Family life

Extended breastfeeding is a full-time job

Struggling with extended breastfeeding? So is our Run-at-home mom and she could use your help

By Jennifer Pinarski
Extended breastfeeding is a full-time job

Isaac breastfed until he was 20 months. When I returned to work full time, nursing was a special comfort and a quiet time for our whole family. After work all three of us would cuddle on the couch and these times remain some of my fondest memories of nursing him (the whole mastitis, pumping and other terrible issues all magically fade away when things click and nursing is going well). When he self weaned I was very sad. He was ready to move on from 'mom mo' to his bigger world.

At nearly 19 months, Gillian is still eagerly breastfeeding. I have mixed feeling about this - I love that I can still provide her comfort when she needs it and all of the goodness that my breast milk contains (OK, maybe not the generous amounts of caffeine but it might explain why one of her first words was 'coffee'). Maybe because I don't get a break from the pinching and twiddling and full body contact of parenting a toddler, but honestly, this is not as much fun as it was with our son. After many failed attempts to get her back into her own bed at night we are still co-sleeping so it seems like Gillian is nursing 24/7.
Dare I say out loud that extended breastfeeding sucks?
Back in May, Today's Parent lactation expert Teresa Pitman wrote a great article about toddler nursing. It describes my situation perfectly, from the soreness during teething and distracted moment, the bruises all over my arms, her calling milk Boobies (I fully blame on Mr. P) and that pretty much everyone I know has had a peek show because as much as I try to be discreet in public, Gillian hasn't learned that our friends and the people around me don't want to see my Girls. My large bead necklaces that I bought to keep her occupied are broken and destined to be upcycled crafts (another one of Teresa's tips). I am considering night weaning just so that I get a bit of a break, but sleep is so precious in our house and we're co-sleeping anyway, that it seems like a silly idea - because nursing is the fastest way to get her back to sleep.
In my heart I know that I'll look back and I'll remember all of the good things about breastfeeding her this long. But right now I am really struggling with this.
Are you breastfeeding your toddler or preschooler? How do you keep a positive frame of mind when you're being mauled by the cutest pudgiest hands in the universe? Did you wean before you thought that you would?
This article was originally published on Sep 14, 2011

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