There were so many things I was nervous about when I knew I was going to have my first child... being responsible for another human being in every possible way, well.. it is a pretty big deal. I knew from the start that I wanted to nurse my baby and I had the amazing blessing of landing a blogging gig with an amazing company called Bravado Designs to chronicle my breastfeeding experience. It was the best thing that could have happened because the writing pulled me through many difficult moments.
Breastfeeding is something natural, so many women wrongly assume it will just be easy... I was one of them. I thought I would hold my tiny baby in my arms, he would gently latch on, drink until he was full and fall sleep peacefully. That is not quite how it works.
Aiden was born with an excellent rooting reflex. He was an eager nurser and for that I am thankful. The first several weeks of nursing were difficult to get the hang of and they were painful. I hate to break it to ya but it hurts ladies. Every lactation consultant will tell you that "a proper latch should never hurt" which is totally true but think about it... newborn baby, new mom... you are going to experience an improper latch or several in the beginning so yes, it hurts!
After about 4 weeks though, we found our rhythm and I started to really, really enjoy breastfeeding my baby. First of all, I felt so grateful that he was being fed with the most natural ingredients possible and I wasn't putting any processed food into his little body. That was such an amazing feeling... I'd done all the research and I was giving my baby the best shot at health. Second, that time we spent together was priceless. Breastfeeding really makes it so that you have to be physically near your baby for longer periods of time than bottle feeding and I am so glad for that.
When I learned that cow's milk should not be given until at least 12 months (1 year) of age, I knew that I wanted to breastfeed Aiden until his first birthday. I had no desire to give him infant formula so I'd wait until he was a year and slowly introduce cow's milk until he was weaned... Aiden had other plans!
I noticed that after his first birthday, he was not emotionally ready to stop nursing. He was attached, he found immense comfort in it and his eating habits were still not where I thought they would be. We naturally just kind of continued with breastfeeding. I was nursing a toddler and trust me, no one was more surprised than me!
It was incredibly frustrating to hear comments from many individuals about my breastfeeding Aiden as a toddler. I never, ever, felt the need to hide it and was always ready to nurse my baby anywhere under his nursing cover. I know many people felt uncomfortable especially as Aiden began to walk and talk... I know that I was criticized ... I don't really care.
Deep down, I knew that Aiden still needed to nurse.. and quite frankly, the comments and silly statements I heard were from people who were simply uneducated on the matter.. so I took it with a grain of salt. I mean, I have education and research on my side and I know what I'm doing... so thank you for your opinion but it absolutely changes nothing.
The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for the first 2 years and beyond... in many countries all over the world, it is completely the norm to nurse into toddler-hood. In the U.S. it seems that bottle-feeding is still the norm and thus, those of us "weirdos" who breastfeed are well.. weirdos. But the U.S. is also one of the most unhealthy countries in the world eating foods that have actually been outlawed in other countries but that is a whole other can of worms. Extended breastfeeding offers many benefits to baby including protection from sickness, allergies, and even higher IQ's. Extended breastfeeding offers many benefits to mom as well including the lowered risk of breast and ovarian cancers... I'll take it! If you want to learn more about breastfeeding past the first year you can read these great articles here and here.
I am grateful that I decided not to give in to pressure based on the discomforts of others and make the decision that I feel was best for my son. Breastfeeding successfully is one of my proudest accomplishments and I can proudly say I did it for 26 months.
That's right... my big boy is fully weaned and no longer nursing. He just turned 27 months in July and has not nursed in over a month... I got to a point where I was very ready to end that part of our relationship and I needed to encourage Aiden to wean. It took lots of time and distraction but he did it and I am so proud of him for making this transition. A lot of Moms say they cry and feel depressed once their children wean but I couldn't be happier! I am happy that Aiden was able to nurse for as long as he did and I am equally happy that we are done.
I love my baby boy so much... he is growing up so fast!