Bart’s company has the lactation consultation program where any employees or spouses of employees who have a baby get a pre-birth call about nursing and then periodic phone calls to answer questions, give advice, and offer support. (This is a very lovely program).
The LC assigned to me is located in Vermont, so I’ve never met her, although I’ve talked to her on the phone about a dozen times.
From what I can tell, the consultant assigned to me, Margaret, has a temperament very similar to mine.
For instance, when Ella was nearly four months old, Margaret called and asked if I’d taken her to the pediatrician for her four month appointment yet. I said, no, that it was coming up in a few days.
Margaret said, “The official recommendation by the APA is to not start solids until six months old. So if your pediatrician says you should start her on solids at four months without any specific reason, you can say, ‘Why are you telling me this when your own association recommends waiting another two months?’ Or you can just smile and then come home and not start her on solids until six months. That’s what I would do because I don’t like confrontation.”
That? A woman after my own heart. Confrontation makes me want to die.
Margaret’s last official call to me was a week ago just after Ella’s six month mark. We talked about how long you ought to nurse a baby and she said, “I’ll tell you what APA says, what WHO says, and what I say.”
“APA says a year minimum. WHO says two years minimum. I say until it’s not right for you or your baby any more. If that’s six months, fine, if that’s until your baby is four, that’s fine too.”
She went on to mention that the average age of weaning worldwide is four years old because so many other countries nurse their babies so much longer. It’s mainly in the US where nursing past a year or so is considered unusual.
She told me, “If you do choose to continue nursing your child for several years, the good thing is that you can tell a three or four year old, ‘We only nurse at home’ and thus avoid the wrath of the American Public.”
Oh yes, I am all about avoiding the wrath of anyone. This woman speaks to my soul.
(Also, for the record, it is highly highly unlikely that I will still be nursing Ella when she’s three years old).
In Argentina (where I served my mission) they tend to nurse a lot longer. It was there that I developed the philosophy that if your child can walk up and ask for it, you've probably been nursing too long. . .unless your child starts walking and talking at an unusually young age.
I love that you are posting about nursing. I absolutely love that your LC said stop when it's not right for you or baby. That took me a few kids to learn. I would have died if someone tried to give my older 2 formula before 6 months. And I've worked with this baby for the last week so she would take a bottle of it at night. She does and now I don't have to worry about running out of milk in the freezer if I'm not there when she's hungry.(Having to come home from chaperoning a church dance was what did me in) It's such a relief! I'm living the best of both worlds. And now I'm done with my nursing novel… I'm sure you cared 😉
The only confidence I have in guidelines concerning raising children is that they will all be different in 20 years. Hopefully I will be done raising babies by that time, so I won't have to learn anything new.
I was discussing Room with a couple of girls recently, as I'd read it for my book club, and the subject of the five-year-old-who-still-breast-feeds came up and the girls were unanimously disgusted by it. Which I found SO WEIRD. Because it's such a normal thing pretty much EVERYWHERE else in the world.
I mean, I totally agree that it should be a decision made solely by mom and baby. But it just baffles me why some people in our country are so grossed out by a completely NATURAL custom that's so common all over the world.
And the people there, too.
I was surprised by how many women I know told me I should tandem nurse my two littlest ones. What?! I could never do that, though! They'd suck the life right out of me 🙂
So I weened her at 20 mos., 4 mos. before the new baby was due.
She's still addicted to my tatas and sticks her hand down my shirt every chance she gets. I'm glad I weened her.
All kids are SO different. A mom has to keep her sanity and do what she feels is right for each one.
Megan B. says
She sounds like an awesome LC. My pedi said to start solids at 4 months, and I did what she said- smiled, and ignored his "advice." I'm still nursing him at 19 months, but mostly at home.
I like her, too.
Confrontation makes me want to stick my head in the ground. Gag.
But yay for nursing and all mommies who try to do what's best for their babies. Whether that's nursing or formula!
I nursed the Pirate to 9 months, he weaned himself, was just DONE with it and I didn't get a say. I nursed the Bug to 14 months and it was very natural to stop then, for both of us. Baby girl going strong at 5 months, but as a side effect of no daycare refuses all formula, which means it's hard to leave her for long without planning well. I started her on some (very not solid) rice cereal recently, to see if she'd sleep better. I'm not pushing it hard, but it does seem to keep her to one feeding a night. And it's more like a liquid than a solid.
Oh, I also hate confrontation and I love your LC. I had no idea how many different opinions there can be about nursing, sheesh!
So what are the terrible things that are supposed to happen if you start giving your baby rice cereal at four or five months instead of six?
My first thought? Well, if you breastfeed forever, you won't have to deal with scrubbing spinach puree from your walls. So there's that…
Angela Noelle of SK says
I like her.
In answer to Camille's question, there are no terrible predictions. Just that there is no real reason to give most babies "solids" that early. The majority of babies simply don't need non-breastmilk/formula nutrition before six months.
I wondered why a doctor would recommend giving solids before the ADA says to. Then, today my pediatrician sort of did that. She said that generally you should wait for solids until your baby is six months, but if it seems that your baby is just starving and not getting enough to eat, then go ahead and try solids.
I think I will just hold off on that mess for as long as possible. I don't have any problem with milk production, and breastfeeding is very tidy. So, six months is the plan.
First let me say that I love that you are nursing your baby.
Now for the argument. Not every mother can produce enough nutritious milk to satisfy a growing baby. Not every woman is able or wants to nurse. Babies have thrived on formula. Babies have thrived when started thin cereals at a few days old.
The "rules" have changed over and over through the years. Who is to say what is right or wrong? The "rules" seem to depend on when the person went to school.
Your consultant, nurse, physician can recommend and give guidelines, but they aren't around your baby all the time. You are.
If a baby is hungry (fussy, won't sleep at night), one needs to feed it. Supplementing with formula and/or adding a little thin cereal to the formula works well.
As a mom, a grandmother, aunt, and great-aunt, I recommend that you do what seems to work best for you and your child.
I wonder what she would say about my cousin's wife who nursed her two and a half year old and one year old while pregnant with her third baby and losing weight along the way.
Melissa, I have no idea what Margaret might say, but I would say that your cousin is a machine! I cannot even imagine.
Peaceful Reader says
Your LC has a great attitude. I did nurse my last one until she was just 3 and only really at home but it was so hard to give it up knowing it was going to be my last time to nurse, ever! I like the idea of just smiling at your pediatrician and walking away knowing full well you don't plan to take his advice! It's okay.
Lady Susan says
I love the lactation consultants here. They talk sense and it is nice to hear sense when all the Pediatricians in the area have NO IDEA what to do with a breastfed baby. Seriously, NO IDEA.
And not to get too crazy here, but what does it say when pediatricians have no idea how to deal with a baby that is fed the way nature intended him to be fed?
Ben and Summer says
I love it! She is great, I love her dry humor, and I've done the smile-and-walk-away thing too. The longer I'm a mom, the more confident I am in my own gut feeling. I'm still nursing my 17 month old, and love that cuddle time. Also, confrontation makes me want to melt too. I love watching Super Nanny – with great awe, really – because she's just so darn good at it!