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Ep. 10: Breastfeeding Older Babies

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Join us for another episode. Hey, Heather. Yeah, Maureen. What’s up? I haven’t seen in a while, bud. I know I’m really happy we’re back in our studio when I use the term loosely, because again, I really wish you guys could see the fabulous configuration of foam blocks and blankets that we work in. No, it’s great.

And fucking chic. Should we tell them what the number one rule is for the alcove? Oh yeah. Yeah. Please do. No farting in the alcove. It’s too hot and too close. It’s rude. Yeah. Well, we have to like, like turn down the AC cause it’s really loud. And then we like put up all these blankets and shit, and now we’re just in this fucking air bubble where we talk about breastfeeding and when somebody farts, we have to like, take a whole break from the podcast.

Yeah. I need a minute to air it out. I mean, we try to batch record. So, you know, by the last episode, we’re sweating. And I was like, Heather’s like, I think I smell. And I was like, I don’t know about me. She was like, no, you smell a little bit. Thanks Heather. Yeah, we’re all just going to, we’re going to fix that together.

Well, anyway, you know, it’s fine. Anyway, so join us today with our stinky armpits and farts in our little under the stairs alcove, because today I’m actually really excited to talk about lactating and breastfeeding beyond the age of one. And you know, we, this is, we don’t have a ton of episodes out yet.

And some of you might be surprised that we’re already jumping ahead to one year of age, but we’re doing this for a reason. Some of you who are already struggling and it’s like maybe six weeks in and you’re like, yeah, right. I don’t need to listen to this because I’m barely getting through the first six weeks.

So why in the heck do I need to plan to breastfeed beyond the age of one? You know, I’ll be lucky to make it six months. But I’ve found that it’s a lot easier to get somewhere and achieve a goal if you know where you’re going and what to expect when you get there. Yeah. And, and I found, you know, we’ve been trying to get some feedback from listeners and we’ve really found a lot of people are listening at this phase where their kid is one or two.

And they’re like, wow, I really wish I had had that information that you guys were talking about before, but here’s where I am now. And this is what I need help with now. So we’re just kind of, we have this whole list of suggested topics from listeners and we are just checking it off and whatever fucking order we decide to today, and we’re just doing it.

So we thought this would be a good one for today. And I’m excited because I breastfed my son until he was almost four years old. And I did not. I breastfed both of my kids until they were 10 months old, but I would have breastfed longer if I knew, if I knew more about it, you know, I was kinda like close enough to the age of one and I had some pumped milk left.

So I was like, oh, I’ll make it to the age of one. And I think a lot of people feel that way and it’s just kind of like a struggle to get there. And then on their first birthday, you’re like, all right, we’re done. And then they’re surprised when their kid has another opinion and they don’t want to stop, you know. So I kind of ended up in a situation where I would have probably liked to have breastfed more, but I don’t think that at that point in my life and where my baby was at, we kind of made that decision together.

Yeah. And, and I think that is really the key. Like, I don’t want you to think with this episode that we’re like, you must breastfeed as long as your baby wants to, actually longer, because it’s healthy. No, no, no. You know, as always, we want you to feel like you have enough information to make the right decision for you.

Right? We’re all about the decision that works for you and your baby and your lifestyle and your mental health and all of that. However, if you choose to feed beyond one, or I don’t know, frankly, more accurately, if your baby chooses to feed beyond one, cause a lot of us are like, I’m going to ween. Never mind.

Now we’re still breastfeeding two years later. Which is fine, but we want this episode to help you feel like this is normal. It’s a good choice. And then this gives you some troubleshooting help too, because you know, the latch issues and the behavior issues don’t magically stop when your kid can talk to you about it and they don’t magically stop when your kid can ask for milk.

Sometimes they get worse. So let me just start with a little bit of context because some of you, especially if your babies under a year might be like, wait a second. I didn’t actually even like, think about breastfeeding beyond a year because it’s gross or somebody told me it was gross or I’ve never seen an older baby breastfeed.

So let me just say the World Health Organization, which I consider to be one of our best information sources for health and lactation. So the WHO recommends of course, exclusive breastfeeding up to six months and then continued breastfeeding alongside other complimentary foods up to two years and beyond. For some of you, you might, just like that just might blow your mind right there.

Yeah, because I think a lot of people that are still in that first six-month area are thinking, wow, this is so time consuming. I can’t imagine continuing to do this for two years. It changes though. Like, what people don’t understand is as your kid gets older, your breastfeeding relationship morphs into something completely different.

And what it looks like at one is definitely not what it looks like at two. And definitely not what it looks like at four. And, and a lot of people kind of have this misconception that it’s not beneficial for mom or baby to feed after one like that. And that’s just not true. For the breastfeeding parent, there have been a couple of studies that show us that a longer duration of lactation is associated with more risk reduction in their health.

So the longer you breastfeed, the less your risk will be for breast cancer, ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer, metabolic issues, hypertension, myocardial infarctions. I mean, it’s, it’s amazing. And so it’s not like, you know, yes, if you breastfeed for a month, you automatically reduce your risk for that. But if you, but the longer you breastfeed, just the lower and lower and lower and lower those risks get for you.

Yeah. And also the immune properties that are in breast milk. I think a lot of people have this, this goal of six months in their head because they’ve been told that after six months there’s really no, no further immune properties that are passed to baby. And that’s also not true. The studies that are coming out now are showing that your body actually reads your baby’s saliva.

