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breast for comfort or food?


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  #1  
January 30th, 2005, 10:48 AM
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Hi all. I'm a bf mom of a 4 month old and new to the forum. Thought I'd post about a topic that's been on my mind a little. I have a friend who is bf-ing her 2 yr old. It seems like if we hang out for 2 hrs she'll bf him like 20 times or more. Obviously it's not cause he gets hungry every few minutes. Everytime he bumps his knee, falls down, has a toy taken away from him (etc etc) she asks him if he wants "milk". "Milk" is the comfort for her son. Although he will often ask for milk even more often she offers milk to make him feel better.

I think if I was her I would be exhausted! Right now if Djuna is crying but not hungry I try to comfort her by rocking her, walking with her, singing to her, etc. I don't bring out the boob unless she's hungry. I remember a story the mom of the 2 yr old told me about when they were travelling abroad and it was the one time she didn't feel comfortable NIP-ing and her son was screaming his head off for milk. Yikes! He wasn't hungry, just needed comforting, but nursing was the only way he would find comfort from her. She said it was the first time she thought about weaning (she intends to bf until he loses interest).

Anyway, just wondering what you guys think about it all. Do you only bring out the breast at meal-time, or is it also your means of comforting your little one? Do you think it's a mistake to always offer the boob as the first way to comfort? (I guess that's my opinion) What are the implications for weaning?
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  #2  
January 30th, 2005, 11:04 AM
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What a great topic!
First of all, Welcome to Just Mommies and our Breastfeeding board! Congratulations on your beautiful little girl, and your decision to breastfeed. Before I answer your questions, I'll introduce myself. My name is Krista and I've breastfeed my 3 sweet children (below). My husband and I decided while pregnant with our first that we wanted to parent as naturally as possible (as we feel God intended). Breastfeeding is obviously the choice for us, but we also decided that we would also let the children self-wean. Madison (our oldest who is now 4) weaned herself just before her 1st birthday. This suprised me, and I was a bit sad, since I didn't think she would wean so quickly. Our second daughter was a preemie. I was able to successfully breastfeed her after the NICU experience (which is insanely difficult) for 11 weeks before she turned gravely ill. I pumped exclusively for her for another month (she was fed through a tube until she was 10 months old). I was obviously dissapointed that I was not able to breastfeed her as well- though we feel so blessed that she is still with us. My youngest (and last) child is 8 months old and breastfeeding successfully again, and now I get to your topic : Corbin often breastfeeds for comfort as well as for food. He also breastfeeds to fall asleep, and we allow him that comfort. I feel that it helps him feel more secure in his family, and it's been a great choice for us. As he gets older though, we will help him to find ways to comfort himself (as we have with the others). I will still nurse on demand, but I will not offer it everytime he is upset. I think there is a perfect balance between what you believe, and what your friend believes. I know someone who does what your friend does with 3 1/2 year old twins (and she has a 6 month old baby now too!). What I've noticed in her twins (and this may have nothing to do with her offering the breast every 15-20 min.) is that they lack certain social skills with the other children. Anytime one of the children disagrees with them, or dissapoints them ins some way (be it wanting to play with someone else, to fighting over the same toy), they run to thier mother's breast. It seems to me that this will be doing them a disservice in the future. BUT, they are 3 1/2. My older children didn't start learning these self-help/consoling behaviors until they turned 2, and that's when we will help Corbin to learn these things as well.
Obviosly, it's everyone's personal choice on how they want to raise thier families, and I don't want to dis-regard anyone for having different beliefs. Only you can know what 's best for your family

Again, great topic, I hope you stick around!
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  #3  
January 30th, 2005, 09:49 PM
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I dont recall ever conciously offering my daughter (now 4 1/2) the breast for comfort, but I do recall nursing her anytime she requested, so Im sure she nursed for comfort when ever she wanted to. She of course does not comfort nurse anymore, she comes to me for hugs and kisses and sympathy when she needs it and she comforts herself when she can.

