Category Archives: Breastfeeding

More on nursing and sexy thoughts

The people have spoken. From now on I’ll separate posts. Special thanks to Rachel for emailing me to bring it up, because I honestly never would have thought of it.

Product review of Cranium Bloom toys below.

The whole nursing/sex dreams question from last week reminded me of something I read years ago (I can’t remember where, for which I apologize) which was a stat that mothers who breastfed had more sex (by a lot) in the first year post-partum than mothers who formula fed. I had no idea why that would be when I read that stat, but it stands to reason that since breastfeeding produces oxytocin, which is the same hormone released during orgasm, moms with more oxytocin racing through their systems would be more interested in sex.

(Also, do I need to mention that nursing doesn’t inspire sexy feelings toward the baby? It seems pretty obvious to me, but I’m worried someone’s going to find this post and wig out about it without having any understanding of how nursing produces hormones so it’s a natural physical reaction.)

I wonder how that interacts with the feeling that many of us who’ve nursed have had at different times, which is that we felt "touched out," or just tired of someone else wanting something from us that involved our bodies.

Sexy hormones vs. overwhelming emotional responsibilities? My suspicion is that sleep is what tips the balance, and that mothers who are getting enough* sleep feel less touched out and have more sexy hormones.

And I have no personal experience with formula feeding exclusively, but suspect that the intersections are probably the same.

Any thoughts you’d like to share on that?

* and by "enough" I really mean "maybe 60% of the sleep you got before having a kid, but enough that you can remember your middle name on any given day."

Mix-a-lot

1. Do not buy The Wonder Weeks for more than US/Ca$20. It is absolutely not worth more than that.

2. I just wanted to call some attention to the new website PPD Connect, a place for moms with PPD (or who think they might have PPD, or are even just feeling a little crappy) to go and tell their stories and get some support from other women who are going through it, or who have been through it. If you’re a PPD survivor, you might want to stop by to leave some support and light at the end of the tunnel. http://ppdconnect.typepad.com/

Don’t forget you can download my "14 Tips To Prevent Postpartum Depression" PDF over there in the left-hand column for free.

3. And now a question from Tegan:

"Since I’ve become a breast-feeding mother experiencing the occasional painful clogged duct, I’ve had no problem finding problem solving tips, i.e.:  warm compresses, massaging the breast, and nurse nurse nurse on that side to clear the clog.  But I’ve always wondered, does that mean that the baby gets a mouth-full of cloggy coagulated milk at some point?  Just curious."

It does, but they don’t seem to care at all. I think it’s probably more
like yogurt or the skin of vanilla pudding than anything else.

FWIW, you can help prevent plugged ducts by taking flax seed oil or lecithin capsules daily.

Now I’m craving pudding.

4. If anyone’s interested in a T-Tapp challenge for the new year, I just signed up for the "6 weeks to a new you" thread on the T-Tapp.com forums.

Q&A: pooping to avoid napping

Happy New Year!

Heather writes:

"I am not sure if this is a problem others have run into or not, but my
10 month old daughter has been pooping a lot lately either 20-30
minutes in her naps or right after I put her down she wakes up and
poops, thereby ending the nap. This is a typical day all of a
sudden: 20 mins into a nap I hear her babbling away in her crib, not
crying and wait and wait thinking she’ll fall asleep, because she
*must* be tired, right? Well, 45 minutes go by and I finally decide to
go check on her and the smell of poop hits me the second I walk into
the room.  I couldn’t sleep with poop in my pants either, so I feel bad
and change her diaper.  By this point, she is in no frame of mind to go
back to sleep so we go downstairs and play until she seems tired enough
to try again.  We go through the whole routine, I nurse her to sleep,
plop her into the crib, close the door gently behind me and I hear,
"bah? bah! mamamama!" and it starts all over.  I check 10 mins later
and she pooped again!  This has been going on consistently for three
days now.  Is she doing this on purpose?  Could she possibly have
control over her bowels and be avoiding naps? I should mention she has
a very solid routine and normally takes two 1 hr 20min long naps on the
2-3-4 schedule that you sometimes talk about.  Oh, and she usually
poops *after* she naps or when she wakes up in the morning.  So, this
is totally out of character for her, but becoming a new routine that I
feel I can count on, unfortunately."

