A while back I watched an episode of "19 And Counting" where the Duggars went to an Amish community. I would consider the Amish to be the same as the Duggars and my family when it comes to having a full quiver: they believe children are a blessing from God and want blessings from God. Anyway, Jim Bob asked one of the Amish dads about how many kids most of their families have. The Amish father said most of their families had about five kids. That got the wheels in both Jim Bob's and my head turning.
More recently I learned that the world average for the length of breastfeeding was until the baby was four-years-old.
With Daniel, my oldest, I had searched the Bible pretty thoroughly to find out how long I should be breastfeeding and found nothing. If someone has a verse, please tell me, because I couldn't find it, and we have two exhaustive concordances.
Samuel, in the Bible, was given to service in the temple after he was weaned. Daniel, my son, was weaned at fifteen months. I couldn't imagine how Hannah, Samuel's mom, could watch her baby leave her so young, but Samuel was probably four-years-old when he was weaned.
I know it isn't this way for everyone, but I can't get pregnant when I'm breastfeeding and I get pregnant immediately when I am not. (Daniel was born exactly nine months and four days after our wedding.) For nutritional reasons, my breastfeeding goals for both Thomas and Bobby have changed, so I imagine our family is going to look different than my husband and I had hoped and expected.
Bobby, who is now 15 months old, was weaned around five months because I was stupid. It is probably my greatest regret as a mother, thus far. I tried to get him going again, but I became pregnant and he did well on formula. Now, I want him breastfeeding again until he is at least two. It's a little odd for me, and he isn't really interested in my breast, so I'm pumping him a cup a day into his sippy cup.
Thomas is an amazing breastfeeder, my best yet. I am aiming to breastfeed him until he is three, but I won't let him be weaned before two.
Is breastfeeding cheaper?
It's an odd question, because it is assumed that it is much cheaper, but you have to eat more. You have to get an additional 500 calories per day. So, let's look at the cost breakdown:
If I got the 500 calories in beef, it would be 5.5 ounces for $0.39.
If I got it in bananas, it would take five bananas, 7 ounces each, for a total of $0.72.
If I drank it in whole milk, it would take three and one third cup and it would cost $0.70 with milk at $3.39 per gallon, the state regulated price.
If I ate the 500 calories in homemade whole wheat pasta, I would have to use 1 1/4 cups of flour, costing $0.20.
If I ate the 500 calories as straight, pure butter, not the cheapest option, I would need five tablespoons at $0.31.
What if you have low milk production or other problems?
I will be honest and admit I have never had problems with milk production, so I can't share a touching personal story about how I took a certain supplement and everything magically went smoothly. Here's what I would recommend, though.
1) Don't give up. If it means pumping and giving what you can in a bottle, that is still a good option.
2) There are herbal supplements. I've heard great things about Mother's Tea. I drank tons of raspberry leaf tea during pregnancy and drink it now. I brew it in bulk in the crock pot. It is probably more like an extract the way I brew it, but it has helped during the transition of nourishing Bobby as well as Thomas.
3) I know there are "other" problems, and I had to use a device with Daniel for the first few days that forced my nipple into the right shape. Now, I have learned to force it into the right shape without the device. A local La Leche League can help with a whole range of other problems.
I know there are people who can't breast feed, but I think they are more rare than is generally believed. Before formula was invented, all babies were breast fed. If a problem came up, they were given animal's milk. With what I know now, I wouldn't have chosen powdered formula for Bobby. I would have chosen to give a fortified animal's milk, either cow or goat. I found some trustworthy recipes here in case any of you are in a predicament where breastfeeding isn't possible. It may not be much cheaper, if any, than conventional formula, because it calls for high quality ingredients, but it is real food. As with anything, check with your pediatrician for the best option for your kid.
The daily downside to breastfeeding, as I see it, is the stream of precious but inappropriate photo opportunities breastfeeding provides.