My Breastfed Story

breastfeedingcafecarnivalWelcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!

This post was written as part of the Breastfeeding Cafe’s Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to www.breastfeedingcafe.wordpress.com. For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today’s post is about your breastfeeding (when you were a baby!) story. Please read the other blogs in today’s carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th-31st!

I was breastfed as a child, until I was twenty months old. That was a pretty long time back in 1973-74 when the primary mode of infant feeding in the United States was formula. When I was born, a nurse told my mom that I didn’t need formula or water, “If God wanted babies to drink water he would have provided a breast for it.” She says it’s the best advice she got at the hospital.

My mom breastfeeding me in 1973

My mom breastfeeding me in 1973

I also remember my mother breastfeeding all three of my siblings. I do not remember her using bottles with my sister. By the time my brothers were born, I remember seeing her use a hand pump to express milk. They also drank formula from a bottle so that my sister and I could feed them if we were babysitting and my mom hadn’t pumped that day (there is a 10-year & 12-year difference between us).

The rare bottle – my mom hand expressed milk on the rare occasions I was bottle-fed

The rare bottle – my mom hand expressed milk on the rare occasions I was bottle-fed

The one thing I have heard my mother express several times is her regret at weaning one of my siblings before they were both ready. She felt outside pressure from peers and our pediatrician to cease breastfeeding past a certain age, so she weaned even though her gut instinct was that it was too soon. She remembers that it was tearful and difficult, and had she known what she knows now, she definitely would have done differently.

My breastfeeding goal as a new mom was to nurse until my Sweet Pea’s first birthday. Little did I know that day would come and go and neither of us would be ready to wean. After 12 months passed with no end to breastfeeding in sight, my secondary goal was to honor our child and let her choose when she weaned. I wanted to avoid the regret I see my own mother experience when she sees toddlers nursing.

I know that seeing breastfeeding as a child lent me the idea that it was “the” way to feed infants. I had seen my mom nurse at home, and I will have to ask her to see what she did outside of the home. I don’t remember; but having a busy teenager and a baby meant that my brothers got hungry when we were out of the home. If she nursed them on the go, I don’t think she used a nursing cover. Such things didn’t exist in the 1970’s and the 1980’s when my siblings and I were born!

Having my mom as an example gave me the confidence that I could breastfeed our children. As our first due-date approached, there was no question in my mind that we were going to breastfeed. It was also a relief to have a supportive and encouraging person “on my side” when we first started breastfeeding. She was with us in the postpartum period after our first child was born, and that first breastfeeding relationship was a hard one – neither my Sweet Pea nor I knew what we were doing! Having her encouragement, and all the water and snacks she brought me every time we nursed; it was positive reinforcement that I was doing the right thing for our baby.

My mother’s message of regret over the forced weaning also gave me the confidence to allow our children to lead the way when it came to weaning. Other than an emergency weaning when one of our Sweet Peas was 18 months old (I was having contractions when I nursed in pregnancy and didn’t know what options I had at the time), three of our children have weaned when they were ready. Luckily, the one child that had to be weaned in the midst of a pregnancy did so easily. We did it gently by reducing one session at a time over the course of two weeks. It must have been a developmentally appropriate time to make the shift away from breastmilk and breastfeeding.

Since that “emergency” weaning, I learned more and was able to nurse through a pregnancy. Our children that were able to choose their weaning did so at 22 months, 4 years and 10 months, and we still have a nursling who is 2 years and 9 months old. I wonder if she is going to stop sooner than later since she is the only one nursing now.

A treasured image from my breastfeeding journey – c.2007 with Sweet Pea #2

A treasured image from my breastfeeding journey – c.2007 with Sweet Pea #2

For now, I am enjoying the journey. It is not always easy nursing a toddler, however in my mind the health benefits and MotherChild bonding far outweigh the discomfort of the “gymnurstics”. We may be writing the last few chapters of this trek through breastfeeding – time will tell. It certainly has been an adventure that has lasted a lot longer than the original 12 months I had in mind.

40thwithmyloveKrystyna Bowman, AAHCC and her husband Bruss are The Bradley Method® 2014 Affiliated Instructors. Besides being parents to four children, they are lactivists, homeschool advocates and speakers on the topics of childbirth and childbirth education. They strive to help as many families as possible achieve healthy and low-risk pregnancies through exercise, nutrition and education. They are passionate about teaching families the sacredness and the beauty of the natural process, while maintaining a realistic outlook that sometimes interventions are necessary and desirable for a Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby outcome. Krystyna blogs about pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding at Sweet Pea Births; and she writes about their family life at Sweet Pea Families. You can also find @SweetPeaBirths on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Here are more posts by the Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival participants! Check back because more will be added throughout the day.

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1 Comment

Filed under Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival, Breastfeeding Support

One response to “My Breastfed Story

  1. Pingback: We *love* Breastfeeding | Sweet Pea Families

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