Welcome Carnival of Breastfeeding readers! This post is part of the Carnival of Breastfeeding on the topic of “Extended Breastfeeding” hosted by Blacktating and The Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog. This month’s theme was extended nursing and we’ve got a variety of posts on nursing toddlers. Be sure to check out the links to all of our participants at the end of this post
“Mom, may I please just have a little piece of mama milk?” That’s what my almost 5 year old son asked me the other day. I was breastfeeding my almost 3 year old and almost 1 year old sons and my oldest knows how to wait patiently for his turn. It’s amazing to me that he has learned this patience when he had mama milk all to himself for 2 years. He has happily made room for not one, but two younger brothers. He has put up with toddler feet in his face, passed out babies sprawled across his tummy, and a mom who sometimes gets touched out before it’s his turn and has to put him off until later.
Patience has always been his flavor of breastfeeding. When he was a newborn, he was almost constantly latched on. I am glad that he was able to have his solo infancy because I’m not certain that even having a practiced mom, confident in nursing and babywearing would have been enough to meet his sucking needs. Even when his needs were urgent, he would calm down and patiently look at me as long as he knew a feed was coming soon. He knew that once he was latched on, he could stay that way for as long as he wanted because his new mom didn’t have the heart to hear his protests if the nipple was removed-no matter how gently.
His little brother, my second son, has a very different flavor of breastfeeding. From day one, he latched on strongly and nursed until he was full. I remember the first time he was done and pushed out my nipple. I was certain there was something wrong. After all, his big brother was still latched on and he was eating solids. I soon learned that even as a newborn, his suck needs just weren’t as high as his big brother. It was a good thing, too, because I had post partum depression and had a lot of trouble dealing with so much raw need from two little ones. Knowing that I could nurse him and he would delatch himself helped me be able to continue exclusively breastfeed him even while feeling depressed. He has always loved cuddles, but doesn’t have very high touch needs. Even now, he is fiercely affectionate, but not while breastfeeding. He wants to meet his needs for hunger, solace, or comfort and then run off to have fun.
My youngest son is still exclusively breastfeeding. His flavor of nursing is an interesting mix of my previous experiences. He is also very patient and has a gentle latch. He is also a very strong sucker and loves to sleep nurse during his naps (thank goodness for babywearing) but will delatch himself and roll over to be spooned to sleep at night. He seems to need touch more than suckling to meet his needs and will happily wait for his next feed with his dad as long as he’s being worn. He loves nursing with either of his brothers so much that I have trouble keeping him latched on with all his smiling and trying to grab them. He is very attached to me more than to my breasts, which is nice because with three kids, I sometimes feel like walking food. Even though I have been battling a second bout of PPD, I’ve been able to manage the breastfeeding demands better this time because my support structure is in place.
My flavors of breastfeeding are also a part of this mix. And like my sons, my needs have changed over the years. When I had one nursling, breastfeeding was my go-to for everything and I set very few boundaries. When I had two nurslings and PPD, I had to set very clear boundaries because my ultimate goal was to be able to continue breastfeeding for as long as they needed to continue. At three nurslings, I am able to explain to my oldest two boys what I can and cannot do and they are willing to accept what I say because they know I will honor their needs as I am able. I feel more confident in parenting now and have more flexibility in how we manage breastfeeding.
This is how breastfeeding several children of different ages can work because they each have their own flavors. They each have their own rhythms. They each have their own needs. As long as I am patient and honor how and why they, as individuals, approach breastfeeding, we can make it work.
I have no idea how long all four of us will continue our breastfeeding relationship. So far, it has all happened so organically, that I foresee it continuing the same way. Some days I’ll breastfeed all three boys several times. Sometimes my oldest two won’t ask for a couple of weeks. It depends on what is going on in our lives and it’s the way that feels right for us. I love and respect how together, the four of us have moved through the different flavors of breastfeeding.
Please go check out the other Carnival of Breastfeeding Participants and give them some comment love.
Elita @ Blacktating: The Last Time That Never Was
Diana Cassar-Uhl, IBCLC: Old enough to ask for it
Karianna @ Caffeinated Catholic Mama: A Song for Mama’s Milk
Judy @ Mommy News Blog:My Favorite Moments
Tamara Reese @ Kveller: Extended Breastfeeding (corrected link)
Jenny @ Chronicles of a Nursing Mom: The Highs and Lows of Nursing a Toddler
Christina @ MFOM: Natural-Term Breastfeeding
Rebekah @ Momma’s Angel: My Sleep Breakthrough
Suzi @ Attachedattheboob: Why I love nursing a toddler
Claire @ The Adventures of Lactating Girl: My Hopes for Tandem Nursing
Elisa @ blissfulE: counter cultural: extended breastfeeding
Momma Jorje: Extended Breastfeeding, So Far!
Stephanie Precourt from Adventures in Babywearing: “Continued Breastfeeding”: straight from the mouths of babes
The Accidental Natural Mama: Nurse on, Mama
Sarah @ Reproductive Rites: Gratitude for extended breastfeeding (corrected link)
Nikki @ On Becoming Mommy: The Little Things
Dr. Sarah @ Good Enough Mum: Breastfeeding for longer than a year: myths, facts and what the research really shows
Amy @ WIC City: (Extended) Breastfeeding as Mothering
The Artsy Mama: Why Nurse a Toddler?
Christina @ The Milk Mama: The best thing about breastfeeding
TopHat @ the bee in your bonnet: From the Mouths of Babes
Beth @ Bethstedman.com: Extended Breastfeeding: To Wean Or Not To Wean
Callista @ Callista’s Ramblings: Pressure To Stop Breastfeeding
Amanda @ Postilius: Nursing My Toddler Keeps My Baby Close
Sheryl @ Little Snowflakes: Tandem Nursing- The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Zoie @ Touchstone Z: Breastfeeding Flavors
Lauren @ Hobo Mama: Same old, same old: Extended breastfeeding
Tanya @ Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog: Six misconceptions about extended breastfeeding
Jona (Breastfeedingtwins.org): Breastfeeding older twins (corrected link)
Motherlove Herbal Company: Five reasons to love nursing a toddler
Mamapoeki from Authentic Parenting: Extended Breastfeeding?
Mama Alvina of Ahava & Amara Life Foundation: Breastfeeding Journey Continues
- Once More with Feeling (touchstonez.com)
- I’ve Gone To The Dork Side (touchstonez.com)
- Breastfeeding Flavors (touchstonez.com)
- Wordless Wednesday: Tandem Breastfeeding Holding Hands (touchstonez.com)
- Wordless Wednesday: Tandem Breastfeeding Statue (touchstonez.com)