By the end of this summer, my husband and I will have been married for eight years, and our oldest turns seven, at that point I will have been breastfeeding and/or pregnant for seven years. Over these years of motherhood, my views have changed on several things, but today I wanted to share with you some things that I have learned about breastfeeding specifically in those years.
Not Everyone’s Breastfeeding Relationship Looks the Same
This may seem a little obvious to you, but it took me a while to come to the realization that just because my breastfeeding relationship with my children looks one way, yours doesn’t have to look the same way. While my babies eat often, day and night, and don’t night wean until at least 15 months (when I make them do it), your baby may eat a less often and sleep through the night at three months. This doesn’t mean that I am doing something wrong, or that you are doing something wrong, it simply means that our babies are different and our nursing relationship with them is different.
Each Baby Has Different Needs when Breastfeeding
Similar to the above, just as our breastfeeding relationships are not the same, each baby has different needs when they nurse. Some babies like to nurse for comfort, some like to reconnect with mom after she has been gone for a while, some nurse more when they notice that something is different in the house, in times of wealth and ease baby boys get more fat in their mother’s milk than baby girls (and our amazing bodies provide those extra calories on demand), while in times of stress baby girls get fattier milk.
Your baby may have a need to nurse longer than my baby. You may breastfeed until your nursling is three, where I start actively weaning mine between eighteen months to two years. Your baby may have a health condition that means your milk is more valued and important to their health for a longer nursing relationship than mine.
My babies seem to need those nighttime calories, and I usually don’t mind, while yours does just fine throughout the night and nurse more often than mine throughout the day.
Not Every Galactogogue Works the Same for Every Momma
When I was breastfeeding my oldest, I started looking into galactogogues and ways to increase supply when I realized that my supply drops right before my cycle starts, which is totally normal, just in case you are wondering. 😊 Some women notice issues with their supply before their cycle returns and others see no decrease.
Anyway, I made myself a list and went shopping, I brought home a few different things, and found that while some worked great for my body, others, like fenugreek, didn’t do anything for me at all, (Yes, I smelled like maple syrup and still didn’t notice a difference in supply.)
Our bodies are not all the same, and you may react one way to a galactogogue, while other mommas react in totally different ways. The same is true for your baby. Some babies react to the herbs/foods/supplements that you may try by becoming gassy and fussy, while others don’t show a reaction to the same exact thing.
You May Have Different Struggles with Each Breastfeeding Child
You may have a hard time creating a good nursing relationship with your oldest, but once it gets going everything just rolls along, then with your second or third you may struggle the whole time that you’re nursing. You may have a health condition come up for yourself that makes it imperitive for you to stop nursing so you can take medications.
Each baby is different, just like your pregnancy and delivery was completely different, your breastfeeding relationship will come with different struggles and triumphs. You may make it to one year with your oldest, and then not be able to go past nine months with another baby for whatever reason. You may not be able to nurse your oldest very long, just remember that any breastmilk that your baby receives helps them for the rest of their lives, and know that the next time you may have more success.
My Beliefs About Breastfeeding Cannot Affect Our Relationship
Just because I know that breastmilk is the superior food for babies, and because I know that following your baby’s cues is the best way to raise your baby, I cannot allow my knowledge about breastfeeding to affect our relationship.
I know that like me, you deeply love and care for your baby, you want to see them succeed in life, you want them to be the best they can be, and you may make different choices for your family than I make for mine, but that doesn’t make you any less a mother. So don’t think that I will be looking down on you just because you may feed your baby differently than I feed mine.
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Rebekah Thompson writes at Surviving Toddlerhood. She has been married for nine years and is momma to four little boys ages eight, five, three, and eight months. She is the author of The First Six Weeks: Thriving Naturally On Your Postpartum Journey and a certified birth doula through DONA International. She enjoys good coffee and tea, dark chocolate, running and learning as much as possible about healthy pregnancy/postpartum and fitness. You can check out her blog at www.survivingtoddlerhood.com