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Thread: Ready for the long haul

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
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    365

    Default Ready for the long haul

    Hey ladies,

    As the title says, I'm ready to embrace nursing as a long-term reality for DS26mo and me. DS is a boy who still nurses like a newborn and, cognitively and physically, he's thriving on what is still easily 10-12+ nursing sessions each day, of which 2-3 are at night. I've been taking domperidone since he was 13mo and am grateful that it's facilitated our nursing longevity.

    DS is still a sporadic eater and, when he does eat, he shows carnivorous tendencies, so his nutritional bases are covered. I'm an enthusiastic champion of solids and nursing, which has helped him edge up his solids intake to maybe 200kcal offload daily.

    Two major topics:

    1. For the mamas nursing children in the "and beyond" stage of 2+, how did your nursing journey evolve? Given DS' self-labeling as a "nursivore", I can easily see us nursing and cosleeping to 3 and beyond, which works for me if that's what he needs.

    2. On a maternal health note, I haven't had any PP periods yet, and charting shows (unsurprisingly, given our frequency) no sign of returning. I'm still carrying extra weight that I've been unable to lose, though, which is becoming somewhat frustrating. I was almost back to pre-pregnancy weight around 8 months PP, but am now +35lbs (yikes!), which coincides in part to my starting on domperidone. Any time I try to reduce dietary intake or exercise--even moderate weightlifting for about 4-5 hours/week--my supply tanks dramatically. I'm careful to keep my energy deficit low, around 300kcal/day, and hydration up, but to no avail.

    For my own health, and for the sake of modeling a healthy life, I need to find a solution. It seems as time goes on that I need to eat more--going into energy surplus--to maintain supply, and I'm packing on the pounds as a result. I'm considering having thyroid testing done, as I was in phenomenal shape and extremely athletic pre-BFing and I am missing intense weightlifting. I don't want to have to wait until DS is no longer so reliant on nursing to reclaim training as part of my life. It was always my "zen" and I feel like a fraud walking around carrying 35 extra pounds of fat!

    I worked with a trainer and nutritionist last year, but only managed to shed 5lbs--probably 3lbs of which was water--in 5 months following their plans to a T. I then put on an extra 15lbs, in addition to the 20 I was trying to lose, even while maintaining the eating habits, albeit scaled down to account for less exercise energy expenditure. I was told that my night sleep disturbances were the cause of slow fat loss, which seems far fetched given that I was always ripped pre-pregnancy even when eating heartily.

    For the time being, I'm eating whole foods, focusing on lean protein, veggies, fruits, nuts, yogurt, and ancient grains and increasing my activity gently by adding in extra walking around town and hoping gentleness will win my body over. I sleep 9 hours at night with minimal disturbances to nurse, have no food intolerances, and take a prenatal and probiotics daily. I am totally comfortable taking a longer path--say, a year--to drop the fat. What is important is that both DS' and my health needs are met without one being cannibalized by the other. I am not comfortable living in a sub-optimal health state for an extended period of time.

    Thanks ladies, for reading this multifaceted novella.
    Last edited by @llli*alphawoman; January 16th, 2014 at 11:00 PM.

  2. #2
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    Dec 2011
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    365

    Default Re: Ready for the long haul

    This makes me think postpartum thyroiditis. Maybe that's confirmation bias speaking...

    http://kellymom.com/health/mom-health/thyroid-faq/

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    312

    Default Re: Ready for the long haul

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*alphawoman View Post
    This makes me think postpartum thyroiditis. Maybe that's confirmation bias speaking...

    http://kellymom.com/health/mom-health/thyroid-faq/
    It does sound like something else is going on and would definitely be worth investigating. I'm only nursing my 13 month old on demand (she nurses about as much as your son does and I'm sure that will continue for a very long time) so I can't speak to the first part of your post. But as for the #2 you talked about, I was also into some very intense exercise and in amazing shape before my baby was born. I am able to exercise to that intensity now and have noticed zero change in supply, where you are saying yours tanks with moderate activity. I've seen others post on here who run marathons and BF, so it seems like it shouldn't be hurting your supply but of course everyone is different!

    Your son is important of course. But if working out is important to you and you feel like it's really messing things up in your life, I'd say that working out might be worth it. I waited for a long time because I thought it would damage my supply, and it turns out it never did. I was unhappy being sedentary, it sounds like you're a bit unhappy with it? Or at least compromise and do a little working out? Or even work out really hard and eat a few extra spoonfuls of coconut oil or nut butter?
    and Mama to two little girls

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
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    NY
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    Default Re: Ready for the long haul

    Have you had your thyroid checked in the last year? Weight gain, decreased milk supply despite pretty heavy demand, and the absent menstrual cycles can all indicate hypothyroidism--I don't think it's necessarily confirmation bias at work here! It seems like a really good place to start searching for answers.
    Apologies for the short responses! I'm usually responding one-handed on my smartphone!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    21,115

    Default Re: Ready for the long haul

    IMO, all women should have a TSH level done at some point during the postpartum year.

