Child-led Weaning: They Aren’t Going to Nurse Forever

A little more than two years ago, I wrote about my experiences nursing a preschooler. At the time I discussed the fact that my nearly 4-year-old daughter was still nursing and how I never planned or expected to be nursing a 4-year-old, yet it just happened.

“I didn’t set out to nurse a preschooler, but somehow along the way my sweet little baby grew from an infant to a toddler and eventually blossomed into a preschooler in what now seems like the blink of an eye. I am confident this won’t go on forever and when I look back on this time when she’s 10 or 20 or 30, and I look at the young woman she’s become, I am hopeful that I will feel good about the choices I made and have no regrets.”

As I suspected, it didn’t “go on forever.” I never blogged about it when Ava weaned, but that milestone occurred almost four months after my post. She was 4 1/4 years old. At that time I was also nursing my son – her younger brother. From what I can remember, she and I had talked about weaning and being done with mama milk for a while. I felt like after a long, mostly* wonderful nursing relationship with Ava, I was comfortable with the idea of her weaning. Although she wasn’t excited to wean, I felt like Ava was pretty ready too.

I remember one night she went to bed without nursing (which is the only time she would nurse at that point and had been since she was 2 1/2). After all of the discussions we’d had about weaning, it seemed to me like the perfect stopping point. The next night as we cuddled to go to sleep, she asked for “na-na” and I explained to her that she was done having na-na. She cried a few tears that night, but we cuddled and she went to sleep without na-na. The next couple days she continued to ask for it before bed and sometimes cried a bit or was sad, but I never felt like it was unbearable for her. If I had felt it was absolutely unbearable for her, I would have put off weaning longer, but I never got that impression. Yes, she briefly mourned the loss, but the transition went well.

After several weeks had passed and I felt fairly confident that she had lost the knack of suckling, she would – once in a while – still ask for na-na and at that point I would let her try. As I’d suspected, she couldn’t figure out how to get milk out any longer. It was a little frustrating for her, but I think it was comforting that I let her try rather than just tell her “no, you don’t have na-na anymore.” Letting her try seemed like a gentle way for her to discover on her own that she had, in fact, weaned.

While I wouldn’t call what I did with Ava exactly “child-led weaning,” it felt like a pretty gentle transition and was what I deemed best for our family at that time. After nursing two kids (although usually not at the same time) for a year and a half, I was ready to go back to nursing just one child.

And that brings us to the present, when my now 3 3/4-year-old son is still nursing. ;) This time around, however, it didn’t come as any surprise to me that I’m nursing a preschooler. He seems like he might wean before Ava did, but I’m not holding my breath. Lately, he will go a few days at a time without asking for it so I think we are heading in that direction. He went five nights without nursing while I was at BlogHer this year, but when I got home – sure enough – he wanted to nurse before bed. Most recently he went about four or five nights without asking to nurse while I’ve been home. I thought he might be done altogether, but then asked to nurse again. I talked to him about possibly being done and he insisted that he was NOT, so he nursed before bed. But then the past two nights, he did not.

I’m not in a big hurry for Julian to be done. I know it will be bittersweet just like it was when Ava weaned and perhaps a bit moreso since I’m fairly certain I’m not going to have any more children. However, I also see this as a milestone and a door opening to the next chapter in our relationship. Yes, we’ve had several years of a great nursing relationship, but I also look forward to what lies ahead.

I’ll repeat what I said before, but this time for Julian. I am confident this won’t go on forever and when I look back on this time when he’s 10 or 20 or 30, and I look at the young man he’s become, I am hopeful that I will feel good about the choices I made and have no regrets.

