Breastfeeding is one of those topics that moms seem to give each other such a hard time about. It worked for me and each of my kids. But the experiences with each of them were quite different. My daughter continued nursing until she was 14 months when I’d had enough and felt the need to ween here. My son lost interest about six months in, and we struggled to month nine (when I needed a strong antibiotic to deal with a sinus infection – and decided that I need a drink to deal with the nursing) before I realized it was time to stop.
That is the short version of my story. It’s a story I share with friends, co-workers and people I hardly know who are considering how they want to feed their baby and if a change is needed.
The longer story is this. They were both struggles. My daughter latched on right away and never had any trouble. My son had trouble from the beginning. I asked to see the lactation nurse at the hospital and we still couldn’t get it to work quite right.
With my daughter I had mastitis and blocked ducts at different point. It was painful and because I was nursing I couldn’t really take any medication. It was a crying, bawling, hot mess. A baby that was furiously hungry, a mom whose body aches to produce milk, plus the clogs. A terrible scene. My dad was there. I thought he was going to leave the house screaming. But after a few sleepless nights and a few shared sobs, we made it through.
With my son. Oh my son. He had coup. Then a cold. Then something else. Even though we were fortunate to have child care coming to us when I went back to work, he was constantly fighting something. For his own sake, we used a lot of bottles. I’d pump and someone else would feed him. It took twice as long, but it was easier for him to breathe with a bottle and the milk flowed faster. When he was well, he didn’t want to nurse because it was more work. So, we struggled there.
Okay. Those aren’t long stories, but the thing about them is this: Parenting is about accommodating each kid and what they need. My advice to every new parent is to give them what they need and what works for your family. Not always what they want as an individual. Not always what you want. Not always what is easy. There is no one size fits all in breastfeeding, just like there is no one size fits all parenting. You have to decide what is best for your family and stick to a plan.