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Family CommentariesNursing and Child Care

Low milk supply:

As I have gracefully aged into my forties, I have had more and more problems with milk supply.  When I was asked why I thought my 10th child was not getting enough, here was my response:

First of all, I breastfeed the first 7 kids without much problem (some supply problems with number 2 at about 3 months, but it could have been my fault). They all were satisfied and gained weight.

Then came numbers 8 and 9. They were increasingly more hungry, (fussy, chewing on their hands, crying, wanting to nurse, sucking but not swallowing, etc, etc,) These babies all LOST weight in the first month. With number 8 I finally, after a month or 2, rented a pump to try to increase my supply (along with doing a bunch of other things). I've forgotten the details now, but I think things went okay after that. 

With number 9, the problem was a little worse and I eventually had to give him 1 bottle per day. If I skipped pumping for even one day I noticed a drop in supply (he would not be happy until he got 2 bottles instead of the usual one, but if I went back to pumping he would go back to wanting only 1). I was pumping about 3 times a day just to maintain. 

Now, this latest baby, number 10, seems even worse. He is a very normal happy contented baby IF I nurse him on demand (about every 1 1/2 to 2 hours) AND THEN give him about 1-2 oz from a bottle. He is gaining on that amount, but even then, not very rapidly, so I don't think I am overfeeding him. I think he needs it. If I don't offer him the extra, he acts starved and cries and struggles and sucks his hands and nuzzles and makes sucking motions with his mouth, etc, until I do give him some more. Then he is very contented and happy. Just letting him suck on me doesn't satisfy him. This time I am trying to pump as often as possible after I nurse. I get a small amount which I then feed him also, but all the pumping does not seem to be increasing my supply enough.

Now at night, I nurse him before bed and give him the usual 1 or 2 oz extra. He sleeps fine for 3 hours then I nurse him, but don't give him any extra. He will continue to want to nurse from then on until morning, dozing on and off but never satisfied enough to go to sleep.

Basically what I'm going by is his reactions/behavior, and the weight gain (or lack of) is confirming it.

I think things have improved a little in that he is not asking for more than the 1 or 2 oz which means that my supply is increasing at least enough to keep up with whatever natural increase there would be in demand at this point. I think if I could pump more often I might be able to increase it more, but I'm having a hard time working in more than 4 or 5 pumping sessions a day and I don't think that's enough. I tried the blessed thistle without noticing any change and I have oatmeal for breakfast every morning and I nurse on demand, etc, etc. I even have the baby in bed with me almost all night nursing him. I have tried fenugreek also, but there was no noticeable effect.

P.S. When he nurses, he only swallows for the first minute or two. After that it is all sucking and very rarely a swallow. I've had some fast nursers (5 minutes on each side) but this guy is not swallowing past the first minute or 2 at the most. And he acts hungry!

(Note: I eventually had to stop nursing this baby and switch to formula at 6 months.)

Can everyone nurse exclusively?

I chose to nurse my first baby over 20 years ago. It just seemed like the normal natural thing to do. I read a few books, believed everything in them, and did it, and it worked. I nursed most of my babies exclusively until they were 12 months old. At that point I  began adding table food but I continued to nurse them until they were about 2 years old. I loved nursing and have no regrets. If God blesses me with another baby, I'll try to do the same, and I'll encourage my daughters to do the same.

Although I still believe that nursing is the best way to feed a baby, I no longer believe the claims that all nursing mothers, without exception, can provide adequate milk for their little ones, and no supplementing should ever be needed. Beside obvious reasons like severe illness and forced separation from baby,  I do believe that some mothers suffer physical problems, perhaps including age, that negatively affect their milk supply. 

In the past, many babies died from "failure to thrive". Having breastfed for nearly 20 years solid, I believe that many of these babies died because they starved to death. Perhaps their mothers did not know how to keep up their milk supply, or perhaps they COULD NOT keep up their milk supply. Just because some book tells you that "everyone" can breastfeed successfully, doesn't mean it is true. There are books that say that childbirth doesn't hurt too, but most of us know otherwise. If eyes can fail to see well, and ears can fail to hear well, I don't see why breasts can't fail to produce milk well. 

