How Did You, And YOU, Meet WHO Breastfeeding Guidelines?

The WHO stipulates that all babies must be breastfed exclusively for six months, and that breastfeeding should continue for two years and beyond.

Many people gasp in horror at this, but I’m sure that the WHO has done their research (okay, I know they have) and has reasons for believing that ALL babies, in ALL nations would thrive best if they were breastfed exclusively for six months (exclusive breastfeeding means ONLY BREASTMILK) and, with additional foods, breastfed until at least two years of age.

In fact, many, many women do follow WHO guidelines. There are many babies who have been exclusively breastfed for six months, and we see more and more nursing toddlers these days. Many more women (me, for one) almost manage, nursing exclusively for four-ish months and continuing breastfeeding for well over a year.

Why are some breastfeeding teams successful? What is it that works for us? It’s certainly not that it comes easily to us at first: I cried many tears over my bawling baby and sore boobs before we got it all figured out!

Is it a certain ‘Type’ of woman who nurses her baby for two years? I don’t think so: in my years as a breastfeeding counsellor I’ve met homeschoolers, corporate lawyers, managers, beauty queens, actresses, designers, air hostesses, writers, mathematicians, stay-at-home-baking-cookies moms… all types, who breastfed for two years and beyond because they wanted to. For some, it meant simply breastfeeding on demand, their child helping themselves. For others it involved expressing milk at lunchtime and keeping it in a tiny fridge in their secretary’s office.

So, WHY are some breastfeeding teams so successful? This is my question to YOU, and you, and you. I know you’re out there. Have you breastfed exclusively for more than three months? Did you continue for over a year? Let us help other Mamas and their babies by sharing our tips. If you have breastfed a baby for nearly the WHO-recommended length of time, can you tell me how or why?

Okay, I’ll start: I think that maybe, Co-Sleeping was helpful in making breastfeeding, especially at night, easy. I also had plenty of support from my Mum, who cheered me on.

There! Now it’s your turn! I will be publishing this article elsewhere as well, and when everyone has had their say I will put it all together in another post. Now spill the beans, breast feeders!


i am the diva said…
with the exception of the formula my son was fed while in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit when he was born, i was able to nurse exclusively up to 6-7 months. Then we continued with nursing until about 11 months when he decided one day to wean himself. i would have liked to have kept nursing, but i think i had a low milk supply, and once we moved to the bottle to get him ready for daycare, he wanted nothing to do with me. But considering how breastfeeding almost didn't happen for me (having a preemie baby in NICU didn't help my milk come in, letmetellyou) my main goal was to make it to 6 months. If i made it to a year, i'd be happy... we almost got there... i think we did well, under the circumstances.

I'm thinking that someday baby number two will go a bit smoother and maybe longer!
Ndinombethe said…
With a mother who is a former breast feeding counsellor I guess I grew up well aware of the benefits of breast feeding.

I was determined to nurse my son for as long as possible, so with the exception of the sore nipples I was pretty well prepared for the experience. I nursed him for 6 months exclusively, and then continued til he was a year old when I think he just weaned naturally.

I agree with you Nan. Co-sleeping definitely helped. I do believe however that information and knowledge was the key. I knew, and believed without a doubt, that my milk was the best he could get. I believed that I had enough milk, even on days when he nursed continuously - to increase my production. I embraced the experience and thoroughly enjoyed the bonding time.

My boobs don't look like they enjoyed the experience :) but my son is strong and healthy. One other benefit - I didn't have to sterilise a bottle or pack formula for the first few months of his life. Leaving the house involved diapers, wipes and boobs. Expressing worked better for me by hand than with the pump so I always had a supply on hand in the 4th or 5th month when I needed to leave him at home.
Nan Sheppard said…
i am the diva, YAY for overcoming initial obstacles! And the second (and third) babies are generally easier in every way... we're already experienced breastfeeders!

Tash, our mums would have DIIIIED if we'd given their grandchildren formula! But I am glad I got that extra push in the beginning. It made me stick it though the first few weeks, which were difficult.
Lisa said…
Lazyness is what got me through! By breastfeeding I didn't have worry about all the other things!
Lisa said…
oh and a little selfishness!!
Lisa said…
Nan Sheppard said…
Oh, Lisa, lazy parenting is so awesome! Who wants to get out of bed to mix a bottle? NOT ME!

And then there's the slimming factor!
Mrs F with 4 said…
I fed my first for exactly a year, the second for 14 months, the third for 16 months and the fourth (and final!) for 27 months.

Number one was definitely the hardest, he would cry to let me know he was hungry... then I would start in anticipation of the pain. Then my darling grandmother posted me a tube of udder cream (yah, the sort milch cows use. Well, have used on them. Not actually apply themselves. Obviously.). I subsequently discovered Lansinoh, which is, I think, exactly the same, but for humans and without the bovine references on the tub. Whatever, it worked a dream.

I was just determined that I WOULD do this. I also had a good midwife, and health visitor, who was happy to sit there and watch, then poke my boob into the right position.... and a supportive husband. And I had a hearty-feeding, EASY baby. The experience stood me in good stead for number two, who was none of the above.

I didn't co-sleep, but I did have the crib next to the bed.... and there was a certain amount of convenience and laziness involved, too.

The state of my boobs now though? think sippy-sacks. I would like my perky, 34 DD's back, but I'm thinking it's not happening anytime soon!
Nan Sheppard said…
Mrs. F., my middle boy (aged 3) said, after I'd weaned number 3, "Mum, I just loooove your boobies. They're so soft, and hangy-down, like bunny rabbit ears!"

