Cragmama "Not all who wander are lost…" JRR Tolkien

In Celebration of World Breastfeeding Week

In case you weren’t aware, this week is World Breastfeeding Week, which is meaningful for our family since Cragbaby is 16 months old and still nursing away with no signs of stopping.  So to celebrate, I wanted to do a post about breastfeeding – but not about the benefits of toddler breastfeeding, or how to find support in your area (you can find a lot of that information here, however).  My intent is not to judge those that formula feed, nor is it to  sound preachy towards folks that breastfeed for longer or shorter time than we have.  Everyone is free to make their own decisions about what is best for their family with regards to this sometimes controversial topic, so instead I wanted to share from the vault of my own personal experience.

Though very fulfilling on both sides, our nursing relationship has certainly not been without bumps in the road – together C and I have endured 2 bouts of mastitis, one of which completely tanked my milk supply, numerous growth spurts with marathon nursing sessions, and of course all of the uncertainties and second-guessing that comes with being a first time mom.

We never would have made it this far had I not been able to utilize the much-needed support from both family and friends.  Not that we are attempting to wean any time soon – but in the spirit of this week, I’ve been taking time to reflect on mine and C’s journey as a nursing pair.  I’ve realized that what initially seemed so difficult and at times entirely unnatural has slowly morphed into a relaxed, cherished time for both of us to break away from the hustle and bustle of our day and reconnect.  I remember in the early weeks my mother-in-law telling me that it gets easier after the first 3 months.  And although I would have to heartily agree, I would be remiss if I didn’t add that in my experience, nursing past 1 year has been the icing on the cake!

It’s a well-known fact that for the first year breastmilk (or formula) should be a baby’s primary form of nutrition.  (“Solids for fun until they’re one,” as my doctor put it.)  We introduced solids slowly and I was vigilant about making sure C nursed before eating solids, so that he would fill up on the superior nourishment, and use mealtimes as merely “practice.”  After C passed the magical 12 month mark and it was time for him to start actually relying on solid foods for nutrition, our nursing relationship changed.  Our nursing sessions gradually shifted from something we needed to do to something we wanted to do.

Keeping warm and hydrated with Mommy at the crag last winter

For the past several months, nursing has been easy and stress-free.  On a normal day, C will briefly (sometimes less than 5 minutes) nurse 4 times – at wake-up, before and after nap, and before bed.  If we are out  climbing all day, we might miss the middle of the day sessions entirely.  However if C is teething or not feeling well, it might be closer to 6 times a day.  I don’t feel the need to keep track of it because I know its all extra – extra vitamins, protein and healthy fats, extra immunity boosts, extra comfort, and extra snuggle time for both of us.

C and I may be traveling down the long road towards weaning, and I can’t predict when exactly it will happen – but I know it won’t be before he is ready.  Before I got pregnant, I never gave a second thought to breastfeeding – I just assumed it was something some people chose to do for a few months, and a few weirdos did for a few years.  Once I became a mom I realized that it was so much more than that.  With the way the human body is sexualized in our culture today, its easy to see how people can think that nursing an older baby is weird, but when I see how content and blissfully unaware of trouble C is when he is cuddled up next to me, none of what society says matters because I have that deep, satisfying feeling in my heart that I’m doing what’s best for my baby.

Enjoying a quiet moment of reconnecting during a day of climbing at Whipporwhill

Don’t worry, I’m not gonna be the person that makes everyone else uncomfortable by whipping my boob out to my 5 year old in the middle of the company Christmas party.  What most people don’t understand is that the majority of the time it doesn’t go down like that – by the time your baby reaches the one year mark, both mom and baby have long since learned to be quick and discreet.  Despite the way its most often flauntingly portrayed on TV and in movies, most people I know that nurse toddlers can do it in ways that don’t leave your average person feeling awkward or uncomfortable.

Although Cragbaby will probably never remember our countless hours of snuggling in the rocking chair, they are moments that I will never forget.  And I’m hoping that what he will lack in specific memories will be made up for by a confident, secure child who never doubts the love both his mama and daddy have for him.

