I had no plans when it came to breastfeeding (or motherhood) other than I knew this was fundamental to my concept of, and if I’m honest, my own expectations of motherhood. I knew if I could, that I would absolutely breastfeed.
At first I didn’t find breastfeeding easy, although this was generated entirely by my own self doubt. I found in the very early days, that I would question how will my milk be enough to sustain this tiny little life I was now 100% responsible for?
At first I didn’t find breastfeeding easy, although this was generated entirely by my own self doubt.
It would be several months into motherhood, before I felt reassured that my milk was in fact enough as I watched as my little Bean thrived and grew to be quite chubby! It’s a super satisfying feeling to look at your baby during the first 6 months (before weaning) and think they’re surviving on their mum alone! #respect to mother nature.
As the Bean has now reached toddlerhood and is still being breastfed (my son is now 29 months) I have been told this means I am among a tiny minority of mother’s who continue feeding their baby’s beyond 1 year. To be specific, it is estimated that only 1% of mother’s go on to feed their babies into toddlerhood!
As we have reached this point ourselves, I thought I would take the time to reflect and jot down a few things and share them here in my blog. I don’t intend to relay stats and facts though, it is more a bunch of random musings on being a long-time breastfeeding Mum to my son.
Firstly, I have found breastfeeding on the whole, pretty easy and very practical. I soon discovered that I produced a lot of milk (squirting in his face kind of volumes!) and I have never ever, EVER felt uncomfortable feeding my son whenever he needed to be fed. Be this on the train, the plane, the tube, bus, you name it, I have probably, like the majority of breastfeeding Mums, fed him there. Fundamentally, when we become mother’s we realise the true purpose of our breasts, which we should essentially be proud of.
In 29 months, I have only encountered one incident that made me feel a bit blue. The incident occurred in a cafe in Bristol. A couple (in their 60s) seemed horrified by me feeding my son. They huffed and puffed and said a few crass things, but thankfully I was reassured by another couple on another table, who said it’s the “most natural thing you can do”. That was definitely a memorable experience. Overall I mostly felt that it was a shame that people can have these reactions to something that most of us feel is just beautiful and it shows they’re disconnected with nature.
Another benefit of breastfeeding that I have learnt is it’s convenience. If like me you are a touch disorganised (at times) I can’t tell you how much I have enjoyed the convenience of having Bean’s food on the go, where ever we go. I always point this out to Mum’s unsure about which option to choose, breast of formula. I cannot imagine waking in the middle of the night to make up a bottle of milk under such tiredness. Breastfeeding the Bean meant all I did was roll onto my side and he’d latch on. Breastfeeding is also an excellent opportunity to become a tele-addict or if you are already, to catch up with your series and box-sets!
Nutritious peace of mind:
Secondly, I love all the wonderful nutrients found in mothers milk, that nature literally tailors to your baby’s own specific needs. No matter what the mum eats, the milk will still be the most nutritious thing your baby could consume, even if mum lives on fast food. Therefore, breast milk ensures you can provide a genuinely pure and safe diet that you trust, to offer your baby (are you listening NESTLE!). In a world where food seems to have lost its identity, in which we seem to rely heavily on ‘foods’ that have been processed (that we sadly see at the norm), I am truly glad I have been able to breastfeed my son for this long length of time. And even more so considering he is not the best eater- at least he is still having a bit of milk!
Breastfeeding also keeps the mum healthier- honestly, I have hardly had anything more than a cold since my son was born. Additionally, when we breastfeed our body releases Oxycontin, the feel good hormone connected with love and happiness- which I will talk a bit more about later.
Third, if it means you get an extra couple of hours in the morning, I am game for the morning feed. Now that my son is hitting two and a half, I wonder whether we should drop this part of our ‘routine’. Nearly every morning around 6AM he wakes me, says “booby“, has a drink, then falls back to sleep until a super civilised 9AM-woohoo! Am I addicted to these lies ins? Probably! But don’t worry, I am finally starting to see his interest in booby declining (albeit very slowly) and I guess we are gearing up to gently ‘wean’ each other off the booby.
Working and breast feeding toddler hood can work:
While I have no set time frame for feeding initially, I did read a report by the World Health Organisation, recommending mother’s breastfeed their baby up until they’re 2-years old. I know it sounds ambitious in a very fast paced world, one in which mother’s are expected to return to work within a year, but I can vouch for this and say you can work part or full time and continue to breastfeed. You will just have to feed according to your new routine.
How to get him out of the ‘habit’ of having booby:
Possibly what I have been thinking about a lot recently is how will I wean the Bean off the boob? This conundrum is one I am still unsure about how to answer? Basically let’s just say, the boob is his COMFORTER, which means I am his comforter.
Of course sometimes I can get claustrophobic and wish he’d taken to a bottle or enjoyed his soother, but he didn’t and also, the times that I do end up feeling like this, there is generally some other outside pressure that most of us working parents will know. This is just part of modern life.
Luckily, I treat breastfeeding as down time, a time where I sit still, and often do a bit of research. To this end, is has been an incredible benefit, as in this time (2+years) I managed to do the prep for ingreens, my small business!
Weaning the Bean off the boob does worry me at times, not deeply, but I do wonder how it’ll happen. And yet like most of this parenting malarkey, it’ll probably just happen organically without much intervention.
I have left him with his grandparents over night on more than a few occasions, and he’s been fine, in fact he slept until 9AM the last time this happens, which did get me thinking if the smell of my milk is keeping him awake?
The final thing I think about when the breastfeeding journey of ours finally ends is, will I miss the Oxytocin?
It plays a role in social bonding, sexual reproduction in both sexes, and during and after childbirth. Oxytocin is released into the bloodstream as a hormone in response to stretching of the cervix and uterus during labor and with stimulation of the nipples from breastfeeding. This helps with birth, bonding with the baby, and milk production. Source: Wikipedia
I mean this is a seriously beneficial hormone that academics and researchers think could actually ward off post-natal depression (some even citing not breastfeeding as a major contributing factor in developing PND in the first place, but this is another debate, for another time).
I do wonder if I will feel depressed or less balanced, as I have felt very happy since becoming a mother and have only ever known motherhood as a breast feeder. I was not always this balanced, I used to experience extreme mood swings around the time of the month. Although I do have to say that giving up dairy (I was already a non-meat eater) seems to have balanced me out in this regard a LOT!
As with everything else on this journey of motherhood, I am going with the flow, trying to stay true to myself, follow my gut, be guided by my son’s needs and remember that nature should come second to none.