I gave birth to my lovely daughter over 2 years ago. Breastfeeding her came naturally for me and I plan to continue doing it until she is at least 21/2 or 3 years old. It was not until recently, while doing my round in this world we know as the internet, that I found out I’m one of the few extended breast-feeders. Apparently, extended breastfeeding is nursing a baby for any period longer than 12 months. The shock! I always assumed that most women follow the recommended 6 months exclusive feeding, and then breastfed for another 18 months given that the recommended period by the World Health Organization is at least 2 years.That said, I’m not planning to stop any time soon. I know the benefits to my daughter and am proud of myself for giving her the best start in life. I’ve however been through a number of ups and downs along the way and I’m going to share them here. Maybe I can be of some help.
The Very First Weeks
Breast Feeding Position
I went on Labor on Sunday afternoon, was admitted in the hospital that same evening, delivered at 9:40 that same night, but I would not leave the hospital for the next 2 days. The doctors kept asking us whether the milk had started flowing as they came round in the recovery room and I kept saying that I did not know. I now know that it had not.It took a few days. My baby did not stay hungry though, she got the first milk that’s normally thick and full of antibodies. I had forgotten to bring my nursing pillow with me to the hospital since I did not understand it’s importance then, a decision I would regret a lot later.
By the time the nurses showed me how to hold the baby correctly for breastfeeding, the damage was already done. I’d already developed back pains. And it only took a day and a half. To avoid the back pain, the baby’s head is supposed to rest on the upper part of your arm while you hold it up. Avoid leaning towards the baby. At home I did not have that problem because I had a Nursing pillow.
This was by far the hardest issue for me. If the baby does not latch properly, the nipples become sore, dry and even cracked. Mine did. Every time the baby cried for food, I was tempted to cry with her. Breastfeeding was so painful. This healed on itself after the second week. A friend of mine told me about some cream she was applying on her nipples. Is is apparently recommended that you start applying towards the end of the pregnancy. I will do that with the next baby, though I feel that now that I have mastered the art of breastfeeding, I will not need to. I’ll just ensure that the baby takes in the entire dark part of the nipple. That is the only was you can be sure that she will not hurt you.
It is very important to ensure that you are eating healthy meals while breastfeeding. This is because the food you are eating provides nutrients for your recovery and for your baby. I felt especially very thirsty every time I breastfed. I therefore kept a bottle of water nearby to ensure that I did not get dehydrated.Some women tend to go overboard in their eating when breastfeeding. It’s understandable especially since you get so hungry. But I had to keep in mind that the baby takes around 500 calories in a day. Eating too much would lead to weight gain and I was already carrying extra calories as it were. To ensure that I kept my eating in check while making sure that I stayed energized at all time, I ate small meals often. This ensured that I did not deprive my body off the much needed nutrients. Fruits were my favourite snacks. Very filling and low in calories.
Working Mum: Breastfeeding and Expressing
I went back to work and started expressing in the office immediately my baby hit 3 months.
Breastfeeding a Toddler
You might think that breastfeeding a toddler is easy. And yes, it is in so many levels. You are both comfortable with it and she’s big enough to tell you when she wants to nurse or when she wants to change to the other breast. But the fact that they are big also means that they are very restless. Toddlers don’t like to sit still for long. She will nurse while playing. My daughter even stops midway to sing a little song. While this may be fun, it also means that it takes longer for her to be satisfied. I have also noticed that my daughter is taking in too much milk now. I lost 5kgs in a month. While this might seem like a good thing, there are times when you feel drained and weak. I have found that drinking a lot of water and snacking on fruits between meals helps a lot.