I’m so happy my kid can breastfeed, I might let her do it forever

Guest post by Taryn
World Breastfeeding Week (1)

In my naive pre-baby days, I thought toddler-nursing was for hippie weirdos. “If they can ask for it, they’re too old for it!” I would exclaim in my most judgmental tone. This was back in the day when I also thought breastfeeding was simple and came naturally to all moms. Ha!

I blame it on my pre-natal class, really. Our instructor (who herself had never breastfed her own daughter) showed us an incredible video of brand-new babies who, when placed on their mama’s belly, inched their way up to the breast and latched on. “Great,” I thought, “breastfeeding will be totally easy” and I never gave the subject another thought.

Until Charlotte was born. We couldn’t get her to latch during our brief stay in the hospital. The next day, my midwife came over and sat in bed with me for hours, trying to get Charlotte to latch. When she finally gave up, we called in a lactation consultant who — given that Charlotte hadn’t eaten since birth — rushed right over. Barb (aka wonder woman) put us on a ridiculously regimented program. And when we finally did get Charlotte to latch, we discovered that the poor darling couldn’t suck. So we proceeded to painstakingly teach her to suck while feeding her (pumped breast milk) through a tube stuck to one of our fingers.

Once she got the hang of that, the latch problems came back. We developed a round-the-clock routine that went like this: alarm clock goes off, wake Charlotte up and try to get her to latch, keep trying until both of us are in frustrated tears, give up and give her a bottle and watch her hungrily suckle it back while feeling like the most incompetent mom ever, put her in the wrap and jiggle her around the apartment until she falls asleep, pump milk for Charlotte’s next feeding, store milk, wash bottle and pump, relax for a too-short while before beginning again.

Sometimes we’d have days-long stretches where I could get her to latch at almost every feed. And then we’d regress and go back to mostly bottle-feeding. And then, when Charlotte was seven weeks old, we got thrush. And then I got mastitis. One morning, after a ridiculously hard night, I found myself in the bathtub painfully massaging a rock-hard plugged milk duct while bawling my eyes out. I had had enough. Six hours of crying later, my partner J. convinced me to give it one last try. And wouldn’t ya know it, Charlotte latched on like a pro and never looked back.

And that’s when I decided: after all we’d been through, Charlotte could nurse through college if she wanted to!

Charlotte will be two years old next month, and she is still breastfeeding. She only nurses twice a day now — before bed and in the early morning — but she still loves it as much as ever, and shows no desire to give it up. So we continue.

And sure, I may get strange looks the odd time I breastfeed in public (these days, it’s mainly just on overnight airplane flights), and yes I do look forward to the day when my body is my own once again. But Charlotte is also still getting the full health benefits associated with breast milk; we are doing as UNICEF, the WHO, and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend, and as women in many other cultures do; we still get to have some close cuddling time that’s just for the two of us; and I still get a daily reminder of my personal strength, and my commitment to my daughter.

Comments on I’m so happy my kid can breastfeed, I might let her do it forever

  1. I totally know how you feel! We also had nursing/latching issues at first but are doing pretty well now, although she is now in her I’m-super-distracted! phase so doesn’t always nurse for very long. And I used a nipple shield until around 3 1/2 months. But yes…I figured I’d nurse for about a year but now just figure I’ll do it for as long as she wants. I do have some concerns about my milk supply, but otherwise–latch away, baby!

  2. My ten month old son is feeding now. Despite, cracks and mastitus and thrush I have no intention of stopping! And massive kudos to those who’ve pumped full time, I hate pumping. And have never ever got more than 5oz in a sitting!

  3. Love this post! Unfortunately, we were never able to get over the breastfeeding hurdles, but I still pumped until my son was a little over one year old. Still though, with all the issues I had, if he was still nursing today, I would let him whenever he wanted (he’s almost two). I sometimes still think, when he’s fussy or hurt, how nice it would be to nurse him to sleep.

  4. I used to think that about breastfeeding toddlers too. I wrote a post about it myself, noting a Sex and the City episode that says exactly, “If they’re old enough to ask for it, they’re probably too old to have it.” I used to nod and chime in in agreement with Miranda when she said it onscreen. Oh, how silly I was!

  5. What a powerful and wonderful story you share! I always knew I would breastfeed having watched my mother nurse my two siblings, and I was so lucky to have an easy time of it. It is exactly because of perseverant moms like you and others who are not so lucky to find their happy ending that I made it a priority to donate over 1000oz from the oversupply I was blessed with. I will let my daughter self-wean whenever she is ready past one year.

  6. It is nice to hear stories like this. I had trouble too at first and we had the crying, the plugged ducts, the SNS, the nipple shield, all that stuff, but by 8 weeks, she was on the breast exclusively and we haven’t looked back yet. Now she will be 4 next month and we are still breastfeeding. I never thought we’d be doing it this long, but it is so right for both of us that I am proud to be a mama of a nursing 4 year old!

    Incidentally, the looks just get weirder as the kid gets older. I don’t often nurse in public, but when I do, I get some odd ones, ha!

  7. This was great! We too had horrible issues in the beginning, which I also NEVER expected. It took 6 months for us to nurse successfuly, without pain, without a nipple shield, without formula supplementation. I just couldn’t stand to give up on it, and after we’d both struggled so much there was no way I’d consider weaning at a year! We’re still nursing at 13 months and she can wean when she’s ready.

  8. Seeing stuff like this gives me hope <3
    With my daughter I didn't get to start pumping until the end of day 2 almost day 3 due to all of the meds in my system trying to bring my blood pressure down and make sure I didn't stroke out or have a seizure. Then I didn't get to put her to the breast until she was a week old. She latched on right away but because of the nicu schedule (and the fact we didn't get to bring her home until she was 2 weeks old even tho there were no problems) we had problems with getting her to latch on everytime (well maybe they were more my problems… I was still on blood pressure meds and was lethargic and depressed so my ex wound up giving her bottles of pumped milk) till she was 3 months. Once we got past all that I let her nurse until she was almost two, and I was pregnant. She weaned herself. I would have kept going if she wanted. With my son we had him on the breast before he was 15 mins old. He latched perfectly first try, and at two weeks old is still nursing wonderfully and has already put on over a pound. I figure I'll let him nurse as long as he wants.

  9. Go girl! Nurse as long as your kiddo will go. My daughter just turned 2 and I have a feeling that my breast milk changed in a way she didn’t like (because of pregnancy) because she has been obsessed with ‘boobie’ since day 1 and all of the sudden she just quit. Out of nowhere, just done. It’s been a month and I still cry sometimes because I miss it 🙁

  10. I’m terrified of when my boy will come out, and he’ll be exactly like me. I flat out refused the breast, and went for the bottle. I’d want to breast feed, but the thought that it might not happen is saddening. =/

  11. This is a really great blog. I too never realized how wonderful it is. I always remind my newly pregnant friends that breastfeeding is less of a chore, but rather a luxury allowed to some lucky Moms. My son was really good at breastfeeding from the moment he was born, and I am so grateful because taking care of a newborn is hard enough. He’s almost 10 months, and I really do not want to wean him.

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