Sunday 14 August 2011

Breastfeeding at 3 1/2. How did that happen?

I can't believe that we've got this far, I never imagined breastfeeding this long it just kind of happened.

I remember talking to my husband when we were pregnant with our first about breastfeeding.  We knew that we were going to breastfeed, we had gone to the classes, had our support all set up.  I was prepared to breastfeed until William decided to stop, and some friends and family thought that this was a little odd and were concerned that it wouldn't happen until college (a common comment).  I remember telling people that it would be great, after a year he would only feed maybe once or twice a day and then maybe by 18 months he might breastfeed twice a week or something, maybe I should have asked someone who had done it?

William is about 3 1/2 now and he has a sister of 4 months, and I am tandem nursing.  When did THAT happen!

As with most things in life, breastfeeding evolved.  It wasn't planned out or scheduled, it just happened.  At a year William was feeding just as much as in the first twelve months, he was just a little quicker and he no longer had milk from a bottle at daycare, he would wait til he got home.  At eighteen months he nursed at least 6-8 times every day.  At 2 1/2 he started sleeping through the night.  At 3 1/2 he nurses maybe once a day, but not every day and he only nurses from the left side.

I think the fear for many, or at least the TV celebrities who debate it is that child in the supermarket who shouts at his Mum for "Boobie" and then helps himself.  The truth is a totally different story.  I think most nursing Mums out there will tell you that the word their child uses is not obvious, and when their children are talking early on, only Mum can understand them anyway.  For lots of older nurslings it is a comfort for when they hurt themselves, need a nap or are going to sleep at night.  I rarely got demands in the supermarket, and even if he did ask he could be easily distracted with a box of cereal until I could find a comfy chair.  He would nurse quickly, and then get on with finding something new and naughty to do.

Only recently have I had any doubts.  Nursing during pregnancy can be a little painfull.  My nipples became very sore, but William was very willing to be "gentle" and he never complained if I asked him to stop.  We started counting down from ten so he could be ready to stop.  Now if he nurses and he wants to stop he asks me to count.  I was also a little overwhelmed when Ellie joined the family.  It was OK nursing two at the same time to get to sit down for a minute in silence.  The one thing that has freaked me out, if you can even call it that because it still hasn't stopped me, is that William is so much bigger than Ellie.  He seems so much older than Ellie, and I guess the media has gotten to me too, I doubt myself for a fraction of a second.

When I think about all the amazing things breastfeeding is doing for our family, I know I am doing the right thing.  I've never had to deal with an ear infection.  My son has been at some type of daycare or nursery since he was three months old and he has only ever had one sick day for pink eye.  I could go into more details about the benefits but you all know them.

I guess my point is that you don't plan to breastfeed forever, it just happens one day at a time.

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