I do conciously offer my son the breast to comfort him (he is almost 11 months), I get "the boo boo" fixers "ready" before any shots at the dr's office so I can offer him comfort as soon as they are done, I also offer comfort nursing during night wakings always. During the day on a typical day, not one in which he is sick or feeling badly (rare), if he nurses for any reason other than because he is hungry, he generally initiates it. The breast is a source of comfort and security that nothing else can out do in many instances at this age. I will comfort nurse for as long as my son needs it, but I also seek to teach him to calm down in other manners such as holding him or distracting him to other things both at home and in public. Because we cant nurse forever, it only makes sense to introduce other ways of calming down to him, not to mention he is one who often refuses the breast when mad.

I dont believe that taking an older child who is upset into your lap with hugs and kisses to comfort them is any differnt than nursing them when they are younger. I would never deny my daughter the hugs and kisses she needs when she is upset, just as I would never deny my son the comfort of nursing when he is upset, neither of them would understand why mommy was refusing them the things they need from the person they should always be able to count on to be there for them. Both ways of comforting children serve their purpose at different ages, stages, and in different situations, it is really up to mom and baby or toddler to decide how much and when its time to limit comfort nursing. What is right for one baby and mommy may not always be right for others. My children and I need and thrive on a securly attached relationship
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  #4  
January 30th, 2005, 09:58 PM
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As always, very well said Cyndee. You can always say what I want to so much better than I can.
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  #5  
January 30th, 2005, 10:30 PM
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It sounds like the nursing for comfort works for your friend and her child. I think that I would find it exhausting to nurse that often. I know I got exhausted when my daughter was sick and wanted to bf all the time.
But, I do nurse for comfort sometimes. She bf's when she awakens at night crying, and most times when she wants to. Sometimes I have to tell her that we have to wait to have "doodoo" (what we call breast) until we can find someplace to sit. I've also nursed when she was getting an immunization shot. It's not her only source of comfort though, as I do work and can't be there to comfort her at all times.
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  #6  
January 30th, 2005, 11:03 PM
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Krista, you are too kind . Thank you for your compliment.
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  #7  
January 31st, 2005, 09:04 AM
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When I breastfed my first one, I couldn't do it for very long because he wanted to eat ALL of the time. He would eat for about 4 minutes if that, and stop. Then five minutes later he would want more. I co-slept so this happend at night also. It would awaken me and he would be sucking away. My nipple got very sore until it was too painful to breastfeed. I switched to the bottle, which I frequently gave for comfort. He did not like pacifiers. He actually went quickly from the bottle to the cup at one year old. However, this time around (due in May) I plan to do something simliar to what you are doing. Check other things and comfort in other ways besides just feeding him. I am going to try to NOT nurse him to sleep just out of convience, unless it is at night. He/she is also going to sleep in their own little bed this time also. Maybe this isn't the approach that a lot of ladies do nowadays, but it is something that I think is worth trying after my last child (10 years ago). Although that might have been an extreme case.
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  #8  
January 31st, 2005, 09:13 AM
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Bee - I pretty much take the same approach as you do. Obviously the breast is very much a source of comfort at this age. I'm definitely no boobie nazi! LOL! I don't make her wait until 3 hrs (or whatever) till the "time" of the next feeding even though she's crying to nurse....

.....BUT.... Watching my friend in action has made me cautious about ALWAYS using the boob as the FIRST line of defense.

I am not as brave as some of you! I hope to bf as long as possible but I've given myself 6 months as a goal (which I think will be very easy to do), and 1 yr as a secondary goal (go me go! ). I am finding it a bit tricky cause Djuna does not like the bottle. I intend to keep working while being a mommy. I'm a musician so my job only entails working the odd gig at night. So far I've been able to work a bit (between feedings with an ounce or two taken from the bottle to tide her over). That said if my breasts were the only way to comfort her when she was upset I would be up the creek!

