I have officially been breastfeeding for one year. It has always loosely been my goal to get to the one year mark. I did it!
How I Feel About Breastfeeding Now
Despite the initial hurdle of exclusive pumping every 2 hours and all, it’s turned in to quite an easy, normal part of life.
Sure, there was more than one occasion where turned to N and said something along the lines of “Ughhghhhh can’t you just grow boobs and YOU feed him?!” There have been times when I felt a lack of freedom, of my time and of my body. I’ve been careful about every ingredient I put on my skin, every food I put in my body, and haven’t taken any medication (besides ibuprufen and my required prescriptions) in nearly two years. I’ve built my life and my routine around stopping everything at certain moments throughout the day, sitting down and feeding my child.
But overall it’s been a remarkably easy and positive experience and one that I’m grateful to have had. I know that I was able to exclusively breastfeed because I am able to work part-time from home. I realize this is not most women’s reality and I applaud women who pump at work because pumping sucks and I hope to not do it again for a really long time.
I’ve never felt overwhelmingly emotional about breastfeeding. It’s always felt like a piece of my motherhood pie but not one that I particularly loved. I’m not indifferent because I’d rather breastfeed than not. I like the special time with Ben. I guess I just didn’t have the very emotional, complex experience some women have in relation to breastfeeding. It was more just something that I did and didn’t really feel like it became a part of my identity or anything the way it does for some.
Also of note, I never really got comfortable breastfeeding in public. By the time I felt good about doing it discreetly enough for my own comfort, Ben was pretty regular with his feeding schedule and feeds were usually coordinated with naps so I’d be home anyway.
But mostly, I’m proud of myself. Breastfeeding is a selfless act and with an alternative readily available, it might have been easy to quit. But I didn’t and I think Ben is better for it and I think we’ve experienced a wonderful bond because of it.
How Breastfeeding has Been for My Body
I feel like my body handled breastfeeding super well. I never experienced a lot of the issues many women do (clogged milk duct, mastitis, etc.). I did not have any supply issues and did not have to adjust my diet due to any food related allergies for Ben (thank goodness, I don’t know if I’d have been able to do that). I continued to eat a healthy diet and I tried hard to drink enough water daily.
Truthfully, I’m a little nervous to stop breastfeeding. It has been, without a doubt, the best diet I’ve ever been on. Maintaining my weight has never been easier and the number on the scale is consistently on the lower end of what is normal for me.
I don’t say this to brag (I promise) but to reassure some women who have anxiety about breastfeeding related to their own weight. I’d read time and time again that lots of women hold on to some extra weight while breastfeeding and have a hard time losing it until they fully wean. It was something I worried about before Ben was born. That has not been my reality at all and I’m grateful for the extra cardio workout (buh bye 500 ish calories) my body got without me even trying.
Just know that not everything you read that happens to “most people” will happen to you.
What I’ll Miss About Breastfeeding
What I’ll miss most about breastfeeding is how it’s been such an instant comfort to Ben.
If he wakes up in the night, I nurse him and he falls right back to sleep and I’m back in bed in about 10 minutes. If he’s really worked up about something, nursing has always calmed him down. It has never not worked as a source of comfort. Nurse him and he will instantly stop crying.
I’ll miss having that for him and I hope that we’re able to find a new source of comfort in these coming weeks and months.
How We Plan to Wean
Extended breastfeeding is just not something I’m interested in. I wanted to get to the year mark so that we could avoid using formula and I’ve done that.
I’m not so much bothered by the sharing of my body that I know many struggle with. It just seems like such a part of our day now and I’m grateful for the calm moments when I’m forced to sit down and relax (and you know, scroll through Instagram shamelessly). I’m more just ready for my hormones to calm down (i.e. acne) and to give my body a bit of time to reset before we add a sibling to the mix.
Ben had his first cows milk yesterday. Right now Ben nurses four times a day. Yesterday for his afternoon session (around 3:30pm), we gave him a bottle of half cow’s milk, half pumped milk (which truthfully, kind of grossed me out initially but whatever).
Our justification for this is that it was similar to when you transition a dog to different food. Yes, that was the actual rational we used. Anyone who says dogs and human babies are nothing alike is just trying to make dog moms feel less-than. They’re totally alike in lots of ways.
Anyway, he liked it and seemed fine so today that bottle will be all cow’s milk.
We’ll do that for a week or so and then remove the late morning nursing session and replace that with cow’s milk also. After a week or so of that we’ll remove the morning session and replace that with cow’s milk (or maybe water and breakfast). Eventually we’ll remove the nursing session before bed and add cow’s milk there too.
Once he’s completely weaned we’ll be giving him some whole milk four times per day, plus water with meals. I’m going to confirm the exact amount with the pediatrician at Ben’s one year appointment on Friday.
We still have probably a 3 day stash of breast milk in the freezer. I plan to keep some of it and maybe do a bottle once a week throughout flu season to give him a little immunity boost. Is this even a thing? I don’t know but I’m not wasting it!
Does this plan seem solid? It makes sense to me but Mom’s of the internet, do tell me if you’ve got any tips.