Lately, I have been hanging out with a lot of mamas. It’s cool because we get each other. I’m sure you know what I mean. But I have noticed that when the breastfeeding conversation comes up, I have been a little hesitant to jump in and talk freely. I find myself becoming kind of self-conscious.
So, this feeling has forced me to ask myself, have I been breastfeeding too long?
Let me start by giving a little background info. I am mama to two sweet little girls, four and 19 months. When I was pregnant with my first, I thought about the type of mom I would be. I daydreamed of the conversations we would have, the places I couldn’t wait to show her and the lessons I craved to share. I knew I wanted to breastfeed and thought I would give it my best shot for the first six months. What I did not know is that I would be breastfeeding for the next four years, give or take!
Before becoming a mother, I did not know a lot of moms who breastfed for a long time. Then again, I didn’t know many new mothers at all. I breastfed my oldest until she was about 18 months and I now breastfeed my youngest only at night. I NEVER thought in a million years I would have breastfed either one of them this long. I assumed they would have switched to the bottle and I would be exclusively pumping after a few months but that was not the case.
Thankfully for me, both of my girls were fairly good at nursing from the beginning. Of course, we had to get our rhythm down and the pain of beginner’s nursing had to subside but from there on, we were smooth sailing. I nursed my oldest on demand, which was extremely tiring and frustrating at times. I ended up being off from work longer than expected so for practically the first six months, she was in my arms. Showering, sleeping, eating and just alone time had been swiped from me all in one push! It was a lot to handle in the beginning but eventually we developed our routine. She became a great eater when she started solids and learned to sleep very well on her own.
By the time my second came around, we made a few changes. I was busier with work so I pumped and made sure I had a milk supply in the fridge and freezer. Then, around 6 weeks old we introduced the bottle. I was advised not to introduce it earlier for the fear of nipple confusion. This allowed me to supplement with the bottle when I was away or simply needed a little me time. Eventually she also became a great eater and now we only nurse at bedtime.
Although I never thought I would be breastfeeding for this long, we continued because it felt right for us.
As my girls started moving around and becoming more busy bodies, breastfeeding was the one constant where they could be calmed down instantly, fed anywhere and it was a time for us to bond and connect. I realized that nursing also forced me to sit down, be present and focused on them instead of running around the house getting everything else done.
I am thankful to say that breastfeeding has been an amazing journey for us.
Tiring and trying at times, yes, but also very rewarding for them and me. How long is too long to breastfeed depends on the comfort level of you and your child. I think around 18 months is our sweet spot. By that age, I feel my girls have benefited from the positives of breastfeeding but also are becoming more independent and self sufficient. Yet, I also realize each child is different. Who knows, maybe my third child will be a whole different story! Either way, I am an advocate for all moms to give it a try and find out what works best for baby and them. Just always remember, in the end, whatever you decide is the right choice.