I feel bad laughing, but that was my first reaction, because I’m a 12-year-old boy sometimes.

I think the pooping has more to do with the nursing than with the napping. Many many many babies poop after they nurse, and it sounds like something about her digestive pattern has changed to make her poop shortly after nursing. (Why do the baby books not tell you that your kid’s poop patterns often change right after a growth or digestive spurt? Both of my kids were like clockwork, with a new pooping pattern after the 3-week, 6-week, 3-month, and 6-month growth spurts. It’s totally normal, but I get a surprising number of emails from people who are concerned when their kids go from 6 times a day to once a day, or something like that, and you’d think one of the big-name doctors would have thought to put that down.)

It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if part of the big 8-9-month sleep regression had something to do with digestion, or if the increased movement around this age changed pooping patterns, or something like that.

Anyway, the point is that I think the trick is going to be to figure out how to get her to poop either before she nurses down, get her to nurse and poop and then fall asleep, or some other possibility.

You’re really stuck between a rock and a hard place, because the whole point of nursing her down is that it always works like a charm, and why mess with something that works so well? But if she only goes down but doesn’t stay down, then your beautiful system isn’t working so well anyway.

In your shoes, I’d do pretty much whatever I had to to figure out how not to stop the nursing to sleep (having had a child who would not nurse down for naps and one who did, I really think nursing down makes everything so much easier for everyone because it’s pretty much a guarantee). I wonder if you could mess around with the solids you’re feeding her to see if you could get her to eat some poop-inducers at non-nap times to see if that would leave her without anything to poop out during naps. Raisins, pureed prunes, and squash were big poop-producers in my apartment. (Also, if I drank coffee–even decaf–and then nursed, both my boys would poop. Go figure.)

That’s all I can think of, other than trying to get her to stay awake until she poops and then get her down, which makes me feel exhausted even thinking about the logistics. Of. (Some bad grammar for the new year. Did I mention I have some sort of illness that has left me with no voice today? It must be affecting the sentence-writing part of my brain.) OTOH, if you’ve been trying to get out of nursing to sleep for the nap, this is the perfect time to do that.

Any comment help?

Q&A: Abrupt weaning, and autism (no causality!)

Hmmm. I’ve republished the entire website, and the comments still aren’t accessible. Continuing the dialogue with Typepad’s tech support people…

Katy writes:

"As there’s been some talk of weaning recently, I thought I’d email and
ask a question about weaning abruptly.  We recently found out that our
18 month-old son has autism.  After scrambling to get him services
(speech therapy etc.), the next thing on our list is to try eliminating
gluten (wheat) and casein (dairy) from his diet which has had great
results in many kids on the spectrum (as a side question, I’d love to
hear from people who’ve had positive or negative results with this kind
of dietary change). 

Anyway, we decided that Christmas break would be
the best time to try it as he won’t be in his full-time daycare/therapy
program where they give him his lunch and snacks and we’ll be able to
fully monitor everything he eats.  However, I’m still nursing him and
my options are either to wean him or cut out gluten and casein myself,
something that rather daunts me as I’m a big dairy person and the
holidays seem like an extra hard time to be on a special diet. So I’m
thinking of weaning him; this also seems appealing as he’s become a
nursing maniac in the last month, constantly lifting up my shirt and
wanting to nurse, as well as waking lots in the night demanding to
nurse.  I’m feeling very frustrated with him as I feel like he’s
constantly pawing at my body and the night nursing involves lots of
sucking, snoozing and groping of my other breast – to the point that my
body feels so sensitive I could scream (and, of course, I’m not getting
good sleep).  So my questions then are:

  1.  Is this just an awful time to wean if he’s so interested?  What’s going on with this 18 month nursing mania?

2.  If I weaned him, how would I deal with the constant demands for
nursing?  He has limited language so I don’t know how well just telling
him that he can’t nurse anymore would work.  I hate the idea of just
saying no to him.

