I always knew I wanted to breastfeed my children. My mother instilled in me the importance of the special bond between mother and child when I was very young, so there was no question that I would do when my time came. Our bodies are made to feed our babies, and this is just one of the amazing things women can do. Not only does breastmilk offer substantial nutritional and health benefits, but it provides a nurturing relationship between mom and baby.
That all being said, nursing is hard. It takes patience, determination, sacrifice, and love. I suffered through several bouts of mastitis (10 to be exact), several courses of antibiotics, clogged ducts, sore/cracked/bloody nipples, and pressure. I have been the only source of nutrition for all 3 kiddos, and only ONE took a bottle.
I also have an autoimmune disease, and have had to take medications at one time or
another that force me to be extremely diligent with pumping and dumping. Although incredibly difficult at times, these challenges have all been worth it to me. To be able to give my babies the gold star of nutrition, necessary antibodies to ward off disease, comfort their cries in the middle of the night and hold them close during their vaccines has given me a great sense of pride.
While breastfeeding was important to me – I want to stress that fed is best. Just because breastfeeding is right for one woman, doesn’t mean it will be right for the next. Some women face medical challenges that prevent them from being able to breastfeed. I have a family member who wanted to nurse with every fiber of her being, but she almost died during labor. She was faced with every medical issue since his birth; therefore, physically couldn’t breastfeed. Whatever is best for mom and baby, is going to be the best decision overall. Each person has their own story to tell, and different factors that determine the outcome.
What I wasn’t prepared for in my journey was the emotional toll the weaning process would take on both me, and my babies. I have breast-fed our kiddos for 17 months, 13 months and 19 months (and counting). With our eldest, I decided that I was ready to be done. It was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do as a mom because she wasn’t ready. There were tears, sob sessions, sleepless nights, and moments of regret. We got through it, but it took an entire week. My next daughter decided she was done just after a year. One day she was just too busy, so she weaned herself. Now, onto my 3rd and final baby. I am still nursing him, and he’s almost 20 months old. Neither of us our ready, so we will continue on our journey together until the day comes when one of us decides to call it quits.
I would love hear your stories of breastfeeding. Did you self wean, or did you experience baby led weaning? Any tips on weaning an incredibly attached little one? I would love to hear from you.