    At this point, I personally would probably stop the Domperidone. If your milk supply decreases, that's okay. Your baby can start picking up his solid food intake to compensate. The only exception I would make to this suggestion would be if your child is very underweight and really needs your milk.

    My experience with both my girls was that as they grew more independent and developed greater interest in exploring and interacting with the world around them, they nursed less often. By around 24-30 months, they were down to 2-3 nursing sessions per day, and they both self-weaned at age 3. I definitely pushed the process a bit. As time went on and nursing became less enjoyable for me, I set limits on nursing. I went from full access at any time to night-weaning, no nursing in public, time limits on the amount of time they could spend at the breast, and limits on behavior (e.g. no belly-button probing, no feet in my face, etc.). I also distracted them from nursing or handed them off to daddy or grandma when I wasn't in the mood to nurse. If you reach a point where nursing is getting you down, those are ways to decrease frequency and intensity, while still allowing your child to set the time-table for his complete weaning.
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  6. #6
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    Jan 2011
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    Default Re: Ready for the long haul

    Ditto to much of what has been said. I definitely would recommend having your thyroid checked out.

    By 2-years, my twins were nursing about 3 times a day: after waking, before nap, and before bed. That was pretty much it unless there were boo-boos, sad feelings, or one or the other felt a need to reconnect with me via nursing. The kids are 3 now and we are down to just before bed and that's only on request (so maybe once a week, if that, now). I was surprised how fast my little twins went from nursing alllll the time (or so it felt!) to much less often. Once they really discovered the world around them and began to enjoy solid food, nursing rapidly became a beloved piece of the routine but not the key factor of the day, if that makes sense. Thankfully we didn't have many or any rough spots after 24-months. Occasionally I wouldn't feel like nursing and would distract, but nursing had become such a part of the routine by then that the kids and I all would mostly look forward to it. I have really let them drive whether they nurse or not and that is why the nursing is so sporadic at this point. We're quickly approaching the "completely weaned" stage and it's daunting to consider! I am just proud that they have done it on their own and that we've had an awesome journey.
    Mom to amazing twins!
    DD nursed for 3y5m, DS still occasionally stops by for a snack

  7. #7
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    Dec 2011
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    Default Re: Ready for the long haul

    Thank you all so much for your replies and for sharing your experiences. Your support is so appreciated!

    Quote Originally Posted by mommal
    At this point, I personally would probably stop the Domperidone. If your milk supply decreases, that's okay. Your baby can start picking up his solid food intake to compensate. The only exception I would make to this suggestion would be if your child is very underweight and really needs your milk.
    Mommal, a child doesn't need to be extremely underweight to "really need" milk-- he only needs the expectation that his intake will drop enough without milk for his health to be affected. My son refuses other foods in most circumstances. I've done experiments to gauge his willingness to increase solids to offset some of my milk and it's asymptotically approaching zero.

    Over the last two weeks, I've had a daily 4 hour class. With the reduced feedings, my supply dropped about 70%, such that I needed to increase my domperidone dose to maintain supply. In a week, my son had lost a pound. The whole impetus for being on domperidone was to offset a growth stall and weight loss in my son on the recommendation of his paediatrician. I respect that your choice might be different, but I will continue to heed the medical advice I've been given because anything else would be tantamount to starving my son, willingly or unwillingly. I appreciate that most other dyads are probably able to achieve more dietary balance, likely much earlier. Such is not the case for us.

    Thank you all the same! I know you're advocating for my well being and that your suggestion comes from a kind place.
    Last edited by @llli*alphawoman; January 17th, 2014 at 10:36 PM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Ready for the long haul

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*alphawoman View Post
    I've done experiments to gauge his willingness to increase solids to offset some of my milk and it's asymptotically approaching zero.
    Your situation sounds very unusual, especially now that I've read some of the replied from other moms of older toddlers, so I'm really curious: does this mean your son needs to nurse like newborn to acquire all the calories he needs in a day? And that if he doesn't, for whatever reason (eg your supply has dropped; you're away for a period), he quickly loses weight?

    You sound extremely knowledgeable about calorie intake & expenditure, I'm guessing that's from your days of intense exercising?

    Since DD is only 18 months, i have no perspective on your first question, but i am really interested in how YOU see the road ahead, and how you envision your son's transition to greater solids intake, if the domperidone may be causing the weight gain that is bothering you, but you seem to require it for your son's health, given his dependence on great quantities of breastmilk for meeting his caloric needs.
    Mama to a sweet kitty born July 2012.

  9. #9
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    Dec 2011
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    Default Re: Ready for the long haul

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*isabelofmtl View Post
    Your situation sounds very unusual, especially now that I've read some of the replied from other moms of older toddlers, so I'm really curious: does this mean your son needs to nurse like newborn to acquire all the calories he needs in a day? And that if he doesn't, for whatever reason (eg your supply has dropped; you're away for a period), he quickly loses weight?
    Exactly. With the domperidone, and being a SAHM who can maintain a high-frequency relationship, he's maintained a great growth trajectory this year, save a few hiccups like the one I mentioned.

