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When to wean? My Experiences with Breastfeeding and Weaning

I nursed Amber for the last time this week and am still wondering: When to wean?

When I learned that I was expecting my first child, I didn’t give much thought to how I’d feed that baby.  At that time I was struggling with the other typical concerns: Will my body do what it’s supposed to?  Will the baby be healthy? Will I be a GOOD mother?

As time went by, and my due date fast approached, I started learning more and more about the health benefits of breastfeeding for both mommy and baby.  I then started considering nursing; “I’ll try it for a few months” I told people.  My grandmother died from breast cancer, and my Aunt is a survivor, so it was important to me to reduce my chances of also getting it.  (My friend Darwinian Fail would probably tell me to be screened for the BRCA gene).  So when Sierra was born exactly a month early very unexpectedly, I wasn’t prepared for the issues we’d have establishing a nursing relationship.  The human race has been birthing and nursing babies for centuries – it can’t be that hard, I thought. I had flat almost inverted nipples, she was incredibly tiny, and sleepy, and jaundiced. And a preemie.  (For those of you who’ve ever had a preemie, you know exactly what I mean).

As natural as breastfeeding is, establishing a nursing relationship is HARD for anyone – full term babies, small babies, large babies and preemie babies.  But thankfully I had the amazing support of the lactation consultants at our hospital, and from my family doctor (unfortunately he’s retired now).  With lots of perseverance, and support from my husband, my mom (she nursed my brother and I), friends (Kimmer) and the rest of our family, I successfully managed to get Sierra to nurse from the boob three weeks after she was born.

So I happily nursed and nourished Sierra for as long as she wanted: 13 months to be exact.  I knew she was ready to wean because nursing her was a wrestling match.  I’d offer and she’d squirm from my arms and ask for her “ba ba” (bottle).  I was also ready to be done. I wanted to play softball that summer without feeling guilty about not being there to nurse her to sleep at night.  And we wanted another child.

During my second pregnancy I had a list of things I wanted to do to make my parenting experience better/easier. I was going to offer a bottle early, I was going to pump, I was not going to stress over having enough milk. I wanted the best of both worlds – nurse the baby at home, and have her readily accept a bottle so that I could go out when I wanted to.

Brooke was born a very eager nurser. She was born at a good weight (6 lbs 10 oz) and had a great suck. Our nursing relationship got started without any problems at all.

Unfortunately our relationship wasn’t as smooth sailing as our first few days were.  Brooke was a very slow gainer and I was told several times to supplement her, or to give up altogether.  This made me even more determined to nurse her. My mom encouraged me to keep going because the Doctors had told her the same thing about me, and quitting nursing didn’t change that.

Fast forward 20 months. Brooke was still nursing, but I was done.  Again, softball season was approaching and I wanted to play.  For some reason there was not emotional guilt about it – maybe I was exhausted?  Brooke was the kind of baby that woke up every two hours to nurse and at 20 months she was still doing that.  In desperation for a good night’s sleep I offered her a sippy cup of chocolate milk. She eagerly accepted it and never looked back.

Less than a year later my running became very difficult. It felt like no matter where I was running, I was going uphill. So I complained to hubby about that, and he came home with a pregnancy test…  Ooooops!  We were going to be blessed again!

This time I had no preconceived notions of what nursing our third baby would be like, how long I would nurse for, or whether I’d be tied to her or not.

My pregnancy with Amber was super easy – I stayed active, and ran almost to the day I gave birth to her.  My labour and delivery with her was also easy – 67 min from start to finish!  She was also born sucking her thumb, so she had a great suck and was a champion nurser:

Amber was a great baby – we had no absolutely no nursing problems.  She gained well, she slept well and transitioned to food quite easily in comparison to her sisters.  Despite going back to work a year ago, we’ve managed to continue our nursing relationship.

Until recently.

Amber is turning two in less than a week, and has decided that playing with her sisters, and being just like them is far more exciting than nursing.

Sleep?  Well that’s more important than getting up to nurse too.  So over the past month she’s asked to nurse less and less to the point where the last few times that she’s asked, she didn’t stay long enough for me to let down any milk.  Today, as I write this, it’s been about      a week since she last asked for her “‘nack” (snack).

So I guess it’s official. After 57 months of nursing, I’m retiring the ta ta’s. Wow.  What an incredible journey it’s been.

