Tag Archives: weaning

API Announces “Voices of Breastfeeding” Double Edition of Attached Family

New Magazine Issue Advocates for Increased Support of Compassionate Infant-Feeding Choices

Bf 2014 Challenges smIn honor of the millions of women who have come together throughout history to support one another in motherhood, Attachment Parenting International (API) is pleased to announce the latest edition of Attached Family magazine. This double “Voices of Breastfeeding” issue spotlights both the cultural explosion of breastfeeding advocacy as well as the challenges still to overcome.

“This issue of the magazine has been a long time in the making,” said Rita Brhel, Editor of the Attached Family and API Publications Coordinator. “We wanted to create a resource that is helpful to all mothers, both those who were able to breastfeed their babies and those who were unable to.”

The “Voices of Breastfeeding” edition of Attached Family is divided into an “Advocating for Acceptance” issue that identifies the ever-growing movement of mothers inspired to campaign for society’s embrace of breastfeeding, and a “Meeting Challenges with Compassion” issue that recognizes that there are circumstances when breastfeeding is difficult, if not impossible, highlighting the importance of empathetic support for all infant-feeding choices.

“Ideally, I would have liked to have breastfed all three of my children,” Brhel said. “But Attachment Parenting International supports parents in all walks of life, including mothers who are unable to breastfeed, and I was able to learn how to meet my child’s attachment needs through sensitive responsiveness beyond breastfeeding.”

This edition of Attached Family was also made in appreciation of longtime magazines like Mothering, New Beginnings and Breastfeeding Today, which paved the way to widespread support for breastfeeding and Attachment Parenting conversations among mothers, and now fathers, and by extension, contributing to the breastfeeding movement that eventually influenced the research and medical communities.

“API is pleased to give a voice to our breastfeeding struggles, those related to society’s acceptance as well as those shared by mother and baby,” said Samantha Gray, Executive Director of Attachment Parenting International. “Emphasizing healthy attachment and relationship, it is natural that we speak up collectively to further advocacy efforts and gather together regularly to give personal support. Our contributors, led by Rita’s editorial vision and passion for breastfeeding support, have captured that perspective in this double issue.”

Scattered throughout the “Voices of Breastfeeding” edition of Attached Family are parent stories, project highlights and additional resources from around and beyond API, as well as the following features:

·         “The Real Breastfeeding Story” detailing exactly how far industrial society has come in accepting breastfeeding, yet also how far we have yet to go, which includes a look at “Extended Nursing Around the World”

·         “When Breastfeeding Doesn’t Work” explains the hard decisions some mothers made regarding their infant-feeding choices

·         An interview with Katrina Pavlik, founder of “Breastfeed, Chicago!” and an accompanying photo essay of breastfeeding families in Chicago, Illinois, USA

·         “Nature’s Case for Breastfeeding” featuring Attachment Parenting researcher Jeanne Stolzer from the University of Nebraska, USA

·         A recap of the past century’s infant-feeding landscape in “The History of Formula Use”

·         API’s debut of the Parent Support Deserts project with a presentation of infant-feeding support deserts within the United States

·         “Why Relationship with Your Baby Matters” by API’s Knowledge Base Coordinator Art Yuen

“This edition of Attached Family continues API’s goal of providing research-backed information in an environment of respect, empathy and compassion in order to support parents in making decisions for their families and to create support networks in their communities,” Brhel said.

API thanks cosponsors of this special edition of Attached Family: Arm’s Reach Concepts, Katie M. Berggren, Green Child Magazine, Momzelle and The Infant-Parent Institute for their generous contributions.

Access this double issue free of charge with API’s free membership.


From Fear to Breastfeeding

By Grace Zell, staff writer for The Attached Family

To breastfeed or bottle-nurse?When I was pregnant for the first time, I wasn’t sure what I would do and I was actually a little afraid of committing to breastfeeding and being my child’s sole source of sustenance.