And when you have, when you’re direct breastfeeding, and your baby is actually nursing on your breast, your body is reading their saliva and they’re seeing what’s in your body is seeing what’s going on with your baby and it’s going to specifically make the antibodies that your baby needs, which is why babies that are breastfeeding tend to recover from illnesses quicker.

It’s not that they don’t get sick it’s that they heal faster. It’s boobie magic. Sure is. And I do want to add too, I got some great information from UNICEF about, you know, from their like preventing disease resources. And they cite that the human immune system takes between two and six years to mature.

So you could have a six-year-old, who’s only just getting to what we might consider a mature immune system and human milk is going to compliment and boost that immune system as long as it is offered. There’s no end on that. Right. And if you think about other cultures that live in groups that breastfeed, you know, up until that, whenever, you know, there’s, there’s no magic number that they’re trying to achieve, they just kind of live and all the kids will go up to any woman in the tribe or the community and nurse when they’re thirsty. And by nursing off of different people within the community, they’re boosting their herd immunity as a community, because that’s how, like, up to the age of six, the kids are doing that, you know? Yeah.

And, and so I was actually, you know, cause I actually sat down to do a little research today cause I wanted my numbers on point. There’s actually been some breastfeeding lactation study through the lens of anthropology, which is pretty cool. And this one particular anthropologist, Kathy Dettwyler was researching breastfeeding in primates in general.

Right? So not just humans but also like chimpanzees, gorillas, all, all the, all the things you might think of as like monkeys, right? And, and that’s because their fetal development is more similar to ours, right? We’re, we’re closely related. And our babies spend a lot of time in utero developing their brains and they don’t come out with these strong bodies, like a horse where they can like run after their mother the day that they’re born.

So they end up nursing a lot longer and staying close to their parents a lot longer. And her research said that a lot of primates wean their babies when their first permanent molars come in. Okay. And for humans, this is when they’re five or six years old. Some of her historical and contemporary research about weening shows that the range of human weaning is between like two years and seven.

Yeah. Let me say that again. Seven years old. Right. And until around the last a hundred years, extended breastfeeding was a cultural norm. Right. And interesting thing is that the permanent molar eruption actually coincides often with the achievement of an adult immune competence. Oh, that’s fucking cool.

Right? No such thing as coincidence. No, no, I got little tingles. Anyway. We are magic. I’m telling ya. Yeah. So. You know, our evolutionary history kind of indicates that we should keep breast milk available until that age. And, you know, even for those of you that are exclusively pumping, you know, don’t think that you’re automatically out. You know, kids that are six years old, aren’t nursing every two hours.

Oh my God. No. And let me be clear. They should not be. Okay. So let me just bring this back to me because I love talking about myself. So my son was that kind of baby that breastfed, like every half an hour. You know, and then it was like every 40 minutes. And then it was like every hour and I actually thought I was going to die and I didn’t get a REM cycle for like a year.

It was horrible. And, and then, you know, after a year old, when I was still trying to feed on demand and you know, my son’s needs changed, but how often he wanted milk didn’t necessarily change. Because now he could think about it and have this like analytical symbolic thought in his little year-old brain and realized that I would just give him what he wanted.

And of course he wants milk, even if he’s not thirsty or hungry or sad, because that was time he got with mom where I would just sit down and do nothing but hang out with him. Which is also, it’s not like a bad thing, right. I’m not like mad at babies who want that. That’s a natural thing to want. But it’s also something that you can set some boundaries around because my, I feel like I pretty much fed on demand until my son was like a year and a half.

And I was like, what the fuck am I doing? And I, I read, like, I don’t know, I probably read some blogs or some shit that was like, you can set boundaries around breastfeeding with your toddler. And I was like, mind blown. I can say no to my toddler? I don’t have to breastfeed on demand till I die? Oh my God.

And then that just totally changed. Like I went from feeling despair and depression and hopelessness around breastfeeding thinking like I was gonna really harm my child if we stopped breastfeeding before he was ready, except that it was killing me. I think and that’s, that’s so that’s so much about parenting in general.

It’s like the day you realize that you are in charge of this human, and sometimes it takes a while, especially for first time moms, first time parents. You realize one day, like, no, I decide, and I will let you know what’s going to happen and not the other way around. And kids actually respond pretty well to boundaries.

I think it makes them feel safe and it makes you feel sane and you’re not just surviving every day. So it’s completely fine to put boundaries around nursing. Yeah. Yeah. And the big thing, the big thing I added into my vocabulary was “not now.” Yeah. My son would ask for milk and I’d say not now, in a little bit.

And then at first he got upset about that, but then he would just sort of go back to what he was doing and the way children are at that age, kind of forget that that’s what he wanted. And then he would ask again in like two hours, you know, and I was like, wow, I just went in like four hours without nursing my son. You know, and that was great.

And then, you know, what I would often do too, is I’d be like, not now, not now. And then when I was ready, I’d go and say, Hey buddy, do you want to sit down and have some milk with mom? Yeah. And he’d be like, yeah. Yay, mommy. Yeah. Or you could, you could even say, you know, like maybe after bath time. You know, so it, and it kind of just makes them think about it a little bit more instead of just being a reflex for when they’re bored.

