I’m going from this is beautiful to I love you, but I need my body back. And sadly, it’s my fault I’ve reached this point.
No. I do not think that forcing Millie to wean is my goal, but to regain a sense that I have some semblance of control would be nice. Right?
As a parent, everything we do is new. Even with experience with another child… somehow, almost, everything is new. And learning when infant becomes baby, becomes toddler are not moments, but gradual movements into change.
When Millie was about a year and a half, I deemed public breastfeeding to not be in our best interest. This did not mean in my car, nor did I stop posting photos on my accounts. This is 1. because she truly had a need for the comfort and nutrition and 2. freedom of speech! If people don’t like it, unfollow the account. As mentioned to numerous mothers, contrary to popular belief: mothers neither breastfeed nor talk about/post about breastfeeding for attention. The same way a mother (or father, friends, etc.) do not bottle feed (formula or breast milk) for attention. Children have needs, and we meet them. A part of social media is sharing that journey.
My Facebook video from 9 months ago is still getting slammed… no matter how you feed your baby, know that I support your choice! We all are doing our very best. No matter what that is, it’s beautiful! Photo from birth day, 9/19/14 . . . . . . #treeoflife #freethenipple #breastfeeding #EBF #nursingmothers #CamilleThea #motherhood #motherdaughter #normalizebreastfeeding #fulltermbreastfeeding #flashbackfriday #aisforadelaideblog
But I digress.
As Millie turned 2, we also (Dave and myself) knew she needed to do better about being in her own bed all night, so we worked to make that a reality. Tucking her in and ensuring her comfort was key, as well as one final nursing session. However, when she potty trained [nearly] overnight, these nursing sessions became an issue, as one could imagine. So, we had to start anew.
At this point, we are in what some call extended breastfeeding, but is more accurately known as full-term breastfeeding, and this mama needed some rules. From “dream peeing” to an incredibly independent child who is managing new coping skills, it is my duty to guide her and preserve my own mental health.
Survive Full-Term Breastfeeding:
First, I beg the mamas out there who are dealing with the [even worse than EBF baby stigmas] full term breastfeeding stigmas to take a deep breath and remember: HOW LONG YOU BREASTFEED YOUR CHILD IS NOT ANYONE ELSE’S BUSINESS!
The benefits of full-term breastfeeding are proven, and while it’s still not as widely accepted in the United States as one could hope, doesn’t make it any less of a good thing for you and your child, should you choose that route!
Please know that while one child may do better with pumped milk, another will not. This does not make one child more spoiled, this makes the child different from the other. You know- because all people are not the same and such. In our case- Millie did not take to pumped milk and we have a different relationship with breastfeeding than Addie and I had. Walking on new territory meant taking steps with each age progression.
As you pass that one year mark, there are all new considerations, from social stigmas to development of baby that propose new challenges. Challenges are not bad, however, so read on to help make your transition smoother.
For me this means asking Dave for backup when, especially at night, I need to walk away. It also means reading!
Millie loves to read, so we’ve been particularly paying attention to Nursies in the When the Sun Shines, which helps explain that when mama is sleeping, we are not going to be breast feeding anymore.
Other books to try include: Mama’s Milkies, Milkies In The Morning: A Gentle Night Weaning Storybook and Sally Weans from Night Nursing. These books truly assist in empowering mothers as they explain to children about gently weaning, compromise, respect for others, and more. Truly, the process is almost as beautiful as the act of breastfeeding itself.
It’s OK to say no
This was, and remains to be the hardest part of a growing child and breastfeeding for me. Transitioning from the days of on-demand nursing to reading signals and knowing that I CAN say no and she needs to listen, is hard! We are not fast-food joints, I do not serve up on a whim. Millie has a term to ask for milk, and though she does struggle with the no, I do feel a lot less stress while making dinner, or going to bed without having to sit and nurse her on demand, as well.
Newborns on demand are typical, as they have a dependence on breast milk for survival. With breastfeeding manners like asking and waiting for an answer, limiting time and number of sessions in a day, and honestly being OK with saying no, means I have regained some sanity, and Millie has learned new ways to cope.
The good ole’ days
Know that with a bigger, older child, you’re not going to be cooking, talking on the phone, scrolling Facebook, or even, most days, reading a book. Your babe will move- everywhere, making it hard for you to also be moving and doing. This goes hand-in-hand with NO! When I have something to do, I have to do it. Sure, I can let the laundry go for 15 minutes, but if I have to start dinner, I have to do that. It’s both impractical to not make dinner and unsafe to make dinner holding Millie, so dinner comes first!
…and that time I was on stage hosting Listen to Your Mother while breastfeeding a baby? Those days are gone, too.
Comfort vs. Hunger
It’s become apparent when Millie wants to nurse for comfort or hunger, and while both are totally acceptable reasons to nurse, differentiating between the two can help me decide when I want to. Sometimes, offering her an apple and peanut butter just makes life easier… but a skinned knee, may require “boo-boos” (her term) as a way to feel better.
The most important thing here: I make the call.
No means no… especially at Target
That time Millie reached into my shirt and unlatched my tank before I even knew what was up! OOPS!
Sometimes a tempting neckline or snaps that are easy to undo, lead your child to forget manners and reach away for a snack. As with any lifestyle change, you and child are learning- for me, this often means keeping an eye on Millie’s hands when she’s in the shopping cart in front of me. A gentle reminder of not right now, or mama said no, and you need to respect my wishes for my body is needed. In return, she’s learning to respect no, as a complete sentence.
This is up to you (and child)
This is your parenting journey- as i remind myself daily. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, then with solids for the first year and after that point for “as long as mutually desired by mother and child.” Dr. Joan Meek, chair of the AAP states appropriately that there is “no point at which you can say ‘there’s no value to this’.”
So nurse on, mamas… until you’re done.