I feel very lucky to have been able to continue breastfeeding my son beyond the six month mark. Despite many close calls, I have maintained my milk supply and my love for this task, and I am happy to keep doing it for the next few months at least. Having lasted this long there have been both increased benefits and some new challenges.
The benefits of breastfeeding an older baby start with it's ease. My child has a radar for finding a latch in pitch dark better than a plane honing in on a runway. He has no trouble latching or getting a thorough feed at this stage. The feeding time is very quick and efficient, no longer have I got the worry of him falling asleep or spending a lot of time re-latching. It is also still convienent for going out and not requiring any feeding equipment. Blocked ducts have ceased, there are rarely any leaks, and I can wear whatever I want to bed now without worrying that I will wake up covered in milk. Basically we have found a rhythm with feeding that is nothing like the frustrations of getting breastfeeding established in the earlier days. However, there are a few new challenges that have developed.
For one thing, he is a much bigger guy now than at his newborn and earlier stages - therefore a lot stronger. He tugs on my breast sometimes while sucking, and pulls himself off abruptly, taking part of me with him. He has also taken to pinching me while feeding with his fingers..OUCH! He also has two teeth, coming up more every day. I can feel the tips of these razor sharp biters while he feeds and constantly fear a potential bite. Another new issue - he is very easily distracted now. If someone new comes in the room and talks to me, my son launches himself off and attempts to roll over in the direction of the visitors voice. A lot of times I can't even watch TV while feeding him anymore, the noise and bright screen are things he simply can't ignore. Funny those things were recommended in the beginning while breastfeeding to help keep him awake during his feed. He is also very fond of the breast, and sometimes I worry that it will be tough to fully wean him. Sometimes when he is fussy, uncomfortable or tired he wants to nurse to pacify and it is hard to both recognize every instance of this and to avoid doing it. He can be very persuasive, haha. Another side effect of breastfeeding a slightly older baby is opinion of some. I know it is ultimately my decision, but it doesn't stop the uncomfortable feeling. I am in the company of some people who feel that six months is long enough and believe that once a baby has teeth and/or can eat solids, they no longer need to be nursed. I struggle with this one because it is my body, my baby and my choice. I am doing my best not to let this be a factor in my decision, but it is rough to tune it out.
Regardless of the new challenges, for me the benefits of breastfeeding are still the deciding factor. I have no intentions of stopping just yet, and hope that my supply maintains for as long as I wish to continue.
- Just one today, and I'm going to repeat my above statement. It's your body, your baby and your choice. If you are among those who have managed to maintatin your milk supply and met all your previous challenges,you have the option to stop breastfeeding or to continue. It is up to you and no one else and you need to remember this main point. There is no shame in finishing up or in continuing for as long as you choose.