Related posts I’ve written:

Related posts from other bloggers:

  • From Lactation NarrationChild Led Weaning
    “Munchkin is 4 today. If you had told me when she was born that she would still be nursing now, I wouldn’t have believed it. My original goal with her was to nurse for 6 months, yet here we are. My goal now is for child led weaning.”
  • From Not a DIY LifeTransitions
    “At 31 months old, Ladybug weaned herself. It didn’t happen quickly. It was very gradual. But accompanied with all the other big girl things that she’s doing, it does seem sudden. … I am so thankful that we were able to wean this way. It was gradual. There were no tears on her part or on mine. We were both ready.”
  • From Raising My BoychickA Day Without Nursing
    “I likely won’t know the last time, won’t pause and study him and strain to memorize the moment like I did that morning. It will just not-happen one day, and then another, and then I will realize it is has been days, weeks, and the moment I’ll want to remember forever I will already have forgotten.”
  • From AnktangleChild Led Weaning
    “I plan to practice child-led weaning, not just because breastfeeding is a public health issue, but because intuitively, it seems like the gentlest way for me to parent my child through this early part of his life. But more than that, I plan to do whatever works best for us as a family in each moment.”
  • From Code Name MamaThe Joys of Breastfeeding a Toddler
    A collection of stories from moms nursing their children past infancy

Learn more about Child-Led Weaning:

Cross-posted on BlogHer

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Should bars refuse to serve pregnant women?

A pregnant woman walks into a bar… It sounds like the start of a joke, but what actually transpired when an expectant mother ordered a glass of wine at a New Orleans’ restaurant isn’t a joke at all.

Annie Krasnow of The Stir recently told the story of her friend who, at seven months pregnant, visited New Orleans with her husband for a “babymoon” – in other words their “last hurrah” before entering parenthood. After a day of taking in the sights, they went to a quiet restaurant where the expectant mother ordered a glass of Chardonnay. The waitress responded, We don’t serve pregnant women here.

Annie posed the question, “What gives that server the right to refuse a grown woman alcohol?”

Some may argue that there is an innocent life at stake. In this case, her unborn baby can’t speak for itself. But what about mothers who feed their obese children fast food? Or let them buy violent video games? Is anyone refusing them service? It’s not like my friend was drunk. She wanted one glass of wine.

It seems that when women are pregnant, they become public property. I’m not condoning pregnant women getting drunk, but I don’t think that waitress should be allowed to make that decision for anyone but herself.

Melimae replied in the comments, “I see both sides..if something were to happen to their baby, the family could go back and blame the resturant, so they are just covering there butt. BUT I believe having a glass of wine is okay, some ppl say it helps the moms relax. I never did but thats my choice. So it should be her choice as well.”

Squish also commented:

If it was that important to her to have a glass of wine, then they could have ordered room service. It is general knowledge that drinking while pregnant is bad for the baby. Yes, a glass here or there is fine, but why impose that on a business that absolutely does not want to get sued, hurt a baby, or make other customers uncomfortable?

Paula Bernstein at StrollerDerby believes that unless a pregnant woman is drunk, she should be served. She adds that when she was pregnant with her first daughter, she and her husband went on a “babymoon” to France. Her midwife told her it was OK to drink a glass of wine a day and added, “After all, the French women do it.”

Paula also says she sides with the American Civil Liberties Union on the issue.

”Do we really want to make a pregnant woman’s behavior and choices…a crime because it could hurt the fetus?” asks the author of the Blog of Rights. “Allowing the government to exercise such unlimited control over women’s bodies, and every aspect of their lives, would essentially reduce pregnant women to second-class citizens, denying them the basic constitutional rights.”

A comment from Suzy on Paula’s StrollerDerby post said, “If I want to buy wine and beer at a liquor store for a party – am I not allowed to do that while pregnant too? Give me a break. Let’s allow adult women a little personal responsibility – this country would NEVER pass a comparable law limiting men’s rights.”

Candace Lindemann of Mama Saga and Naturally Educational debated on my Facebook page with the crowd that feels if a pregnant woman “needs” to drink, she should do it in private. Candace argues its not about the need to drink, “it is about the fact that a woman’s body doesn’t suddenly become communal property when she gets pregnant. Driving is riskier for pregnant women…should they stop driving? Or never leave the house due to air pollution? Or maybe not be allowed to order fried food? If they feel the desire to eat fish should they hide in their rooms and do it in there?”

Laura Kemp, a Bradley Method childbirth instructor, argued back, “I don’t believe this is an issue of a pregnant woman’s body becoming communal property as much as I believe most citizens view a pregnant body as a woman AND a child.”

Candace replied that she believes the waitresses response “stems not from compassion but from the paternalistic belief that others know what is best.”

Interestingly enough (and falling into the category “the truth is often stranger than fiction”), Summer Minor just reported on new recommendations from the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada suggesting that women who *might* become pregnant abstain from drinking altogether, ya know, just in case they get pregnant at some point.

