Friday, November 19, 2010

Breastfeeding and Signing: Your Stories

We are talking about signing with little ones this week - particularly, signing about breastfeeding. Today we're sharing a few stories from readers who have signed with their babes. 
Read more about learning to sign with babies and toddlers at Natural Parents Network, and find ideas on how to sign "breastfeeding" at Code Name: Mama.
Did your little one use a sign to nurse? 
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From Megan at Purple Dancing Dahlias:
My son is very clear when he wants to nurse. He will very enthusiastically ask anyone he is with to nurse if I am not there. My mom watched him on Wednesday nights while I took the older kids to AWANA, and without fail he would ask her to nurse when he wanted to go to sleep.
Last Easter the topic of me "still" breastfeeding came up when my mom told my grandma that my son will sign when he wants to nurse. With certain family members still a bit horrified over the fact that my sixteen month old son was still nursing, he came running in the room, hands in the air, laughing and doing the sign for milk. It made everyone else laugh and I am hoping that those members of my family that were rather surprised (to put it nicely) that I was still nursing opened up their minds to the fact that full-term nursing is normal and wonderfully okay. I love the fact that he can tell me what he wants.
(Side Note: A couple of weeks ago he changed his sign from milk to please. When he wants to nurse he will sign and say "peez-peez.")

Megan is a SAH homeschooling, AP farmer mama to 4 crazy, wonderful kids and an adoring hubby.


Kacy tandems Felicity and Theo
From Kacy:
After 12 hours of labor, my daughter, Felicity, entered this world crying loudly and sucking on her wrist. Being a new mom, I asked the midwife how to hold her to breastfeed, and after following her instructions, Little Felicity began nursing contentedly. This soothed her to sleep. I was committed to giving my daughter the best nutrition available, which meant that I would exclusively breastfeed her. She loved nursing, and I soon realized that anytime she cried or put her wrist in her mouth, she wanted to nurse. From the beginning her cry had a very distinct syllabic pattern, "El-La-El-La." Thus, my husband and I began calling my milk "Ella." When Felicity was about five months old, the cadence of her cry changed, but she continued to put her fist in her mouth when she wanted to nurse. Around this time we decided to make up a few baby signs for Felicity. We wanted to understand her needs better and help her communicate with us. The first sign we taught her was the "Ella sign," which is made using a fistted-hand and tapping the wrist twice against the mouth. The sign was inspired by Felicity's own actions as she entered the world. Felicity is now 21 months old, and although she has a large verbal vocabulary for her age, she still asks for "Ella" by making a fist and tapping her wrist twice against her mouth.
Kacy is an attached parent and SAHM who is currently tandem nursing Felicity and baby brother Theo. While the children sleep, she likes to knit, crochet, make soap, and prepare traditional meals for her family.

From Michelle:
Nursing moms know that nursing is about more than just the milk. Once when my daughter, who was maybe 11 or 12 months and had just learned to walk, was beginning to tip over - this was not going to be just any fall as her head was going to land between two couches where she ended up stuck until I helped free her - she saw where she was headed, stuck her hand up in the air and on her way down, signed "MILK!!" Her hand was still up in the air signing when I got to her! She knew before she landed and got stuck that she was about to really need some comfort!!
This is a video of Michelle's daughter, at around one minute you see that she's still using her sign for "nurse."
Michelle is a tandem nursing, homeschooling, stay at home mama.

From Jenny at Chronicles of a Nursing Mom:
I started my daughter Naima on baby signing when she was four months old. But it wasn't until she was about 7-8 months old that she started signing back. She's now a very talkative toddler who still uses her signs a lot.
Right now, I'm trying to wean her (she's turning three this December). So we usually count 1-10 during her nursing time. But more often than not, she doesn't want to stop, so with her mouth full (of breast), she puts her fingertips together and signs "more" indicating that she doesn't want to stop nursing yet.
The "more" sign has been most useful - signing more reading (when her mouth is full while nursing/eating).
We love signing - and we particularly love Rachel Coleman of Signing Time. You can see photos of Jenny's kids signing book and leaf, she's also been featured in an article on toddler signing!
Jenny, mom to nursing toddler Naima who's trying to keep sane this busy September in the midst of a full-time government job and a growing business.

From Virginia:
I started teaching my son Jetsun sign language (Auslan) from the age of 5 ½ months. He didn’t really start signing back to me until about 13 months. One of the first signs he did was the milk sign (which looks like milking a cow with his hands opening and closing), which is the sign I use for breastfeeding - I wanted him to relate the word milk to my milk, instead of the milk from a cow being the norm.
He is now 19 months old and still signs when he wants my milk. He has started saying a few words but still signs, even if he knows the word as well, and now he knows at least 20 signs.
I am really glad that he signs for milk, as it saves me the embarrassment of him pulling my top down in public when he wants the boob! I started teaching my son Jetsun sign language (Auslan) from the age of 5 ½ months. He didn’t really start signing back to me until about 13 months. One of the first signs he did was the milk sign (which looks like milking a cow with his hands opening and closing), which is the sign I use for breastfeeding - I wanted him to relate the word milk to my milk, instead of the milk from a cow being the norm.
He is now 19 months old and still signs when he wants my milk. He has started saying a few words but still signs, even if he knows the word as well, and now he knows at least 20 signs.
I am really glad that he signs for milk, as it saves me the embarrassment of him pulling my top down in public when he wants the boob!
Virginia is a herbalist, nutritionist and doula; runs childbirth education sessions for expectant Dads at her local pub, volunteers for Homebirth Access Sydney and edits their quarterly magazine "Birthings."

From Mallory:
My son Dorian turns two years old this month. I started signing to him when he was three months old, and after about 6 months he started signing back. His first two (and still most used) signs were "Mom" and "milk." We've had our ups and downs along the way but he's still happily nursing. One of the sweetest things is when he starts saying "Mom" and signing "Milk please". He'll curl up in my lap or cuddle up with me in bed, start nursing, and then sign "Thank you." Usually his blinks will get longer and slower, and then before I know it he's fast asleep. Now that he's constantly running from one thing to another, and I'm taking college courses full time, the little bits of time when we can take a quick break and relax together are some of my favorite moments of the day.
Mallory is a mother of a wonderful two year old son, a full time student (working towards a degree in Anthropology), and am also a WAHM attempting to earn a living by selling handmade items on her etsy store (GriffinFamilyCrafts).

From Whozat, Author of "Lucy and Ethel Have a Toddler: The Adventures of Shrike and Whozat and Peeper!)":
Peeper's really gotten into Sesame Street lately (Yes, our "we don't even have TV" kid is obsessed with it. She's seen videos at her grandparents, and then we started showing her clips online. I fear an intervention may be in order. But, I digress.). One of her favorite songs is "C is for Cookie" which, of course, gets in our heads, and pops out at the oddest moments.
One evening, we were sitting on the floor playing with her magnetic letters, when I picked up the G, held it up to my breast, and sang "G is for goody," (our word for nursing).
Needless to say, she got a big kick out of it, and now she does it all the time.
She finds the G, brings it over and signs "milk." Sometimes she also signs "music" (asking me to sing) or sings "Bee-beebee-beebee," herself.
Then, once I've gotten my breast out, she'll put the G right next to my nipple and keep it there while she nurses.
I wonder what the "If they're big enough to ask for it . . ." crowd would have to say about that?!
Whozat is the natural birthing, breastfeeding, cosleeping, babywearing, cloth diapering, babyled weaning, babysigning, 40-something, lesbian stay-at-home mom of twenty-two month old Peeper, who was conceived via IVF using her partner, Shrike's, egg and donor sperm.

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