One of the ladies I met in the park at random asked me," Do you still breastfeed your child?".
I replied instantly "Yes sometimes, why not?"
I wish I could have clicked her reaction that was a rather scandalized one.
"Don't you know there is no benfit of breastfeeding once the baby turns one".
I had no intention of explaining anything to her, I left her outrageous feelings with herself. Do I need to give people a justification? No, I don't think so.
Well, I'm not a crusader of breastfeeding benefits. I'm a simple Mom who gave birth through c-section and didn't bother to breastfeed my child in the beginning. To be honest for me, that wasn't a goal to be achieved. Initially I felt stuck within my own pains and I let out a sigh of relief as the nurses took my child for the feeding the moment she began to cry. On the second day, the lactation consultant came to check if I have started breastfeeding my girl. Like a nincompoop I replied that I don't know how to begin and that I was wondering if I really had enough milk to feed her. How stupid I was!
Anyway with the help of the nurses I learnt the basics and how to hold the baby during those moments. But those were not just moments, but they lasted at least for 1 hour or so and that too with only a 2 hour break in between to resume again. So day and night I had just one job to do- breastfeeding. My sleep, rest, hunger, comfort- everything was gone. I used to have a really bad ache in my back and sitting constantly in one position wasn't easy too. Sometime I felt tormented at this idea of exclusive breastfeeding and wanted to take out 2-3 scoops of formula from the milk tin that remained just next to my bed. But then I would reject the idea.
Some of the dear ones suggested to introduce Formula feeding during the night so as to get 4-5 hours of sleep in a stretch but eventually I couldn't push breastfeeding out of my mind. Slowly the days turned into weeks and then months. I remember the challenges and the frustrations I had feeding her in the washrooms, train, bus, cars, relative's house, clinic's room or any vacant corner that I could just grab. I used to say that 'Enough is done', but still nothing could really make me stop breastfeeding. And breastfeeding came with its own benefits too- no hassles of carrying stuff, no bottles, sterlisation, it was just me. I eventually began to try bottle and formula milk once my daughter turned 6 months, but the sweetness of breastfeeding still continued with her. I definitely want to share that breastfeeding is not an easy journey and I feel proud that I have continued despite it all. And why not, extended breastfeeding is not just beneficial for me! It is for my lovely toddler too... From baby's birth, we stress upon how breastfeeding is the most important thing for the baby's health so how come suddenly it can turn futile once the baby turns 1? The benefits of breastfeeding do not get evaporated in a day.
I feel grateful that I'm able to nurse my baby till date and love these cuddle moments, but nothing is static; in some time these moments will become a memory! Till then I want my baby to decide and let her absorb my warmth and comfort. And if you want to know more:
My girl is a picky eater, but she has her three meals and snacks throughout the day apart from occasional nursing. No, she doesn't want breastmilk every time she sleeps in, she comfortably drinks formula from the bottle too! In the middle of the night when I offer her the bottle, she doesn't deny it either. She is very attached to me or what we in-general call 'chipkoo' but it's not because of this extended breastfeeding.
We talk about motherly instincts all the time, but what about the child's instincts? Let her decide when she wants to wean off completely. I don't feel elated every time she nudges me for breastfeeding. I often feel like saying no. But as she come close to me, finds her way and within few minutes a smile and satisfaction spreads on her entire face; that's the moment I feel- everything is right!
Am I recommending extended breastfeeding to you? Not really! Every child is unique, every mother is unique. This is my normal and what I think is right. And so we nurse. What's your story?
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