As its Breastfeeding Week I thought I'd give a little update on my breastfeeding journey.
I have now been breastfeeding Baby D for over a year and still love it.
It's become even more valuable a tool as a soother and comforter after the inevitable falls and knocks whilst learning to crawl and walk, calming after a tantrum or settling down for a nap or bed and making her feel better when those pesky teeth are cutting. She now has 8 teeth with another 2 imminent.
I thought that she would cut down on her feeds once we started baby led weaning at 6 months but to be honest she's only started cutting down in the last few weeks along with establishing her appetite for solid food. And she still feeds quite a lot, the feeds are generally only a couple of minutes in the bulk of the day and longer in the evenings, night and mornings. Or if she's cutting teeth she'll have a few days when she's completely off solids and all she wants is boob. I don't mind this but once she cuts back down again it takes my boobs a few days to settle back down and not get engorged.
Speaking to my breastfeeding friends with similar aged little ones, their babies' feeding habits seem to vary greatly. Some now only feed at night, some only feed a couple of times a day, some are very much like me and Baby D. Like many baby related things, almost any variation is normal because they and we are all so different.
Something I really like is the fact that Baby D can clearly ask for milk when she wants it. She'll say 'mama' and do the Makaton sign for milk (mime milking a cow), there's no mistaking it. She can also crawl over to me, climb up onto the sofa and onto my lap ready for feeding, there's no need to pick her up anymore. It's so much easier. Plus she is so funny, giggling and smiling at me during a feed, it's so sweet.
I find however that feeding whilst out and about is not so easy. There's several obstacles I've encountered:
- Distractions. There's just too much exciting stuff going on for Baby D to settle and have a good feed. She'll hear a noise or something and pull away (typically at the letdown causing milk to spurt all over the place)
- Lack of suitable seating. As I'm so small and Baby D is comparatively big I can no longer feed her whilst sitting on a dining style chair, she's just too long and I'm not strong enough to take her weight. I need a sofa or to sit on the floor. Both of which are harder to come by than you might expect.
- Self consciousness. For months and months I totally lost my boob inhibitions and felt very proud to feed in front of people. Baby D would tuck straight in and there would rarely be a nipple flashing moment and it was a calm and beautiful experience without drama or fuss. Now however because of my last two points Baby D often flails her arms and (very long) legs around, hums, whoops, shakes maracas (yes true story) and generally multitasks whilst feeding. It brings a lot of attention to us...and as she's now toddling with a face full of teeth it seems that some people are grossed out by a 'big baby' breastfeeding. I've lost count of the number of people - both acquainted and strangers - who have said along the lines of "isn't she a bit old for that now?", "oh, you'll be stopping that soon then" or "I wouldn't feed a baby with teeth, maybe you should stop". I understand our westernised society is weird about natural term breastfeeding and I expect some of these comments but quite frankly I don't want a debate or to have to justify my parenting choices when I'm trying to enjoy a cup of coffee in a café. I know I should carry on regardless but if someone does happen to remark, stare or whisper to their companion (always too loudly so all around hear) I'm likely to get riled and upset and it will play on my overactive mind and likely ruin my day. I have stages where I can blank out things like this and not let them affect me at all but most of the time I'm a bit of a sensitive sort.
Like I said before, I love breastfeeding and I know Baby D does too. I have no intention of stopping any time soon, we are quite happy as it is at the moment. I plan on letting her self wean, I'm not sure how realistic that is...watch this space!