On Tuesday night, Bebe Sister had a little runny nose. That night, no sleeping. Then for the next four nights not a stitch of sleep was to be found for any of us. If Bebe Sister was not unhappy, then T Rex was. If they were fine, then I was coughing. It is not a bad cold by any means. And it's been months since we've had any illness around here. However, nothing takes the wind out of my sails faster than lack of sleep.
Before kids T Rex Dad and I thought if we could not get eight hours of sleep a night we would die the next day. Now, if we get four - six hours we're doing good, six to seven we're great, seven or more and we're flying high. I cannot remember the last time we had more than seven hours of sleep.
So, with all that being said, I missed writing about World Breastfeeding Week. If you've been a reader for any amount of time you probably can gather that I'm very pro-breastfeeding. I wrote a paper for my health care policy class last summer evaluating cost savings if 75% of women breastfed their babies for 6 months exclusively. The estimated cost to the U.S. would be just over 3 billion dollars. Now I know that's just a drop in the bucket compared to the trillions we are in debt but more interesting to me is the way the cost is calculated. This is not cost related to purchase of formula - that might hit the trillion dollar mark. No, this is cost savings in decreasing the incidence of childhood illness as well as decreased maternal illness, too.
Oh, let's not forget the more recent research that breastfeeding in the first six months can also add up to six extra IQ points for the child, too.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding exclusively until age 6 months and then continuing through the 12 month mark. The World Health Organization recommends very similar things except continuing to 24 months or as long as mother and child are still mutually enjoying the experience.
Where are we at? Bebe Sister is still nursing a tiny bit every morning. I think we are almost done, but I'm waiting for her to be done. With T Rex it was kind of a speedy process as he was about the same age she is now but I was also newly pregnant with her and very ill from nausea and vomiting. Struggling to stay hydrated expedited the weaning process for T Rex. This time, we don't have that concern. (No babies expected any time soon here. It's all about getting through school for the time being.) I also have to say how nice it is to be experiencing the height of crazy toddlerness with Bebe Sister and not having to stop every 15 minutes to vomit. I seriously do not know how I did it 2 years ago.
I could tell you all the wonderful things about breastfeeding that I know. We all know it's best. Certainly my intent in writing this is not to alienate those women who for whatever reason could not breastfeed their babies. For something so natural I have yet to know a single lactating woman who did not have even one breastfeeding issue. Including myself having the knowledge I do and even teaching other woman how to breastfeed, I still suffered a few ills here and there. Teaching and doing are two entirely different things.
However, I do want to offer some simple pieces of advice.
One - get help before things get too rough. Hours can make a difference in making the experience a good versus a bad one.
Secondly, teach your child early on to sign for milk. We did this with both of our kids and it was useful for a couple of reasons. First, it was easy for them to tell us when they were hungry or thirsty. Additionally, it was nice to avoid the hands down the shirt or patting the breasts (either yours or someone else's) in public. Once Bebe Sister crawled up to another mom nursing her baby and signed for milk. I was relieved she did not go up and start patting the woman's breasts. Let's just say it has avoided a few uncomfortable situations. This is especially useful if you continue breastfeeding past that one year mark.
Dads - there is lots you can do too. Don't think putting a formula filled bottle in baby's mouth is the only way you can help. Support in any way, shape, or form is the absolute best thing you can do. Ideas? Bring the baby to mom, take over diaper duty, burp after feedings, bring mom water to stay hydrated, and go to a breastfeeding class with her. Just knowing some of the simple fixes has proven effective in increasing breastfeeding duration and success.
So here we are with Bebe Sister 18 1/2 months old and she is probably close to being weaned. In fact, she's even started giving up her thumb. We joke that she is at that "force of nature" stage but she really is our angel baby - how grateful we are she just kind of eases into things.
Oh, in case you were wondering, I did get 6 1/2 hours of sleep last night. Ahh, life is pretty good today!
What are your thoughts today - on breastfeeding or sleep deprivation?