After my son was born, I decided to combine breastfeeding and bottle-nursing. I was ready with a breast pump, sterilized bottles, and formula. My son was a very alert and agitated infant, and he awakened every hour during the night in the beginning. Bottle-nursing gave me the ability to sleep for a four-hour shift while my husband took over. I had planned to fill the bottles with breast milk, but my son was such a high-needs infant that I fell behind with pumping and, after about three weeks, gave up completely and used formula in his bottles.

An Early End to Breastfeeding

I had been unable to get my son to latch on for nursing and did not get very nurturing support from the lactation staff at our hospital. They had led me to believe that I wouldn’t be able to pump and bottle-nurse. (I have since seen women who pumped for several months without their baby actually nursing and a woman who got her infant to latch on after about three unsuccessful weeks of trying.) Continue reading From Fear to Breastfeeding

Good Advice for Gentle Weaning: ‘Don’t Offer, Don’t Refuse’

By Grace Zell, staff writer for The Attached Family

Gentle weaning storyMy experience with weaning my daughter was very successful and non-traumatic, which was a good thing since I found it hard to imagine how I would ever refuse her.

Luckily, while reading The Complete Book of Breastfeeding, a wonderful resource as my nursing experience changed from stage to stage, I came across the slogan, “Don’t offer; don’t refuse,” which made great sense when I was ready to start the weaning process.

I let my daughter determine the pace of things. Fortunately, I am a stay-at-home mom and didn’t have any pressing need to stop nursing, so I took my cue from my precocious baby who, at a year, had already been walking for three months. She was also eating solid foods and drinking from a sippy cup and bottle.

The weaning process seemed to be harder on me emotionally, as I didn’t want to commit to ending our breastfeeding relationship. I worried about depression once my daughter was weaned, especially because I felt that the nursing hormones probably protected me against the depression that I had developed after my first child was born. Despite my sadness, I knew that I should try while it was naturally going in that direction.

One day, shortly after my daughter was about 13 or 14 months old, I took a deep breath and decided to follow the “don’t offer; don’t refuse” advice, and I went about our day without initiating a feeding. At a certain point during that day and the next few days, my daughter would come to me when I was sitting and tug at my shirt and push it up, but when I positioned her to nurse, she nipped at me. So, I gently pulled her away, closed my shirt, and put her down. To my relief, she would scamper off, laughing. It was a game to her, and she didn’t seem to need to nurse for comfort or security since I was providing those things in other ways. She still had her special blankies, and we spent time snuggling and playing and rocking in our rocking chair. I also fed her a bottle once or twice a day.

In a very short time, nursing was just a memory. It still makes me a little sad, but as I watch both of my children go through new and exciting phases, that cheers me up!

The Best Baby Food is Homemade

By Amanda Hughes, co-leader for API of St. Louis, Missouri, USA

Make your own baby foodWhen my sister was a baby, I remember my mom had a food mill at the table and she would feed the same food to my sister that we ate for supper. It seemed easy to me, at four years old.

Years later, during my baby shower, my friends and I played a game that changed the way I would feed my children. I took ten jars of baby food, and the women had to guess what each was. They could smell, look, taste, touch – anything they wanted, to try to guess it. I look back at this and remember how we laughed when we got them wrong. I particularly remember how bad the meats smelled and how that made me nervous: What is in this stuff? Do I want to feed this to my child? Can I blame them if they don’t want to eat this? Continue reading The Best Baby Food is Homemade

Modified Demand Feeding and the Weaning Toddler

By Deborah Bershatsky, PhD

Weaning ToddlerAt two years old, my son Ezra was a happy child, who seems to handle the frustrations of becoming socialized and civilized with amazing ease. If things got to be too much for him, he sought out momentary comfort at his mother’s breast, his tears were dried, tantrums were avoided, and hurts were healed.

At that time, he began the night in his own bed, and when he awakened to nurse, we took him into our bed for the rest of the night. He nursed once more before he awakened at 7 a.m., unless he is teething or ill, in which case he may nurse several times more.

By the time a child is two years old, it is appropriate to consider the approach of modified demand feeding, a technique that allows the child to nurse on demand but also allows the mother to gently nudge the child to feed on a schedule. Twos are ready to begin learning the truth that we cannot always have everything we want exactly when we want it. A child’s wants are no longer necessarily his needs.

