As you've probably read in some of my other breastfeeding posts, breastfeeding did not come easy for me at first. It took me a month (at least) to not be in excruciating pain every time Baby P. nursed. So the fact that we have made it to over 15 months of nursing, is a big win for me!
When Toddler P. and I began our nursing journey, I just wanted to make it to a year before I figured out where we would go from there. I knew that I wanted her to self-wean... and I'd let her set the pace for her nursing needs. She knows when she's hungry and needs time with Momma, so I knew that I wanted to listen to her and meet her needs. Many of my girlfriends weaned at one year, so when we hit the 12 months mark this was new territory with few to talk to (nursing beyond a year). But thankfully, my mom nursed all three of her kids to at least 2 years old, so she has offered some wonderful advice!
Why am I sharing my breastfeeding journey with you? Because as with all of my posts, they have a purpose. I want to help my readers who are also in new territory of nursing beyond a year. So I'm going to share my breastfeeding journey with you and how we've come this far.
Newborn to 1 month: As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, the first month of breastfeeding was very difficult. This was really due to the fact that it was very painful for me. Yes our breasts are made for this very purpose, to feed and support our children, but it still takes some time (for both child and mother) to figure out how to nurse in the correct way (where the baby latches correctly). Breastfeeding takes some getting used to, and no it does not come naturally. To be honest, the only thing that kept me from giving up was the fact that breastfeeding was easier than getting up in the middle of the night to heat up a bottle. Tip for new moms: Just remember, this too shall pass. It might be difficult now, but it gets easier! I never thought I could make it past the one month mark, and now we have been nursing for 15 months! You can do it momma!
1 to 5 months: The next hurdle to get over is how often baby has to eat. Every child is different, and Baby P. was no exception. She nursed every hour throughout the day! Unfortunately the nursing clock starts when you start a nursing session, and Baby P. ate for 30 minutes typically. So as soon as we finished a feeding, I only had a 30 minute break before she was hungry again. As we started nearing 4 to 5 months old though, I was able to push her to nursing only every 2 hours. I know this sounds very frequent, but Baby P. slept anywhere from 5 to 8 hours at this point, at night. I attribute this great sleep to the fact that she ate so much during the day. Tip for new moms: Just remember, enjoy this time with your little one. These are sweet snuggles and time for you to have quiet memorable moments with your baby. Soon your little one will be crawling then walking and want to be figuring out this world, and not as much fixated on snuggling with you.
5 to 6 months: We started solids a little before Baby P. was 6 months old. The pediatrician had mentioned that once she had started solids, Baby P. wouldn't want as much breastmilk. However, for us, that wasn't true. Baby P. wanted solid food, but she still wanted to nurse right afterwards. I eventually was able to pull Baby P. back to nursing every 3 hours, usually by giving her water or a snack in between feedings (but this switch to feeding every 3 hours didn't happen till she was about 7 months old). Tip: Any progress is progress. Stop worrying about how often your little one eats. All you can do is try your best.
7 to 9 months: As Baby P. began to eat 3 meals a day of solids, and she started finger foods... she showed me (by lack of hunger) that she didn't need to nurse quite as frequently. This is where we finally began nursing only every 3 to 4 hours during the day. Tip: Remember not every child is the same. So long as your little one is healthy, trust your instincts and theirs... your child will eat solids and hit milestones at their own rate.
10 to 12 months: At this point, mainly because Baby P. had 4 teeth and finally could chew better, she increased her solid intake. I started feeding her 3 meals a day, and 2 to 3 snacks in between meals (including water). Because of her increase in solids, she started nursing less frequently about 6 to 7 times a day, in between meals. I know this sounds like a lot, but it's what she evidently needed.
12 months: When we hit the 12 month mark, I knew Baby P. was nursing frequently. But I started to wonder if I should not let her nurse as frequently. But the thing was, she needed it. She would nurse for ten minutes at least. So when we had our year check-up and she was still nursing 6 times a day, and the doctor got on my case a little bit... I just told her what and how I fed her. She has always been a healthy weight (90th percentile in growth), so the doctor backed off and said "well you definitely are doing something right, even if you are nursing a lot... she's growing great!" Tip: I truly believe that as parents we have God given instincts and we know our child best. We know what our child needs. Trust those instincts.
13 to 15 months: Ironically after her 12 month check-up, Toddler P. suddenly showed (by not eating) that she was ready to drop a nursing session. So we went down to 5 times a day of nursing.
15 to 18 months: Again after her 15 month check-up, Toddler P. went down another nursing session. So we are currently at 4 times a day of nursing. Tip: Whenever Toddler P. stops a nursing session, I make sure that she still gets cuddles during that time and then I check to see if she is thirsty or hungry and give her water/snacks.
We are still in uncharted territory for nursing past 15 months, but Toddler P. currently nurses 4 times a day. She nurses 1x when she gets up, 1x before her first nap, 1x before her second nap, and then 1x before bed.
What about you? Did your little ones ever nurse this frequently?
Shared at: Grace and Truth, Faith Filled Fridays