Before I had Keenan, I knew that I wanted to breastfeed. I wanted to give my baby the best nutritional start as possible, not to mention supporting his immune system. As I mentioned my desire to breastfeed to others, some kindly replied that I had great ambitions, but, “don’t be disappointed or feel pressured if it does not work out.” After that, I was determined to MAKE it work, despite the naysayers! In the bundle of birthing and child-rearing classes that my husband and I took while I was pregnant, we took a great breastfeeding course that provided lots of tips, techniques and good information that put my mind at ease. I felt more confident, but I was still a little nervous, not knowing what to expect.
When Keenan was born, I was fortunate: He pretty much latched on right away, and he was quite the little eater! When we were in the hospital, Lactation Consultants came in every few hours, or so, to answer any questions that we had, and I made sure to have them check the latch, to make sure everything was going well. Keenan was a champ, though he was a VERY slow eater, falling asleep as he nursed. For the first 6 weeks, he took 1 HOUR to nurse (30 minutes on each side… no joke!) and I had to poke and prod him to stay awake. Aside from the 1-hour nursing sessions, he ate every 2-2 1/2 hours, so I was constantly nursing all day long! It definitely took it’s toll on me: I was exhausted, to say the least. I also experienced some cracked and tender nipples, so I made sure to use plenty of Lansinoh lanolin ointment after each feeding. After 2 months, Keenan was down to 20-30 minutes for each feeding, and he was finally staying awake through most of his feedings. By this time, he was also giving us a good 6-hour (or more!) stretch of sleep at night, which made things even better.
My goal was to nurse Keenan for at least one year, which I surpassed, and I am very proud of it. Keenan finally weaned a few weeks ago at 21 months (he was only nursing in the morning and at night), which was hard to let go. It was harder for me than it was for him, to be totally honest. My husband I went away for the weekend (first time away from Keenan for 2 nights) a couple of weeks ago for our anniversary, while Keenan stayed with my parents. Since he wasn’t nursed for 2 days, I figured it was a good opportunity to wean. When I put him to bed the night we came home, he asked for his usual “Nummies” before going to sleep and I told him that they were all gone. “Nummies went bye-bye at Nonna and Avo’s house” (my parents nick names for him). He looked sad for a a couple of minutes and then I told him, “Instead of Nummies, we will have cuddle time!” which consists of snuggling and talking about the best part of our day, reading a story, then a song and into his crib. After cuddling, he was fine, but I was a MESS, crying my eyes out, trying not to let him see. After a few days of not nursing, he was fine and he actually brought it up at dinner one night saying, “Mommy, Nummies all gone!” which surprised my husband and me, but we were glad that he was ok with it, which made it easier on me. Now, after a couple of weeks, we are doing well, enjoying our cuddle-time together.
Nursing was a special time for us, but it was time to end it: He was nursing out of habit/routine, not out of need (he would turn nursing into a game), and there were other ways to provide him the comfort of being with Mommy. We did it for a good stretch, and I am so grateful of our time together (rather, a special bond that we have because of it) and I look forward to breastfeeding our future children!
If you are having trouble breastfeeding, don’t give-up! Seek out help by finding a Lactation Consultant, or even a mother’s support group with other women who breastfeed. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to ask me, I am happy to offer more information on my experience.