BTW thanks guys for discussing my topic. I'm glad to have found this forum !
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  #9  
January 31st, 2005, 09:49 AM
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Dingledine, Its very normal and typical for a new baby to eat all the time, but it certainly doesnt last forever, the exhausting and time consuming first few months of constant feedings dont go on forever and are a small price to pay for the outcome. Your new baby will probably want to nurse alot too, at first, but things usually slow donw sometiem after 3 months in my experience. Its all just part of being a mommy, sacrificing self for the best interest of your child...
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  #10  
February 1st, 2005, 02:57 PM
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Thanks for the note. I will just see how it goes, play it by ear. Right now I am not sure what the best thing for my child would be, as far as breastfeeding, as he/she has yet to arrive. Although I am definately NOT repeating the co-sleeping again. My son is 10 years old and is finally able to sleep all night (usually) and fall asleep relatively quickly. It was horrible trying to get him to sleep in a new bed. I won't even go into the problems he had getting used to sleeping somewhere else. My sister co-slept also and had problems getting her son who is 11 and still likes to sleep in her room, to sleep on his own.
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  #11  
February 1st, 2005, 04:14 PM
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Suzanne,
I just wanted to let you know that not all experience with co-sleeping end up like yours did with your son. I've co slept with all of my children (still co-sleeping w/ Corbin) and the girls go to bed very well, and don't come back into bed with us until morning. I'm not saying this to say that you should co-sleep, I just wanted to let you know that there are those out there with positive co-sleeping experiences.
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  #12  
February 2nd, 2005, 09:25 AM
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Another reason we are not co-sleeping besides the afore mentioned ones is that our bed it too small and we are not getting a bigger bed until we move in a few years. We have a full size, but I frequently get uncomfortable, not only because of the size, but also because the bed is too firm for me. I go down and sleep on the couch. My husband would not go for the co-sleeping either. With the previous child I was getting a divorce so it was just me and my baby on a huge mattress. I am sure that there are different experiences with co-sleeping and I think that is great. I do understand that everything about anything with my ten year old is different and a bit extreme, he is a difficult child. However, I do not feel that co-sleeping, or comfort feeding must be the right choice for every child, family or situation.
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  #13  
February 2nd, 2005, 09:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by dingledine@Feb 2 2005, 12:25 PM
However, I do not feel that co-sleeping, or comfort feeding must be the right choice for every child, family or situation.
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I agree. We too have decided not to co-sleep. She has slept in our bed a few times but it was very uncomfortable and I barely got any sleep. We only have a double bed and can't afford a new one. I felt like I was practically sleeping on top of her. Not comfy! I also worry about the potential problems that could arise when it's time for kiddo to move to her own bed (like dingledine had with her son). Obviously (thank god!!!) it's not like that for everyone, but WHAT IF it was like that for us. I think I just love my sleep too much to risk it! Lol!

Anyway, so far things are working well for us (fingers crossed). Don't fix what ain't broke, I always say!
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  #14  
February 2nd, 2005, 01:04 PM
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For sheer lack of time (have to pick up big kids soon), I haven't read the other responses in whole (skimmed them, though LOL)

Liam will be 22 months old tomorrow. Breastfeeding is about so much more than nutrition! I will nurse Liam whenever he comes to me and asks (for the most part, occassionally, If I'm in the middle of something, I'll ask him to wait - which he does, none to patiently). Looking from the outside in, it's hard not to see what other people are doing as cumbersome. I have a friend that I thought she just freaking nursed ALL THE TIME...... and then Liam came along and it was just second nature. I was nursing no less than she was. I use nursing for whatever Liam needs it for. It's definitely his first line of comfort. He's 22 months not 4. I've never seen a 4 year old that can't be comforted in other ways besides nursing. Coming in frequently to nurse, is often a way of reconnecting with mom. If a situation is unfamiliar (even in their own home, if something is different) it can cause a change in nursing patterns.