My aim from the beginning, with my first child, was to do the most natural thing in regard to feeding my child. God designed women to breastfeed, and I figured He likely knew best. Nevertheless, ever since the fall of man, God's perfect design has suffered problems and in my case I feel there is now a problem with my ability to produce an abundant or even adequate milk supply, presumably because of my age.  I seem to still be very able to conceive however, so I take that as a sign to keep at it.  I hope I have another 10, but however many more I have, I plan to do my best to nurse them exclusively if possible. 


I've been asked what the best way is to wean slowly. I don't know what the "best" way to do anything is, but the way I did it was to just start spacing out the feedings farther and farther apart, and feeding them more and more table food, and offering them milk from a cup instead of nursing them. I never had any problems whatsoever. Although I always nursed "on demand", it was in the sense that I never scheduled, but just fed them when they were hungry or when I thought they needed feeding. After they were no longer tiny babies, I did not let them "demand" to be fed anytime they wanted a pacifier. I didn't think a 1 1/2 or 2 year old should be "demanding" anything from his mom, so if they wanted to nurse, but didn't really need to nurse, and I didn't want them to nurse at that moment, they were accustomed to hear me tell them, "No, not now" or, "No, later. Do you want a banana?" That's the way I weaned my children, and as I said, I had no problems. I just began spacing the feedings out farther and farther and then eliminating one here and there, until we both forgot about them altogether. I usually did not wean my babies completely until they were over two years old.


I don't leave my babies (or any of my children) with sitters. I don't have to since I don't work. And I don't feel trapped in the house, so I don't feel the need to "get out" for personal time either, so I don't need sitters. I do think that too many sitters can confuse a baby and increase their insecurity. If I need someone to watch my children in an emergency, I call a family member or I'd call a close friend if no family was available. As our own family has grown, the older ones have continued to grow older.  Now they are old enough to watch the younger ones occasionally, so I really don't need anyone else anymore. Of course there are moms who work or have other situations that require sitters and daycare providers, but I don't have a need for them myself and I've chosen not to use them just to give me personal time off. I try to take my children with me if I want to go somewhere, and prefer to stay home if I can't take them.

The Church Nursery

I no longer leave my babies in the church nursery. I try to get them to sleep during the service, but if they don't, and if they begin making noise, I leave with them immediately. I walk the halls with them myself and don't expect anyone else to miss church for my sake. I really don't want anyone else watching my little baby anyway. 

I've heard a lot of complaints from mothers about nursery workers. They don't come and get the mom soon enough, or they call too soon. They feed the baby when they aren't supposed to, or they don't feed the baby when mom wanted or what mom wanted. I know it can be frustrating to give workers what you believe to be clear and simple instructions, only to find they've been forgotten or ignored, but  I guess I think it is a bit unfair to blame workers for not being you, and that's what some moms seem to be doing. Most of these workers are volunteers sacrificing their own church time trying to do you a favor by caring for your child so that you can hear the service. I'm sure they are thinking of you when they try to console your child rather than calling for you 5 minutes after you leave. Or they may have their own convictions about parenting, and believe that a crying baby needs his mom NOW.  Overall, I think they are usually trying to be reasonable in how they care for your child, even if it's not exactly what you'd do. I just think it is a little unrealistic to expect them to parent just the way you would after only a few minutes instruction in your preferences. I think if you are going to leave your child in the nursery, you should expect and accept a few minor problems, and when they occur, still try to appreciate the efforts being made on your behalf and the good intentions with which they are being made. If the problems are serious, then remove your child from the nursery.

Personally, I disagree with the whole idea of church nurseries. I think babies and children belong with their mothers IN church as much as possible. I don't think you should allow your children to disturb others during the service, but I think it is enough to leave with them if they are starting to cause a problem. I don't think they need to be banned entirely. Some churches have a glassed off section for the noisemakers and nursing moms, which is nice. I'd like to see more of that, and meanwhile I leave with the babies if I have to, and I train the toddlers at home to sit quietly once they are in church.


