Salt Lake City Based Photographer Timbra Wiist owns/operates Landslide Photography & Photographs the Journey of Motherhood (see bottom of page or sidebar for more info. . .depending on what this blog is choosing to do for the day).

Friday, July 18, 2014

On the way to the Finish Line: Breastfeeding Goals

breastfeedingcafecarnivalWelcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!

This post was written as part of the Breastfeeding Cafe's Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today's post is about your personal breastfeeding goals. Please read the other blogs in today's carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th-31st!Welcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!

With my first daughter, my goal was to breastfeed for six months. I didn't see any reason, nor did I have any information that caused me to believe babies needed to breastfeed beyond this point. My own mother had nursed me for six months, and I believe that was with supplementation, as she went back to work after some period of time and she has never mentioned pumping to me, as a lifestyle or even something she was aware of at the time.

When I was 8 months pregnant I read the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and though I did not identify with the word “relationship” that was used over and over again with regards to breastfeeding and what occurs between mother and child, as soon as my baby was born, I understood. Like most things, we believe we are experts on babies and children and deciding who and what we will be for and with them, until we have our first baby in our arms and realize that they will shape us and mold us and make us into mothers. We do not have to mold them into babies and children, they already are and it is all that they know.

As six months neared, I was neither ready to give up breastfeeding, nor ready to remove her from my room, my bed, my life. I said I would nurse for two years and agreed with others that anything beyond that was really weird. As two years approached, we visited California for my sister's college graduation and I nursed my little one in a dressing room while shopping one day. It was the only place to sit and since we were in and out trying things on anyway, why not?! My sister heard her ask to be nursed and later, in the car, asked me what I would do in two weeks when she was to be 2 years old. I told her that I'd cross that bridge when I came to it and if she wanted more information on why I didn't believe what I once believed, I was happy to give her information. She declined, all of 21 years old and far from being married or having children herself (though that's about all that she wanted in the world).

Two years later I would have conversations with my little girl about the time to wean coming close. She was approving, she had no idea what she was agreeing to. She had shared this breastfeeding relationship with her mother for nearly four years and with her little sister now, for nearly 10 months. But we moved into that time of our lives with grace, on her part and on mine. A friend asked me if weaning her was a “hard and fast” end to breastfeeding. It hadn't occurred to me, even as a La Leche League leader who had given others information on weaning or not, for the past couple of years, that I could encourage MOSTLY weaning, while still leaving myself open to the occasional request for nursing, knowing that these requests would stem from a need my daughter still had, to be near to me, to be connected to me emotionally, and to still know that my milk was available for her.

My breastfeeding goal, therefore, became to breastfeed my children through love and understanding, through gentleness and weaning with mutual respect. It became less about a timeline goal and more about the emotions surrounding breastfeeding. I know that she will remember her breastfeeding relationship and I know that we did everything possible to complete that part of our journey together, in love.

I never thought I would nurse two little girls at one time, while they held hands and welcome one another into my lap to share it. As the birth of my second daughter approached, I knew that we were in it for the long-haul :) My second daughter was tongue tied, pretty significantly. She was also hospitalized when she was three days old. Of course lactogenesis set in around the same time, and since I was unable to nurse her for about 20 hours, I was so thankful that my toddler was still nursing and could help relieve some of the extra milk in the evenings, while I pumped a ton in the hospital as well. Even after those 20 hours, due to nutritive saline, she just wasn't nursing much and I dealt with terrible engorgement, barely keeping on top of my supply.
Nursing my older daughter through a very difficult two weeks for our family, was a way of letting us all know that it was going to be okay.

We made it, and as I mentioned, my daughters shared their milkies for about 10 months, and even on into the coming years once in a while. As I learned more and more about tongue tie, my goals with my youngest daughter became about making sure she did not wean “early” which, to me, is before 2 years of age. She nursed all of the time, she was huge and fat, and obviously had to nurse all of the time to maintain that, since her latch was so poor. At nine months of age, after watching a presentation on tongue tie, I decided to have her tie revised. I fretted over whether this would cause a nursing strike, was she told old now and would refuse nursing and wean altogether? Was I up for a possible nursing strike and what I'd have to do to encourage her back to the breast? If I waited would she wean earlier than if I did it now?

We had the revision done at nine months. It was only a partial revision done by my willing, but not completely supportive, pediatrician, who was also not super comfortable with the procedure himself. I wish I had known more, but I did what I knew best at the time. We had no struggle with breastfeeding after that, she took to the breast immediately and now, nearing five years old, she is still nursing, though my milk is no longer available to her. She has always been a much more intense child and I know her THROUGH breastfeeding. I understand that her need for this connection is also emotional and that she has a more intense need for that reset and connection. My goal for breastfeeding, has continued to be mutual respect for my child, understanding of her emotional needs and meeting a need that can obviously be met in no other way at this time. It is a foundation for my parenting goals in general.   

Here are more post by the Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival participants! Check back because more will be added throughout the day.

Thursday, January 9, 2014