3.  How would I get my milk to dry up? (Moxie,
you mentioned something about mint tea in the previous message about
weaning – do you have other recommendations?)"

I’m sorry you got this diagnosis, but I’m glad you have a diagnosis. I’m hoping that other parents of kids with autism will jump in with help.

Answers in the order in which the questions were asked:

1. It depends on your definition of "awful." 18 months is just a tough time all-around, and if you’re still nursing, it tends to be one of those times the mother just can’t deal with it anymore. So, yes, it’s going to be really difficult to wean at this age because he’s so needy and wants it so much. But it might be worth it for you not to have him nursing anymore. So "awful" here is totally subjective, and you get to pick your own poison.

Personally, having nursed two kids through the 18-month I-can’t-stand-this-for-one-more-second, it-makes-me-feel-like-a-worn-out-old-sow, stop-stop-for-the-love-of-all-that’s-holy-stop phase, I think it’s easier just to self-medicate through the nursing with chocolate and do the weaning in two or three months (why is 21 months so much easier than 18?). But if you have to do it now, you have to do it now.

2. You got me. That’s another reason I waited the 18-month phase out. Someone out there has done this, though, and will have something for you.

3. Bear in mind that drying up your milk is NOT going to prevent your hormones dropping when you wean, so be really aware of that and do some extra T-Tapp Hoe-Downs every day, make sure to keep up your Omega 3s and B-complex vitamins, and get as much sleep as you can. PPD on top of all of this would not be good, so do whatever you can to prevent it during the weaning process.

The things I know that help dry up milk are mint and sage, so you can brew mint tea and alternate that with "tea" you make by boiling fresh sage leaves. These aren’t going to hurt the kid if you’re still nursing while drying up your milk.

If you want your milk to dry up more quickly, you can take the old-fashioned Sudafed (the kind that can make you drowsy) for a few days, which will dry up every liquid in your body, so you’ll need extra handcream while you’re taking it. But if you’re still nursing while you’re taking it, it can make your child either super-drowsy or hyper, so use with caution.

All-in-all, I think weaning over Christmas is going to really suck. But going off dairy and wheat yourself is going to really suck, too (eggnog! Christmas cookies!).  If it were me, I’d probably delay the entire project until January, but  you just have to decide which is going to cause the least problems for you.

Now, I’d really like to hear from parents of kids with autism, specifically about navigating the condition, and especially about dietary changes that can help. Thank you guys so much.

Musings on low milk supply

I don’t know if you’ve noticed any difference, but you can now access this site at www.askmoxie.org thanks to a wonderful reader who fixed that for me. The moxie.blogs.com/askmoxie URL will also still work, and all the archives are in the same place. If anyone needs a great web design person in Toronto, let me know and I’ll hook you up.

Infant Hib vaccine recall in the US.

Can we talk a little more about low breastmilk supply? I have a theory, and I’d love to run it past you to see if it makes sense. I think that the conventional wisdom that very few women have low supply was probably true back before WWII. But that our environment and the way we have babies now has changed our bodies so that low milk supply is more common.

Apparently, when you breastfeed a baby, the milk-producing cells in your breasts multiply and increase their output. So you’ll have more milk for subsequent babies. Also, I’ve heard from an LC that girls who breastfeed develop more milk-producing cells later on than girls who don’t, because the act of nursing somehow stimulates the production later on. So I’m wondering if the reverse is true, that those couple of generations who were told to use formula caused us to lose some of the capacity to make milk that our ancestors had 4-5 generations ago.

At the same time, we have so many toxins in our environment now, especially plastics, that we know are messing around with our bodies. There’s definitely a link between plastics and hormonal problems that may cause PCOS and infertility, so it seems like that could cause low supply, too.

