Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Truth About Breastfeeding a Toddler

I have been breastfeeding JaiseAnn for almost a year and a half now. I didn't expect that I'd ever say that. We had a rough start to say the least, but at six weeks she started refusing a bottle and we've never looked back.

I was always of the mindset that you stop breastfeeding at one year. I didn't really even consider the alternative. Until I had a daughter that loved to nurse with her heart and soul. That's when I realized that for us, the time to stop was not at one. I'm not sure when the time to stop for us will be, but I have some plans for starting to night wean soon and then weaning slowly but surely. I pray about this decision daily and I wrestle with it almost constantly. 

If you would have told me at this time last year that I'd still be nursing JaiseAnn, I might have had a nervous breakdown. Nursing was so time consuming. We spent so much of our day nursing. JaiseAnn wasn't eating solids yet and wouldn't take a bottle, so it was hard to leave her for any length of time. I wanted to wear clothes that weren't nursing accessible, I wanted my body back, and I wanted a little bit of freedom to leave the house--with or without JaiseAnn and do something else. 

Nursing a toddler is vastly different than nursing an infant. JaiseAnn nurses at nap time--to fall asleep and then a bit to stay asleep. I lay with her. She also nurses to bed at night and throughout the night into the morning. (Yes, I'm tired--but I'm doing what I think is right for her and for us). Other than that, though, she doesn't nurse at all during the day. She plays outside with me, we read books, we have dance parties and our days are nursing-free with the exception of nap time and bedtime. We leave the house and it doesn't matter what I'm wearing. 

JaiseAnn drinks cow's milk from a sippy cup throughout the day (usually with each meal). She eats three solid meals a day-and has an ever-growing appetite--she loves food. She eats snacks a few times a day as well. I can leave her with Zach or my mom for longer periods of time and she'll even nap for them--just not as easily as she will for me. Zach can occasionally put her to bed at night if I am gone, but I don't prefer it. 

I still long to wear a real bra or to have my body fully back at times. At other times, though, I love the way I feel about nursing now compared to the first year. It has become such a sweet experience. It is the one time I get cuddles with my girl and the quiet part of our day. She looks forward to nursing and gets excited when she knows it's time. I'm so happy that I can offer her that comfort and that reassurance through our nursing relationship. Nursing isn't easy...but nursing a toddler is much easier than nursing an infant. 

If you have any questions about nursing a toddler leave them in the comments and I'll be sure to address them--or you can email me at mynewlinesblog {at} gmail {dot} com. 

How do you feel about "extended" breastfeeding?

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