A short disclaimer: Every mom chooses the best form of nourishment for their child-one that works for their body, baby, and lifestyle. This is my personal experience with nursing, one that I wanted to share with fellow moms. Let’s support one another!
Like many mamas, the start of my breastfeeding journey was hard. So hard. Like, way harder than expected. I experienced severe nipple pain, oversupply, a baby with IUGR that required close weight gain monitoring, and post-partum anxiety.
But, I was SO lucky to be surrounded by support. My husband, our extended family, La Leche League, my obstetrician, and even my daughter’s pediatrician all played a role in my continued perseverance. I hired an amazing breastfeeding specialist that helped us immensely, and day by day each feeding grew easier until I no longer had pain, my supply was on track, and I “had it all under control.”
Except, something felt like it was missing.
While pregnant, I heard stories of women saying how enjoyable breastfeeding was to them. That it actually felt good as the hormones were released, and that it was the best time to bond with their baby. I wasn’t feeling that. I felt more like it was part of a job description for “Mom” rather then something miraculous and beautiful.
As we planned my daughter’s 1st birthday party, I started receiving questions about when we were going to wean her and switch to cow’s milk. For some reason, I kept coming up with reasons why she wasn’t ready to wean. She was nursing 4-6 times a day, including before naps and bedtime. It felt wrong to take all those times away from her when she so clearly wanted them. Plus, she was still so tiny, around the 8th percentile for weight, and it seemed like breast milk was helping her thrive. Selfishly, I wasn’t sure how on earth I would get her to fall asleep since we still nursed to sleep!
So we just kept nursing. The pressure was off at that point. I had “made it” to my one year goal of nursing! Anything longer was a bonus. Then my daughter got sick…just a run of the mill cold…but we spent a long weekend at home sprawled on the couch nursing constantly. It was during one of those marathon sessions when she kept looking up at me with so much gratitude and happiness in her eyes, and I suddenly felt it.
The miraculous feeling, the beautiful connection and amazing bonding moment of me nourishing my child with my own body. This feeling, I had waited 14 months to feel it, and I would have missed it had we weaned at one year.
That one moment seemed to open up a floodgate of emotions for me and I feel like I have finally fallen in love with nursing! At this point, we have no plans to wean and I hope that I can let her wean herself when she’s ready. Maybe I will even nurse her when pregnant with baby #2! Which, BTW, won’t be happening for awhile-just in case any family members are reading…
Although I find it much easier to nurse a toddler than a baby, there are some interesting differences between the two. Notably:
The traditional nursing positions of football or cradle hold go out the window and are replaced with a squirmy child who stands, sits, straddles you, kicks you and pulls your nose all while staying latched.
You no longer have to look for “hunger cues” as a toddler will just pull down both your shirt and bra and say “Boo! Boo!” (Boob!)
I’ve never known fear like the fear you feel with a teething child latched to your nipple “Will she bite me? Will she not?!?”
Although extended breastfeeding is gaining in popularity in the US, you may still get an odd look or remark when you tell people that breast milk is the only type of milk your child receives. The best response….a smile and a healthy, happy child!