The importance of formulaRead More
There are so many myths and stigmas surrounding breastfeeding toddlers. Why? Well that's a complicated answer left for much more space than one blog allows. Below is one woman’s (my dear friend, actually) musings on “extended” breastfeeding (really though, why don’t we just call it breastfeeding….that’s all it is!).
As my husband, in-laws, and I moved through the furniture store looking for a glider they wanted to gift me as a new mother, I carefully balanced my newborn in my arms while trying to fix her latch under a receiving blanket. My mother-in-law casually took the blanket and said, “you don’t need this.” It was the most liberating thing she could have done. I didn’t know this at the time, but breastfeeding would become the next thirteen years of my life. The sooner I learned to worry about the comfort of myself and my baby—the better.
There is evidence to suggest that as long as a breastfeeding relationship continues, it will provide nutrition as well as immunological protection.
But you know those studies they did that said that hugging is healthy? The breastfeeding studies were like that for me, confirming what I had already been witnessing and was my own common sense. Anthropological work has already told us that when natural weaning occurs it is closer to when the first molars begin to appear.
My best friend’s three-year-old recently had surgery. Her tonsils, and adenoids were removed, and she had an epiglottoplasty. Getting medicine into a groggy three-year-old is difficult, let alone keeping her hydrated. Since they still have nursing relationship, she is able to get food and liquid into her daughter’s body, all while feeding her antibodies and stem cells for quicker healing. Her recovery time was much shorter than it was supposed to be. Of course, this is anecdotal, but still, there it is.
The WHO and Unicef recommends breastfeeding to two years and beyond.
When my children turned two, they still needed to nurse. When a child is nursing at three, they are nursing less frequently. And by four and five, it isn’t often. But when my four-year-old had a violent stomach virus, holding them and feeding them from the milk I made just for them, kept them hydrated and helped them to recover quicker.
Something to consider is that extended breastfeeding (breastfeeding beyond one year) simply be called breastfeeding. When it is tagged “extended,” that eludes to there being a norm, and this falling outside of that norm.
This human-derived term creates a definitive line: once you pass day three-hundred and sixty-five, you are into the new territory and your baby’s body will be done with your milk, which will likewise become unusable. You may self-destruct.
When we went to the library and my preschooler would touch everything (no hyperbole here, folks) and put everything into their mouths. I was relaxed, knowing I would still be feeding them immunity. When they became sick with fever I could taker refuge in knowing that I was hydrating them, comforting them, and once again feeding antibodies to their immature immune systems.
Nursing an older child will coo them to sleep. It continues to nourish them. When they get hurt it calms them. While they are learning this big world, it centers them and tells them there is a safe place of refuge within their mother, still, and always. Our children grow, it is what they were designed to do. No one is going to nurse until they leave for college, and that equation is ridiculous. They will always wean, and when that day comes it is bittersweet.
I know many women who nursed beyond three and, often, they were made to feel ashamed—to hide. Our culture has decided they can name the ways in which a woman’s body works.
They have decided that breasts are innately sexual in nature. They grossly pervert the feeding of a human child when that is the crux of humanity’s existence! Just as you can be a mother and a lover—breasts can play a dual-role, as well.
Nursing my children into two, three, four, and five was an evolution of gift. Always changing, never looking the same, just like the breastmilk itself—altering to the needs of the situation. I say take the covers off. Take away the fear or need to hide while feeding your child. Don’t let the dictation of a woman’s body seep further into the clutches of this culture. Let women go where they will and let them feed their child where and how they like, and please let’s normalize the image of a woman feeding an infant as far into their future as they see fit, all while loving and supporting them. If you see a mama nursing, take her a water and tell her what a gift she is.
Talking about babies is heavy.
Sometimes you just want to relax and not be a human pacifier and/or diaper changer on duty 24/7.
One of the ways to do that is get a facial. This was the best decision I made after Ivy was born, and I met with a talented and passionate skincare specialist just outside of Cincinnati.
Meet Al Kirkendol, an esthetician (skincare specialist) at 501 Spa in Bellevue, KY. She believes in the importance of taking care of our skin.
Our skin is the second-most complex organ of the body, being surpassed only by the brain. Let’s honor our skin by taking care of it.
If you’ve never had a facial before, I’ll give you a run down. Al first meets with you to discuss your skin goals. She assess what products will be the best for your skin type (even super sensitive skin), and gives you a run down of what she plans on doing in the time you booked. A jade roller, a few hot towels, lots of botanical smelling creams tailored to your skin type, and a scalp massage later, you walk away with really soft, clear skin. It's a great way to reset. Additionally, Al can help you improve your skin outside of the spa by helping adjust and refine your skincare routine.
You can book her here.
And follow her on Instagram @al.kirkendol.
Dr. Karp was onto something when he came up with the 5 S’s. For those of you that don’t know Dr. Karp or the tactics he uses to calm babies, you might want to read or watch, “Happiest Baby on the Block.” Here’s the summary: When baby is upset, try the 5 S's.
The 5 S’s
Swaddle- Help baby feel hugged, warm, and safe by swaddling them up.
Side- Hold baby on their side to help prevent arm flailing.
Swing (or any rhythmic movement will work)-If baby is very upset, you’ll want to swing them more vigorously until they’re able to calm down a bit, then continue a moderate, calming swing back and forth. Baby was moving inside a body for a long time. They crave this motion.
Suck- Babies are born wanting to suck. You can nurse baby or pop in a pacifier (research says nipple confusion isn’t as common as people say).
Shhhhh- It is LOUD inside mom’s body—blood is moving, a heart is beating, food is digesting, there's mysterious popping and gurgling. Babies are used to this orchestra. White noise, of any kind (and you’ll learn quickly what baby prefers—vacuum or washing machine) helps settle baby.
Of course it’s important to make sure that baby isn’t crying because he or she is hungry, has a wet diaper, or is overly tired. In those instances, it’s important to meet baby’s immediate needs.
Sometimes those 5 S’s don’t work on their own.
Think about being inside a body for 9 or 10 months and then suddenly being cast out into a bright and loud world. It’s startling, scary, and newborns need some extra love to settle after being worked up in a big way. When the 5 S’s don’t work, what can you do?
Magical Hold - I can’t even explain what’s happening here. It’s genius. Just watch below.
Fussy Baby Hold- This is what it looks like to your left. A little pressure on baby’s belly helps, in addition to them feeling like they’re suspended once again in mom’s womb.
Go Outside- A change in scenery does wonders. It doesn’t matter if it’s cold or hot (though cold weather is preferred, we can’t control nature)—taking baby outside resets them.
It does take some time to learn what comfort measures newborns prefer. When one tactic doesn’t work, try another.
Additionally, newborns change every single day. What works one day, might not work the next.
If the crying ever becomes too much—set baby down somewhere safe—and step away for a few moments to breathe. Try again. The newborn stage doesn’t last forever, and though it’s difficult now, it does get easier.