And at the same that all that’s been happening, the way we give birth has changed so much over the last 100 years. There was a whole generation that was basically knocked out cold during delivery, but they didn’t breastfeed, so we don’t know how that would have affected milk supply. Now, almost every woman is given pitocin and IV fluids, at the least. We know IV fluids cause edema of the breasts in some cases, and edema delays or reduces milk production. (Again, conventional wisdom is that your milk comes in by day 3, but I know dozens of women who didn’t get any until day 5 or later after a labor involving IV fluids.)

It seems to me that this might have created/be creating a perfect storm of low production for a higher percentage of women than "should" have low production.

Any thoughts on this? Do you think I’m way off, partially on the mark, forgetting something? Any other theories?

Samantha needs some hugs

If any of you are in HR and would let me pick your brains about something (not my current job–no worries), please email me. Thanks.

Poor Samantha writes:

"I’m at my wits’ end.

I don’t know where to start.  I do know that my head is pounding and my eye bags are now purple and I long for my baby to sleep for a 4 hour stretch.

I wrote to you over 3 weeks ago and told you how my 12 week old was waking every 2 hours (at least).  Well now I think she has got into the habit.  The gas that was waking her has stopped and I thought that the 12 week growth spurt would be over by now, but at over 15 weeks, she is waking regularly.  She cannot put herself back to sleep.  I’m trying to get my nipple out of her mouth so that she falls asleep without it in there.  Sometimes it works but she wakes after half an hour and nothing seems to get her off.  She gets so upset, she doesn’t even realise a boob is being offered.

On top of that, she is finding it hard to get to sleep in the day.  She has switched on to the world and I think it makes it difficult for her to nap.  My husband has been away for the last 2 weeks so I have been the sole parent.  It’s so hard when she wakes every 30, 90, 120 minutes during the night and then only naps for 30 or 45 minutes in the day. She is so tired when she wakes from her naps and it’s getting harder and harder to get her off (even boob and bouncy chair are failing).  The other day I planned to walk with her in her carrier for an hour and a half to get her a decent nap.  The carrier always gets her off.  And it did – for 20 mins.  Then something woke her and she screamed.  She wasn’t in pain because I could stop her from crying for a bit but I just couldn’t get her to sleep.  In the end, she cried herself into a sobbing sleep, with me sobbing next to her.

I feel like such a loser.  Young teens have babies, women have twins and toddlers to contend with.  Some people put up with sleep deprivation a lot longer that my measly few weeks before melting down.  I only have one, lovely little baby and I’m exhausted and tearful.  I sometimes feel angry towards her.  I know it’s wrong and I wouldn’t do anything to hurt her, but I do feel like putting her in her cot and leaving her to cry because none of my efforts are working.  I don’t want her to lose her trust in her mummy.

I’m quite certain that the reason she is getting so upset is because she is tired.  Plus, maybe she is picking up on my increased tension as the sleep deprivation continues.

I’m now really resenting breastfeeding.  I found it really hard in the early days but I persevered because I wanted my baby to have the best. My husband and mum were constantly telling how ‘breast is best’ and I continued.  However, I’ve never been the best expresser and with my husband’s shifts and time away with work, the baby has forgotten how to use a bottle.  Now I can’t even get a break in the day.  I long for some sleep.  My friend’s baby can go off to its grandmas armed with a bottle (and pacifer – which my baby also has no idea how to use but does have an overwhelming desire to suck) and she can recharge her batteries.  Not me.  How can breast be best when the baby’s mother can barely raise a smile in the morning??

I know time will be a great healer, I just feel so exhausted.  My in-laws keep saying how she should be sleeping for longer periods by now and perhaps I should start her on solids.  I just can’t see her ever sleeping for longer periods – it’s all so foggy.  I have bought Elizabeth Pantley’s book, which I’ve read and will start the logs soon.

I love your website – it’s such a comfort.  I know there is probably no solution – just to wait it out, so I’m sorry if I’m wasting your time. I think I’m just searching for hope and support."

