Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Breastfeeding Diaries: Nursing at 1 year

My goal when it came to breastfeeding was to make it to a year. For that whole first year, that was my motivator, my driving force when things got hard...We've made it to that goal, with no thoughts of slowing down.

That said, nursing a toddler is WAY different than nursing a newborn.

A toddler has opinions of their own. Fynn let's me know when she wants to nurse. Not by fussing or acting hungry, but by grabbing at my shirt, trying to pull my breast out or making a specific sound that she reserves for nursing. Obviously, every baby is different, but these are the nursing cues we have developed as she's gotten older.

Not only does she let me know when she wants to nurse, but she lets me know which side she wants. Maybe this is just her, but she often has a definite opinion about which side she wants to be on, and when she wants to switch sides. 

Then there are the positions. Long gone are the days when I just cradled her in my arms and she quietly laid there eating. Those days were easy. Most of the time now she sits on my lap facing me to nurse while I sit or lie down, but sometimes... sometimes we go into what I call acrobatic nursing. These are the times when she wants to lay upside down, stand on my stomach while eating, dance or watch tv. Honestly, most of the time it's cute when she tries to do other things while nursing... but sometimes it's just plain painful as I often get an elbow, foot or even butt in my face as she squirms around and finds her place.

Of course, when we talk about nursing a one year old, we can't forget the teeth. In terms of nursing, I'm lucky that Fynn only has two teeth... because these bad boys can do some damage. When teething she will sometimes accidentally bite me, or catch her teeth on me funny as she's trying to latch because she's not used to having the new tooth. Surprisingly, most of the time, I can't feel her teeth at all when she's nursing. 

Nursing in public is pretty much non-existent these days for several reasons. The first being  that when we're out someplace, she doesn't usually want to nurse. She wants to play or look around. She prefers real food or sippy cups at these times. Which is a blessing because of the other reason nursing in public is non-existent; it's impossible to be discreet. When she was little I could throw on a nursing cover or even just tuck her under my shirt a bit and no one was the wiser. With her new acrobats and easy distraction... discretion is just not possible. I would just end up flashing the whole world. Not really my style. 

One part I truly love about nursing an older baby? The lack of stress. We're at the point where I don't have to worry about my supply or pumping enough for when we're apart. She gets what she gets and the rest of her food comes from solids. I'm loving this part because I had struggled with supply issues several times when she was younger. Added to that, I don't have to worry about making sure she has enough breastmilk for when we're apart. If she's hungry, and there's no milk... she just eats real food. Easy! 

The other major part I love? Is that connection. She's so go-go-go all day long. Busy exploring, running around, learning... but we still have our time. Several times a day it's just her and me. Connecting, bonding, snuggling. While sometimes I think about how nice it would be to just be done... I know I'm going to miss this part of nursing. So I'm in no rush. My favorite nursing session of the day is right before she goes to bed. When she's tired and happy and just wants to snuggle while she nurses. It's the perfect wind down.

I get asked all the time how long I'm planning to nurse for, but the truth is, I have no idea. It's working for us right now. When it stops working, then we will think about stopping. Obviously I'm not going to nurse her until she's 8 (check out this YouTube video of a woman who IS doing that), but I have no plans to stop. Ideally, I'll wait until she's ready to self wean... I'm just hoping that's before she's two, because two years seems like a really long time to me, but who knows. 

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  1. I've seen that video before and to be honest it frightened me. My goal right now is to nurse for at least 9 months because I would like to have a reduction assuming we stay in the one and done club. We'll see how it goes!

  2. I nursed Aubrey for 21 months. I never had a specific goal in mind but I just loved the bonding and reconnecting after a day apart. I had to laugh at the acrobatics comment- it's SO true!


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