I have no personal experience with SIDS, but being a mom,  I am naturally concerned about it every time I have a newborn. I'm tempted to worry for the next 12 months.  I've met several mothers whose babies died of SIDS and so that makes my concern all that much stronger and more personal.

Then there's the great sleep position debate. The doctors (the same ones who say they don't know what causes SIDS) are telling us to put our babies to sleep on their backs, and that does seem to have caused a marked decrease in the number of SIDS cases. I can't argue with success, especially in such a serious matter, yet it still nags at me that the majority of babies prefer to sleep on their tummies (most of mine did, that's for sure).  Tummy sleeping seems to be the more natural way. 

I have also read that doctors are now finding babies with delayed large motor skills and the inability to lift their heads, due to parents who fanatically kept them sleeping on their backs. Other babies are developing flat or misshapen heads from constant back sleeping. And what about spitting up? Now I have to worry about my babies spitting up and choking  because they are sleeping on their backs. I know the doctors say this won't happen, but after a few seemingly close calls, I have my doubts. 

So anyway, I still have lots of questions about the whole subject. What is the real cause of SIDS? The "risk" factors include thing such as  fluffy bedding, overheating, face down sleeping, and parents who smoke. That all makes some degree of sense if these babies are dying of suffocation. But is there more to it? Surely some SIDS babies don't fit this profile. How sad to lose a precious child for no known reason.

Here's an interesting article I recently found on the theory that something in modern mattresses may be contributing to the incidents of SIDS:  Victory Over Crib Death . Of course I have no way of knowing if this theory is valid, but I hope it is, only because I'd like to know the real cause of SIDS, so we can put a stop to it. Another theory is that SIDS may be linked to vaccinations. A lot of research has been done on that, but unfortunately I don' t have any links at this time (please send them to me if you have any to recommend).  Apparently many SIDS victims had recently had vaccinations.

More on SIDS:

How Breastmilk Protects Newborns
Preliminary study links infection with E. coli to SIDS
SIDS and narrow arteries

In defense of doctors, I must say that many agree that it is fine to allow your baby to sleep on his tummy once he is old enough to roll from his tummy to his back easily. 

When mom's not getting enough sleep

Moms routinely express their frustration at not getting enough sleep. I often feel the same way (perhaps it just goes with the job), but here's some of the things I've done over the years to help the situation:

First, when my baby is a newborn (I'd call that 1-3 months), I sleep whenever my baby sleeps and forget the housework. (If you have other toddlers you might not be able to do that, but at least try to get one nap in.)

I really don't know anything about scheduling a baby, I just winged it, and if anything, tried to get a good nursing session in late in the evening and that seemed to help baby sleep a little longer. I put all my newborns in a bassinet (or playpen or crib) right next to the side of my bed. That way I'm not stumbling down the hall to constantly get the baby all night. I don't even have to sit up, I just pick him up, nurse him in bed with me, then put him back. (I figured this out after almost dropping my firstborn a few times because I was so tired.)

After about 3 months things usually get a bit better. Then I move toward some kind of simple routine (not schedule), mostly with my own housework, etc. I tried to look for/encourage a natural nap pattern (usually a morning nap, afternoon nap and perhaps one more nap) in my babies. I try to get the other kids ready to nap in the afternoon when the baby naps and I plan to nap then too.

I keep my all kids up as late as I stay up, so we all sleep in. It would be nice if we all went to be early, but that does not work into our family schedule. It doesn't really matter as long as we are all getting the sleep we need.

I do all my housework when the kids are up so I can sleep with them when they are napping. It is easier to do my work when they are asleep, but then I can't sleep, and besides, they need to learn to help.

I unplug the phone at nap time and put a pillow over my ear if needed to block out noises (I can still hear the baby and toddlers because they are in the same room sleeping with me.)

I schedule all my appointments for the mornings when we are all up, and never for the afternoons when I might need/want to take a nap.

I jokingly let all my friends know not to call me in the afternoon; then I let the phone ring, or unplug it.

I say "no" to any activities that I'm not up to handling. (At least I try.)