Some studies report no alcohol should be consumed during pregnancy, while others indicate that light drinking is OK. I’ve had numerous people tell me their doctor or midwife said light drinking was fine. Some doctors and midwives even recommend it as a way to stave off preterm labor. Erin Kotecki Vest‘s doctor did when she went into preterm labor at 8 months and Erin said it worked. Other people have told me their care providers stuck to the no alcohol is safe stance.

While I did not drink during either of my pregnancies, I think it should be a woman’s right to make that choice for herself. I respect that the waitress did what she thought was right, but I really don’t think it was her call to make. Its not her body. Its not her baby.

I think we start down a slippery slope when we start telling pregnant women what they can and cannot do. Where would it end?

What do you think?

Image credit: Remko van Dokkum/Flickr

Cross-posted on BlogHer. Feel free to chime in over there as well!

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Spanking and Criminal Behavior

It saddened and concerned me when I saw that nearly 109,000 people (at the time of this writing) on Facebook had “liked” the following statement:

“I’d rather go to jail for spanking my kids than for them to go because I didn’t.” – Likey

Does that mean spanked kids *never* go to jail? Or *only* unspanked kids go to jail? What the frack, people? What. the. frack.

Maybe the “Likey” was created in jest. Maybe the people who are liking it are just joking around. I don’t know. Its possible that I’m overreacting. I’ve been known to do that before. Maybe its just me, but I don’t think corporal punishment is a laughing matter.

Contrary to popular belief, it *is* possible to discipline your children and raise productive members of society *without* spanking them. I’m not saying that nobody should ever spank their children. I’m also not saying that I’ve never been tempted to spank my kids. But I am saying that there are other ways to discipline if you so desire. Ultimately I believe every parent needs to decide what works best for their children and their family, but to imply – as the “Likey” did on Facebook – that if you spank your child he/she is not going to go to jail, that just seems ridiculous.

Annie at PhD in Parenting has written about spanking and gentle discipline on more than one occasion. One of her posts is the Best Anti-Spanking Resources. In it she links to Plain Talk About Spanking which contains a lot of information about spanking. One of the topics addressed is Spanking and Criminal Behavior.

Spanking and criminal behavior

Everyone is familiar with the list of social maladies believed to be at the root of violent criminal behavior: poverty, discrimination, family breakdown, narcotics, gangs and easy access to deadly weapons. And it’s clear that every item in the above list contributes to violence and crime. However, one key ingredient is rarely acknowledged – spanking.

In 1940, researchers Sheldon and Eleanor Glueck began their landmark study of delinquent and nondelinquent boys. They discovered how certain early childhood influences cause children to develop antisocial, violent behaviors. They showed that the first signs of delinquency often appear in children as young as three – long before children come into contact with influences outside the home. The Gluecks showed that parents who fail to manage their children calmly, gently and patiently, but instead rely on physical punishment, tend to produce aggressive, assaultive children. The more severe and the earlier the mistreatment, the worse the outcome.

The Gluecks also found that the lowest incidence of antisocial behavior is associated with children who are reared from infancy in attentive, supportive, nonviolent families.

The message here for all parents is a simple one: if you want to do everything within your power to prevent your child from one day joining the prison population, guide gently and patiently. Remove shaming, shouting, ignoring, threatening, insulting, bullying and spanking from your parenting tool kit.

Here are some other relevant quotes from Plain Talk About Spanking:

“Corporal punishment trains children to accept and tolerate aggression. It always figures prominently in the roots of adolescent and adult aggressiveness, especially in those manifestations that take an antisocial form such as delinquency and criminality.”
Philip Greven, Professor of History, Rutgers University. Excerpt from PART IV CONSEQUENCES, subheading: “Aggression and Delinquency,” in Spare the Child: The Religious Roots of Punishment and the Psychological Impact of Physical Abuse, 1990 (p.193)

“Punitive measures whether administered by police, teachers, spouses or parents have well-known standard effects: (1) escape – education has its own name for that: truancy, (2) counterattack – vandalism on schools and attacks on teachers, (3) apathy – a sullen do-nothing withdrawal. The more violent the punishment, the more serious the by-products.”
B. F. Skinner, Ph.D., author, Professor of Psychology, Harvard. Excerpt from personal communication, 1983.

