When I went back to work, I partially weaned my son so that I was only nursing him first thing in the morning before I left and right before he went to bed. I’ve been pumping right before I go to bed and mixing my milk with formula for him to drink at daycare the next day. For the last week or so, he’s been a very fussy nurser. More so than usual. Sometimes it’s an outright refusal, like tonight, more often, he’ll nurse for a minute or two and then squirm off.
We had a brief period, from about 3-6 months, where he was easy to nurse. Prior to that, nursing consisted of popping on and off the boob, screaming and snorting milk through his nose before latching again with gusto. After that, nursing consisted of him squirming while trying to see everything but I could get around that by nursing somewhere dark and quiet and boring. I used to look at the other moms I saw with their sweet, still, quiet infants contentedly suckling away and find my heart was full of envy as I grappled with mine.
For the last two weeks he hasn’t been interested in nursing. Tonight, as soon as I sat down with him in the rocker in his room, he started twisting from me and screaming. He was excited and happy to see a bottle and took a good slug of milk. He just doesn’t seem to want it from me anymore.
I’m trying not to be an adolescent girl about this. I’m trying not to feelrejected. But I have to admit that I am perhaps not quite as successful in that endeavor as I would like to be.
I am not going to resist it. I am not going to listen to kellymom.com and try to fight my way through this nursing strike or “diagnose” what might be causing it. I’m just going to quietly stop pumping at night because I hate it. And if my baby wants to nurse, nurse we will…and if he doesn’t, we won’t.
And I won’t waste another minute thinking about how Health Canada wants me to nurse until he’s 2 years old or beyond. Have they met my kid? I’d like to see one of them try to nurse him.
What the Canadian Pediatric Society actually says about breastfeeding is this:
Breast milk is the best food you can offer your new baby. The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life. At 6 months, your baby will be ready for other foods (see Feeding your baby in the first year). You can continue to breastfeed until your child is 2 years of age and beyond.
Although, the joint statement from the CPS, Health Canada and the Dieticians of Canada is a little bit more strongly worded:
Neither position statement actually lays out the research that led them to come to this 2 year and beyond conclusion. I find that regrettable. The WHO’s statement is also cleverly worded to avoid stating that there is research to support breastfeeding for two years and beyond:
Review of evidence has shown that, on a population basis, exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months is the optimal way of feeding infants. Thereafter infants should receive complementary foods with continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond.
The thing is, I would cheerfully continue to nurse my infant for a lot longer…if he would only let me. The only way I can see to salvage our breastfeeding relationship, however, would be if I were to quit my job and stay home. I am sure that with frequent nursing and no separation of the “nursing dyad,” I could build my milk supply back up over a week or two and teach him that food comes from boobs rather than bottles.
But that’s too high a price to pay for an activity that
1) has dubious benefit in the developed world with access to clean water and high quality infant formula
2) doesn’t seem to be backed up by strong science or actually any evidence at all
3) has emotional benefits that can be accrued through substitute activities my son actually enjoys like cuddling, play-tickle wrestling, and rocking him while I sing or read books, to name just a few.
Am I missing something? Is there some evidence for breastfeeding after 6 months, or after 12 months, that I’m unaware of? Does anyone know where this 2 year and beyond recommendation comes from? Is it simply an extrapolation from the knowledge that gastrointestinal disease is a leading cause of death in infants and toddlers worldwide and so extended breastfeeding is simply a way limit the amount of contaminated water ingested by the vulnerable? It’s not like Health Canada or the WHO or the CPS actually explain their rationale for this suggestion.
Ah well, this won’t be the first time I haven’t listened to authority figures. I sense the ending of an era, the opening of a new chapter etc etc and I will try not to let nostalgia for nursing overwhelm me. I have wonderful memories. I also have a wonderful son so I know that the next era cannot help but be wonderful too…in a different way.