My baby boy turned 11 months this week. Which means we’ve hit another milestone together – 11 months of breastfeeding.
It takes me by surprise some times, how he’s not my little baby anymore. I will look over at him sitting in his highchair chewing on a sandwich or playing with his toys and sometimes he looks up at me and smiles and waves. A real little boy.
But our feeding times together have been a constant. It wasn’t always joy and rainbows though. In hospital, for the first day or so he couldn’t latch on, so I’d express colostrum and feed it to him in a syringe. His facial palsy meant he couldn’t open his mouth wide enough on the right side. It crossed my mind that breastfeeding may not work at all.
He soon got the hang of it though, on the left side with his ‘good’ side on top. With the help of a lactation consultant in hospital, we soon mastered the football hold on the other side. Every health professional asked the same question – ‘is he feeding?’ And it made me proud that I could say yes. First hurdle overcome.
But then the fun really began, round the clock feeding, cracked nipples, that toe-curling pain on attachment. I came to dread the frequent feeding, I would cry at the pain and say that ‘I couldn’t do it anymore’. But by week 6, we leapt over our second hurdle. It didn’t hurt anymore.
But he was a skinny little thing. Despite being 4kg at birth, he was now one of the smallest babies in mothers group. I looked at the chubbier babies and felt inadequacy. Well-meaning relatives questioned if he was getting enough. My heart would sink when I’d put him on the scales, a mere 100 gram gain a week was the normal reward for my round the clock feeding.
But he was gaining weight – albeit slowly – and despite my frustration, it didn’t really cross my mind to stop. In hindsight, this probably stemmed from my own stubborness to admit there could be a problem. That maybe his attachment still wasn’t the best. I just didn’t want anymore problems. We fed on.
Then by about 4 months, the first signs of some chubbiness. As the chubby babies at mother group’s weight gains started to slow, my boy’s weight gains, that were considered paltry for a newborn, continued unabated. Our final hurdle overcome.
Since then feeding has been a joy. Convenient and a relaxing time for us both. He is now a solid 10.5 kg. But at 11 months, thoughts creep in about how long we will continue. My goal of 12 months is only a month away and although a life post maternity bras is very apppealing, I’m not sure I’m ready for it to end.
I’d love to hear from you. What was your feeding ‘journey’ like? Those that breastfed, when did you know it was time to stop?