Oh, honey. This is just so sad, and I have felt every one of the emotions you’ve written. Especially the part about how feeling like a loser because other people deal with much tougher things than this.

You’re right that the ultimate cure for this is going to be time. But in the meantime, I have a few things to offer:

She’s heading right smack into the 19-week developmental leap, which means she’s in the middle of the 4-month sleep regression, which reduces many parents to quivering masses of pain and despair. Remember this post when we all shared how awful the 4-month stage was? Let’s go back and read the two pages of comments (you have to click "Next" at the bottom of the screen to see all of the comments) about people going through this torturous stage. You are not alone. It ends eventually.

This is probably the worst time possible* for you to be the sole parent for two weeks! That’s just adding so much on top of this that makes it worse. Of course you’re completely fried. If there’s any way to afford it, I’d try to get someone to come in to help you for a few hours a couple of times a week, at least.

Now, about your in-laws: Babies all slept longer when your ILs were parents because the babies all slept on their stomachs. I really wish there was some way for us to let our kids sleep on their tummies without risking SIDS**, because I’m absolutely convinced that that’s why we’re all so consumed with sleep–they don’t sleep well in general, so it’s not just that we’re nervous or micromanaging or whatever. I get 5-6 sleep-related questions a day, and I just think some of them never would have been issues back in the days when kids all slept on their stomachs.

In theory, I think that if you want to quit breastfeeding, you should
feel free to without guilt. Your daughter has already gotten way more
breastfeeding than most kids do, and kids are fine on formula. In
reality, however, I think weaning right now will make your situation
worse because she won’t take a bottle from you so that will add another whole
level of struggle to your day. Also, weaning could (two days in a row
with this warning) push you into full-blown PPD from the hormone drop.

Instead, I think you should ask someone you trust to take your daughter for 3-4 hours every other afternoon so you can stay home and sleep. Send along a bottle of pumped milk or formula. If she drinks it, she drinks it (and whoever she’s with might take it–you never know what kind of magic someone will have, and most babies won’t take a bottle easily from a breastfeeding mom), but if she doesn’t take it, one afternoon isn’t going to hurt her, and it’ll get you a stretch to help fortify you for the next few weeks until she breaks through the developmental leap.

You can’t deal with this all by yourself anymore. You’ve done everything right. There’s no magical way to get her to sleep while she’s working on this developmental leap, so instead people need to be helping you to maximize the sleep you can get each day. If no one knows how much you’re dealing with, send your husband the link to this post, and ask him to help. Dealing with a not-sleeping baby alone is what propels women into PPD, so don’t even begin to minimize what you’re going through. You need someone else there to hold that baby while you sleep four 4 hours in a row. And not someone who’s criticizing the fact that the baby’s not sleeping. Someone who knows what a great job you’re doing, and just wants to be part of your team when you need it.

Now, readers, please say something nice to Samantha.

* Maybe not exactly the worst time. A woman told me her husband left for an overseas two-week business trip when their first child was three days old. Yeah.

** Whoever can come up with a no-risk-for-SIDS tummy-sleeping device deserves billions and billions of dollars.

Q&A: weaning, or not weaning?

Stephanie writes:

"I’ve been reading your advice since my baby was born
11 months ago. We are approaching the 1 year mark and I can’t quit
thinking about how to wean, when to wean, etc. I’m conflicted about
stopping and can’t even fathom how I would ever do it. On one hand,
I would like my breasts back (as would my husband). I would like to
(but don’t necessarily need to) do some work again and be able to leave
her with a sitter. And, I’d like to have 6 months or so
breastfeeding free before I start trying for another baby and I’d like to
start that this summer. OTOH, I don’t want to stop breastfeeding
before my daughter is ready. Although, she does eat a variety of solid
foods and enjoys them, she is also not showing any signs of stopping
breastfeeding. We also nurse for naps and I feel like stopping will
make my life so much harder during the day. Additionally, my mom just found
out she has breast cancer (non-invasive) and I’ve read how breastfeeding
is a protective factor against breast cancer and since I have several other
risk factors (started my period early, had my first baby over 30, family
history), I feel like I should breastfeed as long as possible. 