    I initially thought there might be a physiological feeding problem or texture aversion, but he does eat a wide variety of foods and textures, just not in quantity (more than a bite) with any predictability or regularity. He showed multiple allergic tendencies in his first year, which seem to have subsided, so I almost wonder if he's proceeding with caution in response to lingering internal allergic symptoms. He HEAVILY favours meat, which tends to be the least allergenic food group. Probably 2/3 of what he eats is meat, with the remainder as fruit, cheese, tomatoes, and pasta.

    During growth spurts, he'll eat a few large meals in a day, which shows that he a) has the physiological ability to process the food, b) he understands that food satisfies hunger, and c) likes food. Case in point: about 3 weeks ago, he self-fed almost a half cup of whole wheat rotini with a veggie and beef sauce in one sitting, and asked for seconds (and thirds!) after having eaten about 3 ounces of beef and some fruits at lunch a few hours earlier.

    Tonight was another solids success. He ate ham at dinner. Before bed, he asked to nurse after having nursed an hour earlier. I asked if he was hungry, he said yes (!!), and I asked him what he'd like to eat. His response: water, banana, and grapes. After 3/4 of a large banana and 4oz of water, we nursed again.

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*isabelofmtl View Post
    Since DD is only 18 months, i have no perspective on your first question, but i am really interested in how YOU see the road ahead, and how you envision your son's transition to greater solids intake, if the domperidone may be causing the weight gain that is bothering you, but you seem to require it for your son's health, given his dependence on great quantities of breastmilk for meeting his caloric needs.
    My goal is to foster a healthy, happy feeding relationship. I'm trying to create an atmosphere in which DS will recognize hunger cues, verbalize them, and understand that food or nursing will satisfy that need.

    Knowing full well that this is DS' show to run, I'd love to see him eating at least one meal and one snack consistently each day in a couple of months, say by the time he's 2.5. I think that's feasible. Then maybe ramp that up to 2 meals and 2 snacks, etc. I would hope that, by 3, he's getting 75%+ of his nutrition from whole foods other than breastmilk. I wouldn't be confident tapering the domperidone until my milk accounts for a small minority of his caloric intake.

    We've followed baby-led solids from the beginning and are continuing the process of offering several healthy food options throughout the day. DS has the choice of how much, or whether, to eat, and he's never required to eat. Really, the nursing doesn't bother me, and I'm happy to maintain whatever frequency he needs as long as is needed. I can see him nursing past 3, and I'm fortunate to be able to accommodate the very gradual transition that he apparently needs.

    I'm taking a three-pronged approach on the solids front:

    1. Initiating a lot of dialogue about the properties of food and its importance. DS is a very bright and verbal child, so I try to link the discussion back to anatomy. Things like,
    - "It's wonderful to nurse, but it's also important to eat other healthy foods to give you energy and build a strong body."
    -"You're getting to be a big boy, and your body needs more food than nursing alone gives you."
    -"This beef has lots of protein for building muscle to make you strong/ this apple contains fiber which is good for your intestines and heart."

    I'm trying to actively set up the expectation that eating food is what people do. So, propaganda.

    2. There is a heavy comfort element to eating for him, it seems, so I'm trying to reduce the gap between solids and nursing by cuddling him while he eats, stroking his head, and making lots of eye contact. This, ironically, has been the biggest source of success for us.

    3. Praising adventurous eating. I make a point never to add value judgments on the decision of whether or not to eat, or how much. There is nothing praiseworthy about eating 1 oz of food versus none. But when DS self-selects to try a new food, I praise him for being adventurous. Openness to new experience is, IMO, a big part of the transition. He's surprised me by liking a few unexpected items-- smoked salmon, blue cheese, asparagus, and bread dipped in balsamic vinegar and olive oil-- and that gets high fives.

    This week I decided to take a step in the direction of meeting my own needs. I'm starting a weight lifting routine that has me lifting intensely for half an hour to 40mins three days each week. I'm adding one day of Tabatas for cardio, and will watch and wait before adding in a second Tabata day. The rest will be made up with more (frigid!) walks around town.

    Nutrition wise, I'm trying to hit a caloric deficit of ~250 kcal/day by substituting vegetables for one starchy food each day. Small potatoes, I know, but half a pound of fat loss per week would be a victory in my books if I can successfully maintain supply! I still have to book an appointment with my doc re: thyroid. I truly hope there isn't a thyroid issue at play-- but I want to be prepared to address the issue if it exists.

    Thanks again everyone, and isabelofmtl, for your gentle support. I take all your comments to heart and value the thoughts you're sharing, as well as the time you're taking our of your busy lives to take an interest in mine.

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