Note on co-sleeping: Although co-sleeping with a newborn does not work for me (I am too tired to sleep safely with a baby), it works great with the toddlers at nap time. If I try to bed them down in their rooms, they often just goof off or irritate me and each other until the baby is ready to get up, then I get no nap. But, if I keep them with me (one on each side and one on the couch or floor in my room - with the baby in his crib in my room too) then they have to behave, and they fall asleep within seconds and I get to sleep too.

Drinking lots of water and exercising regularly helps fight fatigue as well. The best thing I've found to help me personally with fatigue is a good vitamin regime and adequate sleep.

P.S. You can encourage an older baby to wake frequently by going to get him too quickly. Sometimes it is best to let him fuss for a few minutes to see if he will go back to sleep on his own.


There are two places in the Bible that I know of that mention co-sleeping.  Luke 11:7 and I Kings 3:17-19. Perhaps there are others, but those are the two that have been brought to my attention.  Luke 11:7 says, "And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee." (KJV)   I'm not sure this verse means they were actually IN his bed with him, but assuming that's what it meant (and I usually try to take things literally), then this might indicate that co-sleeping was a common practice. 

Then there is I Kings 3:18-19 - " And it came to pass the third day after that I was delivered, that this woman was delivered also: and we were together; there was no stranger with us in the house, save we two in the house.  And this woman's child died in the night; because she overlaid it. (KJV)  Now I would tend to take that verse as a negative reference to co-sleeping with a newborn, or at least I take it as fact that she overlaid the child, indicating to me that it is a possible danger. 

So biblically, I'd say there are both good and bad references to co-sleeping, therefore, I'm not adamantly against it or for it. If anyone has a good UNBIASED resource for accurate information on the safety of co-sleeping and/or its relation to SIDS, please send it to me. For lack of a specific biblical passage about the subject , I continue to listen to what others have to say and  I keep hearing conflicting opinions. I haven't seen any statistics that I felt were very complete or reliable. I've heard that more babies die in cribs than when co-sleeping with their mothers, but then I've heard that this is only true in certain climates and certain countries. I've heard that the SIDS rate first began to increase sharply when they began using certain chemicals in mattresses which increased the growth of bacteria that release harmful fumes, so that might be a factor in crib SIDS rather than co-sleeping being safer.  The "Back-to-sleep" policy seems very unnatural to me, but it has slowed the SIDS rate - perhaps because babies on their backs aren't breathing the poisonous fumes from the mattresses.  Anyway, all I'm saying is that I'd love to see a better study, because what I've heard is confusing and inconclusive. 

So what do I do? Well basically, I love to have the kids in bed with me. I like to nurse my newborns in bed with me, but I try to force myself to move them to the bassinette right next to the side of my bed when they are done nursing. Why? Because I believe that I am one of those mothers who "could" fall asleep and smother my baby. I have always had trouble with chronic fatigue and sleep deprivation. I naturally need about 9 or 10 hours sleep and my husband needs about 6, and we generally live on his schedule, so I am often exhausted. When I fall asleep I can sleep very deeply. I have awakened to find myself laying half across my baby (thankfully I wasn't on his face or chest). I have awakened to find my baby struggling underneath one of my pillows (I have a bad back and need to sleep with 3 pillows). I have woken to find my baby down under the covers quite a few times. I also am fearful of y husband rolling on the baby. I am bad, but he is far worse. He doesn't seem aware of the baby at all. If I had a king sized bed I'd feel much better about it. (I do sleep with the baby when we go to hotels or to our vacation home where we do have a king sized bed.) I also have a problem in that I am very, very ticklish. (If you have a cure, please let me know.) One night the baby tickled me inadvertently and I jerked my arm down very hard, wacking the poor little guy right on the top of his newborn head. Ouch!

Anyway, I do put my little babies in bed with me more often than I think I should. I love the snuggling and closeness. There is no way I would put my new baby in his or her own room unless absolutely necessary. If they are not in my bed then they are right next to me in a side-car arrangement. About the "warmth" angle, I think that's one reason co-sleeping was used so often in the past. People HAD to sleep together to stay warm. Nothing wrong with that. Now, however, I worry more about the baby being overheated (at least in my house). Another thing I've heard about SIDS is that it may often be connected to overheated babies. I have had many times when my babies have slept with me for a few hours then woke up kicking and struggling and turning red  because they were too hot. When that happens I move them to the side-car.

