Sunday, August 5, 2012
World Breastfeeding Week 2012
Since we are right in the middle of World Breastfeeding Week, I thought I would take a moment to reflect on breastfeeding and give an update on where Penny and I are in our breastfeeding relationship. We had a rocky start, which I wrote about here, but we eventually fought back and weaned from all supplementation when she was two months old. She continued to nurse at least every 2-3 hours until she was about 9-10 months old, and then slowly started to go longer stretches. Maybe around 15 months, she was nursing 3-4 times/day, at which point I became pregnant again. I saw no difference in her nursing at that point, and then when she was 17 months, I started a plan to slowly and gently wean her. The thing I was most worried about was the fact that Penny had a very strong association between nursing and sleep, which I thought would be difficult to break. It was important to me to disassociate those things for her though. I wanted her to get used to going to sleep easily with someone besides mom (or with me by just cuddling instead of nursing), and I wanted to give my body a bit of a break by not having to nurse as often. Being pregnant, nauseated, fatigued, and nursing was a lot for my body to handle. And it is really hard being the one who puts the baby down for naps and night 99% of the time. I longed to be able to pass that duty off to others, and I felt that given Penny's age and the pregnancy, that it was a good time. I probably spent two months working with her slowly and gently, but Penny no longer associates nursing and sleep, and she is able to put herself to sleep on her own as long as someone lies down with her... and she has her baby dolls... and her water bottle...and whatever else she decides she needs on any given day.
As for a picture of our nursing relationship right now, I would say that Penny is actually starting to wean herself. Once I taught her to sleep without nursing and dropped down to 2-3 nursings/day, I noticed a marked decrease in Penny's interest in nursing. Since it wasn't part of her sleep routine, she stopped asking as often. This was nice because for a little while there, I was trying to distract her with a snack or an activity when she'd ask, and I hated to say no to her. If I offer, she is enthusiastic to nurse, but I am trying not to offer. She will still ask sometimes, but it seems to be at more random times, and I am pretty much obliging whenever she asks, which is really only 1-2 times/day. All of our nursing sessions are just one side now. After 5 minutes or so, I start to get sore and sometimes even get a skin-crawling feeling like "OMG I can't possibly nurse for another second!", at which point I ask her to please be done. She usually obliges, but sometimes she shakes her head and tries to say "uh uh" while latched. In that case, I usually give her one more minute and ask again, and if she still refuses, I de-latch her.
I have so much peace about our breastfeeding journey. There were definite ups and downs along the way, but weaning from formula supplements and breastfeeding Penny for 19+ months are some of my proudest accomplishments. I also feel incredible peace about how we seem to be finishing off. I love that Penny will (hopefully, if trends continue) be able to self-wean and that we can finish off in a place where I don't feel any stress about it. So, so grateful for all of these blessings.
Unfortunately, we did not make it to the Big Latch On on August 4th. My mom is visiting, and we are a little frantic trying to prepare for our move, but I'm sure it was a great event for everyone who attended, and maybe I will make it next August with the new baby. Hope those of you who attended had fun!