“The much-touted ‘biblical argument’ in support of corporal punishment is founded upon proof-texting a few isolated passages from Proverbs. Using the same method of selective scripture reading, one could also cite the Bible as an authority for the practice of slavery, adultery, polygamy, incest, suppression of women, executing people who eat pork, and infanticide. The brutal and vindictive practice of corporal punishment cannot be reconciled with the major New Testament themes that teach love and forgiveness and a respect for the sacredness and dignity of children, and which overwhelmingly reject violence and retribution as a means of solving human problems. Would Jesus ever hit a child? NEVER!”
The Rev. Thomas E. Sagendorf, United Methodist Clergy (Retired), Hamilton, Indiana. Personal communication, 2006.

Here’s another blurb I think that’s very relevant from PhD in Parenting’s post 10 Things All New Parents Should Know:

New parents worry that they need to “discipline” their child. But often when they say discipline, they mean spanking or punishing. However, the word discipline means to teach. That is what parents need to do. They need to guide and teach their children. In the same way that we do not expect a first grader to learn calculus, it is important to understand what age appropriate behaviour is and to shape your expectations of your child and your discipline (teaching) according to what a child can reasonably be expected to understand at any given age.

And something I wrote back in 2007 in the post Trusting My Parenting Instincts:

I believe in gentle discipline. It is challenging and hard at times, and I can’t say I haven’t lost my temper before, but I strive to discipline gently. I try to think about how I would want to be treated and honor my children with that same respect.

Like I said earlier, ultimately it is up to the parent to decide the best way to discipline his/her child, but there are alternatives to spanking for those who desire them. All I ask is that parents make informed choices and maybe trust their instincts and listen to their heart a little bit too. :)

Debates in the comments are great, but please keep it respectful. Thanks!

Photo credit: Flickr CP Storm

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On BlogHer’10 and Writing

A week and a half ago, I attended my second BlogHer conference. It was many things to many people. For me it was inspiring, thought-provoking, educational, interesting, fun, exhausting, exciting, frustrating, troublesome, inspiring, surprising, exhilarating, awesome, and (yes, I’ll say it for the third time) inspiring.

Unlike my first year of attending BlogHer, I made a point of pacing myself this year. I decided to only attend a few of the panels and some of the keynotes. I made plans to do things outside the hotel (like sight-seeing with my friend Heather from A Mama’s Blog). I made sure I had some downtime in my hotel room each day. I made sure I ate a lot of vegetables and fruits. I didn’t try to meet and network with as many people as I could, but instead decided to spend quality time with smaller groups. (Not that there’s anything wrong with networking, but my heart just wasn’t in it this year.) I feel like I’ve been living a slower, simpler life at home lately and wanted that kind of experience out of BlogHer too. I wanted to take it easy at BlogHer, have fun, and be inspired. I think I succeeded in doing all three.

The three panels I chose to attend (and it was tough deciding because there were many I would’ve liked to attend) were Writing Inspiration: Stoke Your Creativity, Radical Blogging Moms: Don’t Even Think About Not Taking These Bloggers Seriously, and The Mega “Mindful Monetization” Session. I took something away from all three of them, but the one I’ve been thinking about the most lately is the Writing panel.

You may have noticed that my post count has gone down significantly lately. No? You haven’t noticed? Aren’t you sweet. ;) As always, its not that I don’t have anything to write about, its that I’ve been lacking the motivation to just sit down and write. The writing panel gave me some ideas on how I might “stoke my creativity” and work on getting in the habit of writing – even for just 20-30 minutes – every day. (And ya know, I actually took notes with a pen and paper in that panel and now I can’t find my notebook at the moment or I’d mention more specifically some of the ideas shared. I think I’ll write another post down the road with those ideas.) Now that doesn’t mean I will crank out a blog post every day, but I am hoping that the practice of writing every day will encourage me to blog more frequently. The more I write, the easier it will be for me to write a post when I want to. At least in theory.

Anybody want to commit to writing 20-30 minutes a day with me? :) We can do this together.

I will write more on what I found so inspiring (there were a lot of things, mostly people) and what was troublesome and frustrating (not too terribly much, which is a good thing) in a later post.

