Breastfeeding: When to wean?
I know that in our culture breastfeeding is usually considered taboo, or maybe a little weird, or sometimes it’s OK but only until a certain age. To me, breastfeeding is completely natural, and beautiful. It’s a beautiful connection between child and mother. There is nothing shameful about it. It should be celebrated, instead of hidden. It should be honored instead of put-down. This kind of negativity around breastfeeding will affect the breastfeeding mother. Any negativity around breastfeeding could steer a mother away from breastfeeding in the first few weeks. Why? Because breastfeeding, while natural and beautiful, is very difficult, painful, and can feel isolating.
I know, because I’ve experienced all of these things.
For me, I knew I wanted to breastfeed. I knew I wanted to breastfeed before I was even pregnant.
So, when I got pregnant, I didn’t have any decisions to make when it came to what the baby would eat. Breastmilk, ofcourse! I didn’t get any bottles, or buy any formula because I figured I wouldn’t need. it. I also didn’t do any research on breastfeeding, thinking it would be the easiest, most natural thing on Earth. But, I should have done the research. It might have made my experience much easier. The only thing I had planned was to breastfeed for at least 6 months. I thought that most people breastfed for six months or so, so that was my plan.
Once Kaia was born, my thoughts on breastfeeding changed. Drastically. Breastfeeding was NOT easy. It was the most difficult thing I ever experienced. And I had a med-free child birth.
I’m not even sure I can put into words who difficult it was. I wanted to quit everyday. I was in so much pain. I was so tired. But, I kept up with it because I promised I would. After about 6-8 weeks Kaia and I got into a groove, and it finally stopped hurting to breastfeed. At that point, I did more research and decided I would breastfeed for one year.
As the months went by, I began to love breastfeeding. Kaia and I were able to snuggle and bond skin-to-skin. I could tell that Kaia was soothed by the breast so very easily. It was more than just food to her; which I found out was completely normal. I had no idea that breastfeeding was very soothing to babies. I also love that whenever I get sick I gave Kaia the antibodies against my cold. As a baby, she didn’t catch a cold until she was 10 months old. I did more research and found out there are many health benefits to breastfeeding into the toddler years (there’s tons of info if you search, I don’t feel like writing it all).
After we hit the 1 year mark, I decided I would try to go for 2 years. Now that Kaia is 16 months old, I can see just how much breastfeeding benefits her, both emotionally and physically… and it is not something I plan on taking away from her on a schedule. Most babies will self wean between 2-4 years old. So I’m deciding to let her self wean. She knows when she is ready…not a book, or a doctor, or some random person off of the internet. Not even me.