The age I refer to in the headline is your child's, of course! I feel like my own aging process speeds up or slows down depending on what’s going on with the my daughter—when she is smiling time stands still, and when she’s unhappy or unhealthy it feels like I’m in a race against the clock to get her well again. But our little ones are on a constant upward trajectory, and now that we've hit sixteen months (wow!) I can say our nursing adventure is getting better for so many reasons. What you don’t often hear is that nursing is hard, but it can and does get easier with time! I didn’t know what to expect when all this started, but I am glad I stuck with it, for at least these seven reasons:
- I see my child’s development from a different angle. Time at the breast is valuable for so much for more than just nutrition. I taught my daughter how to high five while nursing. We play peekaboo, explore each other’s faces and hair, and read stories together. Babies don't do much when they're small, but at a certain point it feels like they hit an exponential development spurt, and in close proximity at the breast is a great time to continue the learning.
- No gear required. When she was little, getting the latch right took a small miracle almost every time. Is her head even with the nipple? Is her little body balanced on the Boppy just so? And what about me—is everything I need within arms reach? A pillow under my arm so it won't fall asleep halfway through and ruin that latch I fought so hard to achieve? But now that she's older all of that is done. I haven't seen the Boppy in months! Now she can climb into my lap on her own, get comfy and get latched with almost no help from me. I've even been laying on the couch when she’s walked over, nursed while standing, and gone back to playing.
- I can say no. I breastfed exclusively in the beginning, so when she got hungry, I nursed. But now that she’s older and getting plenty of nourishment from solids, I can comfortably say no to a nursing session. During a recent East Coast trip M. wanted to nurse in the middle of dinner with friends. She climbed in my lap and assumed the position. I wasn't even wearing a nursing bra (yay), and I didn't want to miss out on such valuable catch-up time, so I gave her some apple slices instead. And guess what? SHE WAS FINE.
- My breasts have stabilized. Another reason I could say no is because I no longer live in fear of the dreaded leak. I was the one who was always stuffing my bra with those puffy pads and never knew when a leak would spring up (like while reading an obituary at a funeral? Yep, that was me. The pictures are great :/) In the early weeks and months, developing a stable milk supply left my breasts in a constant state of expand-retract-leak. As time passed all that disappeared.
- Breast milk is great for so many toddler issues. Having breast milk on hand has also been great as she’s gotten older, because the more she moves around the more scratches pop up without warning. A few drops of breast milk is the perfect salve for a lot of those little dings (and a host of other things like diaper rash, gooey eyes, etc.) I've also noticed that while she may pick up a sniffle now that we spend more time at the playground, she recovers quickly.
- It’s SO much faster. Our nursing sessions these days are just a few minutes at a time, a few times a day. It's like a little coffee break. I remember early on making a time-based list of things I thought I could accomplish once I was ready to start working at home. I was right for about 5 minutes, mostly because I didn't factor in nearly enough time for nursing. Even in later months, it still took up so much time. But now, its gone from a six-course dinner to fast food.
- It keeps her close, just a little bit longer. The changes in my daughter from day one until now are the definition of mind-blowing. I remember my husband and I waiting for her first smile or to roll over, and now we need track shoes to keep up with her. I love having that time every day that is just ours, even if it only lasts for a few moments. It will be over before I know it and I’m so blessed to have it now!
So those are my reasons—if you're still nursing a toddler or older, what are yours? If you're new to nursing, what are your thoughts so far?