In my life before motherhood, I always thought extended
breastfeeding seemed weird, but I currently see no end in sight. It seems
like so many moms I know said their baby just wanted to stop between 11-13
months. I don’t see that happening with my daughter.

I would love to hear your experience of when your babies
were ready to wean and your readers as well.  I’d also like some
advice on how to reply to people who say, “You’re still breastfeeding???”
Thanks!"

I think we should just call Stephanie "Everywoman," because that’s about the most concise summary of the classic set of conflicts between wanting to wean and wanting to keep nursing that I’ve heard.

(Am I the only one who feels sad that 11 months is considered "extended" breastfeeding? It’s such a tiny slice of their lives, even if each feeding seems like an eternity sometimes.)

Anyway, it sounds like you want to do some kind of partial weaning plan. You could go down to one or two nursing sessions a day to keep the benefits, while still having your body back somewhat. Once you’re down to those few feedings, you can decide if you’re comfortable keeping with those for awhile longer, or if you want to wean completely. And weaning down from two feedings to nothing is lots easier than trying to get down from more feedings to none.

I think weaning is another one of those things that we think of as all-or-nothing, but unless you have to wean completely cold turkey for some medical or logistical reason, you can do it gradually enough that it doesn’t feel like such a hard choice. (Let me say once again that if you have the time, it’s an extremely good idea to wean gradually over the course of a few weeks. Weaning cold turkey can give you mastitis–which was worse for me than two unmedicated labors–and can also make your hormones drop so strongly that you could get thrown into PPD. Over a few weeks you can cut down a feeding every few days and dry up your milk using mint and sage tea enough to help prevent mastitis and PPD.)

So, back to the logistics. I’d figure out if there are a few sessions that you can drop in the next couple of weeks. The ideal candidates would be sessions that she doesn’t seem to care about so much, but that make you nuts. I think if it were me, I’d keep the nap nursing sessions because you know you can get her down easily that way. Since the purpose of weaning is to make things easier, having to create a whole new nap routine seems counter-productive.

I think you should spend the next few days doing some careful observation about what sessions she seems attached to, and what sessions are making you jump out of your skin (if you’re at that point). That’ll tell you where to start working on the weaning.

Any comments or suggestions? I feel like 11 months is one of those points at which moms are starting to get really sick of nursing (18 months is another huge one). How did you make the decision to stop or not, and how did you make weaning the easiest possible on everyone?

Q&A: nighttime parenting is making our eyes bleed

Lisa writes:

"Can you stand another question on sleep?

I guess the actual question is: how do I night wean?

The context is this: I work random shifts in an ER and this means that sometimes I am away for the evening or overnight and my husband has baby sleep duty. When he has to do bedtime, no sweat after we did a little sleep training that involved a little crying.  But the overnights are a different story.  My son (9 months old) has been co-sleeping from day 1, starting the night in a crib and moving into our bed once I come to bed.  I used to be able to nurse him at night and slide him back into his crib but now that he’s so mobile, the crib rails have all gone up, and he protests the return so often sleeps next to me, latching on all night when the fancy strikes him.  This is great for all of us except on the 3-4 nights a month that I’m gone for the night.  He totally freaks out, my husband then totally freaks out, they end up awake all night from 1 AM onward with bags under their eyes the next morning.  I blame myself because I know it’s not fair to my son to get me some nights and not others without any pattern at all.  So I feel like my only option is to get him to go without the milk bar which probably entails going without sleeping under my shirt.

We tried doing this by letting him yell in protest but living in a little condo makes my husband feel guilty about the noise’s impact on the neighbors so we end up jumping ship on that plan.  We also recognize that having him in our room is compounding things but I can’t move him into the only other candidate room since we had an intruder break in several weeks ago through that bedroom window, so I’m psychologically unable to put him there.