Right. And you’re definitely a little bit limited in kind of your like negotiation with that when your baby is below two and they’re, kids are kind of all over the place verbally and with their communication level at that age. Right. Some kids don’t really start talking until they’re just about two. Some kids just start saying full sentences at one. It’s really crazy. But usually, so in that time, it’s kind of like, you have to figure out what communicating looks like with you and your kid. You know, some of them sign language works really well, having really clear words for what they want, but after that, when you can suddenly have this human that you’re like, like, talking with, right.

This like tiny human you made, who can now talk to you. That’s crazy. That was a trip having that happen. But then you can have like, it’s okay to have conversations with your kid about it, you know, with your two-year-old. If they’re like mommy, mommy, mommy, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom milk. You’re like, whoa.

So mom, doesn’t like when you do that and mom is busy today. So can you, how about we plan to have milk after your nap? Or how about, you know, like, you know, I have to go weed the garden so we can have milk when I get back. You know, or, or I even, at some point had a conversation with my son when we were weaning and I was kind of, I really felt like I was done.

I was like, Hey buddy, you know, we’re really only having milk when you wake up and when you go to sleep and, you know, mommy’s boobs just aren’t making as much milk and I think we should make a choice over which one we’re going to keep doing. And I was like, what do you want to do, buddy? Do you want night milkies or do you want morning milk?

And he was like, Hmm. And he really thought about it. He was like three years old. He goes morning. Oh, that’s so cute. And I was like, all right. So that’s what we did. So I’d have dad put him to sleep. So that just wasn’t even a temptation. And then I’d wake him up in the morning and be like, Hey bud, you want to snuggle, have some milk? And we’d do that.

And that was it. And you know, talking about the, the mama mama mom thing, I recommend initiating the sign language, even as early as six months. Yes. Because they can understand a lot more than they can speak sooner. So if you consistently show them, sign language for milk, and that can be anything, you know, people are like, oh, I don’t know what it is.

Make up something. Yeah. You can look up the sign or you can just be like, you know, Hey, this is kind of what you do when you’re asking me for that, anyway. So we’re just gonna harness that behavior you already have and turn it into communication that’s consistent. Right? And then if you consistently do that, somewhere around nine months to a year, they will start consistently doing that and understanding it.

And when you’re out in public or you’re in the middle of doing something or you’re on the phone, it’s so cute to have a little toddler standing there doing the sign for milk instead of screaming, mom, mom, mom. It’s much nicer. And if you don’t, if you aren’t familiar with the like, baby sign for milk, it’s kind of like you’re milking a cow, the way you squeeze, milking an udder, teat.

Yeah. It’s, it’s actually adorable. I find it adorable. My son would do it with both hands. He’d like squeeze them madly. And then, you know, as they get older, you can make them do that before you give them the milk. Yeah. You know, so if they’re doing the mama, mom, you can be like, what, how do we ask? And they do like the little quiet symbol and you’re like, okay, good job.

Yeah. And even like, I’ll talk to a lot of people who are like, well, my kid’s already a year old and they’re already using words, but at a year old, your child’s language skills are not consistent. Right? Like they might say dad for a week and then not say it for six months. And so that’s the same with them saying milk or my son would call it booby time.

Some people call it nursies, which I think is cute. Right. Or whatever your silly word is for it, that doesn’t matter. Your kid at that age often is not going to either use that consistently or use it appropriately. Right? They might just say that word all day long, no matter what, even if they don’t want it. But the signs, for whatever reason, seem to be easier for kids to integrate functionally. Yeah. That part of their brain matures a lot faster than the, the verbal part of their brain. So I think that that’s probably one of the number one tips for managing and preventing behavior issues in a kid that’s older than one.

And you know, another behavioral issue that we get questions about all the time. Chomp, chomp, right. Is biting, which you know, babies under six months and under a year do this, but they typically don’t have a lot of teeth. So a bite with gums, while it fucking hurts, like holy shit. It doesn’t usually draw blood, right. But teeth obviously can do a lot of damage.

They’re literally like we have teeth in the front of our mouth that are literally for tearing meat off of carcasses. That’s like what they’re shaped for. So, so yeah, those suckers can bite a fucking nipple off. Yeah. And, or the raking, you know, when they just bite gently and then pull off and cringe. And before you freak out, it is a phase.

Yes. And it does end. Yes. But you need to do something to help that. Right. So just like with any undesirable behavior with a kid, you have to be really consistent in how you respond. The cool thing is like when you look into the neurobiology of children and babies, behaviors that are ignored, stop much faster than behaviors that receive a really strong negative response because at that age, their entire fucking brain is just like attention, attention, attention, attention, because that’s how they survive.

Right. An even stronger reward is being inconsistent. And that, cause that confuses their neural pathways are like, wait, do it again. Wait that was different. Do it again. She was mad. Do it again, do it again. Do it again. Yeah. Being consistent and consistently ignoring it, but in a very purposeful way is going to be the best way to go.

And now you’re probably like, what the fuck? I can’t ignore my kid bites my tit. Yeah. That’s not really exactly what I’m saying. So usually what I recommend with a smaller baby. So like maybe around a year. Let me just state, there’s a priority of bodily functions and breathing is number one for children.

So if you gently hug your child toward your breast, so they literally can’t breathe, they’re going to let go of that nipple. A slight suffocation, right? So we’re encouraging slight suffocation of children, no. So you do that and then they let go and then you just put them down and you can very calmly say don’t bite mom and walk away.

