Breastfeeding Little Bear


My sweet Little Bear turns 11 months old this week, and so I thought it was time to do a quick breastfeeding update. I've written in the past about my experience breastfeeding Rooster and breastfeeding Cupcake, but as every baby is different, I thought I'd share my experiences with breastfeeding this time around. 

For the most part, nursing Little Bear has been easy and even fun. I enjoy nursing...when things are going well anyway. Of course, there are always rough patches with nursing. 

In fact, I equate breastfeeding to exercise. It's really tough in the beginning, but once you get used to it you really start to enjoy the process. You will definitely encounter setbacks along with way though, like growth spurts and teething and middle of the night feedings that just won't end. However, you push through, keeping your focus on what motivates you most.

And just like exercise, there are days I really don't like breastfeeding. I really wish my body was just my own, and that my Little Bear wasn't so attached to me. There have been times when I was just counting down the weeks until I can officially BE DONE!

However, the benefits of breastfeeding are worth those daily battles. It's worth getting up at 3 am and never being away for more than a few hours at a time. This little boy will only be a baby for a few months more, and if I quit I can't get this time back. These are precious days, and I'm going to do my best to enjoy them.

Rough Patches

One of the unique things about breastfeeding Little Bear has been my struggle with plugged milk ducts. For about two months I had one plugged duct after another. They started out rather mild, but toward the end they were coming with milk blisters and severe pain. Each one would make nursing uncomfortable and of course, Little Bear would get frustrated because the milk wasn't coming fast enough.

I got pretty good at treating them myself, and it wasn't uncommon to find me standing over the kitchen counter with my boob in a coffee mug full of warm salt water (I can't believe I just said that on the internet...), but when that I didn't work I finally caved and called a lactation consultant.

I'm not sure why it took me so long, except that every time I would get to the end of my rope the clot would dissolve and things would go back to normal for a few days. The lactation consultant recommended I up my water intake and start talking a supplement called Lechitin. I haven't had a plugged duct since, and I've told everyone I know about my miracle cure. Don't suffer. Get help!

Nursing in Public

Over the past three years of breastfeeding, I've definitely gotten more comfortable nursing in public. This time around I completely gave up wearing a nursing cover at all. It's more comfortable and more practical to just feed the baby, anytime, anywhere, without all the added fuss of a cover. 

I've nursed in church several times, out to eat, in other people's living rooms, really anywhere. In the past I was the kind of person who felt the need to leave the room and find somewhere private, but I honestly got tired of missing out on life. I'll still leave the room or go someone quiet if it's best for the baby, but I no longer feel uncomfortable if I choose to stay with everyone else. 

I have not given up on modesty however. I use the "two-shirt method" of nursing, meaning I wear a nursing tank top with a built-in bra all the time. Literally, all the time. In fact, I'm not even sure I still own a real bra. I just wear tank tops. I can pull whatever shirt I am wearing up and unclip my tank top for easy access. Very little skin is showing and as long as baby is latched on you can't see a thing.  Of course, you can't always trust babies to stay latched on, so I keep my hand under my shirt so I can pull the edge down if I need to. This system works really well for us, and most of the time I doubt the casual observer would notice I was nursing at all. 

The Big Kids

One of the biggest changes to breastfeeding this time around is how aware of breastfeeding my older kids are. Rooster (3 years-old) understands breastfeeding to mean, "Mom is feeding little brother. Quick run the other way and get into trouble!"  Cupcake (2 years-old) understands breastfeeding to mean, "Mom is feeding little brother. Quick let's go help her and fight for her attention!"

She will sit right next to the baby and distract him, climb in my lap while my hands are full, insist on giving all of us one kiss after another, and asking repeatedly if I'll get up and get her a glass of milk!

I got the greatest laugh when she came up to me a few weeks ago and said, "Mom, you buckle?"

Confused, I said, "What, sweet girl? What do you want?"

She proceeds to climb in my lap, and tries to lift up my shirt while saying, "Buckles! You buckles."

I couldn't stop laughing. I'm not quite sure why she thinks they are called buckles, but the name seems to have stuck, at least a little while.

Her interest in nursing is bittersweet for me. I love that she is learning about motherhood from an early age, and my prayer is that as she grows breastfeeding will continue to feel comfortable and normal for her. I want her to have confidence if she ever gets the opportunity to nurse her own children.

However, I also realize that at just barely two-years-old, she could still be nursing herself. I weaned her at 13 months and more than once I've wished I could have that time back. It's a lesson I'll remember for Little Bear. As tiresome as breastfeeding can be, I don't think I'll be so quick to let it go. I really want to "let him be little" as long as I can.


This brings me to weaning and solid foods. I've done different things with each baby, but over the years I've come to prefer a baby-led weaning approach to solid foods.  In fact Little Bear didn't have solid foods at all until he was 9 months old, and even then it was very little and mostly to keep him occupied in his high chair during meal times. 

As he learned the skill of self-feeding though, we started branching out into new foods and regular meal times become a part of his daily routine. Now at 11 months old he gets finger foods at each meal, and mostly eats whatever we do.

Our go-to foods for snack time are pureed pumpkin, pureed prunes, pretzels, apples, bananas, blueberries, ground meat, scrambled eggs, sweet potatoes, pickles, crackers, and applesauce.  And most recently I discovered he's a big fan of spaghetti squash!

I do very little baby food, and hardly ever pack food with us when we go places. I can almost always find something he can eat, even if it's just a crust of bread to chew on!

This laid back approach works really for us because it requires very little planning, something my tired mommy-brain appreciate. It is however messy. Sometimes very messy. But hey, my toddlers are quite messy too, so cleaning up one more kid after meal time is really no big deal! 

Beyond One Year

With Little Bear's first birthday looming on the horizon I know that our nursing relationship will change. He gets more proficient at self-feeding everyday He's always on the go, and sometimes getting him to stop and nurse is a lot of work. He just wants to play!

However, as of right now I don't intend to offer him milk in a sippy cup anytime soon. I'd love for us to nurse until at least 18 months or so, but time will tell if we meet that goal. I've read tons of research on the benefit of extended nursing, and would love to give it a try, but I realize that it might just not be the right fit for us and for our family. We'll take it one month at a time and just enjoy the process. 

1 comment:

  1. I love to see posts on breastfeeding. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and wisdom.



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