Nursing Baby Past One

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. 


Exclusive Pumpers, this one's for you


Get comfortable— for the next few blog posts, I want to focus on infant feeding.

Before a baby is born, we have the best intentions to breastfeed. It's biologically normal and most people are able to learn how to do it with the right help. But it's not that simple.

There are two parties involved when it comes to breastfeeding, parent and baby. And while we get to know our baby from the inside of our bodies for roughly nine/ten months, we don't know in advanced what challenges might await until baby latches…or doesn't.

No parent, after a baby is born and says, “I can't wait to hook my boobs up to a machine to pull the milk out,” but for some of us, that's what we have to do.

From lip ties to tongue ties to returning to work, many mothers have to contend with electric and manual pumps.

I, myself, have been manually pumping for going on ten months! That's right. My hands are SO strong now (and uh…arthritic). Below is one mother's very difficult journey into Exclusively Pumping. What. A. Badass.


Exclusively Pumping; Exclusively out of Desperation

I planned to breastfeed throughout my pregnancy. I got a pump through my insurance company but I planned to nurse my baby exclusively when I wasn’t working. I was looking forward to the bonding experience and selfishly, I was looking forward to being able to say, “Hey look! Not only did I birth that but I can feed him, too! How amazing am I?” 

Then he was born. He latched right away (or so I thought). But a few hours later he was screaming. Lactation consultants were there to help and assured me we would figure it out. “Just keep trying,” they said. I hooked up to a breast pump for the first time 15 hours after giving birth. “It will help your milk come in,” they said. 

I sat in that hospital bed and pumped for the first time watching my husband bond with and feed my child with (gasp!) formula. 15 hours and I had already failed.

My milk came in and things were looking up, but he still didn’t consistently latch. He cried. I cried. Day after day. After a couple weeks and little weight gain I packed us up and we went to see a lactation consultant at the hospital. Diagnosis: lip tie + tongue tie. We had the tongue tie snipped, but he and I just couldn’t figure out the whole breastfeeding thing. 

My baby was hungry and losing weight. I actually had an oversupply of milk so I made the only decision that made sense – become an EP. Exclusive Pumper. Problem solved, right?

Wrong. My postpartum mind made me resentful. I resented my baby for not being able to latch. What kind of mother resents their baby? So I resented myself for that. I made my husband do every bottle feed and I pumped for the duration of the feed. I told myself that it was to keep a regimented schedule and maintain supply but honestly, I couldn’t bring myself to hold a bottle for my baby. So I resented my husband while he fed and bonded with my baby. These were dark times. It was months before my postpartum mind cleared enough for me to be able to forgive myself and feed my own baby with a bottle.

I returned to work and fell into a 4-pumps-a-day routine: 5am, 10am, 3pm, 8pm. I followed this strict schedule every day for 18 months – weekends, holidays, and vacations included.

There were moments I was positive my machine was shouting expletives at me with its rhythmic pulsing. “Fuck you, too,” I’d whisper back.

Please be assured that I don’t hate myself or resent my baby anymore. if you’re feeling similarly to how I felt, please get help. 

EPing is hard but it’s doable under the right circumstances.

A few things in my favor:

  1. A devoted partner. He’s seriously the real MVP

  2. I responded well to a pump.

  3. A respectful, accommodating, & understanding workplace.

  4. An office with a door/pumping room

Places I’ve pumped:

  1. Home

  2. Others’ homes

  3. Work

  4. Parked cars

  5. Moving cars

  6. Bathrooms

  7. Parks 

  8. Retail center parking lots 


First of all, thank you Brittany for your honesty and willingness to share. There are more dedicated moms like Brittany out there, silently fighting the good fight with their pumps. Secondly, it is important to get help, as a new parent, when we feel like the postpartum blues continue—like maybe what we are experiencing is more than a fog. I’m glad Brittany mentioned this. Mood disorders are more common than we think. People just aren’t reporting them! Please, get help. It’s hard enough to juggle expectations with reality. You shouldn’t have to also battle yourself .

What I wish I had known About Breastfeeding

In a perfect world, I would make CERTAIN my mamas, who want to breastfeed, are equipped with the knowledge and tools to do so immediately after birth through to the end of their breastfeeding relationship/goal. Sadly, there are many hurdles that women face the moment they have their babies—the biggest one being lack of education prior to the start of nursing. Below I will impart the wisdom I have learned from experience and ongoing education.

The Importance of the Golden Hour

No matter how baby comes out (and emergency C-sections can but don’t always present a challenge during this time frame, depending on hospital policy), the first 60-90 minutes are the most important when establishing the first latch. Baby recognizes mom by left-behind amniotic smells and is most alert and ready to make his or her way towards the breast. Your hormones throughout pregnancy that made your areolas so dark? They coursed through your body to make your breasts easier for baby to find! They’re like targets! What I’m trying to say is babies are smarter and stronger than we give them credit for. If we allow them to have an hour after birth on mother’s chest, they will usually latch on their own with almost no help at all. You can watch videos of this on Youtube. It’s incredible.

Miss this window of time? It’s ok. Don’t fret. Baby becomes sleepy and may just need a little extra support to latch when he or she awakes. That’s what Lactation Consultants are for!

Hand Expression

It is empowering and extremely helpful to know how to hand express. You’ll never have to panic if you lose your pump or a part breaks or if baby goes on a nursing strike. Like any skill, practice makes perfect. It took me months to perfect this. Also another great job for a Lactation Consultant!

Feed often

You might have been told that milk comes in a supply and demand way. This is true. If baby isn’t eating, your breast doesn’t know to make milk. Feeding baby often helps the breasts empty and get the message to make more milk. Babies also nurse for many other reasons than hunger. They nurse for comfort, for sleep, belly aches, to bond and more. Breastfeeding is also helpful to mama.