I have to run, but that's the gist of my opinion. If I can comfort him with 3 seconds of nursing, it beats trying to rock him and soothe him for 15 minutes in another way!
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  #15  
February 20th, 2005, 10:06 AM
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Hi!
I'm a new Mom of a one month old. I was glad to run across this topic. I was beginning to wonder if I'm going to have to learn to function w/ my son constantly attached to my boob. Most often, if he's awake he wants to be at my breast. I was beginnig to wonder if he's getting enough milk to be satisfied. But, he's growing and producing plenty of wet & poopy diapers, so I don't think that's the problem. He cries & cries if he wants the boob and I don't give it to him right away. I've figured out that it is often a security/comfort thing for him and he also likes to fall asleep that way. I don't mind the frequency except for the fact that it makes if difficult when company is here to visit him. I had family here for a few hrs. yesterday and left to feed him several times, but he was still fussy most of the time they were here. Once the left, he wanted to nurse most of the evening until he fell asleep for a 3 hrs nap. If this is a temporary thing, I feel better about it. If it's something that will go on until I wean him (I'm hoping to go 6mos), I would like to find other ways to soothe him. I'm not sure if I'm returning to work yet. If so, I want him to have other coping methods for his frustration. Thanks for all your stories!

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  #16  
February 20th, 2005, 10:36 AM
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My pediatrician said if she is nursing more often than every two hrs then she is using me as a "human pacifier" (his words). Take or leave his opinion...but he said that if she is a baby that really loves to suck that it was a good idea to give her a pacifier. He said that her tummy was big enough to go 2 hrs w/o a feeding but if you feed her more often she'll only be able to take a little bit (cause she's not really that hungry) and therefore she'll need to eat again that much sooner. I know not everyone feels the same way - that's just what he suggested to me. If that works for you then go for it!

BTW when they get older they'll usually nurse less often...
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  #17  
February 20th, 2005, 12:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by pianojazzgirl@Feb 20 2005, 11:36 AM
My pediatrician said if she is nursing more often than every two hrs then she is using me as a "human pacifier" (his words).* Take or leave his opinion...but he said that if she is a baby that really loves to suck that it was a good idea to give her a pacifier.* He said that her tummy was big enough to go 2 hrs w/o a feeding but if you feed her more often she'll only be able to take a little bit (cause she's not really that hungry) and therefore she'll need to eat again that much sooner.* I know not everyone feels the same way - that's just what he suggested to me.* If that works for you then go for it!

BTW when they get older they'll usually nurse less often...
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I have to say (and this is just my educated opinion) that I hate it when Pediatricians tell women this. These Peds are either severely ill-informed, or just lying because they get so much money/free stuff from Formula companies. Either way, it makes said Ped. underqualified to work with my family (JMO).
Babies nurse. Especially the first 6-8 weeks. Yes, the breast is comfort to them- that's why we breastfeed. It is not a "problem" when a ONE MONTH old wants to nurse frequently. Not only is it the best nutrition we can possibly give our babies, but it's also the best way we can bond, comfort, nurture, and teach them about the environment they are now living. The world is new to them, and they need us to feel safe while learning and exploring it. What's wrong with giving them that comfort and security??? As far as family visiting, throw a blanket over the baby if you're uncomfortable and nurse- there's no need to leave the room. If your visitors are uncomfortable with it- tough- they're at your house. It is not the one month old babies responsibility to make your visitors feel comfortable. I'm sorry if this post comes of as angry- I"m really not, I'm just frustrated. It seems that people in our society deem the decision to breast or formula feed as not a big deal- when it is SUCH a big deal. This lie is of course perpetuated by formula companies who are paying BIG BUCKS to have thier propoganda posted everywhere. This decision IS important, and it DOES effect our children for the rest of thier lives. *off my podium*
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  #18  
February 20th, 2005, 04:21 PM
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I agree with Krista on what the ped said. I would be doing my own research on just how often to nurse a infant, I follow my babies lead when nursing, I think that they are the best teachers on this they haven't been influenced by others. I have nursed 4 babies so far and I am pregnant with #5 which I will probably be tandem nursing with my now 15 month old.

That being said I don't whip out the boob for every boo boo, but if it's asked for I will usually nurse. I do comfort nurse I agree with whoever said that they would rather nurse the child and have them calm down in 3 seconds than rock them for 15 minutes.

My middle 2 children didn't wean until 3+ and that is what was right for us. Were they doing it for food well some they were still getting all my antibodies and good immunities in the milk but most of it was comfort and reconnection.I hope to have that kind of nursing relationship with Alorah and the new baby too.

