August 5, 2009

How Breastfeeding Changed My Opinions About Breastfeeding

This week is World Breastfeeding Week. It seems that most people, parents or not, have opinions about breastfeeding. Some mothers choose to breastfeed their babies and some choose to give their babies formula. Some choose to do a combination. Some are unable to breastfeed even though they want to. Some mothers who breastfeed do so only for the first few months of their baby’s life, while other mothers choose to breastfeed well into toddlerhood.

I have found that my own opinions about breastfeeding have changed significantly since I became a mother. Before my oldest son was born I remember thinking, “I’ll breastfeed if it works out. If not, no big deal.” I think I read a little bit about the benefits of breastfeeding, but didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself. It was stressful enough having to worry about delivering a baby, let alone how I was going to feed it! At first, I really struggled (engorgement, bad latch, positioning, a gassy baby, etc.), but after the first 6 weeks it seemed easier than having to make bottles of formula. Before I knew it, we passed the 6 month mark and I had no desire to stop. I was thrilled when we got to the one year mark. It seemed like a second celebration on his birthday. From that point on it was just icing on the cake! I will never forget the day my son weaned. He was 15 months. I sat down in the rocking chair to nurse him like I had every morning for over a year. He cuddled me, patted me on the chest as if to say, “No thanks,” and got down to play. That was it. We were done. I was a little sad. But honestly, I was a lot less emotional than I thought I’d be. In fact, I think I planned a girls’ weekend away with my best friend that week! How I had longed for time to myself, some cocktails with my best girlfriend and a chance to feel completely me again! It was wonderful!

When I was pregnant with my second son, I assumed (wrongly) that breastfeeding would pretty much be the same the second time around. This time I had set a goal of 1 year. I was already planning that next girls’ weekend in my head. But #2 was a little different. Our first night home he would wake up constantly to nurse, only to fall asleep as soon as he latched on. Once we got past that hurdle I developed mastitis. When it was time for me to return to work, he refused a bottle. Then, at 6 months we discovered I had a lipase issue, which made my breast milk taste like soap if it was exposed to air. Around 7 months I was laid off from my job, became a full-time stay at home mom and put the bottles in storage. It really wasn’t until then that our nursing relationship started feeling smooth and easy. What a relief!

My second son is now 20 months old and still nursing several times a day (and at night). I have surpassed my one year goal and I am uncertain of when I’ll stop breastfeeding. I’m not even sure who is going to make that call…me or him. But I do know that I am fortunate to be able to provide him with something that is so good for him for so long. I feel lucky to have that special bond with him. And even though I am longing for that overdue girls’ weekend of appletinis and late night chats, I know it will all be worth it in the long run.


  1. Hi Katie, thank for your tweets. I also have the same probem with my milk (lipase), Landon has never liked my pumped milk and therefore doesn't like bottles, so it's been only me he has gotten milk from in almost 3 years :) But I love it, I chose to stay home and be there for L while he is this little.
    Great post, so happy to hear from other extended breastfeeders and moms that are encouraging other moms to do the same :)
    I'll add you to my breastfeding blogroll.

    We also live in a tiny house :)

    Let's keep in touch,

  2. I always love hearing mom's breastfeeding stories. I don't think it goes "as planned" for most women. Ava and I had such a hard time for a long time (colic and HORRIBLE reflux anyone) but I remember by 6 months we had quite the routine down even though we always had to supplement with formula, too. I had decided I wasn't going to stop at 1 year like my original plan and I would let her stop when she was ready. Who knew that day would come around 9 1/2 months. I was crushed and know I cried some for 2 weeks. I really morned that time with her. I remember writing a journal entry all about it just because it hit me so hard. Thanks for this post, I'm going to revisit that journal entry now ( ). :-)

  3. It's so nice to hear about how well breastfeeding has been going for you. We seem to have similar stories. Things have gone so well with breastfeeding the twins I just keep on truckin' with it. Almost 18 months and these guys still nurse several times a day too. I am thankful everyone has been so comfortable to go this long, including myself. I call myself the human binky though since nursing is an instant comfort object. I guess I keep thinking I'll stop when they are ready, maybe around 2. ~Kristi