I have long achieved my ‘target’ of breastfeeding for at least 6 months. To be honest, I amazed myself. Looking back, I realised that throughout this time, I have also grown and changed and my perspective on breastfeeding now is certainly quite different from my perspective when Dominic was just born.
First Few Months
The first few months were indeed quite a struggle, especially the first month, when I was basically just struggling to get things going. Breastfeeding was mainly work to me then. The main concerns were to feed my baby, make sure he had enough to drink, check his output, check his weight gain, monitor his growth and so on. The first month was also a month of self-doubt (“Do I have enough milk?”), physical pain involving sore nipples, plugged ducts and engorgement, and tiredness due to sleep deprivation. Not to mention disillusionment, temptation to give up, and baby blues.
As for bonding, I was too busy struggling to even concern myself with ‘bonding’. It was a matter of survival as a mother.
4th – 6th months
By the time I survived breastfeeding for 3 months, everything became much easier. I could look towards a target of breastfeeding for 6 months, unlike before when I could only think of one more day of breastfeeding at a time. I began to really enjoy my baby. But breastfeeding was still pretty much work to me. It was something I had to do to make sure my baby was well fed and growing well.
Of course, there were still struggles. Struggle because Dominic refused the bottle and would be fed by no other means except by mommy’s breasts. Struggle because Dominic’s feeding habits changes as he grew and his inexperience mommy had to deal with a lot of ‘Is there something wrong?’.
When solids was introduced when Dominic was 6 months old, and he began to have fewer feeds, there was even a sense of regret that he is no longer getting all his nourishments from me.
Beyond 6 months
Breastfeeding is now like a second nature. Thankfully, it has blossomed from a mere feeding work to a very special relationship between mother and son which I cherish with all my heart.
In the first few months, I would never have imagined myself breastfeeding a baby until toddlerhood. Now, I want to give Dominic the best he can get and as long as he wants to have mommy’s milk, I will give it to him until he decides to wean himself. I used to think that breastfeeding a toddler is unacceptable and unsightly. Now that breastfeeding is such a special relationship between Dominic and myself I want it to go on as long as possible. With greater understanding of breastfeeding, instead of unsightly, I now think it’s a beautiful sight to behold a mother nursing her young, including her toddler.
As Dominic grows older, I face increasing pressure from our parents to wean him off and give him cow’s milk. However, knowing more now, I certainly do not intend to give him cow’s milk in place of breastmilk. He will be introduced to cow’s milk just as he will be introduced to all other kinds of food. But cow’s milk will never be used as a replacement for breastmilk. Infant formula is definitely out of the question.
Weaning is easy. It won’t take me more than a few weeks to wean Dominic if I can harden my heart to refuse him my breasts. However, once weaned, I will never be able to bring it back again and that special relationship will be lost forever. It is only for the first few years of his life that we can enjoy this relationship. Why should I be so eager to end it?