A Tired Mama Breastfeeds for 3 Years

I was planning on being what many consider a "crunchy mama".  A homebirthing, cloth diapering, babywearing, and breastfeeding mama. While the first three went fine, breastfeeding didn't go without a hitch. 

We tried to learn everything during the pregnancy. A class on breastfeeding, A breastfeeding circle. Established care with a lactation consultant.  The midwife checked latch over the first few days.  Yet all that knowledge and help still didn't prepare me!  

I remember having toe curling pain that was so bad I was hitting the wall to get through it.  Something had to give!  There was a friend that had offered to come over and help with latch, and I finally gave in and accepted.  With her help, I realized that when baby latched right breastfeeding didn't hurt.  A little bit of pain at the start since my nipples were tender.  But that hitting-the-wall pain wasn't normal!

We managed to get rid of the pain with the help with a lactation consultant, and things were going great.  But I kept getting plugged ducts!  I'd heard horror stories of how painful mastitis was and I was so afraid I'd get it (luckily I never did!) I figured out how to cure the plugged ducts when they popped up.  The biggest mistake I'd been making was "knuckling the heck out of it".  (That breast massage everyone tells you to do needs to be gentle, y'all.)  About a year in the plugged ducts stopped altogether.

Aww, the "fist of doom"!  When Astrid was around 18 months old I attended a Nancy Mohrbacher speech. It was there I learned about laid-back breastfeeding.  If you are chest to chest with baby so that gravity keeps them on you, then they won't flail their arms.  The flailing is a symptom of not feeling secure in their positioning!  What an eye opening revelation that was.

At 5-6 months old we went through the "distracted baby" phase. That's when baby wants milk, but won't focus long enough to breastfeed.  Like most road bumps in my mothering journey, I found a way around it.  I'd take her up to our bedroom, sit cross legged on the bed, and lay her in the nook my legs made.  Breastfeeding her in this position seemed to always calm her down.  Had to hope she'd fall asleep before my legs did, haha.

Throughout her second year of life there were many changes. We eliminated pacifier use (that was a lot easier than expected). Switched to nursing only in beds because she was too distracted to nurse anywhere else. Plus tried a couple different night-weaning techniques that didn't work.  We settled into a new normal that we were happy with.

Now that she's three she latches herself! I never worry about how much milk is in there, and we only breastfeed once or twice a day.  She hardly ever gets sick, and when she does it passes fast. (When you breastfeed a toddler, you don't need to buy pedialyte and such. You keep breastfeeding, even if they're throwing it up.)

What does an average day look like for us now?  At night my husband puts her to bed (sounds easier than it is, haha).  When she wakes in the morning, she walks to our room and asks for milk.  I let her do two rounds of breastfeeding, which takes max 5 minutes.  I have to wear a night shirt to bed because if those suckers are out in the morning, she will keep wanting to nurse. She asks to nurse once or twice throughout the day, and I remind her that we only breastfeed in the morning now.  

It took some experimentation and boundaries to get where we're at. But we could keep this up for some time and I wouldn't mind.  

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