Breastfeeding Gynastics

Breastfeeding Gynastics






Many new parents (& many health care professionals) assume, the further away from new born days they get, the less breastfeeding questions they will have.





It is not uncommon, however, for a parent to suddenly realise the surpassed their goals and beyond babyhood, new challenges and questions arise. Then it can be hard to find answers you can trust, in a world of internet searches and lack of access to peers who might have continued breastfeeding.





So here today, I am sharing with you a question and my response that, I hope will help some of you 🙂





I hope you don’t mind me asking, but do you have any advice for breastfeeding gymnastics? Little one just can’t stay still and it’s making me sore. Its at it’s worse when he’s settling for his midday nap.

Breastfeeding mum & >1 year old




Gymnurstics









This lovely coined phrase describes the usually mobile feeding little one, who wants to access milk in a variety of poses, often without unlactching.





Not to be confused with the cuter, younger baby who might grab legs and wiggle away whilst feeding, it is often the full body movers that get the patents most frustrated.





Not all little ones will do this, but for many parents, it’s like someone informed their little ones that milk can be drank at any of the 360° of the breast. These budding scientists/ gymnasts must discover if this is true!





For some, it’s an amusing phase that is over before long, but for others, like our questioner, it can cause some problems. Here are somethings to consider & keep you on track to meet your feeding goals.





Unlatching









Although latching IS possible from all angles, it’s quite likely that by the time whole body has moved to get over a shoulder, the nipple is no longer far back within the little ones mouth where it needs to be for pain free feeding.





It’s probably wise at this point to break the seal of the latch (a little finger in the corner of their mouth/ over their teeth) should allow you to remove your nipple safely. They can relatch in the new position and this might be ok. It’s the best way to avoid damage at least.





Distractable feeders





Some patents will find in addition to the gymnastics, their kid is on and off all day long. La Leche League Canada set out why this is normal, and some strategies you can try to combat it here.





New baby, new rules





Every parent and little one, have a set of norms, rythems and rules unique to just them. For a seasoned parent, they will learn how their children differ to one another. For the new parent, they will notice their norms might be different to peers.





In this context, especially with the growing little ones, for many, a shift occurs with feeding. A truly balanced, happy breastfeeding relationship beyond babyhood, is an evolving process give and take.





Think about the first 6 months of your baby’s life, where you fed them every time they moved and and some of us thought it might never end. Then before long, food is on the table and your little one has the ever expanding ability to communicate their feelings, desires and needs.





Many parents can start to feel touched out, overwhelmed by the constant need for closeness, milk and play. Adding in gymnastics can push parents to their limits and this is where nursing manners come in.





Nursing manners









This is something that comes up often, when a parent contacts a supporter and says they are done with breastfeeding. Many times, they are only fed up, touched out, and setting a new limit can help.





This link contains a page I have re read often & sent out even more often. When though it’s written in the context of breastfeeding more than one little one at a time, it’s wisdom is applicable to all parents breastfeeding beyond babyhood.





They will look different for everyone, for some it might have been there from the start (no nipple tweaking!) Or it might develop over time into something like, no climbing with nap time feeds.





It’s a journey not a race





Where ever life takes you and your little ones, breastfeeding gymnastics is likely to be a short phase within it. Do what feels right to you and reach out to other parents who get it, for support. You got this đź’Ş





Please leave you tips and comments below & for personised support, get in touch.


Why give up your best parenting tool?


Aunt bossy, nosy neighbors and pushy parents at the school gates all feel like they have a say on when your growing breastfed little one weans





You might feel pressure to wean due to cultural/historical reasons, religious reasons and even medical reasons. If it doesn’t feel or sound right, I encourage you to question it and  seek second, more specialized or culturally appropriate opinion.





Here’s why you can (and probably should) ignore them with confidence. 





Spend any time with a breastfeeding family and you will quickly see the many reasons a little one will ask to feed. A loud noise scared them, they bumped their head, someone new is in their home, they are tired, their teeth are sore and on and on. Breastfeeding is more than just food, and for many families its a mothering tool they wouldn’t quickly give up. 





Ask any sibling to a breastfed little one what they need at any moment of upset, they will tell you the baby needs boobie, mummy milk, or whatever their phrase for it is. If small children can see this one thing fixes many, why do us grown ups struggle with it so much?







2 years OR beyond.





The World Health Organisation recognize the important part breastfeeding has in a child’s early years, recommending breastfeeding continue to 2 years OR beyond. This is the bit people get stuck on or forget all together. 





Most places I go, I will end up talking to someone about breastfeeding in some way or another. I think of it like smokers all getting the urge at once, see a breastfed baby and ops all the other breastfed little ones want some. Similar happens with grown ups wanting to talk about it. Yes you probably hear more about the disapproving public in the media but this has not been my experience.





Another perspective





ABM’s recent social media campaigns #feedon give brilliant visual proof of the many parents feeding beyond babyhood with such tender moments captured.





I remember when a guy saved my toddler from some impending calamity at a conference center. Next it was time for cuddles and milk and we had a long chat about his own nursing toddler at home. I listened as he told me of the wonders of breastfeeding beyond babyhood, how it was a fabulous parenting tool but his wife where fretting how to get her to stop as she was turning two next week. 





I listened as he (mis quoted) the WHO guidance for breastfeeding duration and validated his feelings and concerns. I let him into the secrete that over the next 48 hours, the conference center was going to be filled with very normal, very well adjusted breastfeeding 3,4,5 + year olds who all still breastfeed.





These families knew the ease of breastfeeding though Chicken pox, travel on airplanes, though to reducing sibling rivalry with tandem nursing.









When ever we passed each other over the weekend, we shared a smile, I hope I gave him the gift of another perspective. 





Science measures for us the nutritional reasons why breast milk continues to be designed to continue beyond babyhood, but when we look at only this, we are missing how as a parenting or mothering tool, there is nothing that can do so much within one package!





Learning to Dance





Many parents find as  their little ones grow, the breastfeeding relationship becomes more like a dance with both a partnership element and need for your own boundaries. Without them, parents can get to a point of feeling so overwhelmed that they want to give up breastfeeding all together. This is rarely necessary and by working alongside a skilled breastfeeding supporter, it’s nearly always possible to find some adjustments to try to maintain all the benefits of breastfeeding a little longer. 





Some parents struggle with unbidden feelings of aversion, some really do just want to wean right now, and then some struggle with feelings during and after weaning. 





Final thoughts





Wherever you are at, I encourage you to acknowledge all the ways breastfeeding is the seamless answer to so many parenting problems. Don’t be in a hurry to give it up for someone else’s reasons. 





Further reading





La Leche League – Still Nursing? 





Kelly Mom – Breastfeeding Past Infancy 





La Leche League – Thinking of Weaning?





Breastfeeding Aversion and Agitation 





Books
Mothering your Nursing Toddler





The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding





Have you listened to the Beyond Babyhood podcast yet?


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