What It's Like to Breastfeed For Over A Year
Breastfeeding is a highly personal and intimate experience for mothers. This being our last baby to join the family and not being able to feed for as long as I hoped with our first child, I'm grateful that I've been able to have this experience. It feels like it was just yesterday that I was feeding a newborn every 2 - 3 hours.
Fast forward a year later and we're getting ready to wean him off. Breastfeeding for over twelve months has certainly has its ups and downs. Here are five interesting facts I've learned from my experience:
1. I've breastfed over 1460 times in the past year
If you're breastfeeding during the first year of baby's life, it's safe to say that you're feeding 3 - 5 times a day on average. This will be a lot more in those early weeks and less as your baby begins eating solids and transitioning to other milk sources around their first birthday. To keep things simple, I used an average of four times a day and calculated that I've breastfed over 1460 times during my baby's first year of life.
The funny thing is that when I saw the number on the calculator, I thought Wow! I expected I higher number! But the days are long and the years are short and I'm grateful that my body and baby were in sync so I could breastfeed as much as I felt comfortable with.
2. I haven't gotten my period in almost two years
Because I've kept up regular feeding sessions for the majority of my baby's first year, my body is going through lactational amenorrhea. This is when your periods are irregular or completely non-existent during breastfeeding.
"Fully breastfeeding means the baby relies completely on his mother for nourishment and for all of his sucking needs. Frequent nursing inhibits the release of hormones that cause your body to begin the monthly preparations for a new pregnancy." La Leche League International
With my first child, I remember my period returning a few weeks after I had started weaning her off breastfeeding, so I completely expect a similar experience this time around. I've already started to get monthly cramps, which I can tell you, I' had forgotten how much I did not miss them.
3. Bonding time
Feeding sessions are now more about special bonding time between baby and I to start and end our days together. My body and I are glad he's not relying completely on me for nourishment. He's drinking milk in a sippy cup with meals and falling asleep on his own. Even after all these months, I still (for the most part) connect during our quick sessions and try to take it all in as I know our feeding days together are numbered.
4. Getting bitten hurts a lot
I'm not going to sugar coat it but getting bitten from a baby with teeth hurts. A LOT. There's many more nerve endings than I realized which equates to a shooting pain that ripples throughout your entire body. Thankfully, this hasn't happened often but when it does it's always a (painful) surprise and I usually need a minute or two to compose myself afterward.
5. I still enjoy feeding but am looking forward to the future
I wasn't able to breastfeed for as long as I hoped to with our first child and with this baby, he's the last little bundle of joy to join the family. So with those two factors, I wanted to feed as long as I could and I'm grateful and proud of the experience we've shared together. As we begin weaning, I know I'm closing a chapter in my life as a mother, so I'm cherishing our final feeding days together but also looking at what the future holds.
A little bit more freedom and a lot less snacking is on the horizon and I'm ready to take those next steps.