I’ve spent a total 1478 days (and counting!) breastfeeding my 4 babies. 207 of those feeding 2 at once. I’ve been breastfeeding continuously since my 3rd baby was born, almost 25mths ago (yep, she still going too!).
Before I had my first baby, I never had any expectations about breastfeeding, all I knew was I would do it, that’s it. I had grown up with siblings, 2 younger than me, and I remember my mum breastfeeding my baby sister. Hehe, I remember watching her put cabbage leaves down her bra to ease engorgement & her bout of mastitis which she got. I also remember ‘breastfeeding’ my dolls. I knew all along that I would do it some day. I’m so thankful I had the influence of my mum growing up, I feel it’s something important, to help normalise breastfeeding.
Before I fell pregnant, I watched an Australian pregnancy/birth/baby tv show called “from Here to Maternity”, and I remember one of those women struggling to breastfeed her newborn baby. I watched this lady cringe in pain from attaching her baby, and crying that it hurt so much. This kind of prepared me in a way that breastfeeding wouldn’t be easy, its not just a matter of putting baby to breast and off you go. Thankfully this show didn’t put me off breastfeeding at all.
While pregnant my husband & I attended a breastfeeding class for expectant mothers. While I learned a little bit (from a video which showed attachment & holding techniques), we nearly left after an hour as it was so borning, but decided to stick it out for the final hour.
My breastfeeding journey began when my eldest was born over 6 years ago. She latched on immediately, and everything just went perfectly from then, never had a problem. I was super impressed being a first time mum, I’d have such great success and we’d take to it so naturally. Then when she was around 5mths my nipple was rather cracked, it hurt so darn much!!! And the crappy thing was, she would only feed from that side. So stupid me went out and bought formula to help my boob heal, bad idea. Though I had no idea that using formula would bugger up my supply, or that baby would possibly have breast refusal. I didn’t think of buying nipple shields either, that may have helped me, a lot.
So I started giving her formula, and my supply dropped, and so began the breast refusal. I was gutted. I remember her last feed very clearly, well I can’t even call it a feed. I was trying so hard to get her to take the breast, almost forcing it into her mouth. She was hungry & crying, but just didn’t want it. So I relented and gave her the bottle of formula. Bugger, she took it. And that was that, the end of my first breastfeeding relationship. Neve was only 5.5mths old. I look back with regrets, wish I tried harder, wish I never gave that dreaded formula to her. But oh well, what’s done is done. She is now a very healthy 6yr old, it’s not like the formula was poison, she thrived on it. Besides, that short experience only made me more determined.
Along came my son, again he latched immediately after birth, and took to breastfeeding like a pro. There were no problems whatsoever. No cracked nipples, no mastitis, nothing. I fell pregnant when he was 14mths and he was still going. But unfortunately, he self weaned at 18mths, on the dot. I was 22wks pregnant. My milk was pretty much gone, and I only had a little colostrum. But despite being sad that he had weaned, I was very happy he did it on his own terms, and we made it to 18 months!
A few months later #3 was born, and yep you guessed it… Another breastfeeding natural, I was just so lucky to have such an easy experience. She kept feeding, and when I fell pregnant (she was only 10mths old) I was hopeful she would continue breastfeeding till the new baby arrived. My milk started going around 22wks, was very minimal by 24wks. I had emergency surgery for a ruptured appendix at 25wks and was worried me being away would prompt her to wean, but nope (phew!). 28wks and I noticed colostrum coming in, and she still continued, wasn’t bothered by the change at all.
At about 38wks I noticed an increase in my supply, it appeared my milk was slowly returning. And guess what happened? Missy decided that she wanted to be a boob addict. Up until that point she was breastfeeding 3 times a day, and not at all bothered if she missed a feed. I was feeling super hopeful she would be feeding once her baby sister was born, and I’d get to tandem feed them both.
The great thing about her increasing the frequency of her feeds? They were triggering braxton hicks, so whenever she fed, I’d get slight pains. Closer to my due date they were getting stronger. The day my water broke, I was getting mild contractions every time she fed. Once Roo was born, Mila was great at relieving my boobs when my milk came in (it came in at 2-3 days after Roo’s birth).
Roo took to the breast really well like her older siblings, and so my tandem feeding experience began. Mila was 18mths old when Roo was born, so I was super happy she had reached the age Marley had weaned. Though I knew now my milk had arrived back, she wouldn’t be weaning anytime soon.
And she hasn’t. Mila is almost 25mths old, Roo almost 7mths, and the tandem feeding has been brilliant! I mastered feeding both girls at once pretty quick, though I rarely feed them together. I’ve really enjoyed it.
Now that Mila has reached (& now passed) the recommended 2 years of breastfeeding, I wonder when she will wean. I myself am not ready. I think because she has been doing it for so long, I just can’t imagine her stopping. Though she will have to one day, and sadly I think it will be in the next 12 months, cause personally, my limit is 3 years. But then, you never know, I might get to 3yrs and just keep going. We’ll see. So long as the weaning process is mainly Mila’s decision.
Breastfeeding a toddler can be challenging and demanding. They are such independent & strong willed little people. I never realised that I’d get a tantrum if I refused a breastfeed (well I did, but it didn’t really occur to me). But the thing that I love about breastfeeding a toddler, is when Mila hurts herself, or is upset, she knows she can come to me for comfort, and usually a quick breastfeed will make it all better.
As for Roo, she has reached that independent age where she is rather nosy. I’m finding it difficult to feed around other people/noises as it distracts her and she keeps pulling off the breast, therefore not getting her full feed. She’ll grow out of this phase though, they all do. I have found my beautiful breastfeeding necklace (the rainbow one pictured below) I bought from KangarooCare on Etsy, has helped with distracting her.
You’re probably thinking “gee she has a lot of breastfeeding photos!”. Well, yep I do! I love taking them, so I have photos to look back on. I’m currently undertaking a Project 365 where I’m taking 1 breastfeeding photo per day. I can’t wait till I see the result when the year is over!
It wasn’t until shortly after Roo was born, that I finally decided to join the Australian Breastfeeding Association, I’d been meaning to over the last 6yrs!
In a way I would love to one day become a breastfeeding/lactation consultant/counselor, but I’m just not sure I’m all that good with people. I’ll see though, it’s on my ‘dream job’ list though.