A Budding Ability to Wait

At two and a half years old, Ezra could finally understand it when I said at 3 a.m.: “I need to sleep; no more nursing now.” Most of the time, he would roll over and go back to sleep, but occasionally his need was greater than mine and he insisted. I relented and let him nurse, but slowly I began to see that the ability to wait was developing in this little person. I recognized it as a first step toward weaning.

The Truth about the Terrible Twos

It is the struggle over learning the protection of infancy and facing the real world that has earned this age the name of “terrible twos.” It is terrible to a two-year-old to realize how small and powerless he really is in the world. If it comes upon him too suddenly or intensely, he will fight against it with his whole being and his behavior may indeed be terrible. But if his parents work with him, allowing him to regress at times and setting limits with love, and if he can find refuge in his mother’s arms when he feels overwhelmed, two can be more terrific than terrible. The two-year-old who still nurses has a wonderful way to ease the tensions and difficulties of growing up.

Also at this age, the child has more sophisticated needs of his mother. In addition to nursing, it is important that she distinguish his need to engage her in play or work from the need to merge and be close. A tired mother may be tempted to offer her breast to a toddler who wants her attention, just for the chance to have a few moments off her feet. It would be unwise to do this too often since we do want to help our children to begin the process of gradually letting go of babyhood.

Weaning Gives Way to Other Types of Bonding

Many mothers of toddlers who still nurse wonder whether they will ever wean. All children give up diapers eventually and use the toilet, babyhood, and all that goes with it. Nursing slowly gives way to early childhood, and one by one, baby needs are abandoned in favor of more mature pursuits. However, if a mother wants her child to be content with less time at her breast, she must be willing to give more of herself. A weaning child needs more, not less, of his mother’s time and attention.

If a mother wants her child to be content with less time at her breast, she must be willing to give more of herself. A weaning child needs more, not less, of his mother’s time and attention.

Discovering On-Demand Breastfeeding

By Deborah Bershatsky, PhD, AP mother

“We’ll put her on modified demand feeding,” the pediatrician said confidently at Rachel’s one week visit.

I was eager to be a good mother and terrified I wouldn’t know how. I gave the doctor my worried attention. Modified demand feeding, it turned out, meant that I would nurse Rachel when she asked for it while gently nudging her into feeding every three to four hours. Also, I would eliminate nighttime feedings quickly. Babies, I learned, must be taught to sleep through the night as soon as possible, so that the whole family can sleep.

Rachel was an unusually placid and easygoing infant. She enjoyed nursing and easily waited three hours between feedings. At seven weeks old, she was moved from the bassinet in our room to the crib in her own room and had given up nighttime feedings almost entirely. A few weeks later, she slept soundly all night. My friends were green with envy. No one could believe I had such a wonderful baby. I settled into the smug feeling that I must be doing something right.

Rachel nursed exclusively until she was six months old, when the doctor recommended that she be started on solids. By eight months, she was eating well and was down to nursing four times a day. She did this for two more months, and then during the 11th month, I slowly weaned her completely. I had aimed to wean her between nine months and a year, and she had cooperated perfectly!

The Fussy Baby

I cannot adequately describe my shock and horror some years later when Ezra came, protesting vociferously, into the world. He did not think much of modified demand feeding, but he liked the demand part all right. He had to nurse every hour or so, with no regard to the time of day or night. Furthermore, he would only fall asleep in my arms, and if I got up or put him in the cradle, he would awaken instantly and cry. He had long fussy periods which began at about 10 p.m. and lasted until 3 or 4 a.m. During this time, he would be comforted only briefly by frequent nursing.

Our family was in an uproar, and I was nearly crazy from lack of sleep. While I was well aware of the popular “cry it out” method of solving this problem, I could not bear to listen to my little one’s screams without comforting him.

We began what later came to be known as a “game of musical beds.” I would take Ezra into the sofa bed in the living room to nurse him and hold him as he cried, occasionally phoning my one insomniac friend for support. I would doze on and off all night, and then finally we would both collapse and sleep solidly for two hours between 4 and 6 a.m. When my back began hurting from the sofa bed mattress, I took Ezra into our bed and Charles, my husband, went to sleep in the sofa bed. When his back gave out, he went to Rachel’s bed and Rachel slept in the living room. Days turned into weeks, and I grew desperate. Ezra kept nursing and crying and not sleeping, and I really felt I was beginning to lose it.

