Breastfeeding Has Played a Major Role in My Life
An important phase in my life is drawing to a close. It’s Breastfeeding Awareness Week and it’s especially significant for me because for the last 11 years I have been pregnant or breastfeeding. We have four beautiful children and I was blessed with the ability to nurse them and the desire to do so for an extended time. My first child I nursed for 25 months, the second for 21, the third for 33, and now with our fourth we are almost at 2 years. As you can imagine after all of this time I am getting anxious to reclaim my body, to have some things off limits and only for myself again. Some of you readers may say that I have nursed a ridiculously long time. Others may lament my choice to start baby led weaning. But that’s the beautiful thing about choices – we all get to make our own. I have nurtured this amazing connection with each of my children. With my three older children I nursed at least 3 months into the next pregnancy and weaned because my supply dwindled to nothing. With this last child, weaning will be different because my supply will not be the thing that helps me to wean. I will have to learn a new skill – how to methodically and lovingly detach from my baby. Breastfeeding is not for everyone for a variety of reasons. But when it works it’s such a beautiful relationship.
Is it time to wean?
As I write this the prospect makes me sad and excited at the same time. But how many things in motherhood make us feel this way? The first steps, first foods, the first day of kindergarten. As our children gradually grow and change before our eyes it is our job to teach them the skills of independence. And the ultimate goal? To be on their own, fully functional humans. The gentle and slow detachment is a natural process even if it is heart wrenching at times.
Two and a half years ago I learned I was pregnant with our fourth child. We had experienced a loss one year before so there is a wider gap between our third and fourth children. I was devastated by that loss and when we finally decided to try again and got pregnant we were overjoyed. For the last two and a half years I have been joined to my baby. She rested underneath my heart during my pregnancy and then after birth we have enjoyed such a close nursing relationship. It is hard for me to disconnect but at the same time after so many years it’s important for me to focus more energy on myself, my marriage and our other children too.
Celebrating Breastfeeding Awareness Week
So this week, breastfeeding awareness week, I thought I would take the opportunity to write about my journey in breastfeeding, and also to show off a beautiful mommy and me session I had the opportunity to do with my good friend Reina LeGrand of Reina LeGrand Photography. We are both nursing our last babies – her fifth – wow, right? A few months ago we decided to go find a beautiful spot, get dressed up and document this amazing chapter in our lives by doing what we do best. We each took portraits of each other and then allowed the other to edit her own portraits. We trust each other implicitly and each of us wanted to take our own portraits and make them our own.
Here are my two favorites of my daughter and me from the session.
Some great resources on the web to help learn more about breastfeeding are:
What I Know About Breastfeeding
- It’s not for everyone – there are many reasons why a mother might choose not to breastfeed or might not be able to do so. The most important thing is that the baby is healthy and happy and has a healthy and happy mother.
- It can be a great connection between mother and child.
- It’s a normal thing to do – even in public – gasp!
- Sometimes it’s hard to learn and moms need support from family, friends and professionals.
- I support a family’s decision in how they chose to feed their baby whether it’s breast or bottle.
- How long you chose to nurse should be something you decide as a family. Here is a great article and list of resources from the World Health Organization about weaning from breastfeeding.
- Every baby is different and will nurse differently and wean differently.
- Everyone you meet will have an opinion on how you feed your baby.