Yup. Don’t even let them know that you broke a sweat, right? And that, and just ignore them for a minute, two. I mean, you know, a minute actually seems like for fucking ever, when your kid is crying, so it really doesn’t have to be that long, but don’t look at them, don’t hold them. Just walk away. Leave the room if you can, if it’s like a safe space to leave your kid, without them trying to kill themselves. And then come back in and you know, once they’ve realized that that’s what happened, you can come back in and say, Hey, do you want to try again? Are you ready? With a slightly older child, I still recommend a similar thing.

You know, it might not work as well to do the, like so sorry I just spit on the computer. It might not work as well to do the like little bit of suffocation with them. You might have to literally just like. What I actually did, I would pinch my son’s nose closed and then he would let go. And I would say, don’t bite mom.

And I love how they look at you like you’ve wronged them and you’re like, bro, you almost took my nipple off. Right. And, and you know, every time I’m like bite my lip, don’t scream. Don’t scream. It’s hard not to scream. Your whole-body tenses, pinch the nose. Don’t bite mommy, walk away. Yeah. Yeah. And you know, when you set them down and walk away and 30 seconds later, that redemption piece is key because the sooner you can have a good experience on top of that, the better, because it’s going to strengthen that response. So it’s like, that’s the reason you don’t want to rub a dog’s nose in pee that’s three hours old. They’re going to be like, what the fuck? Right.

Honestly, training a toddler is just like training a dog. I’ve done both and they’re not that different. No, not that different. So yeah. Set them down. Ignore him for 30 seconds. Come back. Gently. Say you want to try again? If they do it again, you do the same thing. And then they have two experiences in a short amount of time where you had the same consistent response. Right?

And if you literally have to do this 20 times in one day, don’t feel discouraged. Because what you’re doing is you’re reinforcing that response in their brain. You’re, you know, their brain is getting the message like, oh shit, biting gets me ignored. Ignoring is actually counter to my survival instinct. I better quit this.

Right. But if you yell or if you pay it more attention, like please don’t bite mommy. It really, really hurts. I don’t want you to bite me, please, please, please. Don’t bite me. They’re like, Ooh. Right. Their brain. It doesn’t matter what those words are. Their brain is like, oh, okay, we’re getting verbal attention from this adult.

We’re getting eye contact from this adult. We’re getting attention paid and consistent verbal response from an adult. The brain loves that. The brain is like, this is our person forever. Yeah, totally. So. That’s why we really, and honestly, like it’s, it’s probably the number one way that I recommend stopping any behavior before about five or six, if it’s possible.

I get, sometimes you can’t just ignore a kid trying to like jump headfirst off your balcony. Right. It’s okay. But when possible, like when it’s safe to do, and when it’s possible for you, a very small gentle correction and then ignoring the child for as long as it takes for them to notice they’re being ignored is going to help them prune that neural pathway sooner because, gosh, I think it’s four to six years old. So like your baby around like two years old, just has more fucking neural pathways than they will ever have in their entire life. And then around four to six, the brain is like, wow, that’s a lot of energy.

We’re going to chop, chop some of these that we don’t use. So the behaviors that don’t get consistent response just get snipped away. Yep. Snippy, snip. That actually starts at birth as well, which is why your baby’s hands are all shaky. Cause they just have so many nerves. They’re like short circuiting and they’re trying to figure out which ones we need and which ones we don’t need in order to survive in this environment.

And you know, a lot of times like my daughter, for example, around nine months, She started doing the on-off on-off nursing, not nursing, nursing, not nursing up, down, no, around there. It was like, oh, this is stressful. It was like a full body workout, just trying to get her to nurse. And probably because I was trying to nurse her the same way you would nurse a four-month-old, you know, like, oh, she gave me an early feeding cue time to sit down and get settled now because I’ve just gotten a routine.

Yeah. The girl probably just wasn’t hungry. Yeah. You know, so I wish that I could go back and set her down, let her do her own thing, play, and then try it again. A nine-month-old, their feeding queue is like literally taking your breast out of your shirt. Right. And I screwed that up. And I probably, I might still be nursing, she’s 18 months old now. I might still be nursing if I hadn’t done that, but it became stressful for me, which made it stressful for her. And I think at 10 months when she’d had enough solid food, she was like, I’m good. I don’t need it. And that’s okay too.

But you know, I think I get a lot of questions about like, how do I know if I’m doing the right thing by still nursing my baby this long? And what I usually go through, I’m like, all right, let’s break it down. Do you enjoy nursing still? Do you still want to nurse? And then we talk about, does baby still want to nurse? Does your baby come and seek you out and ask for that time? And then we’ve got those two answers, right? And usually at that point, it’s obvious the baby still wants to nurse.

And often that we’re looking at that parent, who’s kind of on the fence. Cause they’re like, sometimes I love it and it’s adorable and it’s good bonding time. And sometimes I want to rip my fucking hair out. And flush the baby down the toilet, right? It was me and yeah, I’ve heard a lot of people say, well, I like the morning feed.

Okay. So keep that one. Exactly. That’s and that’s what I’m saying about boundaries. Like your two-year-old doesn’t have to nurse on demand, right? You can, and you can sit them down, honestly, at one year old, your baby understands most of the words coming out of your mouth. So even at one year old and they might not be able to analyze it fully.

