Mama, I breastfed for 5 years - this is what I learned
“Don’t blink” - that term applies to so much of parenting and breastfeeding is no exception.
As my son and I approach what appears to be the end of our nursing journey (more than four and
a half years), I want to help encourage other parents to be successful in their own
natural term feeding journeys.
Here are three most important things I have learned along the way:
1. Support is key
When you have a supportive partner and family members that accept your parenting choices
and encourage you or friends who are also nursing, it is so much easier to be successful in your feeding journey.
I am so thankful to have all those things. My husband has been my champion since before our son was born and has been by my side and our son’s hero all through our parenting journey.
I have a very open-minded family who embrace me and the way I parent. I have a large group of friends who started out as the moms of my son’s friends. They quickly became my own dearest friends who share my parenting values, they also love Mother Earth and they are a close knit group of females I know I can lean on.
Nearly all of these beautiful souls breastfeed and many of them are on the same path of full term nursing as I. It’s normal for one of us to be nursing while we hike together or as our kids play. Full term feeding and breastfeeding in general has been normalized in our social circle. Our children see their friends nurse, often.
I want every parent to feel this way and the support I have from these friends has propelled me to advocate publicly for all nursing parents - especially those that lack a social group where breastfeeding is normalized.
2. It’s ok to say no… and to set healthy boundaries
Every parent knows the feeling of being touched out and no one knows that feeling more than a parent who is nourishing their child with their body. Feeding is a way to bond and nursing is a way we are able to share love and emotional contact with our children.
When you feel exhausted and you are tired of being needed, it’s ok to tell your child you can’t give
milkies now and offer snuggles, an extra story or a tasty snack instead.
We can’t pour from an empty cup and when we give our bodies over during a moment that we don’t want to,
nursing looses the magic for both parent and child.
Setting boundaries that show your child you love them AND you love yourself is an incredible thing to model.
3. Don’t get hung up on what others think
I’m nursing a four a half year old. Granted, we don’t nurse every day and when we do, it is
not for very long but yes, I am breastfeeding my son who is four and half years old and I
don’t care what people think about that.
I know it’s biologically normal and I’ve educated myself on how much this benefits us both. If someone has issues with it, that’s their own deal.
Getting to the point of not caring what people think about this (and anything else people want to judge me for!) has been a very freeing and empowering step for me.
Ignoring the judgement of some and openly answering questions without hesitation that
others may have is a way to spread knowledge and help educate someone who may find
themselves or a close friend on this path.
As my son and I nurse less and less, I remind myself “don’t blink.” Four and half years may
seem like a long time but I’m going to be a mother forever. This is a time in my life I don’t
want to forget.
This is a time when I am building and celebrating relationships with other strong women, a time when I am setting the stage for a successful life for my child, and this is a time when I am learning how incredibly powerful a woman becomes when she doesn’t care what others think about her choices and she chooses the path that is best for her own self and her own family.