Breastfeeding Beyond a Year

Hailey Andresen from Household Mag contemplates her own breastfeeding expectations.

Breastfeeding Beyond a Year

When I was pregnant, I knew very little about breastfeeding or what it would entail . I knew that not everyone is able to breastfeed and I could very well be one of those people. So I set my expectations accordingly and thought, “hey, if I make it to six months that would be fantastic.” When we got closer to that mark, I began to realize that six months would not be a realistic end date. Not only do babies rely on breast milk or formula as their primary source of nutrients for the full first year of life , but I felt we had just truly found our rhythm with it all.

The first month or so was painful and a little stressful. I was doing what I could to get him to latch, getting accustomed to having a human being feeding himself from my body and coming to the realization that my boobs would need to be out and about whenever I was going to be out and about. At six months, it finally felt like second nature: it was no longer painful; Owen became more efficient with his feedings; and I had become completely comfortable with nursing wherever and whenever. So I bumped that goal to a year, and I'm not entirely sure what will happen then.

If I'm being honest, I'm ready for breastfeeding to wind down. At this point, I feel unbelievably connected to Owen and don't feel as though stopping breastfeeding will change that. By the time we reach a year -- and if you count pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding -- it will be almost two years that I haven't had my body to myself.

As we get closer to Owen's first birthday, I’d like to think that he will be sleeping through the night and weaning himself off the breast. I would also love to take a trip with Zack while Owen soaks up some grandparent time. Or have a few drinks without calculating whether it will affect my milk. Wouldn’t it be great, too, for Zack to soothe Owen at night, so I can get a full night of sleep? Yes, selfishly, I’m ready to take back a little independence. But we all know that when you are a parent, there's not a whole lot of room for selfishness. Ultimately, whatever it is Owen needs is what I will do; and if he needs more of my milk, more of my milk he’ll get.

Letting go of control has been one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned as a mother. When I think I have it figured out, my kiddo likes to up and change it all. So "will I stop breastfeeding when Owen turns one?" I don't know. And just like most things, I won't know until we're there, and I'm okay with that. I realize keeping things open ended may not be for everyone. But for me, it’s the only way I can be fully present and in tune with Owen to figure out what he needs now.

Photography by Amy Frances for Well Rounded NY.

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