Sunday, November 18, 2007

Breast Milk

Breast milk. I have it. I lactate, and have been doing so for over a year. It doesn't gross me out but I know that it grosses other people out. My kids love it. They are attached to it. I'm not sure if they are attached to nursing (the act of sucking) or to the milk itself. Incidentally, they do not like Cow's milk. They don't drink it and when someone refers to 'milk' they think of my milk, which, has to be better than the average cow's.

I know that my nursing 17 month old babies is a debate. I know people have strong feelings about it. I know that it surprises some, perhaps it disgusts others, I know that people do not understand why I continue. They have told me this.

Let me tell you.

I worked hard to lactate efficiently for my babies. I worked hard to get them to latch on and have breast milk be their sole source of nutrition. In fact, it was probably one of the most important things I did while my babes were infants. Now that I have it I don't know how to take it away nor do I think it is important for me to do so.

When the babies were born they were rushed to the NICU. They received my milk or colostrum mixed with preemie formula. They had to have formula in order to grow, to become stronger. We couldn't afford for them to lose weight in the few days they waited for my milk to come in.

I nursed Madeleine first. She was four days old. She latched on beautifully and sucked like she knew how to (and of course she did, really). I have to say that I was scared to breast feed. I didn't know if I would like it, if it would feel weird or make me uncomfortable. I didn't mind it and thought it was amazing that I could produce nutrition for my babies just as I had done when they were in utero. I was proud of my body for doing what it was suppose to do as it had failed me many times over throughout my life.

Maxy didn't nurse until he was 10 days old. He didn't know how and didn't seem to want to. He had a poor suck reflex. He had a hard time getting the milk out and seemed to root constantly. In addition, he had a hard time getting enough milk in the bottle. He would fall asleep and refuse to take in the entire 70 cc's required for him to grow.

I cannot remember how it all transpired, sleep deprived that I was/am, but I do know that by the time the babies were 8-9 weeks old they were fully and completely on the breast. This was after we saw a feeding specialist/lactation consultant twice. I took the medication reglan and Fenugreek to make enough milk. I was able to exclusively breastfeed my twins. An accomplishment than many are not able to do.

I'm proud of this.

Our breast feeding relationship is a special one; one that I will not always have. No, I do not plan on breastfeeding until they are in kindergarten. But, if I did it really is none of your business. Sometimes my milk seems to be the only thing that calms my babies. Sometimes they need to nurse more than anything else. Why would I deny them that?

Of course they eat food just like other children. They have nearly all their teeth and do not require pureed foods. They also eat dairy in the form of yogurt and cheese. So, I guess the question "do they need breast milk" is a tricky one. Do they require it to grow in body? No. Do they require it to stave off diseases? Maybe. Do they need it to be comforted? Sometimes. Does it hurt them? No. Does it help them? Yes. Does it hurt me? Sometimes. Does it help me? Yes.

Why would I stop now?

I will discontinue our breast feeding relationship when it makes the most sense to do so.

Great Breast Milk Websites:

Breast milk
Kelly Mom
Reasons to Breast Feed


Anonymous said...

Wow! I bow down to you! What an awesome mommy you are, I only made it 5 months, I loved it but had such a hard time and probably not enough patience I admit. No wonder your babies are thriving and doing so well. :)

Laura said...

Hi Nicki-
Cindy E sent me the url to your blog! Wow- you are an amazing person and I SO commend you for a job well done with your beautiful babies. They are lucky to have such a great mom... good for you for sticking to your beliefs and doing what is right for you and your babes- not what is right for others!!
Laura from John Hay

Winbrooke said...

You GO Woman!!!!!

AnnaK said...

I'm jealous. I wish now that I had tried harder to breast feed our twins. Besides, formula and cow's milk aren't cheap! :)

PaulaG said...

You go girl!!!! The longest I was able to nurse any of mine kids was 5 months, but I would have loved to nurse longer if I could have.

twin power mommy said...

i, too, took reglan and fenugreek for my twins to be able to continue nursing. It was soooo hard because by the time they were strong enough to nurse, i had been pumping milk exclusively for 5 months. My milk wasn't in great supply.
I nursed the girls (supplemented with formula) for a total of 9 months, and then one day i realized i wasn't getting a whole lot out.
Made me sad....
years later i had my son and was DETERMINED to breast feed. i wanted to have a normal nursing baby. i wanted it bad enough, i did it.
i never gave him a bottle. i worked because i never let the easier route (sticking a bottle in his mouth) win during my trying times.

I was soooo glad i nursed him. he was exclusively breast fed until 7 months, and then started to receive baby food in small doses. I was in no hurry to allow my milk to dwindle. We went until he was 18 months old and by then it was down to just twice a day. Usually morning and right before bed. I loved it. i loved the special quiet time we had. At two years old, i still wouldn't mind nursing him, but we are done. It's the rare mom that makes it to 12 months, let alone 18 months and definetly by 2... i commend you for continuing with it.
My son will not drink regular milk either, though. TO this day, it has to be Silk soy milk (which seems to be more like my sweet tasting breast milk) He will drink that up like it's going outta style, but regular milk is just too odd for him.
enough about that.
Have a wonderful week! :D