Some people set a goal when they start breastfeeding for how long they will do it for. For some it’s 6 weeks, for some 6 months, a year or longer. I didn’t have any idea how long I would feed for. For a start I didn’t know if I was going to be able to breastfeed as I’d never done it before! I didn’t want to set any expectations as I’d heard stories of people who had struggled and really beat themselves up when they’d not been able to. All I knew was that I wanted to give it a go as I knew there were so many benefits for my baby.
I can safely say breastfeeding is up there with one of the hardest but most rewarding things I’ve ever done. It’s an emotional bond between you and your little baby and although there were tough times during growth spurts I began to appreciate the cuddly moments and the convenience. We had a tough beginning but kept going through gritted teeth, bleeding nipples, a few tears and maybe some expletives. I finally saw some light at the end of the tunnel at 3 weeks when her latch improved and the pain started easing off. Once we got past that rough start it just got better and better and I started to appreciate the cuddles even more, especially when she started to get on the move and didn’t want to be held!
For various reasons I decided to wean her off breastfeeding as we approached 12 months and it took much longer that I thought. I had lots of very frustrating moments and set-backs trying to give up but we are now at the stage where she can take her milk from other sources and now that she’s able to self settle to sleep we’re much happier and less sleep deprived. Daddy is loving being able to do bedtime and I’ve got a bit more freedom and confidence knowing she will be settled with other people. I’ll do miss those cuddly feeds though. Oh well, we’ll just have to have another!
Highlights of our breastfeeding journey
- Being able to settle her back to sleep so easily and quickly at night
- The moment she first looked up at me whilst she was feeding
- Watching her trying to feed whilst giggling the time she parped and found it funny
- The time I was trying to get us both changed after swimming and she was distressed (hungry and tired) and she crawled over to me and just latched on while I was trying to get dressed!
- When she was 7 months old I got a flat tyre and ended up at the garage to get it changed and as it was approaching her tea time she started getting really aggitated. I had no snacks as was only popping out before tea so managed to feed her in the fortunately empty waiting room.
- Going up 2 cup sizes!
This is the first of a 3 part series of my journey so I’ll write further posts on how we encouraged self settling to sleep and our long story on how we weaned off breastfeeding. I encourage anyone to just feed for as long as they feel is right both for them and the baby. The NHS recommend breastfeeding is best (if you can) and the WHO (World Health Organisation) advises there are benefits until at least 2 years old. Don’t be swayed by narrow-minded people who think it’s odd or disgusting when it’s what a mother is naturally designed to do!
With the next tiddler I’m still not going to set any goals on how long to breastfeed for; if I’m able to again I’m just going to keep going until it feels right to stop. Hopefully I’ll enjoy the early days next time a bit more too as I’ll know to expect the cluster feeding this time so will get stocked up on chocolate, drinks and matchsticks to keep my eyes open! Oh and I’ll have my blog now to keep my occupied… goodness knows how I’ll cope with a toddler to look after as well though! Cross that bridge…