I have successfully breastfed all my children. I consider myself very fortunate. I know many mothers that desperately wanted to breastfeed and for several reasons were not able to. They battled guilt, depression, and harsh judgement.
I honestly never thought anything about breastfeeding until I had my first son. I do not even remember Jarred and I discussing it while I was pregnant with Lewis. I made the decision when he entered this world and they placed him on my chest. It just felt right to me.
I remember it like it was yesterday. I was a naive 23-year-old that thought how hard can it be? Ha! It was exhausting, rewarding, stressful, painful, demanding, but it was incredible. My body was producing everything my baby needed. I cried every time he latched on. Sure my hormones were out of whack, but I was crying from the pain of having a newborn attached to my body. Now I know that means something isn’t right, but at that time I was clueless. I knew it would be uncomfortable and I would be sore, but I was not expecting that much pain. The nurses were not encouraging. They were not supportive. It was not a great experience. I’m not even sure Facebook was around then, so I didn’t have much of a support system. After a week of painful nursing we went to Babies R Us and bought a breast pump. I pumped and rotated sides for two days to let myself heal and we finally got the hang of it. I should mention that I did not have him at the same hospital I had my other three. Not only was I experienced with my second son, but the nurses and lactation consultants at EAMC were fantastic!
I nursed Lewis and Ian until they were 10 months old. Winston self-weaned at 11 months because my supply dropped due to being pregnant with Miles. Miles is a few days short of being 11 months and he still nurses 2 or 3 times a day. I’m okay with that. My husband is okay with that, and honestly I don’t even know if I would care if he wasn’t okay with it. That’s not being mean, that’s just being real. I’ve heard women talk about how they wanted to continue breastfeeding, but their husband was ready for them to stop. I had people asking me when Miles was just 7 months, “Are you still breastfeeding? Isn’t he eating solids now?” Some of those people do not have children, so I don’t expect them to know much about breastfeeding. But some of those were other moms that should know better!
My dear friend and I met for a cup of coffee Sunday and were talking about her 15 month old son. He went in for his wellness check up and the pediatrician asked my friend if she was still breastfeeding. She told him she was and his was response was, “How long are you going to keep that up?” I admit I take things the wrong way sometimes, but I think a response like, “That’s great! Keep up the good work!” or “That’s awesome! You’re doing a great!” would have been more appropriate.
Everyone is different. I know there is an issue of appropriateness, but I feel like that is up to the mom. I have my personal cut-off time where I wouldn’t feel comfortable breastfeeding, but not all moms have a cut-off time. If Miles still wants to nurse at 15 months I’m okay with that. If he wants to nurse at 18 months, who is that hurting? What is the big deal?? If it works for us, that’s what matters. What we do may not work for your family.
It took me a while to build up my confidence to be able to breastfeed in public. I would park in the furthest parking space away from the store to feed Lewis and Ian. Something clicked with Winston. I always used a cover, but I didn’t hide anymore. No mother should ever hide to feed her baby. I want mothers to quit hiding while they feed their babies. I want people, men and women, to be supportive and accepting of breastfeeding in public. Teach your children what our bodies are capable of doing! I would feel more awkward watching a Victoria’s Secret commercial with my son than seeing a mom nurse her baby at a park!
It goes back to what you used to hear from your mom and grandmother–If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
I wanted to share some pictures of sweet nurslings including my sweet Miles. As demanding as breastfeeding is, one day I will miss it!