Tuesday, October 9, 2012

31 for 21 Blog Challenge: DAY NINE: Breastfeeding Beyond One

When I was pregnant with Jesse, I never questioned whether or not I would breastfeed him.  I, also, never dreamed that it wasn't (always) an easy chore.  Unfortunately, being a new Mom - I just didn't know how to handle a very lethargic baby Jesse.  I didn't have the proper support in place to make breastfeeding a success.  Day nine proved fatal to my breastfeeding quest.  Jesse got a bottle; it was all over.

While pregnant with James, I was determined to breastfeed.  More importantly, I was determined to succeed.  This time, I had begun talking to my friend K (a lactation specialist).  By the time James was born, K and I had a great connection.  Unlike Jesse, James just 'got it' from the first moment he tried to nurse.  He wasn't lethargic.  It wasn't a battle.  It just worked.  He began baby food on schedule and the breastfeeding decreased.  As the months went on, I worried about the day I would have to stop nursing him.  We had decided on one year.  I worried that I'd traumatize him.  Well, James independence shone through.  At ten months, he weaned himself.  He decided.  It was all over.

When we learned that Josiah had Down Syndrome, I was not less anxious to breastfeed.  Of course, I wasn't without my doubts, fears, and anxieties.  I was fortunate enough to reconnect with K, so I knew I had the best support person in my corner.  I've written previously about my experience with breastfeeding, Josiah's weight battle, etc.  With great perseverance, we have successfully breastfed our baby with Down Syndrome.  Yes, we supplemented when necessary.  Yes, we introduced baby food when suggested.  However, the whole time, I have continued to breastfeed him.  In a few days, Josiah will turn one.  One was always the 'cut-off' in my mind.  Not this time.....

I am convinced that breastfeeding Josiah (or any child with Down Syndrome) has immeasurable positive benefits. They include:
  • increased protection from infection and bowel problems
  • increased mouth/tongue coordination
  • increased stimulation
  • increased muscle tone
These are in addition to the positive effects of breastfeeding on 'normally developing' children, such as:
  • breastfeeding is more nutritious
  • gives immune protection
  • minimizes allergies
  • helps digestive system mature
  • lowers risk of SIDS
  • promotes eye and brain development
  • is more economical
Why would I stop now???

Studies indicate that breastmilk in mother's who have been lactating for year or more, have a significantly increased fat and energy content.

In the second year, 448ml of breastmilk (approximately 15 ounces) provides:
  • 29% of energy requirements
  • 43% of protein requirements
  • 36% of calcium requirements
  • 75% of vitamin A requirements
  • 76% of folate requirements
  • 94% of vitamin B12 requirements, and
  • 60% of vitamin C requirements
According to experts:
  • children weaned before the age of 2 are at an increased risk of illness
  • breastfed children between 1-3 have fewer illnesses, illnesses of shorter duration, and lower mortality rates
  • some of the immune factors in breastmilk increase in concentration during the second year
  • cognitive achievement (IQ scores and grades in school) and breastfeeding have shown the greatest gains in children who were breastfed the longest
  • longer breastfeeding duration = improved social development
  • longer breastfeeding duration eases transition to childhood
I know these benefits were always there.  My mindset about continuing is different now.  Again, it simply didn't work with Jesse.  James weaned himself at 10 months.  Josiah shows no signs of weaning and I have no intention of suggesting it.

One year down :)

 "There are three reasons for breast-feeding:
the milk is always at the right temperature;
it comes in attractive containers;
and the cat can't get it."
- Irena Chalmers

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