Healthy and Fun Birthday Party Ideas

One of the toughest things I’ve encountered as a parent is planning my kids’ birthday parties. Should I hire an entertainer? What should I serve? How do I keep the party healthy? Etc… With a backyard pool it doesn’t make sense for us to go anywhere for a party, so I host cooking/pool parties! Here are some of the things we make:

1. Fruit kebobs – cut up some fruit (pineapple, grapes, strawberries, bananas etc) and give each kid a stick to slide the fruit on.

fruitkebobs 160x120 Healthy and Fun Birthday Party Ideas

Make-your-own-fruit-kebobs

2. Veggie kebobs – cut up some veggies (onion, green, red & yellow peppers, cherry tomatoes etc) and give each kid a stick to slide the fruit on. Brush each stick with oil and grill on the BBQ.

3. Make your own mini pizza – pizza sauce, shredded cheese, various veggies, pepperoni, ham etc.. Give each kid a whole wheat greek style pita and let them create! Then pop the pizza’s in the oven long enough to melt the cheese.

Make-your-own-pizza

Make-your-own-pizza

4. Make your own smoothies – yogourt, ice, fruit – let each kid decide what fruit they want and blend. If the kids are older, let them press the blender button.

5. Make your own frozen yogourt sundae (this is a great alternative to a cake). Vanilla frozen yogourt topped with strawberries, bananas, and chocolate – yum!

6. Chocolate fondue – dip fruit in melted chocolate, I find that the good Belgian chocolate from Bulk Barn w
works well. (This isn’t the healthiest option on my list, but it at least gets them to eat some fruit).

My daughters are 5 and 3 and they love these! Not only have these activities kept them and their friends entertained, but they also encouraged them to eat healthier foods. Two birthday problems solved at once!

Make-your-own-pizza
Make-your-own-fruit-kebobs

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Fitness Tip of The Day: When running errands or shopping, be sure to pack some healthy snacks to have on-hand. Then after you work-up a big appetite, you won’t be tempted to grab something at the mall food court or the fast food restaurant on the way home. Exercise is not enough. You must also include healthy eating habits.

Related posts:

  1. Motivation Monday: June 28, 2010
  2. Tips For Preventing Holiday Weight Gain

This post is from Fitness Cheerleader. Please visit the original post if you would like to join the discussion.

© Janice Smith for Fitness Cheerleader, 2010. |
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Are You Comforting Yourself With Food?

emotionaleating 180x120 Are You Comforting Yourself With Food?

Are you an emotional eater?

Think back to the last time you were stressed out, upset or over-tired. What did you eat? Did you follow the Food Pyramid and eat all that healthy stuff? Or did you reach for donuts, muffins, chips etc? Don’t worry, I’m the same way. Trust me – it’s not uncommon for us to reach for familiar foods when we feel stressed or upset. The good news is you can still have your comfort food – and eat it too, as long as it’s with lighter alternatives.

Here are some examples:

  • Instead of a slice of apple pie (350 cal/14g fat), try having a baked apple (100 cal/0g fat)
  • Instead of a brownie (227 cal/9g fat) try having ½ a cup of fat-free chocolate pudding (130 cal/ 0g fat)
  • Instead of a donut (310 cal/19g fat) try a low fat muffin (160 cal/2g fat)

MORE TIPS:

  • Think before you eat. Give yourself 15 minutes before you reach for the home made chocolate chip cookies or your favourite potato chips.
  • Write it down. Keeping a journal of your negative feelings and noting the circumstances when you reach for food (other than hunger) can help you identify your triggers. Writing allows you to express your emotions privately.
  • Avoid temptation. Don’t carry change for the vending machine, and ignore those office donuts and treats.
  • Understand how food comforts you. Some treats, such as chocolate, cause your body to release small amounts of mood-boosting hormones. Over time, you may come to associate a particular food with feeling better.
  • Exercise. Staying fit will help you handle stressful situations better. And unlike comfort foods, exercise BURNS rather than adds calories.

Remember folks, changing habits takes time, so be patient with yourself. Have a great day!

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Fitness Tip of The Day: When running errands or shopping, be sure to pack some healthy snacks to have on-hand. Then after you work-up a big appetite, you won’t be tempted to grab something at the mall food court or the fast food restaurant on the way home. Exercise is not enough. You must also include healthy eating habits.

Related posts:

  1. How Much do You Need to Eat to Lose Weight?
  2. Tips For Preventing Holiday Weight Gain

This post is from Fitness Cheerleader. Please visit the original post if you would like to join the discussion.

© Janice Smith for Fitness Cheerleader, 2010. |
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