So you, but I’m not saying to like use baby talk, use a real words and real sentences, just make it simple so that you can say something, a concept to they understand is pain. Right? You can say sometimes boobies hurt mommy when you nurse, right. Sometimes that hurts mom, but it feels good in the morning.

Mommy likes it in the morning. Can we do it then? You know, you can make it really simple. Definitely keep it simple. Don’t over-complicate it. Even with the two-year-old, you know, don’t be like, well, I just don’t know how I feel. I mean, that’s okay. But your kid is going to listen to those words and just kinda zone out at a certain point, you know, just be really easy to be like, Hey and get on their level.

Right. Booby time makes mom sad. But I still like it in the morning. How about we do that? Yeah. And they want to please you as much as you want to please them, and you’re still going to be a dyad, you know, it’s not like they turn one and a switch gets flipped. Like you guys are both learning and growing together and making decisions together until you decide, okay.

Like we’re, we’re both done and we can move on and it can be really emotional for people to make that decision. Right. Even if you know, it’s the right decision, even if you know, nursing makes you miserable, you can still go through a little bit of post weaning depression. Yeah. And your hormonal levels change, which fucks you up a whole other way.

Yep. And you know, some people we’ll get a little bit emotional because they want to get pregnant again. And maybe you had to work really hard to get pregnant the first time. And by nursing, maybe it’s been a year and you still haven’t had a period. So sometimes people don’t want to stop nursing, but they do want to have a period and they have to make that choice.

And that’s really hard for some people. So it’s not like we have a magic answer for that. I just wanted to acknowledge that that is hard and you will get through it and your kid will get through it and it will be okay.

This episode is sponsored by Feed Your Baby University. Hi, it’s Heather here and Feed Your Baby University is my signature breastfeeding course, and I wanted to make it available to all of you. So you, just like my personal patients, can follow my method to make sure that you are breastfeeding with confidence, pumping and bottle feeding without nipple pain, worrying about supply or complete exhaustion. We also cover partner dynamics, which inevitably change when you grow your family and all the troubleshooting, when issues do come up.

So if you’ve been struggling with a lack of confidence with breastfeeding and you don’t really know where to turn, Feed Your Baby University has your back. And so do I. Also with the course, you get a 69-page workbook with graphics done by the one and only Maureen Farrell, our cohost. So if you are looking for a course that’s all inclusive with support, a workbook, oh, and a private Facebook group where I go live weekly, this is for you. Check out the show notes for details on how to sign up.

You know another conversation you can have with your kid? And this is probably the second, most often question I get from parents nursing toddlers, when they’re like, how do I fix my kid’s latch?

And some people are like latch is just an issue with a newborn. You fix it once, it’s fine. No, it changes when their teeth come in and it changes and they get lazy. And I get that question all the time and I’ll say I had that issue and I was literally taking a professional level lactation course when my son was about gosh, two and a half.

And I was still nursing him. And that was my biggest question. I was like, what the fuck do I do about this because my nipples hurt? And I asked in class, right? There’s like 80 people in this you know, big classroom. And I asked and while the teachers are really sympathetic, they are basically like, look, we focus this entire class on the first six months, because in the United States, we’re still fighting the fight of getting a good, exclusive breastfeeding rate for the first six months.

They were like, we don’t even touch toddler feeding. And I just sat there and cried. So, so I figured this out myself and now I’m like, let’s talk about it y’all. Have that conversation with your kid. And tell them like, Hey, the way that your mouth is on my nipple, it hurts, mommy. Let’s try something different and really look like you, look and see what the problem is.

Usually it’s that they stopped covering their bottom teeth with their tongue and they’re not opening their mouth wide enough. So I turned it into a game with my two-and-a-half-year-old and I was like, oh, you want a nurse? Okay. Stick out your tongue, open wide. And I would have him stick out his tongue all the way out of his mouth.

And then I’d say, okay, now come get boobie, but keep your mouth like that. And if he changed it, I’d be like, oh no, no, no. That’s awesome. Not yet. And so he would latch on with his open mouth and his tongue would be in the right point to make good section. Wow. That’s awesome. You know, a lot of other times I’ve heard people say it feels like I have a bruise inside my breasts.

Yes, it does. And that’s probably because it’s been two years and you’re still nursing in the same position because you get into these routines and your kid has a very strong suction. I mean, they can suck with like 120 PSI and it’s really fun and crazy. And action is the strongest where their nose is pointing.

So if you’re constantly nursing in the same position and you start to feel like you have a bruise inside your breast, switch that position up, like turn it into a game like Maureen said with your toddler and be like, do you want to try nursing standing up? Oh, yeah. My kid would literally climb on the coffee table as I walked by cause he was like boob height exactly.

But you know what? That was fine. I’d be like, okay, you can have a sip. You know? Yeah. Well, that’s not the position you want to like nurse for like an hour in while your kid is, you know, watching a TV show. But like, if they just want a little sip, you’re like, all right, a little boob snack and then you know, that’s fine.

Or like, you know, like the belly-to-belly feed situation, that’s a really good position to do at that age when they’re like sitting up. Yep. That is a good one. And for those of you that have to go to work that have been pumping at work. The other question I get is when can I stop pumping? When can I stop pumping?