And then my husband said: "I love them too, babe. It's the lived-in look."

"NOT HELPFUL!" I said.

I bought a new padded "uplift" bra in self-defence.
Unknown said…
I'm the mother of two boys who were both breastfed exclusively for six months. Food was introduced from six months and we continued with breastfeeding to beyond two years (like two and a halfish).

What worked for me was that I got the information beforehand and I did a lot of research. I also had the support of my husband and TIBS especially when I felt like giving into substitutes. Mostly I had those feelings when things got a bit overwhelming, lack of sleep, leaking breasts etc. However, there was always a solution to be found that keep me on the right track and support the choice I made to breastfeed my first child to WHO's recommendations. Also, I found having my son in bed with me at nights helped a great deal in getting some sleep and night feeds were a lot more relaxed.

When I got pregnant with my second son, I continued to breastfeed, although this came with some mixed reviews from others. Many thought I could lose my baby but I felt fine. I was even more fit during my second pregnancy especially running after an energetic toddler.

I tandem nursed for a short while after my second son was born but by then, my first son was about to turn two and I had started the weaning process. The second time around, I was more confident in what I was doing and didn't experience the doubts about giving into substitues. The proof was in the pudding from my success with my first born.
Miranda said…
I have to say that that information is key. Books, prenatal classes and family and friends with experience kept me on track, as well as an easy baby who loved my milk. Once you have been well brainwashed ahead of time it's easy to know that breast milk will always be better than formula.

A few things I tell myself when the going gets tough:

There is a difference between a baby surviving, and thriving, and babies thrive on breast milk.

The human race has existed without formula for thousands of years.

This too shall pass. I won't be nursing forever.

Prior to becoming pregnant I had no opinion, or clue actually, on nursing, other than my mother did it so that's probably what I would do too. We got to keep spreading the word, and nursing in public, yes even nursing toddlers in public. My daughter just turned one and can't think of not nursing her.

And I'm all for lazy parenting.
Islandgirl said…
Love the Picasso. Will take up your challenge and write something of my own experiences...stay tuned
Nan Sheppard said…
Wow, thank you ladies! Keep those success stories coming! said…
Breastfeeding both of my girls was relatively easy. they both took it for about 6 or 7 months and then started taking supplemental bottles as needed to tide them over.
It was a very slow weaning process that lasted over a year with each one.
Anonymous said…
I nursed all 3 of my sons for the first 9 months--1 for 12 months (exclusively for 6), 2 for 10 months (exclusively for 6) and 3 for 9 months (exclusively for 6. My milk production couldn't keep up beyond those points, it's not like I didn't try. What made it easier? Well, it was portable and flexible. But it also required NEVER leaving the baby's side for very long which isn't terribly convenient.
Ndinombethe said…
I just love Miranda's comments -

"There is a difference between a baby surviving, and thriving, and babies thrive on breast milk.

The human race has existed without formula for thousands of years."

Anonymous said…
LOVE that picture!
I breastfed Elliot pretty much exclusively until he was about 5 months, when he started eating some cereal, and still nursed him until he was one. Then we both seemed to want to stop...which made sense when I realized I was pg again! Sigh. When the twins were born I was DETERMINED to b-feed them. THAT was rough. I was fighting their ped, because they were so tiny that he was worried my supply wasn't enough. My mother kept trying to get me to put them on formula; sometimes after I'd fed them, she would try to get them to take a bottle! Grr. I knew, though, that I would go crazy with twins and a toddler if I had to throw bottles and formula into the mix, PLUS I was committed to nursing as best for them! We made it through Ilsa getting thrush and me getting it too, and some tough times. I actually put off starting them on solids as I knew it would complicate my life, so I breastfed them exclusively till about 9 1/2 months and then weaned them at about 15 months, mostly because we were going on a trip.
My children are all disgustingly healthy. The only times they've been on antibiotics is for boils and skin infections. Oh I'm wrong--Elliot has had ONE ear infection!
I'm 36 and I still enjoy there!
Nan Sheppard said…
Yes, babe, I know! Fortunately, I enjoy it too :)
Kelly said…
having been breastfed for 2 years myself and surrounded by avid supporters helped A LOT!! i breastfed both children for 3 1/2 years. co-sleeping was a no-brainer to help us all sleep. i was an on demand mom which has its ups and downs but is a fleeting phase that i am so grateful i was able to provide. having contact with women going through the same things was key because no matter what your choice or situation, there is always going to be challenges and bad days and knowing that you are not alone, that others expereince the same helps A LOT!! this was especially true for me when i was nursing a toddler around many mothers who were not. i think the key is finding a place where you can listen to yourself and your baby and do what is best for the two of you without the outside influence of those with a million opinions (is. how spoiled that child is). information and support to follow waht is right for you is vital for those doubtful times! and oh the time passes so quick but the benefits last a lifetime!
MS said…
I think Zara is finally weaned.. she was 2 in November. No formula, other than 1 night when she was 4 days old and my mother convinced me that i didnt have enough milk. It was 3 am, she was crying, I was crying, Mikael was driving around the city looking for an open pharmacy. She had 1 bottle and threw it all up.

I loved it, once I found out about nipple cream and it stopped hurting so much. The beginning was definitely tough, and if it wasn't for pure, unfailing determination on my part, I would have listened to my mother and bought formula.

To be honest though, I know breast is best, but I also know lots of babies who never / barely had it and are perfectly healthy, well bonded with their mothers, smart, psychologically stable etc. I dont think we should give those who choose alternative feeding methods a hard time.

Theresa (being a lazy parent and not logging out of hubby's account :)