As I sit nursing my 7-week old, I’m already preparing for that bittersweet time to say au revoir/goodbye to breastfeeding. There are many milestones that moms experience but this one is so significant yet rarely talked about. Whether you nursed for two weeks or two years, for World Breastfeeding Week, let’s honor this intense and emotional time.
The breastfeeding relationship between mother and baby is so incredible. I had no idea with my first born that I would have nursed her until 27 months. When she finally weaned on her own it felt like the right time to be done. It was nice to have a break before my second was born. However, I was still sad to close the chapter with her on our breastfeeding journey. The journey is different for every child so I am cherishing each nursing moment with my second born.
Breastfeeding Is Natural, But It’s Messy And Awkward At Times
Although I’m nursing my second baby, I don’t feel like a “breastfeeding” expert. I had already forgotten about the pain of engorgement when your milk comes in. How quickly I was reminded of the need for breast pads when once again my breasts become spraying hydrants of milk. Oh and don’t forget about the distracted baby who pulls off too soon sending milk everywhere. That overflow of milk is quickly covered up with a stream of spit up. Moms who have an oversupply of milk like myself can relate to changing their outfits as much as their newborns. Now I remember why my closet consists of so many black clothes to conceal the messy milk spillage.
I’m still working on not feeling awkward nursing in public. Sometimes the nursing cover gets used, sometimes it doesn’t. Seeing more women and celebrities breastfeed will hopefully help others like myself to feel more empowered and confident.
Breastfeeding Is Natural, But It’s Stressful
My first born seemed fine breastfeeding but then around 6 months she stopped gaining weight. She wasn’t on the “growth charts” and our Pediatrician at the time was quick to suggest formula. Nothing against formula but I was determined to keep breastfeeding. Finding a passionate lactation consultant was key for us. She helped out by recommending feeding our baby more solid fats like butter, olive oil, and avocado. We found a new Pediatrician for a second opinion who had no problem with our babies weight gain and knew she was just going to be petite. The Lactation Consultant and second opinion helped tremendously but it was a stressful time making sure you are nourishing your child fully.
Breastfeeding Is Natural, But It Takes A Village
With my first baby, I asked to see a lactation consultant before we left the hospital. Unfortunately, that consultant huffed at the meeting saying she usually only met with premature babies. I felt lost. How is one supposed to know if you are doing this “natural” thing right without help? The journey of breastfeeding cannot be done alone. Women need support at the hospital, at home (husband’s keep her water bottle filled up!), at the workplace, and in public. It’s fascinating to read about other cultures like the Himba tribe in Africa. Women of this tribe learn how to breastfeed from their mothers, something our culture has primarily lost.
Breastfeeding Is Natural And Provides Comfort
Breastfeeding can work like magic to soothe and comfort a baby. When my child was two, she ended up in the ER multiple times so I witnessed this first hand. It was a blessing in disguise I was still breastfeeding because being able to soothe my scared child so quickly helped calm me as well. There are those that argue against nursing for comfort to sleep in fear that it creates bad habits. The only thing it created for myself was the feeling of having this wonderful super power to deliver to my child during a scary time.
Breastfeeding Is Natural, Oh So Beautiful, And I Will Miss It
My family of four is complete (I’m pretty sure), so this is it. Nursing this second baby, I embrace those middle of the night nursing sessions knowing that the time spent breastfeeding compared to the total life of your child is short. Milestones in motherhood such as donating baby clothes, or transitioning to the crib tug at your heart but with weaning it’s different. You are dealing with post-weaning hormones from that incredible bond that you have created with your child. While I will be sad to be done I look forward to continuing to connect and bond with my children in new ways. Fellow moms, as you say au revoir/goodbye to this chapter, thank yourself for the love, determination, patience and selfless gift of breastfeeding that you delivered to your child.