“MilkaMilk” with a Toddler

I never got to write a breastfeeding post for National Breastfeeding Month back in August, due to birthdays and out-of-town visitors, but really want to do my part to normalize breastfeeding (something I feel very passionately about). So I thought, I’d tell you about my adventures nursing a two-year old today.(In case, you were interested, here is my nursing post from last year.  Nursing a toddler is a whole other ball park. Our nursing relationship is quite different from those sleepy beginning days. The quiet, relaxed morning, noon and nights with her little baby body curled up against mine, taking in all the nourishment she needed from her Mama’s breast. Nowadays, it’s not quite as relaxing but it has become a sort of cool down zone for Ellie. A place to reconnect. A place to get that kick-start needed to continue on with that important learning through play. Sometimes it’s nice and relaxed and I am able to kiss her head and talk about our day. Other times she kicks and squirms and hops all over me and I wonder why she bothers for Mama’s milk at all. Some people have asked me how long I plan to continue. Some, flat-out ask me why on earth would I want to still be nursing at this age anyway?

There are certainly days and nights that I wouldn’t mind throwing in the towel. Long nights where I struggle with, if nursing this long is even the right thing to do. But, then I realize that there really is no “right” thing. Women all over the world nurse their one year olds, two-year olds, four-year olds and even seven-year olds. And for Ellie and I, it’s something very special we share. I love the closeness breastfeeding brings. I’ve seen the almost magical powers it has to calm an upset child, to recharge a tired toddler, or to help a tired toddler fall asleep. It makes me feel better on those days where she barely eats anything because molars are breaking though; I know she’s getting nutrients from my milk if nothing else. For those reasons and so many more, I want to continue on. And my hope is, that ever so gently and ever so slowly, she will need Mama’s milk less and less and it will become just another thing that’s helped form her identity and her attachment. Something to help her understand the connection we will always have.

(A silly photo of our daily nap times).
bfing a toddler

A Breastfeeding Story

It’s International Breastfeeding Week this week and since I’m already on a roll telling birth stories and such, I might as well open up even more and talk about my breastfeeding journey. A journey Ellie and I are still on at almost 12 months, might I add.

bfing

I mention “nursing” a lot on this blog. It’s really become just a part of my every day world. Ellie has always been breastfed and because I am lucky enough to stay home with her, we  never even bothered with a bottle at all. She has been truly, exclusively breastfed. I knew I would breastfeed. My mom breastfed me and my siblings and for an extended amount of time. Breastfeeding was very normalized in my family and so I just assumed that is what I would do with my baby. In the begininng though, it was difficult. Ellie wasn’t gaining enough weight and being a sleepy baby we were having to wake her often to nurse. I was constantly worried I wasn’t doing things right. I suffered from oversupply and Ellie spit up constantly and seemed to have a bit of reflux, which made me even more anxious.  I found myself going back to the hospital lactation consultants for reassurance. The last time I went, the mother next to me was crying because she couldn’t get her baby to latch correctly and had bleeding nipples from trying so hard.  I realized after seeing what that poor mother was going through, that I was doing just fine and I needed to relax. I put away my pen and paper and stopped counting feedings and which side I nursed on last and our breastfeeding relationship immediatly got better. I relaxed, Ellie seemed to relax and it just clicked. Now we are coming up on twelve months and are still nursing strong.

Just beginning the breastfeeding journey.

Just beginning the breastfeeding journey.

Breastfeeding has been so incredible. The bond I have with Ellie through breastfeeding is so strong. Nursing helps when she’s tired, it helps when she gets hurt, it helps when she’s sick. It’s the something we have that no one else can give her.  It has gotten easier as we have learned to nurse in baby carriers and on the go and as I have needed to nurse in many public spaces, my views of breastfeeding have evolved as well. I used to believe in modesty and trying to cover up but nursing a hungry baby who would rather not have a blanket draped over her head when she’s eating (who would?) has made me feel we should be doing more to normalize seeing breastfeeding instead of trying to cover it up.

nursing at a party

nursing in the sling

Now that she’s eating more and more solids and she’s almost a toddler, nursing has been quite different than the sleepy days of infancy. She likes her milk on the go, she’s constantly moving (a friend explained, these are the days of “gymnurstics”). Sometimes she’s so busy, I have to remind her to come nurse a little bit. But at night time we always come back to that deep connection that nursing brings. She pats my breast and sometimes gives me the baby sign for milk. For her, nursing is a comforting, happy, Mama-made thing and I love that I can give that to her. She’s nearing a year and people are already asking me if I plan to stop breastfeeding. Like any relationship you can’t just end it and I don’t want or plan to. At the moment, I plan to let her self-wean. Of course this may change with how we both feel later on (I believe extended breastfeeding needs to be something both Mom and baby want and are comfortable with) but I don’t think Ellie is ready to wean in the least and that is just fine with me. I feel like I’m not only giving her this incredible nutrition that my body makes tailored exclusively for her, but nursing also provides that special comfort, a quiet few minutes for the both of us to reflect upon the love we have for each other.

blue eyes shot

 

– Joining Mothering’s “Blogging about Breastfeeding Event“! Check it Out!

And Happy Nursing!