Also later this week I will be blogging about drinking alcohol while pregnant and whether or not pregnant women should be served by restaurants and bars. It should be a good post and I expect a lively discussion to follow. ;)

Photo credit: Flickr – Adikos

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Raising Awareness about Nestle’s Unethical Business Practices

This isn’t the first time I’ve blogged about Nestle and is likely not going to be the last. I wrote about the company when I first learned about the Nestle boycott. And again when the Nestle Family Twitter-storm took place in 2009. I wrote about Nestle when I compiled an updated list of all of the many, many brands Nestle owns (for people who choose to boycott them). And most recently, I wrote about Nestle when I discovered that they (well, two of their brands – Stouffer’s and Butterfinger) would be one of about 80 sponsors at this year’s BlogHer Conference in New York City.

My goal – throughout all of this – has never been to tell people what they should or should not do. That’s not my place. My goal has always simply been to raise awareness. There will be people who hear about the Nestle boycott and their unethical business practices and they won’t care one way or the other. Or perhaps they just won’t have time to look into it further. I know that and that’s fine. However, there will also be people who haven’t heard about what Nestle is doing and will want to learn more and find out what they can do and that’s where I like to think I can help. I’m a big fan of providing people with information and arming them with knowledge and letting them make their own choices.

So let’s get to it, shall we?

First thing’s first. Yes, I am going to BlogHer this year even though it is, in part, being sponsored by Nestle. I struggled with my decision for days and days, but in the end I decided to use this as another opportunity to raise awareness by blogging about Nestle, talk with people at BlogHer (who express an interest) about Nestle, and encourage BlogHer to adopt ethical sponsorship guidelines for future conferences. I also didn’t feel like letting Nestle control my life. I’m not saying that the people who choose to boycott BlogHer because of Nestle are doing that (one of my best friends is boycotting the conference though will still be in NYC and rooming with me – yay!)  – I wholeheartedly support the women who are boycotting – but it didn’t feel like the right choice for me. I’ve also made a donation to Best for Babes and will make another one after BlogHer. Best for Babes is a non-profit who’s mission is to help moms beat the Booby Traps–the cultural & institutional barriers that prevent moms from achieving their personal breastfeeding goals, and to give breastfeeding a makeover so it is accepted and embraced by the general public. Best for Babes’ Credo is that ALL moms deserve to make an informed feeding decision, & to be cheered on, coached and celebrated without pressure, judgment or guilt, whether they breastfeed for 2 days, 2 months 2 years, or not at all.  ALL breastfeeding moms deserve to succeed & have a positive breastfeeding experience without being “booby trapped!”

Now onto Nestle and just what it is that makes them so unethical. The following two sections are from a post by Annie of PhD in Parenting.

Overview of Nestlé’s Unethical Business Practices

Nestlé is accused by experts of unethical business practices such as:

Nestlé defends its unethical business practices and uses doublespeak, denials and deception in an attempt to cover up or justify those practices. When laws don’t exist or fail to hold Nestlé to account, it takes public action to force Nestlé to change. Public action can take on many forms, including boycotting Nestlé brands, helping to spread the word about Nestlé’s unethical business practices, and putting pressure on the government to pass legislation that would prevent Nestlé from doing things that put people, animals and the environment at risk.

Want to boycott Nestle?

The Nestlé boycott has been going on for more than 30 years and Nestlé is still one of the three most boycotted companies in Britain. Although Nestlé officials would like to claim that the boycott has ended, it is still very much alive. But it needs to get bigger in order to have a greater impact. Nestlé owns a lot of brands and is the biggest food company in the world, so people wishing to boycott their brands need to do a bit of homework first to familiarize themselves with the brand names to avoid in the stores.

If you disagree with Nestle’s business practices, I hope you will join Annie, me and others in raising awareness by Tweeting with the hashtag #noNestle. Let people know that you do not support Nestlé’s unethical business practices. Tweet your message to Nestlé and to others using the hashtag #noNestle. Spread the word.

If you feel so inclined, you might also want to make a donation to an organization that supports breastfeeding, such as La Leche League or Best for Babes.

Tweet your support! Blog your message! Share on facebook!

#noNestle

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