I just don’t know logistically how to night wean a baby who is still in our room without lots of hollering.  But I have to do something because every morning after I work a night shift, my family is falling into little tiny pieces which means I’m trying to fix them and not able to recover from having been up working all night and I am starting to get just a teensy bit resentful.  Plus hugely guilty that I did this by letting my son cozy up to the milk bar all night long for so long.  Help? Please?

I love Ask Moxie and someday when I make the big bucks I’ll buy lots of expensive stuff by clicking through from your site first."

Hey, thanks! Somebody bought an expensive power tool a few weeks ago after clicking through here first. I was kind of baffled but happy. (I get a little teeny tiny percentage of all the Amazon.com purchases made after clicking through the links here.)

First, let me say how sorry I am that someone broke into your home. That’s got to be a terrifying and creepy feeling. I completely understand that you can’t put your son alone in that room.

You know what I’m going to say next: Trying to do anything to change sleep patterns is going to be harder in the middle of a sleep regression phase. So right now (9 months) is probably not going to meet with much success. If you can wait a month you’ll probably do better.

And even more next: This isn’t your fault, and it’s NOT your responsibility to manage the relationship between your son and husband, or fix things the next morning when you come home from work. There is not a single thing you can do about what happens while you’re at work, and working out a nighttime routine that allows both your son and your husband to sleep is pretty much your husband’s responsibility. Babies learn that different people do different things, so your son will have a different set of nighttime expectations when he’s with his dad. It happens all the time that kids go to sleep differently with their mothers, fathers, grandparents, babysitters, etc., so it isn’t your responsibility to gatekeep the relationship between your two guys.

I think nightweaning is actually going to be counterproductive, since it’ll take that comfort away from your son on all nights, not just when you’re not there physically. Especially at this separation anxiety age, it’s probably going to end up making him more clingy and crabby all the time, instead of just when you’re gone.

Now, having said that, if you truly do want to nightwean for you, and not because you think it’ll somehow equalize things, your husband is going to have to take the lead on that. I can’t think of anyone I know who nightweaned within a month without basically giving the baby to the non-nursing partner during nightweaning. Most women I know moved to another room during nightweaning (raising my hand), or just played dead at night during that phase. Which leaves you in a tricky situation, since you’re going to have to do the thing you’ve identified as the problem (your husband having to comfort your son to sleep) in order to avoid having your husband have to comfort your son to sleep while you’re not there.

You can see why I’m not so excited about putting the nighttime responsibility all on your shoulders. It’s a big circle of confusion, nastiness, crying, and sleep deprivation for all three of you.

I really think I’d try to work with your husband on developing his own routine to get your son back to sleep. I don’t know if he does much of the initial putting to bed, but that’s a start. Many kids seem to be confused when the going to sleep is different from what happens when they wake up in the middle of the night. So having him develop a really solid bedtime routine that he does might make it easier to replicate that in the middle of the night to get them both back to sleep ASAP. It also sounds like he maybe feels like your son not sleeping is his fault, and, again, a non-sleeping kid is not the parents’ fault. So if your husband can stay kind of zen about it he may have better luck with the getting back to sleep.

Having said that, this is probably all going to get slightly better in a few weeks anyway, once this sleep regression is past. And the older your son gets, the easier the changes will be on him because he’ll just be used to them. And he’ll start sleeping longer anyway.

Anyone have conflicting opinions, suggestions, or comments?

Book Review: Mama Knows Breast

To The Parents of New York City: Please do not write your child’s namein big black letters on the outside of his backpack so everyone who
sees him knows his name. Writing his first name and your cell number on
the inside of the backpack is sufficient. Thank you.

Today’s post is a book review of the book Mama Knows Breast by Andi Silverman.

This book is cute. Really cute. The graphic design and
packaging of the book are irresistible, and it’s the perfect size to
read one-handed. The writing is breezy and in list form, so you can
read little chunks at a time when you get the chance, or sit and read
the whole thing in an hour or two. The tone strikes a nice balance
between confidential and factual, and she covers some situations other
breastfeeding books haven’t covered (the etiquette of nursing in
different kinds of public places, for example, and "sex and
relaxation").