I’ve had people say I’ve got plenty of milk to make it to a year or beyond, but like how long do I have to keep doing this? And the answer is however long you want. You can drop that pump if you want. And you know, they have this fear that their supply is going to drop. It’s not the case for most people because it’s normal when your kid is say, you know, two years old, three years old, whatever, four years old for them to just nurse once a day. Right.

And that’s fine. I mean, they’re not going to be any worse for wear because they’re only nursing once a day and your breast milk is so highly regulated by that point in time that you would have to really send a clear, consistent message to your body that you’re done.

Yeah. Like days and days. Yeah, after two years your, your body is just like, cool. We’ll just make a little bits of milk forever. Yeah. And it’s high calorie because your body also knows that it’s an older child. Yeah, it actually, for me, like when I, I did actually pump when I was away at that breastfeeding class. My kid was like two and a half.

I pumped a little bit, which was the first time I’d pumped in like a year. And it looked like colostrum. Yeah. Yeah. It’s kind of like, I equate it to chicken broth versus chicken pot pie. So in the beginning, when your kid is eating every one and a half to two hours, ish, they don’t need to eat chicken pot pie every two hours.

That would be a lot, you know. That would be delicious. They have little, tiny stomachs and they need to be consistently energized throughout the day. But yeah your body knows that when your child is older, they’re mobile, they’re busy doing other things, but your body still wants to get the same amount of nutrients in.

So it’s like, all right, well, we’re not going to be doing chicken broth anymore. Kid’s only eating twice a day. Might as well turn it into chicken pot pie. I just really want chicken pot pie now. I know, I have one in the freezer. Thank you, Marie Calendar. Can we make it for lunch? Sure. Shit. Okay.

Anyway, so yeah, so that that’s really different and, and also kind of the reality is, and this is something to think about too. If you stop pumping during the day when your kid is like two or three, yes, it is possible your body might decide to stop lactating altogether. It’s actually not common, but it’s possible. And at that point, you know, you can sit and really think like, would that be the worst thing in the world right now?

Yeah. And also because that prolactin switch is still in the on position, if your supply drops and you’re like, oh, I don’t want that, this isn’t for me. I want to continue pumping at work. I want to continue nursing. Your supply can go back up. You’re just going to have power pump a couple of times. You do all the things that we always tell you to do to boost your supply.

Yeah. It’s a lot easier to do that after you’ve really well-established breastfeeding. And, and let me tell you, like, even like years after weaning, your body is just so prime to breastfeed again. Like I, okay. So I attended a birth where we had to, it was a home birth and we transferred the mother in the immediate postpartum for a hemorrhage, but the baby was fine.

She didn’t want to admit the baby to the hospital so she had our assistant do skin to skin with the baby and bring her to the hospital after. And my assistant called me the next day and she was skin to skin with that baby for like two hours. And she called me the next day and she goes, Maureen. I’m like, what?

She’s like, I took a shower and I leaked milk. And she hadn’t breastfed in I think eight years. Wow. Yeah. Wow. It was fucking awesome. Yeah. I mean, that just goes to show that our bodies are so communal. Right. You know, like what’s good for the group. Like that is one thing that women’s biology is so interesting to me.

Like it, no matter which way you look at it, biologically anthropologically, we are just hard wired to be thinking about other people and how can we feed them? How can we serve them? That’s great. It’s also annoying, right? But, you know, like it just boils down to boobs are cool. Y’all so cool.

And like, I, you know, I breastfed really, it was like very close to my son’s fourth birthday that I think was our, our last time we breastfed. And in those four years, like probably after he was a year and a half, there were several times I went and like spent a week somewhere else. And I basically almost never pumped during that. I only ever expressed if it was painful.

And every time when I came back, we just went right back to nursing normally. Yeah. And you know, they’re eating solid food at that time, so let’s not forget. So and they’re usually just taking it right out of your hand. Like you’re lucky to eat any food yourself. I watched Heather’s baby steal a pancake off the table today, right off my plate, just right into her face.

So let’s talk about complimentary food just for a minute. I have to acknowledge the elephant in the alcove, Heather. I did not fart. No, no, no, no, no. It’s cow milk. Yeah. Cow’s milk. I mean, yeah, not as big a deal as you think, because this is one of wouldn’t you say this is one of the top five questions we get is how to incorporate cow’s milk when you’re still nursing.

Oh God. Okay. So I don’t, I feel like this, maybe this misconception came along with the advent of like formula use? But in this country and in a couple other countries, but this isn’t like a worldwide phenomenon, but in, in the United States, there’s a strong misconception that children absolutely have to drink cow’s milk for the calcium. Whole milk, right?

Like they have to. If your kid doesn’t drink a glass of milk a day, they won’t have strong bones or something, totally BS. And I don’t know, maybe that came with like war time or something where like fresh vegetables with calcium weren’t available. I’ll have to look that up. I’m gonna look that up. I’m just here to tell you, first of all, it’s for brain development, it’s the DHA in it and the Vitamin D.

But I think originally it was the calcium. That was the big thing. The big push was like calcium, calcium, calcium. Like in the eighties and seventies. And that was like, all those advertising, like drink milk for calcium. Now they’re like, oh, we’re adding DHA to this milk. Right. And also, can we just say really quickly the milk that we drink today is not the same milk that they used to give kids back in the day when we were all on farms or you actually had a milkman that would drop your milk right to the house.