Breastfeeding releases Oxytocin, which studies have shown help reduce mood disorders.

Warm compresses and dangle-feeding for clogs

Before I discovered that my body didn’t respond to electric pumps, I got golf ball sized clogs on the regular. I sought help desperately and often. The best piece of advice I got was—at first sign of clog, slap a warm compress on the breast, massage, then dangle feed. Read more at Kellymom, my fave resource.

TALK ABOUT IT, TALK ABOUT IT, TALK ABOUT IT

There is no doubt about it—Breastfeeding is one of the hardest things to do and our culture makes it harder by silencing and shaming women. The more we talk about this, the less of a stigma it may become. Exposure is the first step to challenging this norm.

Please remember, mama, it aint easy. You’re doing great!

Have more questions on feeding your infant? Send Rae a message.

What I wish I had Known About Breastfeeding.png

Fed is best, but how do I know if my baby is getting enough?

One of the hardest parts of having a newborn is being able to tell whether or not baby has eaten enough.

Bottle feeding makes it easier for parents to see how many ounces baby has gotten, but in the first few days of establishing a milk supply (if you decide to breastfeed), it’s so important to feed from the breast. Doing so tells the body how much milk to make.

It is, therefore, important to feed often. You can’t feed your baby too much from the breast! With that being said, breastfeeding doesn’t come easily and oftentimes, mamas don’t know if their baby is getting enough (wouldn’t it be nice if bellies had measuring cups in them?!).

At first, a newborn needs only 1-3 ounces of breastmilk every 2-3 hours during the day, and to go no longer than 4 hours at night without eating. For formula, babies eat around 3 ounces and can sometimes sleep longer stretches because formula take longer to metabolize. As a rule, babies really shouldn’t go longer than 4 hours without eating the first few weeks of life until they gain back their birth weight.

The info-graph below has a few cues to look out for when trying to figure out if baby has eaten enough—it’s ALL about the output!

Kellymom was a great resource to me for all of my new mom feeding questions, mostly surrounding breastfeeding. You can visit her here.

newborns gotta eat!

newborns gotta eat!

...and the winning bottle goes to...

Well it isn’t that simple, unfortunately. If one bottle was unanimously better than the others, that’s all we would have to buy at Target and on Amazon. Fortunately there are a lot of good bottles for different babies and their very real preferences. Below I’ve have explored some options so you don’t have to. I’ve written just a brief summary about each bottle. Enjoy!

First and foremost—WHEN to introduce a bottle is half of the secret. Waiting too long to introduce one and baby won’t be as willing (they’ll prefer the breast). There is a sweet spot around the 6th week of life. Around that time, mom and baby have established a breastfeeding bond. A bottle then won’t impede the that relationship, 9 times out of 10. This is what I recommend mamas do before going back to work, to those who just want to get away for an hour or two, and for dads who want to feed baby too. This also allows for enough time for parents to figure out which bottles work and which won’t.

The next issue is HOW to feed. Many bottles, no matter what brand, do not have a slow flow. It’s the nipple that controls flow. A bottle that flows too quickly gets baby the milk faster than mom (and this is one reasons baby may prefer a bottle over mama—faster milk!). A way to slow down the feeding without worrying about bottles or nipples is to Pace Bottle Feed. You can watch a video on how to do that here.

Ok, now onto the bottles. Thank you for your patience. There are so many bottles, but only a few worth talking about. Let’s break them down.

A few bottle with valves, odd shapes, and other gimmicks-

Munchkin Latch- Design kills the performance in this one. This bottle has an anti-colic blue valve at the bottom to regulate flow. Not only does this bottle have a tendency to leak if you put it in the warmer, the nipple is so soft it collapses easily on a vigorous eater.

Tommee Tippee- This bottle is compact, easy to clean because of its wide mouth (the gimmicky shape is an advantage here!), and doesn’t have extra parts that aren’t difficult to clean or assemble.

Dr. Browns- Although this bottle touts minimizing air entering the baby’s mouth, there are just too many small, hard-to-clean moveable parts to make that feature worth while. This bottle takes a while to assemble and is not fun to take on the go. With that being said, it has been my go-to. As a new mom, I bought into anything that would minimize those colicky, gassy screams post-meal. In hindsight, it didn’t help my daughter swallowing air!

Avent- Voted top bottle by Babylist, Today’s Parents, and many other magazines. It is easy to assemble, easy to find, and reasonably priced.

Bottles that come with your pump-

Medela and Spectra- Very simple bottles, cheap and they come with your pump! The spectra lids do not fit very well on the bottle and loosen on their own causing spills. The Medela model leaks from the nipple, and it collapses mid-feeding as well, which I obviously don’t need to say is frustrating for all parties involved.

Bottles with bags-

Kiinde and other bottles, where the bag is inserted are not actually easier and less time-consuming feeding methods. If anything Kiinde and other bottles like it are harder. These bottles only work with one kind of bag and those bags are expensive. They work only in the kiinde bottle warmer. The bag leaves some milk behind that’s difficult to suck out for baby. If all of those excite you, this is the right bottle!

Verdict- For parents who don’t know where to begin, don’t want to spend too much, or solve a puzzle when standing over their sink, the answer is Tommy Tippee or Avent. The rest seems to be more work than they’re worth!

Bottles not mentioned are Comotomo, Mam, among many others.

Today’s Parent wrote a similar article, explored more bottles, and came to some different conclusions. Read more here!

Photocredit to Today’s Parent

Photocredit to Today’s Parent

Source: https://www.todaysparent.com/product-revie...