It’s hard to believe that about one year ago, right around this time, Cooper finally weaned. I say finally, only because he was over two and half years old, but not because I particularly wanted him to wean. As with my other two children, the experience was bittersweet. Breastfeeding for me was a wonderful and easy way to comfort my babies and bond with them. When it ended it was liberating in a way, but a symbolic moment of “growing up” for my children and a reminder to me that I will not always be the center of their universes. We are raising them with the hopes that they will one day leave the safety of the home nest and soar off to a successful and happy life, complete with their own nests.
I always knew I would nurse my children, from the time I was very young and watched friends and family nurse their babies. If I count the total months I spent breastfeeding our three children, I get a grand total of 73 months. I guess I can cross that off my bucket list! But when I finally experienced what I expected to be a blissful and beautiful moment, I was surprised by something. How much it hurt!
When my body was going through the many changes that occur during pregnancy, like most women, I experienced incredibly tender breasts. I should have guessed that having a baby latch on wasn’t going to tickle but honestly, it never even crossed my mind. I just pictured a quiet moment with my baby and I gazing into each others’ eyes. I didn’t imagine that my eyes would be red and watering or that I would biting my lip trying not to scream.
Breastfeeding. Pain. For the first few weeks the two went hand in hand for me and they do for many women. It was the worst during the few minutes of nursing, before my milk let down or when I was engorged. Then it would get better. I remember being, after about six weeks of breastfeeding, pain-free! It was amazing and liberating and Lauren went on to nurse for 15 more months. I didn’t experience anymore pain while nursing–until she started biting!
When our second daughter was born, breastfeeding was much easier. My nipples were (ahem) broken in, so to speak. Not only was she able to latch on much more easily because of this, it was much less painful from the get go. Kate nursed until she was almost two and a half years old.
Whenever I have a friend who is expecting a baby and plans to nurse, the one piece of advice I always offer is not to feel discouraged by first few weeks of nursing. You may not experience any discomfort while breastfeeding or you may find it is fairly uncomfortable for the first few weeks. The good news is, it does get better and I found that toughing it out was well worth the benefits for both me and my babies.
**I would like to add, as a bit of disclaimer, that I know breastfeeding can be a sensitive topic for women who choose not to, or are unable to breastfeed. Know that I do not judge! My mother nursed me for six weeks and then had to go back to work and from that point on, I had a bottle. Could she have pumped and continue to breastfeed? Probably, but she didn’t and that’s ok with me. I love her just the same and I turned out just fine being a formula fed baby!