Pasteurized homogenized milk is really different nutritionally from raw milk, very different. And PS. humans are supposed to be lactose-intolerant. We’re not, like we didn’t evolve to drink other species’ milks. That’s not really a thing and it’s especially, so when you look up population distribution of lactose tolerance versus intolerance, you actually see that people who live in warmer climates have a higher incidence of lactose intolerance because they couldn’t store dairy products. Yeah. That’s interesting.

Right. So populations there just didn’t have as much dairy in their lives because it’s not shelf stable. And let’s just be clear, it’s adults that are meant to be, not babies. Right. So babies are not lactose intolerant because we have lactose in our breast milk. And so they need that for the sugar and for, you know, energy, and all of these things. But as you age, you become less and less tolerant of lactose because biologically speaking, you’re not supposed to be drinking milk really, as an adult, that’s a baby food.

And so for children, like older children and adults, lactose intolerance is the species norm. However, the level of intolerance like, like how severely it impacts your body varies over different populations. Again, like I said, like a lot of people, say from Northern Europe, had dairy in their diets for a lot longer in human history.

Right. Cause they could like keep things cold. So we see that intolerance in those populations as much lower, those populations can have more milk and cheese and whatever without pooping their pants. And that’s fine. But the reality is then that humans do not need to drink cow’s milk. It’s not a need, but kids do need calcium.

They do need DHA. They do need omega threes. Also those things are just added to milk, like the omega-3 and DHA. That’s not a milk thing. And unless we’re getting milk from a farm, everything’s added to the milk, including the fat. The first thing they do is strip everything out of the milk and then pasteurize it and then put it all back in.

So the whole point is, your kid doesn’t need a fucking cup of milk. If somebody is like, you need to stop breastfeeding and start giving that kid real milk, just ignore that or say, whatever thing is on your mind. I’m like, fuck you. But you do need to start considering the holistic picture of your child’s nutrition.

Like, you know, before one, they’re still getting a significant amount of breast milk, which is really like a whole food, a whole nutrition. And you are just kind of experimenting with like, how do you eat and what kind of foods do you like? But really around that age and after you do have to start considering that breast milk is not going to be their primary nutrient source.

So you have to figure out like, how do we get those dark leafy greens in? How do we get good healthy meats in? How do we get whole grains in? Right. And, you know, before you tell your pediatrician to fuck off the recommendation is that you give your baby after the age of one cow’s milk, because most people, especially in the United States do not eat balanced diets themselves, much less, give it to their babies. And they don’t breastfeed after one and they don’t breastfeed.

So really they have to tell people on the whole to give their baby cow’s milk, to make sure that we don’t have a bunch of nuggets running around who are malnourished. Right. And so you’re probably like, wait, what does my kid drink then? Your kid can drink breast milk and water. They don’t need to drink anything else.

Right. And then the, the juice thing is a whole other. Juice is completely optional. Don’t give your kid juice. Sorry. I feel strongly about it. Juice takes all of the healthy things out of fruit and just gives you the fucking sugar. Juice is a treat. It’s a dessert. It’s not nutritional. It’s not something you serve with a meal as part of your nutrition plan. It’s like dessert. It’s like a melted Popsicle. That’s what juice is.

Okay. Just going to say, let’s assume that you’re my breast friend out there and you’re sitting there thinking like, but what if I want to give my kid cow milk? Okay. Cool. Cool. Cool. So you’ve heard all this and you’re like, I still, we drink milk in my family. It’s just a part of our diet. That’s fine. So how do you do that with this child?

What I usually recommend for any drink that you’ve decided to give your child is that you put about two ounces, right? Like a small amount in their cup with their meal. And you just treat it like a food, right. If it’s not water, I think of it as it’s, it’s kind of a food item that’s on their tray.

And usually what we recommend with babies around one or under, and really, I think a little bit after one is I usually say offer the breast first as a meal. So they get their breast milk and then give them their meal. Right. Cause it’s a supplementary meal. It’s not replacing a breastfeed, so you’re going to breastfeed and then you’re going to top them off with solid food.

Right. And they may, they may not eat that much. It might be a bite. Yeah. And that’s okay. And at some point, your kid’s going to turn that corner of where they go from just kind of like trying and supplementing with foods to suddenly whole hog, they devour everything you give them and that’s cool. And at that point I’m kind of like, yeah, you don’t have to offer the breast first. Whatever, but that point is different for every kid.

Some kid hits some, some babies hit that at eight months and some babies hit that at 16 months. Right. And a good way to tell if your kid is ready for solid food is if they’re sitting up on their own, if they’re able to do the pincer grasp with their thumb and their finger to grab things and if they’re not tongue thrusting anymore.

So if your baby is six months, you go to your well-child check and your pediatrician says, go ahead and start one supplementary solid food feeding, but your kid isn’t doing any of those things, don’t worry about it. Every kid gets there at their own pace, do not be force-feeding this child food because you think that this imaginary landmark exists.

Right? My big thing is if they can’t sit up and hold their head up sturdy, and they’re still thrusting food out of their mouth with their tongue, it’s just not safe because they’re going to gag and choke at a much higher rate. Yeah. And behaviorally, they’re gonna associate that with this isn’t fun and I don’t want to do this.

