If only I can make it until 9 months, that’s how long I made it with her sister, then I will feel like I made, it….. Once we get to 12 months we will surely be done. Well here were are at 15 months and I couldn’t be more proud of myself, and the nursing relationship we have built, and will honestly be sad when this period of our lives comes to a close. I think the technical term is long term nursing, however we just call it life.
Having worked in Labor and Delivery prior to having children I never really thought much of either breast feeding or bottle feeding, I figured I would just do whatever came naturally and go with it. That was until I was expecting my first, and everyone and their mother decide to speak up and give you parenting, and new baby advice. I was told things like, you HAVE to nurse, it’s the best for your baby, stay away from formula its poison, and don’t take the easy way out and bottle feed.
As a new mom I wanted to do what was right, I wanted to be the best mom I could… I also understood the health benefits of breastfeeding, so I decided to take the route. The nursing relationship with my first wasn’t very easy, it took until she almost 5 months old for me to really enjoy any of it. She had severe reflux, and a lip tie, and a milk protein allergy…. it was rough, but we stuck out for 9 months, and by the end when she decided one day to just stop, I was sad, and I totally missed it. I will always cherish that bond with her.
Now, having experienced all that went with nursing my first, I will NEVER be one to tell you that “breast is best”…. why? Because I do not believe that is best for everyone. While it does come with a bunch of nutritional benefits for your new baby, growth factors, calming effect… I think you have to do what is best for you and your baby. If nursing is going to stress you out, or fill you with anxiety, or cause you to worry more then you already all, by all means, please give your baby a bottle. The bottle feeding bond can be just a special. It doesn’t matter how you are feeding them, just that you care caring for their needs and nurturing them in the best way possible. You do what works for you mama, and I will support you in it!
With my second, I went into it with the mindset that If this doesn’t go smoothly or work out well, I will not force it. I only planned to do what felt natural. She arrived a bit early and had a tongue and lip tie that needed correction and began to loose a bit of weight, so when the pediatrician told me to supplement with formula, I did not beat myself up over it, I nursed when I could and gave her bottles of formula as suggested. It completely breaks my heart when a mama tells me how terrible she felt supplementing with formula, or that she felt like she was letting her baby down, you have to feed your baby, and you cannot blame yourself for the need of supplementation.
After that she went back to fully nursing, and it began going really easy, in fact so easy I told myself that I will just go at her pace, if she wanted to keep nursing we would and when she was done we would stop. I nursed her on demand for a while, which was about every 2-3 hours and then as she got older that time spread further and further. I was so happy when I made it to the 9 month mark, since thats how long I nursed my older daughter. After that she just kept going, I assumed we’d go to a year and be done, but she didn’t seem to show signs of stopping. Now we are at 15 months and my sweet girl still nursing just a few times a day. Sometimes she will nurse first thing in the morning, unless she gets too busy playing with her sister. She nurses before both naps and at bedtime. She still doesnt sleep through the night, and neither did her sister until 18 months. So yes, sometimes when she wakes up in the dark hours of the night I nurse her quickly and she goes right back to sleep. I’m sure some would disagree with with this and that is ok with me. People tell me all the time THEY think I should stop… but this is OUR nursing relationship and I am totally comfortable as is my baby in how its going. Some days she will skip some and nurse less, and other days if she is sick she might nurse more. I don’t know how long this journey will last for us, but she is my last baby and as I have blogged about that before, I will cherish these last moments with her as long as I can.
The sweet bond when a parent nurses or feeds their baby is so incredible. As a photographer, capturing this bond is very important to me. I suggest to my clients all the time to schedule sessions around feeding time (of bigger babies) to capture the moments of feeding them, as you nurse them or bottle feed them. The way they snuggle in tight to your body, and look up at your eyes, the way they twirl your hair, or hold on tight to your finger. These moments should be cherished because they only last a short time and then they are gone forever, dont miss out on an opportunity to capture this magical bond between you and your baby.
Don’t let anyone else dictate how you parent, or comfort, or feed your child. Never feel pressured to feed your baby one way or the other. There is no “best” way of feeding, only what is best for you and your baby. However you choose to feed, and comfort, and nurture, and love your child I bet you are doing a pretty incredible job at it.