August 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week!
Breastfeeding is a completely personal choice and doesn’t work for everyone. Fed is ALWAYS best, but I thought I’d share my experience with nursing. For all 475 days of Mila’s life she’s been breastfed and she doesn’t look like she’s going to wean herself off anytime soon. Nursing has been such an important part of mothering Mila. When I was pregnant with her, I hoped to be able to nurse for a while, but she’s led our breastfeeding journey and really didn’t want any other option.
When I was pregnant with Jensen, I was 100% certain I wanted to breastfeed. Like a lot of things, I was pretty naive in what it all entailed. I just knew that’s what I wanted to do. One of the strongest memories I have after he was born was getting my milk in. I was sitting in my parents kitchen, felt this pressure (which was milk letting down), and my shirt was soaked. It never occurred to me that my body wouldn’t understand there was no baby to feed. That first interact with breastfeeding absolutely crushed me and I was embarrassed. I didn’t know it at the time, but Jensen and this incident helped me with Mila. Although I didn’t nurse Jensen, my body learned how to make milk with a vengeance. It was hard to experience that part of loss, but Jensen has always helped me in ways I never imagined.
As I said before, Mila never really gave me a chance not to breastfeed. If you’ve ever been around Mila and I in person, you’d definitely know she still nurses. She’s pretty aggressive about showing her wants at this time, but, admittedly, she always has been when it comes to this. After our golden hour when she was born, the nurses asked what I wanted to do when it comes to feeding her. They encouraged me to get her to latch and I was a little nervous about a mix of things. What if she didn’t latch? What if she wanted to nurse, but my body didn’t produce? What if it hurt? What if it just doesn’t work? I knew if breastfeeding felt overwhelming we’d go straight to formula, but as the nurses were showing me what to do, Mila instantly latched and she’s never had a problem.
Our normal post newborn breastfeeding session… cute and cuddly.
Breastfeeding was a little bit harder for me.
Mila was hungry every two hours on the dot for months. She didn’t like to be put down and would wake up instantly if she was. It was hard making sure I had enough nutrients for the best of us and getting a good eating and snack schedule. I was also thirsty all the time and still am when she goes through growth spurts. Another challenging obstacle for me was blocked ducts. I don’t get them now, but in the beginning I was producing so much and she didn’t always empty a side. Blocked ducts are so painful and I’d get fevers. I’d have to work hard to get them to unblock. Most of the time that would have to include pumping, which I hate to do. Any mom who exclusively pumps.. you’re the real champion. I don’t know if it was a mix of associating pumping with blocked ducts or just hating the sound, but I’ve not pumped unless I’m away from Mila for an extended period of time. I thought I wouldn’t mind it and how it would help free up some time if others could feed Mila… but I couldn’t. But after those first few months of trying to get things right, breastfeeding just became normal.
A nursing toddler is easier in the technical stance, but it comes with its own unique set of ‘problems.’ I think it’s a little shocking to some to know Mila is almost 16 months old and still breastfeeds. A lot of people think it’s just for infants and after they turn a certain age it doesn’t help. I get a lot of jokes about it and people telling me I still breastfeed because I need her to do it. There’s a lot of criticism that goes along with it all and it can be hard to take. For Mila and I, it works. I really don’t see her stopping for a long time and I’m perfectly fine with letting her self wean whenever she prefers. Do I love getting kicked in the face when she climbs on me to nurse? No. Do I love that she thinks it’s okay to nurse anytime, anywhere? Not really, but we make it work.
Our normal post toddler breastfeeding sessions… cuddly, but dangerous.
Breastfeeding has been such a beautiful part of my motherhood. There are so many benefits that I’m going to list and it really has let Mila and I bond on such a deep level. I’m happy with our journey, even when it gets hard or excessive and in that moment I wish she was done. When she decides to be done, I’ll fondly look back on the moments I was able to give her all her nutrients, comfort, and warmth.
- Provides ideal nutrition for baby to grow.
- Easily digestible.
- Breast milk contains antibodies to fight off bacteria and viruses.
- Breast milk changes to what the baby needs.
- Lowers risk of asthma and allergies.
- Linked to higher IQ scores.
- Promotes independence.
- Can help lose pregnancy weight. (It also makes you super hungry so if it doesn’t come off as easily as you think, it’s okay. You’re beautiful just the way you are.)
- Helps get your uterus back to pre pregnancy size.
- Reduces bleeding after birth.
- Lowers risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
- Lowers risk of osteoporosis.
- Saves money and time.
- Physical closeness, skin-to-skin contact, and eye contact helps baby bond and feel secure.
- Provides quiet time to relax and bond.