No, I, also wanted to mentioned since I just said gagging. Gagging on food is actually normal for babies and even young children, because so young babies have a really strong gag reflex and they kind of grow out of that, but that’s protective for them, right? Because they have these really tiny little throats and they can choke really easily.

So gagging is not choking. Gagging is when they make a sound and it might look like they’re choking, but they’re still breathing and making sounds. And I usually recommend that you observe very carefully but let that play out because they have to learn how much food to put in their mouth and how much food they can swallow.

So that’s actually part of their like muscle memory and learning process. And that, let me just piggyback on to that. You might hear this kitschy phrase going around that food before one is just for fun and that is not true. Yeah. It’s not fun. It’s integrating behavior, right? So your child has a learning how to socially eat food, how to be at a table, developmentally grab things with their hands and get it to their mouth.

Like that’s actually a very big task. And by feeding your baby with a spoon constantly, you are actually taking away the opportunity for them to prune those neurons and figure out how to do it themselves. So, yeah, it’s going to be messy, just lay down a little tarp. I would just cut a trash bag open so it was like a big rectangle and put it under the chair.

Yeah. And, you know, I had to crack up because Maureen was telling me the other day that she had a patient that said, Hey, do you know anything about this new thing called baby led weaning? And Maureen was like, okay, you know, what’s new is blending food in a blender. Baby led weaning has been the norm forever.

You know, people in the forest weren’t like blending bananas and strawberries. Maybe they chewed up food for their kids, which is fine. But yeah, like the, the idea of purees is really new in human history, right? It’s like the past hundred years, not even in the past, like 50 years, we’ve been doing that compared to, I don’t know, 30 million years of humans and other human similar species living.

That’s like a half a second of our history. Right. So, yeah if you couldn’t tell, Heather and I are big baby led weaning advocates. But yeah I mean, and then, you know, you give your child nothing but purees and you feed it to them with a rubber spoon and then suddenly at one year old, you’re like, my child has a problem with textures.

Right. So, no. Yeah, because they, they register a different texture other than a puree as like, what is this? Yeah. So we recommend you can look up, go ahead and Google baby led weaning. But what we usually do is we recommend foods that are the texture, where if you put it in your mouth and crushed it with your tongue against your palette it would be smushed.

Bananas are great. Bananas, cooked potatoes. Yeah. You want it to cook to that texture. So it stays in one piece when you hold it, but when you smush it around in your mouth with your tongue, it gets mushed. Boiled green beans. Things that are shaped like a finger are really good shape.

They’re easy to grab. And that’s a good size too, cause you want it to be big, actually. You want to go bigger rather than smaller at first. And then as your baby gets to one, one and a half, you start paring down those sizes so they’re actually using that pincher grasp and they’re thinking about how much food they’re putting in their mouth.

And if you’re feeding things like yogurt and stuff. What I would do is I would preload the spoon cause that task of scooping and then getting the spoon to your mouth is like really fucking hard. Like sometimes I can’t even do it. That’s like a, that’s like a 15-month-old activity. Yeah. Yeah. So what I would do is I would keep the cup because sometimes I was just like, I cannot deal with you dumping this on your head.

I would keep the yogurt cup. I dip the spoon and hand it to my son or put it on the tray in front of him and let him deal with that. And yogurt’s really good cause it kind of like, Greek yogurt especially, kind of like sticks to the spoon. You can just dip the spoon in and it has enough on it. Or like even apple sauce will do that. So like if you’re going to do any purees, that’s how I recommend doing it. Is doing those preloaded spoons and giving it to that baby.

Finally, to wrap this up, let’s just touch on judgment of others about how long you breastfeed. Oh, oh, you’re still feeding your toddler, Heather? If they’re old enough to ask for it, then they’re too old to be getting it.

Yeah. What the fuck? I hear that one so much. I’m like if they can ask for what they want, you shouldn’t give it to them? How abusive does that sound? In the movie Grown Ups, it’s like, oh, he’s still breastfeeding? How old is he? He’s 72 months. It’s like, yeah. Yeah. Thanks Grown Ups. Like I’m going to have to email Adam Sandler and I got and be like, dude, that’s really uncool.

Thanks for perpetuating that really damaging, hilarious joke about nursing over the age of one. Yeah. I, and I think that, that a lot of that judgment and disgust comes from the sexualization of breasts and breastfeeding, which I feel like I have to combat every day when I work in lactation. You know, and even me, like, I felt like I was like such a bold, liberated public nursing bad-ass and then when my kid was like three, I didn’t want to feed him in public anymore.

I felt fucking awful about it. Yeah. So, I mean, I guess this is just us saying we’ve got a long way to go. We’re trying. Go at your own pace, but pretty much just like, fuck anybody that has something to say about how long you breastfeed your kid. You know what? If you have had a bad experience about this, I want you to sit down and email us at I want to hear about it and I want to tell you that you’re great. And I want to tell you that you’re a bad-ass and I want to tell you that those people can go fuck themselves.

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. We are totally here for all of that. And we hope that you have learned something today and if you’re still struggling in that first six weeks, just know that this place that you’re going, this goal of reaching a year, don’t be so hard on yourself about it. You know, just give yourself all the grace in the world and start seeing your baby as a separate person that is going to help you make that decision. It’s not going to be all on you and it is going to change constantly, parenthood. Right. So just be along for the ride and just kind of have a loose vision of where you’re going. Yeah. I think this was a good one.

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