One night, Charles came into whatever room Ezra and I were in and said he wanted me back in bed with him, and if Ezra had to come with me and cry all night, so be it. During the months that followed, things settled down somewhat. Two hours of sleep turned into a tolerable three or four, modified demand feeding had become a dirty word, and Charles and I had a baby in our bed.

A Change in Parenting Style

What now? My pediatrician certainly would not approve of this. In desperation, I started reading everything I could find on the subjects of breastfeeding and calming crying babies. In the process, I made a fascinating discovery: I was not alone. There were women everywhere nursing truly on demand and sleeping with their babies. In fact, there existed a whole network of mutually supportive mothers and fathers striving to raise their children according to what their instincts told them, rejecting current social taboos.

Their philosophy included encouraging unrestricted breastfeeding, child-led weaning, cosleeping, and helping parents to accept a more modest lifestyle in favor of the privilege of spending time at home with their young children. They believed that to raise healthy, independent children, we must meet all of their dependency needs early in life and allow them to mature at their own pace.

It is interesting to realize that with the exception of Western Society, this is the way it has always been. With the Industrial Revolution came the ability to heat a large home and secure it against intruders. This made it possible to put babies off into separate quarters, as breastfeeding began to be replaced by the more scientific method of artificial feeding. The new emphasis on science led to the use of modern inventions in caring for babies – cribs, clocks, bottles, pacifiers – all of which widened the separation of mother and baby.

The germ theory of disease and the discovery that sexuality existed in children also contributed to the “hands off” method of childrearing, which peaked in the 1940s. Mothers were sternly warned of serious emotional harm. Even kissing, hugging, and snuggling were regarded as dangerous, dependency-promoting behaviors. Babies’ cries were not to be responded to, as this would lead to manipulation of the mother by the baby. Feeding was to be by the clock and never on demand.

Since then, science has proven the superiority of human milk over formula, and many benefits of breastfeeding have been documented: Immunological release of the hormones oxytocin and prolactin, which elicit mothering behaviors. Also, the importance of mother-infant bonding through breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact, beginning immediately following birth, has been demonstrated – as has the need for holding, cuddling, and responding promptly to babies’ cries as they grow.

Current childrearing practices are now coming into question, and books advocating extended breastfeeding and co-sleeping are increasing in number. It appears that the tide has turned. The new wave in parenting today is to return to the old ways.

A New Confidence Born

How relieved I felt when I allowed myself to resonate with these ideas and reclaim my instincts! I experienced the ancient yearnings that had existed within my own mother’s heart, even during Rachel’s infancy, to be physically close to my baby as much as he and I desired it. Instead of the superficial feeling of competence I had with Rachel, I now had a deep sense of fulfillment and a feeling of rightness and peace.

By the time Ezra was six months old, we were all good at sleeping – and together. Rachel had joined us, in an effort to make up for lost time. She was, however, an acrobatic sleeper and hated to awaken in the night with the baby, so she returned to her own bed a few months later. She is still a welcome guest in our bed.

Ezra fed every two to three hours during the night, but I had learned the technique of nursing lying down so that I had only to roll over, let him nurse, and drift back to sleep with him. Our sleep cycles synchronized so that I would awaken just moments before he did. It wasn’t long until I felt refreshed in the mornings, although my sleep never went uninterrupted.

It was not without anxiety that I embarked on this journey with my family. There was no precedent for it in either my or Charles’ upbringing. There were warnings from many that this was a dangerous course: The baby would never leave our bed, he would be too attached to me, our sex life would be ruined. Armed with information and support that these things do not happen – rather, that children do want to sleep in their own bed eventually, that they grow up less dependent when parented this way, and that with a little bit of creativity, sex can be better than ever – we forged ahead.

From my perspective, things have turned out fine.

Science has proven the superiority of human milk over formula, and many benefits of breastfeeding have been documented.