But I think the subtitle of the book, "A Beginner’s Guide to
Breastfeeding," is kind of a stretch. It’s got a lot of lists and
helpful tips, but it doesn’t really dig into the meat of what could go
wrong, what you should do to help things not go wrong, or how to get
back on track if things are going wrong. It doesn’t cover the emotional
aspects of breastfeeding, or what to do if you think you aren’t
producing enough milk, or your baby’s cluster feeding, or all those
extremely common things that can make women feel like big failures at
feeding their children. Instead of a true guide, it seems to be an
introduction to several topics in breastfeeding for women who know
nothing about it and haven’t had any friends who did it.

And that’s fine. There’s a huge segment of the population who
gets pregnant without ever having taken care of a baby. In our culture
not many of us grew up watching anyone nurse a baby. How many of us
even knew that the milk comes out of a bunch of little holes in each
nipple? There are all sorts of things we don’t know that someone needs
to tell us, without freaking us out or making us feel bad for not
knowing it. And I think that’s the strength of Mama Knows Breast. It’s
a funny, gentle, hip-looking introduction to some basic concepts of
breastfeeding.

I do, of course, have a beef with one section, which is the part that
says that "many babies can sleep through the night by the time they are
three months old." Ha. Haha. Hahahahahahahahaha. See: yesterday’s post.
OK, yes, some babies can sleep through at three months, but "many"? I
think that’s a stretch, and by saying it she’s going to make moms whose
babies don’t feel like freaks. Plus, even the hard-core CIO pushers
don’t want people to start sleep training until four months. I think
that little section was a misfire, and I would have ignored it except
that sleep is such a huge hot-button for our generation that I worry
that one paragraph is going to make women feel bad. Which is clearly
the opposite of the author’s intention.

But otherwise I liked
the book as a gentle intro to breastfeeding for someone who hasn’t
thought about it before, or who really isn’t sure she’s going to try it
or not. It humanizes breastfeeding in a nice way that doesn’t make you
feel like an ogre for not being super-committed or knowledgeable about
it. But it’s not going to be enough for women who have anything but the
simplest nursing experience. Most of us are going to need more
resources, in book form (The Nursing Mother’s Companion by Kathleen
Huggins is extremely factual and covers a zillion scenarios, while So
That’s What They’re For
by Janet Tamaro has a bunch of actual
information but also humor and commiseration) and on the internet (kellymom.com)
and in real life (an IBCLC lactation consultant, La Leche League
meetings
, breastfeeding support groups run by hospitals and women’s
centers, or even just another mom you see nursing at the bookstore).

I’d get this book for your friend who hasn’t really thought
about much past the delivery, because it’s cute and inviting and a
quick read, and will get her from zero knowledge to some knowledge
fast. But it would be an even better gift if you’d look up the number
of a IBCLC lactation consultant in her area
and write it inside the
cover of the book before you give it to her.

4 month olds

I’m really, really behind in my life today. And I’ve been getting a ton of questions lately from people with 4-month-olds. And there’s just so much going on at that age that makes it a tough, tough time–they don’t really nap yet, their nighttime sleep is falling apart (thank you 4-month sleep regression), you may be back at work or seriously wondering what made you decide not to go back to work and either way it screws with your head, you probably haven’t lost the baby weight yet and don’t feel sexy but then there’s Scary Spice doing the cha-cha looking like a brick house, and your baby is probably not as fat as your doctor wants him or her to be, and it all just sucks.

A very helpful nursing-related post about breastfeeding at 4 months from CJ:


Things to consider if your four-month-old baby coasts down the growth charts

So I’m going to just open up the comments, and those of you who remember your 4-month troubles, (or are in the middle of them) post them, and we’ll all commiserate. I don’t think there’s much of a cure for most of this stuff except for time and being gentle with yourself, and realizing that you do what works at the time and then when it stops working you do something else. Think about getting sleep today, not what might happen a year from now.