to seek advanced cancer treatment options from an oncologist or your co-worker? Nutrition advice from your college-age cousin working (and eating) at a fast food burger joint? Thus you should also seek advice on breastfeeding from someone educated on the topic. In most cases, it will not be your co-worker.

Any ill effects of extended breastfeeding are self inflicted due to personal feelings about it. While I can’t change your feelings toward nursing beyond whatever age you are comfortable with, I do hope you can acknowledge you do not have science on your side. I hope you thoughtfully consider other mothers’ decision to let their child self wean, even if you are not comfortable with that age, they are and it is a decision to be made between the mother and child.

Extra Credit

ABC News had a great article on this topic of extended breastfeeding 

But what about teeth? They are asking for it? It’s just for comfort, it’s just for you…. This is a great article tackling 10 myths of breastfeeding older children and why moms continue to meet the breastfeeding demands of their child.

Conclusion

Letting a child self wean meets that child’s needs. It’s not wrong, it’s not selfish. It’s natural. Let it be your normal if you so choose. God, science and nature all approve.

Breastfeeding and bottle products on Zulily today

Whether you feed your baby from the breast, bottle or both, Zulily has great deals from bottles, to nursing covers and scarves, to pillows. Take a look at this deal on a set of 3 9-Oz. Born Free Glass Bottles. They are BPA-free.

Deals go fast, so don’t delay!

About Zulily
Have you joined zulily? It is a fantastic daily deals site offering up to 70% off boutique brands for moms, babies and kids. Browse for unique apparel, gear, toys, accessories and more – great selections for kids of all ages and some great steals for parents, too. The sales only last for a little while so sign up for your free membership to receive access to the site and a daily sales email with all of the scoop.

Back in the saddle

After a too long break, I’m getting back into the game! I look forward to bringing you more great information, challenges, and resources you can consider. I’ll share fun family and kid crafts or outdoor fun. I’ll also share great deals on some of my favorite Eco-friendly, safe, ethical, fair-trade or sustainable products. I will do more product reviews as well. I look forward to seeing what’s to come and hearing your feedback.

Births of today – are all these interventions necessary?

I am about to give birth to our third child, thus have been reading a lot more about pregnancy, birth and babies. Kinda goes with the territory.

I will say I am saddened by what I read. Birth has become such a medical procedure. What happened to the beauty of birth designed by God? I am not saying all medical interventions are completely unnecessary, as they have saved lives, but are they overused? And are we doing ourselves a favor to embrace them or should we avoid them?

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, nor am I giving medical advice. I am just a mama sharing evidence-based articles so other mamas and mamas-to-be may also learn and make educated decisions of their own.

1. This is a great article of 10 decisions parents must make concerning their newborn. Decisions like delayed cord clamping, koala care, eye ointment, Vit k injection and more. I love that she gives both sides and is not biased in her delivery.

2. Consumer Reports even chimed in. They have a list of 10 pregnancy/birth procedures to avoid, as well as a list of 10 things to do when you are pregnant. One of those things includes considering a midwife. So excited to see such a list from a more mainstream media. The fact of the matter is of all developed countries, the US has the highest infant mortality rate. While no one is sure why, it is true that the US has the highest medical interventions of these countries. Poor diet, obesity are other factors that have been tossed around.

3. Delayed cord clamping. Did you know that 1/3 of the baby’s blood volume resides in the placenta at the time of birth? That blood is the baby’s, so should have the rights to it, but immediate cord clamping has become common practice. Here is a great article debunking common myths about cord clamping. Even the World Health Organization recommends delaying cord clamping. Some recommend delaying 3-5 minutes, others recommend waiting until the cord stops pulsating, usually 10-15 minutes. Others decide on a Lotus Birth where the placenta stays attached until the cord and all fall off on its own. Now, I personally can’t see toting around a placenta and a baby for that long, but this is a common practice in some countries.

I will be posting more articles, but right now, this mama is too tired to think anymore!

Hearty Vegetable Soup recipe

When I need something easy to make, vegetable soup is always a nice go to, as long as I have everything on hand of course. But the great thing about vegetable soup is you can improvise and use the vegetables you have on hand. I made this last night and it was a hit, so jotting it down here so I can repeat it in the future. This will give us about 4 meals (I froze 1 meals worth, then we will have 1 lunch and 1 dinner ready for this week. Woohoo!)

I used:
2 onions, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 box vegetable stock (organic)
2 bay leaves
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp basil
1 box Pomi chopped tomatoes
4 cups of water (use more as needed)
4 cups organic mixed frozen vegetables (green beans, peas, carrots, edemame)
1 1/2 cups frozen black eyed peas
8 oz pasta (optional, but you’ll want to add a little more water if you do)
4 medium potatoes, diced

In a large stock pot, heat 2 tbls oil. Sauté onions until tender, during last minute, add the garlic. Then add vegetable stock and other ingredients. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 hour (or longer to let all the flavors blend together more). Next time I am going to try fresh celery (and eliminate the celery seed), and sauté with the onions. Either way, this soup was yummy!

Healthy lunch box round up

Here is what I have packed lately

Create your own lunchable. Ham and cheese slices, whole wheat crackers, organic Oreo, strawberries, grapes, yogurt.

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Same for my boy…with popcorn too

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Oranges, ham, carrots, strawberries, grapes, chocolate covered pecan.

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Pizza quesadilla, pears, strawberries, carrots, kiwi.

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Same for my son.

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Pizza quesadilla once more, kiwi, oranges, strawberry, pecans.

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Pancake peanut butter and jelly sandwich, kale chips, grapes and kiwi.

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Yogurt, granola, carrots, apple slices and peanut butter

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Turkey on homemade whole wheat roll, red Bartlett pear slices, tangerine slices and Annie’s bunny Graham’s (from Halloween).

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My son had mostly the same but with avocado and tomato on his turkey sandwich.

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Peanut butter and jelly sushi rolls (used lavash), blueberries, pineapples, pears.

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Same as above for my son only added cucumbers too. He loves them!

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Pumpkin waffle sandwich with cream cheese and strawberry fruit spread, boiled egg, pineapple, and kiwi, oh and raspberry yogurt covered pretzels. She asked me to pack this lunch for her every day.:)

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Son didn’t think he’d like the sandwich (not much he doesn’t like, so surprising), so I gave him a sample sandwich and cut his pumpkin waffles up and gave a little container of syrup.

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Healthy lunch box round up

So I was tired and lazy and have not posted each lunch daily, so here are the ones I have missed…

Ham & romaine lettuce rolled in whole wheat tortilla, yogurt with granola, apple slices with peanut butter and water. Oh and a couple M&Ms my parents got the kids against my request (we are about to be hit with Halloween candy.)

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Peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat cut into hearts, orange slices, grapes and homemade sweet potato chips.

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My son also had a PB&J on whole wheat but I cut his into a Mickey Mouse shape. And I ate the extras off their sandwiches… No waste!:)

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See other lunch box ideas.

Keep checking back daily for more healthy lunch ideas.

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