Extended Breastfeeding

>> 1.29.2013

Just about a year ago, I wrote about Breastfeeding in the Early Weeks. 365 days later, and here I am in "extended breastfeeding" territory. A seasoned pro. My initial reasons for breastfeeding were broken down into thirds: 1/3 - Ada's health; 1/3 - My health and, yeah, weight loss; 1/3 - Financial reasons.

  • Ada's grown from a tiny 10-week-old to a thriving baby toddler. She's in the 40th percentile for weight. She's meeting all her milestones. She's running all over the place. Breastfeeding + Ada's health? Mission accomplished.
  • I think by now I've explained how breastfeeding DID NOT in any way, shape, form help me lose weight. In fact, quite the opposite. The more I read over the first year, the more I discovered that the breastfeeding + weight loss thing is, in many cases like mine, a myth.
  • I've calculated that we saved approximately $1800 to $2400 ($150 to $200/month) by breastfeeding versus buying formula. This doesn't take into account breastfeeding supplies, though I got my pump from a friend and much of the rest of it all (bottles, pillows, covers, etc.) as shower gifts.

Truth is, I never thought I'd breastfeed past 6 months a year. There are some days when I shake my head and ask myself "why are you still doing this?" I'd like to say I'm relaxed at this point and still feed-on-demand, but I decided that past a year, I'm running the relationship on my terms.

That just means that I am happy to nurse in the morning and at night, but I'd rather not entertain other feeding times now that Ada's eating a lot more food. We actively cut out two day time feeds over the last couple months since Ada turned one. Thing is, it's working for both of us. Ada gets enough calcium and fats through what she eats and drinks and seems to be doing really well with the new way we're doing things.

Why I'm still breastfeeding:

  • Ada's emotional health. We are down to only two feedings a day. All the others were cut out so easily, you'd never know she cared. But in the mornings after waking, Ada loves snuggling in bed. At night before bed, it's the best way to calm her.
  • Bonding. There are days when I feel like Ada hates me. I will write more about this someday soon. I don't mean HATE, but there are times when I have to brush her teeth and she screams and kicks, but I have to do it, you know? And when I'm done, she climbs every way she can out of my arms. Nursing helps us make up, if that makes any sense.
  • Financial reasons. Despite not being vegans, we don't drink milk in this house. I should be more educated on the topic, and I'm getting there. But we give Ada hemp milk. It's awfully expensive, so while we're tooling around with our budget, I'd rather buy just one carton per week, which works out almost perfectly to supplement the one extra serving Ada needs/day.
  • Laziness. Remember when it took me FOREVER to cut out the night feed? It was all because I was too happy with my sleep to chance anything. I imagine we could cut out the morning feed pretty easily, but at night, I'm not up for rocking the boat. Just yet.
Some things that have changed with breastfeeding a now-toddler.

  • Position: Laying down is by far my favorite way to feed Ada. We do that in the mornings. At night, I nurse her in the chair in her nursery, her arms and legs flail all over the place. It's quite an athletic feat.
  • Attention. Surprisingly, despite moving all around, Ada is all business. The distracted days are over and she will nurse one side followed by the other without any struggle from me. Thank goodness.
  • My Supply: Feels like it's dwindling. Sometimes it takes forever for letdown to happen. But I'm going 12 hours between feedings, so I think my body is just remembering what it's doing.
  • Freedom: Holy wow does it feel amazing to wear turtlenecks and go out for the better part of a day without worrying about nursing or pumping. FREEDOM.
  • Weight loss. I am now completely holding at my pre-pregnancy weight, which was something that feels like it took eons to accomplish. I never did any crash diets or huge amounts of exercise, but with eating normally, which apparently means cookies + bread if you follow (never)homemaker, and exercising as I usually do, it took me 14 months to really hold steady.
  • Perception: Whereas before when I said I was breastfeeding, I'd get knowing nods and positive comments. Nothing now is negative, but sometimes when I mention I must nurse Ada before bed, I feel like I've been getting some puzzled reactions. Like "oh, you're STILL doing that?" Yup. I am.
  • Hormones. I now have my period back, which I've already written about. I did not miss the crazy hormonal changes or Aunt Flo . . . almost makes me want to get pregnant straight away. Almost.
  • Terminology. I am trying my best to come up with something appropriate to say to Ada for when it's nursing time since she's picking up words left/right. I used to sing a song that was like: "Do YOU want the BOOB?" hahah I don't think I want her saying that. Maybe just "mommy milk?"
There's a lot more to write, but I'll cut it short there for today. My plan is to cut out the morning feed over the next month or so. And be totally done by 18 months. I'm thinking it might happen sooner if my supply gets any more dried up. And I had my first experience with a plugged duct this weekend which was totally unpleasant. I think I got it from sleeping on my stomach because it happened in the middle of the night. TMI, but I'm sure if you made it this far down the page, you don't care about that.

Also: A trick my lactation consultant taught me for difficulty with letdown? Have your partner massage in-between your shoulder blades as you nurse. I even reach back and give a hard prodding myself and it works almost every time. I think it helps get the oxytocin going. I could be wrong about that.

Are you breastfeeding a toddler? What changed for you + why did you keep on keeping on for as long as you did?

And for more breastfeeding posts, click here and here.

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