So I’m sure this post will get a lot of raised eyebrows and eye rolls…. but here we go.
Breastfeeding Beyond 12 Months
If you haven’t figured out, I’m a big breastfeeding advocate. Not one of those #breastisbest moms, because I’m a firm believer of fed is best. But I personally just LOVE breastfeeding and love sharing my journey. I love supporting moms who currently breastfeed, who have tried and failed (because I’ve been that mom!), and who are struggling to make it work. I think it’s one of the most amazing gifts we as women have to give our babies the best start in life.
Of course, I have had several moments where I didn’t love it — like in the beginning when I encountered all these things people don’t tell you — but most of our journey has been pretty amazing. There is nothing that compares to being the source of nourishment for your baby. It’s a feeling of pride and accomplishment that nothing else has ever given me. And not to mention the convenience of it. Long are the days of bottle washing, formula prepping (and buying) and making sure you have it all packed when you head out the door. It’s been amazing just have what he needs wherever I go.
Baby C and I have made it nearly 11 months so far exclusively breastfeeding. We didn’t begin to offer solid foods until a little over 6 months of age and even then he wasn’t super interested. It took a few months of trying food after food until he really became interested in it. And all through that his single source of nutrition was breastmilk from me and me only. He never was one to take a bottle and has also never even taken a pacifier, much to my chagrin. And both of those situations have led to us nursing more frequently because babies don’t always just nurse for hunger, but also for comfort and soothing.
As we are nearing his first birthday in just a handful of weeks, I’ve began getting the question, “Are you weaning him soon?”, “Have you started switching him to a sippy cup?”, “Are you almost done breastfeeding?”. Most of them come well intentioned out of curiosity or just making conversation. However, I know that some will start raising their eyebrows when we reach 1 year and beyond and he’s still nursing.
Listen, I’m gonna be honest here. I was never really interested in nursing beyond one year. I never really had an opinion about those who did (okay…. well maybe 5 year olds that were nursing still, but that’s a different topic), but I just wasn’t planning on doing that. However, here we are on the brink of that one year benchmark and I know there’s no way this baby is going to be ready to quit in 4 weeks. Not to mention, it’s not even dawned on me to even start the weaning process.
I realized last week that my older boys were done with formula and their bottles by ELEVEN MONTHS! I had already switched them to whole milk by now and we had packed away all the bottles. And here I am with another 11 month old who isn’t even close to being done with nursing. I know it’s a little different than bottle feeding + formula, but still. I started to panic when I realized that I was behind the curve here (comparing myself and baby C to his older brothers).
But then it came to me….. why do we have to be done in 4 weeks? Why do we have to stop as soon as he turns one? Because society doesn’t like it? Because other people disapprove or raise their eyebrows at toddlers nursing?
That’s when I arrived at the notion and came to peace with it — we aren’t going to be done nursing at 12 months. This probably will make A LOT of people feel uncomfortable, but oh well. I’m not going to wean just because it makes other people feel uncomfortable. My biggest motivator is keeping my sweet boy happy and content. And if that means we extend our nursing journey beyond 12 months, then so be it.
There is a part of me too that just isn’t ready to let go of that time with him… I wished and prayed SO LONG for this. I wanted to experience this part of motherhood so desperately. And admittedly, I’m not quite ready to let it go just yet. So it’s very much my choice as much as he just isn’t ready either. I love the extra time I have with him, the morning and bedtime cuddles we get together. This time is so fleeting. I don’t want to rush him. I can’t foresee the future and how long we will go, but I do know this: For now? I am letting him lead us. I want the transition to be stress free, smooth and easy.
We very well may get to the point that I’m over it and will nudge him along a little bit, but for now I’m content with where we are and where we’re headed. Trust me, I would LOVE to get rid of these breastfeeding hormones and finally lose the last 20 pounds of baby weight I have (prolactin >> the hormone responsible for creating milk>> is to blame here…. we aren’t all so lucky to breastfeed + drop weight!), but it’s temporary. It’s all temporary. And I never want to lose sight of that. Our babies grow so fast… let’s let them be little for as long as we can!