Oh? Do I really still want to nurse?

Posted on: 04/05/2011

koratmember / FreeDigitalPhotos.netAs you may have gathered from my last post, the end of nursing didn’t quite turn out that way.  I was relieved that after smallest one’s first birthday, I didn’t feel obligated to keep breastfeeding.  But then she clearly wanted to keep going.

I have always tried to follow UNICEF guidelines in that I aimed to nurse all three of my babies for at least the first year.  Oldest child got an extra couple of months since I was enjoying it, and it was only my pregnancy with middle one that I found it too painful to continue.  Middle child got a tiny bit less than her full year, since her sucking ability and my pain threshold were not entirely in tandem (inverted nipple issues) and there was a suitable moment to break.  She didn’t miss it.

Now we come to smallest one.  I had decided to call it a day once we were back from France, a few days after her first birthday.  But then when it came to it, I was strangely reluctant.  I didn’t miss the pain on the left side (same as with middle child), but it didn’t feel right to withdraw completely.

Not only that, but if I cuddled her she would start poking and prodding my shirt as if to say, what’s going on, Mummy?  Why no milk?

So then I felt like a bad Mummy.  I had been looking forward to some bras with (shock, horror) – underwire – in them.  I had wanted to find out if my incredible appetite would diminish a little once I stopped nursing.

I had a good long think about this over the few days that I was slowly withdrawing the milk.  And by this morning I came to the following conclusions:

  1. I will feed her, if she wants it, in the mornings.  (She tends not to ask for it any other time.)
  2. I will go and get fitted for an underwired bra anyway, but in a place that will understand about the breastfeeding thing, so we don’t get any issues with regard to ducts being blocked.  I will wear proper bras once more.
  3. I will not feel bad if circumstances prevent me from feeding her every morning.  This is a comfort/bonding thing now, rather than a health thing (though the health thing is still valid, of course).
  4. I will always feed on the right side first, so that the suck is not painful by the time she has the left side.  Hopefully since I am not feeding much, there will not be excessive lopsidedness.*
  5. I will feed her at other times if I want to and if she wants to.
  6. I am entitled to change my my mind whenever I want to.

Now, I am aware that in an ideal world I would continue to feed her for some time yet.  I suspect that if I didn’t have the pain on the left I would have done that anyway.  

But it reminds me of my philosophy about breastfeeding. Everyone feels so judged with almost every aspect of parenting – nobody needs that attitude.  I prefer to look at it this way – every day that you continue to nurse is a big benefit to your baby.  Stop if you want to (you don’t need a good reason).  But please, don’t stop if you don’t want to – get the support that’s out there.  Breastfed or not, if you are taking care of your own needs appropriately so that you are in a good state to love and cherish your baby, that is ultimately the most important thing for your baby.  


* And if you notice it, be kind and don’t tell me.

1 Response to "Oh? Do I really still want to nurse?"

I say well done to you that you managed to breast-feed for so long! My milk turned to water when Matthias had an accident and Loic was only 6 months old ( I know it turned to water as I was expressing it so that my mother could look after Loic when I was in hospital with Matthias…basically dirty water came out). So with all the stress I decided to stop but deep down I felt guilty about it…and I still wonder sometimes now that maybe if I had stuck it out through the rough patch maybe I’d have been able to keep going. In Italy its a bit of a cultural taboo thing all the breat-feeding subject. I was being asked by friends and family (mother included) when I would stop nursing when Loic was only 3 months old! Its hard to keep going if you don’t have support by the people around you even if you know its for your baby’s best.
So well done for going so far and cherish the nursing moments…I still miss them sometimes now!

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