‘Hooray for Boobies’ a CD I remember listening to in my youth well over a decade ago, but the title now has a new meaning for me. I do indeed think that boobies are amazing and should be praised.
Let’s start, my daughter is nearly 2 and yes I’m still bf her on demand. Which is still very frequent. Am I mad? No but a lot of people think that I am. I now get labelled with ‘attachment parenting’ something that I don’t mind as I do believe in a lot of it’s values. I used to baby wear and I wouldn’t dream of letting her ‘cry it out’. So apprently this puts me in the minority.
When I was pregnant I went to the antenatal classes and got told on repeat ‘breast is best’. I was never breastfed and tbh I don’t know anyone who was. I thought to myself that I will try my best when the baby comes and that’s all I can do. If it doesn’t work out then no biggie.
Bf did not come easy, it was very hard. I was in the hospital for 5 days due to pre eclampsia. I feel like my long stay was key to making BF work for me and I thank all the midwives and peer support workers for their help in making it possible. I just couldn’t get her to latch on my own. So for the first few days I would press my hospital buzzer day and night to get someone to latch her on for me. I feel that if I would have been healthy and come home on say day 2 I would have given up due to the lack of knowing what to do. The midwives would hand express a little milk to try and coax her on and it worked. I didn’t have the knack to hand express myself it just didn’t work for me.
In the beginning it was very painful and I’m greatful for the magical Lansinoh cream which helped heal my poor sore nipples. During week 2 though it all got too much with all the sleep deprivation, the large amount of medication that I was on and the intense pain during each feed I caved in. ‘I quit’ I shouted and I meant it. I stormed into the kitchen and warmed up a pre made bottle of Aptimil formula. I did feel like a failure and I cried but I was adiment that I was done. After a couple more hours of broken sleep I was delirious. I was at breaking point. I’m sure every new parent gets there. My MIL and hubby took my daughter and told me to have a bath and go back to bed, something that I welcomed. I had now not BF for a few hours and my breasts where very full and becoming painful. I tried to hand express to take the pressure off but I couldn’t do it. After my bath and nap I felt a lot better. I picked up my daughter and decided that I was going to try again to take some of the pressure off, I latched her back on as I was very uncomfortable. After giving my boobs this much needed break they had managed to heal a little bit and surprisingly BF didn’t hurt as much. The seering sharp burning pain had subsided and I decided that I wanted to combine feed with breastmilk and formula. This meant that not all the pressure was on me and my hubby could now feed her too. With him going back to work after 2 weeks I found that he never got up to help as he needed to be up very early for work so it was all me again. I also struggled to get her to drink from a bottle, something that she wasn’t used to and mostly refused.
I also noticed how much more sick my daughter was whenever she had formula. She would projectile vomit. I decided enough was enough and I would go back to BF full time. Once I was over the initial pain hurdle I found BF mentally hard. It is very draining! Being confined to the couch all day with a baby attached to you. I couldn’t go to the toilet without her attached to me. My husband would come home from work and I wouldn’t have eaten. I got sick of sitting on the couch!
Breastfeeding brought on other problems for me. She would only go to sleep whilst attached to my boob. Then once she was asleep I would try and lay her gently in her Moses basket but she would immediately wake back up and the cycle would begin again. I was exhausted and wondering what I was doing wrong. I found myself dangerously nodding off with her in my arms on the couch. My hubby finally stepped in and said ‘lie next to her in bed and rest’.I did the side lying position and found it very comfortable. That night we all slept and it was amazing! In the morning I felt like a new woman. That was when we became co-sleepers. It was a scary thought as it was so taboo and frowned upon but surely it’s safer than me nodding off on the couch with her. We followed all the safety guidelines. After all almost every animal sleeps next to its young, it makes sense, it’s nature. She was very happy sleeping next to me and could have milk on demand. I won’t go in much depth about co-sleeping as I will save that for another time. But now that she is nearly 2 she still sleeps in our bed. She will only sleep in my arms attached to me for a daytime nap and it’s exhausting and not a ideal situation. I wish that I had been firmer in the early days.
I still breastfeed in public and I’ve never had anyone say anything negative to me but I do worry that people are thinking that she is too big to BF now. She is quite tall for her age and now that she can talk she shouts ‘booby’ whenever she wants it and pulls at my top. It’s hilarious and mortifying all at the same time. I am very grateful for BF as it brings her a lot of comfort as well as nutrition. When she has been ill and refusing food I know that she gets what she needs from my milk. Whenever she falls and hurts herself she comes to me for comfort and it’s something that I can give her to help her so why wouldn’t I want to do that. The World Health Organisation recommending breastfeeding until the age of 2 and beyond. The world average is a lot higher due to children in 3rd world countries feeding well into their childhood up to the ages 7 or 8. So why do a lot of women stop after 6 months? I know for a fact that I wouldn’t still be doing it if I had gone back to work. Something that I’m very grateful for. I tried expressing but it didn’t work for me. The pump hurt me and caused a wound. Then she refused it from a bottle. Maybe it’s because it wasn’t a good enough pump? I don’t know but I’m not keen to try again. We have had a few bumps along the way at about the 6 month and 1 year mark. My Dr diagnosed nipple Eczema as they became sore again. This time neither Lanolin, steroid cream or antibiotics worked but in the end it was E45 that did the trick.
I am very grateful for my BF relationship with my daughter as I don’t know which feed will be her last. She has cut down and I’m waiting for her to self wean. So hopefully she will wean during the next year or so. I am abit sick of my BF wardrobe. I miss the dresses that I used to wear but I know that there is no BF access in them. I now live in a breastvest under a tshirt or a button down top. A positive of BF is that my baby weight did all go pretty quick and I’m still losing weight. I’ve lost prob too much weight but I know that each woman is different. I know that if I have another child I will commit to trying my best again and if it doesn’t work it doesn’t work. I don’t have anything negative to say about formula feeding as both me and my husband where formula fed and we are both fine and have had good health.
Is anyone else breastfeeding a toddler? Please share you story with me.