Can I get an amen from any other breastfeeding mommies out there?  Whether the time you nursed can be measured in days, weeks, months, or years, every ounce of breastmilk provides loads of physical and emotional benefit to your baby!  Please feel free to share a story, memory, or tidbit from your own personal nursing journey.

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12 Responses to “In Celebration of World Breastfeeding Week”

  1. This is a really sweet post and it was a great way to start my day! Thanks!

    Reply

  2. In Celebration of World #Breastfeeding Week http://bit.ly/oWzyWw via @cragmama

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  3. Heather Verga

    You will never regret the choice you’re making to let C wean himself when he’s ready. Although it was 2-3 decades ago, all 3 of mine did at their own time between 2 and 3. The emotional recharging for both of you is priceless!

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  4. Aw, this is super sweet. I am totally impressed that you have been able to keep things going so long. The picture with C playing with your hair while nursing just seems so par-for-the-course. G used to play with my nose, chin, hair, necklace, bra, shirt, other boob, anything his little hand would land on would get squeezed, pulled, scratched, hit, patted or caressed. I had hoped to do nursing for more than a year, but it did not work out for us. Nice work! This is definitely something you can feel proud of. :)

    Reply

    • Thanks for the encouragment ladies!

      @Kate C. – Those little hands are so sweet, aren’t they!

  5. Such a beautiful post. Kudos to you for extended breastfeeding. It seems a difficult thing to do in our society where so many people are uncomfortable with it. I admire all the Mom’s who have the courage to do what’s best for their baby despite all the nay sayers.

    I’m 3 months into Mommyhood and am loving breastfeeding. Before I was a mom I always said I’d never nurse past 12 months but now… now I’m not so sure. It’s become such treasured time between us and it’s the most natural thing ever so why stop?

    P.S. Thanks for this post..my husband reads your blog regularly, too, so hopefully after seeing that you do it maybe he won’t think it so weird if/when I do decide to breastfeed our son past 12 months. :)

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  6. Beth Lineberry

    I’m so glad you have enjoyed breastfeeding so much. This is a great story of your personal journey.

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  7. My little one is about to turn one, and we’re still going strong! My only plan was to try and make it to 12 months, so from here I guess I’ll just see what happens.

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  8. Great article for Outside AND Inside Moms about breast-feeding. Very well done… http://t.co/8Z7wDRm by @ericalineberry

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  9. Amen Mama! I nursed my first outdoorsy kid for 2.5 years, and now #2 is still going strong at 22 months. I have found breastfeeding to be very compatible with our outdoorsy lifestyle, to the point I can’t imagine doing it any other way.

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    • Wow, great comments everyone!

      @Rebecca – So glad that you are enjoying mommyhood – at this point I don’t think you need to worry about how long you will breastfeed…just enjoy every minute and you’ll know when its the right time to stop!

      @Megan – My goal was also 12 months, followed by wait and see :)

      @MamaBee – I think breastfeeding is the only way to go when your outdoors all the time – no worries about packing formula (or at C’s age, keeping whole milk cold in this kind of heat!)

  10. Brandy Walters

    With my first son, my goal was 12 months but we only made it to 11 months. With me second son who is now 13 months, nursing is still going strong! I thought I would at least cut out the middle of the day feeding so that I could stop pumping at work, but when we discovered that he really did have a cow (and goat) milk allergy at 12 months I discarded all thoughts of weaning. I cherish those times so much; sometimes when I get home from work and nurse him I get an absolutely giddy feeling. When people ask me how long I’m going to do it, I say I don’t know. The fact that he’s got a milk allergy gives me an “excuse” even though I really don’t need one. I really do love it and sometimes it is just so convenient. Usually it makes it so easy to get him to sleep, especially at the crag! I love your attitude about nursing – I feel the same way. You should be so proud that you’ve made it this far.

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“Not all who wander are lost.” —JRR TOLKIEN