So if it works for you friend than more power to her and if what your doing works for you than you go just do your research before you make any quick descisions.
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  #19  
February 20th, 2005, 05:00 PM
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Krista,
Yes, your post does come across a bit angry and I quite frankly feel personally attacked by your condescending tone. I thought I found a place as a new breastfeeding Mom to look for information and support. Excuse me for not feeling comfortable nursing in front of my 80 yr old Grandparents and Uncle. We all have different comfort levels. It's MY issue, but it didn't stop me from breastfeeding and it won't cause me to stop. I never said it should be the responsibility of my ONE MONTH old make my visitors feel comfortable. Maybe you misunderstood my post. I haven't breastfed 3 children. I'm brand new to this, just as my son is. Everything I read and was told in my b/f class said new babies would nurse approx. every 1.5 - 2 hrs (and my class was taught by a VERY anti-formula LC). No one told me some would want to be at the breast nearly every waking minute. Like I said, I was worried that he wasn't getting enough to eat. Sorry for my ignorance. I don't withhold any comfort from my baby and I never said anything about stopping breastfeeding, nor did I say it was a "problem". My main concern is that if I do have to go back to work, b/c I may not have the means to stay home, I don't want to feel that my child is crying in misery all day b/c my Mother-in-Law can't b/f him. I'll be sure to look for my "support, advice, and wit."
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  #20  
February 20th, 2005, 05:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by ALCandleGal@Feb 20 2005, 06:00 PM
Krista,
Yes, your post does come across a bit angry and I quite frankly feel personally attacked by your condescending tone. I thought I found a place as a new breastfeeding Mom to look for information and support. Excuse me for not feeling comfortable nursing in front of my 80 yr old Grandparents and Uncle. We all have different comfort levels. It's MY issue, but it didn't stop me from breastfeeding and it won't cause me to stop. I never said it should be the responsibility of my ONE MONTH old make my visitors feel comfortable. Maybe you misunderstood my post. I haven't breastfed 3 children. I'm brand new to this, just as my son is. Everything I read and was told in my b/f class said new babies would nurse approx. every 1.5 - 2 hrs (and my class was taught by a VERY anti-formula LC). No one told me some would want to be at the breast nearly every waking minute. Like I said, I was worried that he wasn't getting enough to eat. Sorry for my ignorance. I don't withhold any comfort from my baby and I never said anything about stopping* breastfeeding, nor did I say it was a "problem". My main concern is that if I do have to go back to work, b/c I may not have the means to stay home, I don't want to feel that my child is crying in misery all day b/c my Mother-in-Law can't b/f him. I'll be sure to look for my "support, advice, and wit."
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As I said in my post, I am not angry, I am frustrated. I am NOT frustrated at you, but at ill-informed Pediatricians and formula companies who will do anything and everything to sell a second rate product. I'm sorry if you felt attacked, that wasn't my intention and I said that in my post.
What I was trying to convey in my post, was a different perspective on the subject. There is so much more information out there than most Pediatricians give. I'm really happy and proud that you went to BF class, and that you are BFing your sweet son. I'm also really happy that you plan to continue. I was just trying to show a different way to look at the situation so that it wouldn't seem as bleak as it did in your post. Again, I'm sorry that you were offended, I don't know what else I could have said to prevent that, since I expllained my frustration of the Peds and Formula Co. and that it wasn't directed at you. BTW, as far has having breastfeed 3 kids, I pretty much run the gammet of problems during breastfeeding. I remember what it was like when breastfeeding my first, and thinking I was never going to be able to have my body back. And I can honestly say that it would have been so helpful to have some one show me this prospective, my first baby went on to wean herself at 11 1/2 months old. My second daughter was a preemie, and we went through so much to get her strong enough to nurse, over come niipple confusion and coordinate suck.swallow. breath only to discontinue nursing at 11 weeks old when she became gravely ill. I pumped exclusively for 2 months and that was it. So, I hope that you can see that my intention is to help.
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