Friday, 24 September 2010

Breastfeeding a one year old

A couple of days ago, Alice was a bit under the weather. We were walking around town when she started grizzling, so I sat on a bench on the main street and offered her some milk. It was a short feed, and she quickly settled, but I couldn't help feeling uncomfortable. I realised that now she goes longer between feeds and is more interested in what's going on around her, she tends not to want to nurse in public so it has been a while. Although I've seen lots of women breastfeeding their babies in my town, I can't recall seeing anyone nursing an 'older' baby. Having said that, I received no dirty looks or comments, in fact I'm pretty sure nobody even noticed. The uneasiness was entirely down to me.

This took me by surprise, as I am totally committed to letting Alice self-wean and I consider feeding toddlers and children a beautiful and natural thing. I thought I had become inured to closed minded attitudes and would be confident feeding wherever and whenever Alice wanted. I think perhaps I am just out of the habit. To give myself some encouragement, I've been thinking of all the things I love about feeding my one year old.

1. Her obvious delight at feeding. She actually giggles when she sees my boob. She'll look up at me while feeding and give me a huge grin before latching back on again.

2. When she sings and feeds at the same time. She often hums a little as she feeds. I don't know why, I think she's just happy.

3. The way she manhandles her way to a good latch. No more of the worries of the early days when I wasn't sure she was properly latched. Now she pokes and prods until she's feeding in exactly the way she wants.

4. Her ability to feed in any given position. Standing on the floor while I lie on the sofa, lying over my shoulder while we're in bed and the opportunistic latch as I get dried after a morning bath. I am constantly amazed by her ingenuity.

5. The confidence that she's getting nourishment. When she goes through phases where she doesn't eat as much, I feel more confident knowing she'll still be getting nutrients through nursing.

6. Milk as medicine! When she has a cold or is feeling poorly and there's nothing else to be done, I know that milk provides physical and emotional benefits.

7. A moment of calm. Since she started to walk, she doesn't want to stop. It can feel like we're both on the go all day, and nursing is an important oasis where we can reconnect.

Hopefully as time goes on I will get over my feelings of awkwardness while NIP. I felt similar when I first started, and it soon melted away, so I'm sure this will too, and hopefully doing so might encourage others that it isn't something to be ashamed of.

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