My daughter and I practice extended breastfeeding.
For her entire life, I have confidently nursed her in various places under various circumstances.
I have nursed her when she’s hungry, sick, hurt, scared or when she just felt like being close to me.
I haven’t had many uncomfortable or rude NIP (nursing in public) episode, and for the most part, we have felt a lot of support from family members and friends during our journey together.
I have loved providing nourishment and energy to my daughter by nursing her.
We’re warding off disease and cancer by doing what has come naturally for us! Hooray!
But with all this happy, loving talk, there is a dark side of extended breastfeeding. Oh maybe that’s too dramatic. Let me explain.
Five months ago my second child was born.
It honestly hasn’t been as tough as I imagined it would on me.
Sure, it takes of a lot of my time and energy, but I’ve really enjoyed those moments when nursing both of my children at the same time. They look into each other’s eyes, laugh together and touch each other’s faces and hands. Adorable!
One thing I immediately noticed when breastfeeding the two of them was how much stronger of a latch Ella had than little newborn Lucan.
Like, wow. Big difference.
All of a sudden – this literally happened in a single moment – I felt annoyed by Ella’s nursing. It almost hurt. And maybe this is a very primal instinctive sort of feeling, but if I had to choose between which child to nurse first, I wanted to go straight for Lucan. It seemed like he needed me more. Ella could go eat food. Right?
Wrong. Big, fat wrong!
As much as I’d like to think that Ella could be sustained on food alone, she doesn’t want to stop nursing any time soon. And I found, as well as read, mom continuously going to new baby first can cause resentment.
While half of me is annoyed, the other part of me wants to continue nursing her until she wants to stop (this is called child-lead weaning).
I’m feeling very conflicted.
So I think the best thing to do is change very little, by teeny tiny increments. Ways that are invisible to the eye, but make me feel a bit better.
A few things I’ve done to ease my mind so Ella can continue nursing.
I’ve shortened the length of time we nurse.
Ella could nurse and nurse. But I’ve spoken with her about my milk coming out, her drinking it, and when the milk stops, we’re all done. This works about 75% of the time!
Lucan and Ella take turns nursing, rather than at the same time.
This keeps me from noticing the difference between the way they nurse. And I can focus on one child at a time.
When Ella gets hurt, we hug or cuddle instead of nursing.
I completely understand the longing to nurse for comfort when in pain. But she falls down/stubs her toe/gets hair pulled by little brother too often to nurse every time! So we hug. I hold her close and stroke her hair. This works about…50% of the time (maybe a little less!). We’re getting there.
Finding & creating special alone time with Ella to nurse.
Although I haven’t had any embarrassing ”incidents” nursing publicly, it’s no secret that most people are not very comfortable seeing a toddler nursing. I try to pick and choose the times when I do NIP, and honestly, there are just some places, even at the homes of relatives, when I feel better waiting or taking Ella into another room. This creates a more enjoyable, peaceful environment for both of us, and a great way to reconnect.
At the end of the day, I try to remember that this time is fleeting.
There are more benefits to extended nursing than nutrition and physical health – breastfeeding is good for our souls!
The day will come when Ella no longer wants to nurse, and my heart will break over it. So I’m going to give it my all, and the best to my daughter while I still can. If I can, I will.
And my will is strong!