Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Every time I take Violet to the doctor or even read BabyCenter.com's medical advice I get blog fodder. I am just baffled by how far off Western Medicine is from human nature. Or what freaks we all are at my house. Take your pick.
As I mentioned in my last post, we didn't see Violet's regular pediatrician last visit, but saw another doc in the practice. No biggie, they are all pretty nice. This doctor, a youngish woman, maybe my age plus or minus 10 years (I am a terrible judge of age and she had a really generic haircut that made it difficult to date her), asked all the normal well-visit questions. She wanted to know about Violet's development (words? understanding? fine motor skills?) and she wanted to know about her habits (sleeping? eating? crapping?).
The little gem of advice she handed out regarding night-nursing is what I keep rolling around in my brain. She asked where Violet sleeps and I told her the first half of the night she sleeps in her room and the second half of the night she sleeps in our bed. I don't know if I told her that I nurse her back to sleep when she wakes up, but the doctor (correctly) assumed that to be the case. Then she told me, "I realize it is easier said than done, but you may want to avoid breast feeding at night. At her age she isn't doing it out of hunger; she just is doing it for comfort. I know, though, that is easier said than done. Just, you know, it is a habit that will be harder and harder to break..."
Me: "Ok. Thank you."
Somehow, I don't think the doctor would have understood me when I told her that we dole out comfort to our 1 year old when she needs comforting. Day or night, we are those crazy parents who believe that if our baby is crying, we would like to help her stop crying. We are the fruitcakes who believe that when our daughter wants to nurse, whether it be out of hunger, thirst, or need of human touch, we'll cave in, putting her needs above ours. I just don't understand when it became a bad thing to nurse a baby to sleep and a good thing to let a baby cry herself to sleep. Who is that good for?
Sustenance comes in many forms and I can say with some degree of certainty that Violet needs more from me and Shawn than calories. She can walk now, too, so should we stop carrying her when she wants to be held? I mean, isn't she really just clamoring to be picked up out of her selfish, childish desire to be cuddled? That, too, may be a hard habit to break the longer we keep it up. I have to say, one of my worst fears is nursing her in the car right before I carry her in and drop her off at Prom. That shit happens. I can't say the doctor didn't warn me.
One last point on this and then I'll drop it. Calling nursing a toddler non-nutritive is really a mistake. Worldwide, the average age of weaning is 4.2 years. Studies point to around 6 years of age as being the point when a child's immune system fully matures. The maternal antibodies produced in breastmilk continue to provide protection to the nursling long after s/he begins to eat other foods. Look at it like the green tea of the toddler world. Only way better.