I also make note of every case of co-sleeping/SIDS death I hear about and read about in the papers. They are usually related to one of two things: either the mother was drinking, or the baby was sleeping with someone other than the mother. (Usually the father or a babysitter -  in one case it was a pet.) I do believe that new babies are somehow "connected" to their mothers and they are more aware of each other. I know that almost every night, I will wake up and within a few seconds, before I have moved or made any sound, I will hear my baby wake up. It doesn't seem to matter if he/she is in my bed, in the crib at the foot of my bed, or in the side-car. I think we are connected somehow and can sense each other wake sleep patterns. At least the babies seem to be able to sense mine. 

All that said, I am not against co-sleeping. I'm just against it for me with a newborn all night every night. I still do it a lot, especially once they are past 6 months old. I try to take a nap every other day or so, and when I do I always have my 2 year old or my 3 year old in bed with me, and sometimes my 6 year old. We often all snuggle in bed at night for a little while before they move to their own spots. Right now I have at least 3 and sometimes 4 kids sleeping in our room all night every night (although not in our bed). 

One more thing. I never gave my children the impression that my bed was their bed. I would like to be able to send them to their own spot (even if it's on a mat on the floor right next to the side of my bed) without them being upset about it. My husband likes to snuggle with the kids, but he also likes to have the bed to ourselves for a little while every night, and I think he has the right to this. Unfortunately I've heard from a good number of moms who have let co-sleeping become an issue between them and their mate, and that's not good if you ask me. There may be many benefits to co-sleeping but both parents should agree on it. If you are going to co-sleep, be sure your spouse agrees wholeheartedly, and be sure you do it safely.


A thoughtful reader recently send me the following links regarding SIDS and co-sleeping. Please check them out and use your own discernment and good judgment in following any advice given within:



"When you thought I wasn't looking" -   by a Child

A message every parent should read, because your children are watching and doing as you do, not as you say:

"When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you hang my first painting on the refrigerator, and I immediately wanted to paint another one.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you feed a stray cat, and I learned that it was good to be kind to animals.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you make my favorite cake for me and I learned that little things can be the special things in life.

When you though I wasn't looking, I heard you say a prayer, and I knew there is a God I could always talk to and I learned to trust in God.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you make a meal and take it to a friend who was sick, and I learned that we all have to help take care of each other.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you give of your time and money to help people who had nothing and I learned that those who have something should give to those who don't.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I felt you kiss me good night and I felt loved and safe.

When you though I wasn't looking, I saw you take care of our house and everyone in it and I learned we have to take care of what we are given.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw how you handled your responsibilities, even when you didn't feel good and I learned that I would have to be responsible when I grew up.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw tears come from your eyes and I learned that sometimes things hurt, but it's all right to cry.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw that you cared and I wanted to be everything that I could be.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I learned most of life's lessons that I needed to know to be good and productive person when I grew up.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I looked at you and wanted to say, Thanks for all the things I saw when you thought I wasn't looking.'"

Each of us - parent, grandparent or friend - influence the life of a child.



Fertility Issues:

If you are having difficulty conceiving, or if you must use birth control and want to use a "natural" method, I would highly recommend the book "Taking Charge of your Fertility". The website www.ccli.org has also been recommend to me but I have not yet checked it out so I can't make any personal recommendations.

A family a lot like ours:

For an article that describes a family a lot like ours (and most of our friends), read this one in the New York Times:


I had to laugh at the part where the author says that there was no "eye-ball rolling" signs of early teen rebellion because the parents "don't believe in that either".  Perhaps we are not quite as extreme as this family (and certainly not as organized) but then again some people would say we are more. Somebody once criticized me saying I was "farther right than Jerry Falwell"!

(c) Copyright 2007 L. Elizabeth Krueger.  All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.