How do you know when you should stop breastfeeding? When do the health benefits of breastfeeding stop? What is a good age to wean your baby?
I have been going Google crazy, people. Those are just a few of the search topics I’ve been pounding out in the last few weeks.
You see, I have learned a lot about breastfeeding in these nearly-ten months. Mainly that breastfeeding becomes a HUGE part of your life. Not in a bad way, but just in an all-consuming way.
In the beginning, you go crazy over trying to do it right, get the proper latch, get over the initial pain, adjust to the nonstop feedings — all while feeling so tired that you just can’t stop sobbing.
Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, it’s an easy, regular part of your day … but it still defines your day. You get used to feeling always on-call. You get used to the invisible tether that ties your knockers to your baby. It doesn’t hurt anymore, and it becomes so casual that you can play Wii while breastfeeding … uh, for example.
As long as you are breastfeeding, when you go out (with or without your baby), your boobs must be considered — either pumped first, or properly dressed for easy-access. You must always be thinking about the boobs! Almost ten months later, I’m still always thinking about the boobs! (And admiring them, too, if I’m being totally honest.)
Here is the thing: I don’t know when to stop breastfeeding.
I have Googled. I have discussed. I have had soul-searching innner dialogues!
I just can’t decide!
Here are the basic facts (and some random background info):
You are “supposed to” breastfeed for six months, and it is “recommended” to breastfeed until 12 months
Baby Boy is almost 10 months old. He eats plenty of solids. He crawls and walks. He is not losing interest in nursing AT ALL, the way babies supposedly do at this age. He has not slept more than three hours at a stretch, um, like ever.
Don’t let the cloth-diapering, and baby-food-making fool you. I am not a hippie — I don’t even recycle. But I was surprised by how much I enjoyed breastfeeding.
Darling Husband does not want me to breastfeed past 12 months (I don’t, either), but babies need either breast milk or formula until at least 12 months, so going straight to cows’ milk now is not an option
I am caught between wanting to give my baby the very best and do what’s medically “right” (and I use that term very loosely), wanting to respect my husband’s opinion, wanting my own body back (not to mention my fertility), and wanting to stick to my stubborn “He’s-never-had-formula-EVER” thing.
The way I see it, I have three options:
Continue exclusive breastfeeding until 12 months.
Pros: Pride that I breastfed for the full year, as recommended — and got my “golden boobies.” Petty, stubborn pride that Baby Boy never had to have any formula.
Cons: Continue to be a zombie who never gets more than two or three hours’ sleep at a time. Continue to feel a self-conscious when nursing in public because he’s so big and active.
Begin gradual weaning to formula by 12 months.
Pros: By giving some formula at bedtime, he might sleep longer — even if he doesn’t, I will feel more confident letting him cry a bit because I will know his tummy is more “full.” Can possibly hang onto breastfeeding (even 1-2 times a day) until the 12-month mark.
Cons: Don’t get to say that he never had formula. Possibility that giving him formula weans him before the 12-month mark, and I don’t achieve golden boobies.
Wean to strictly formula now.
Pros: Have my body back very soon. Be proud that I breastfed for 10-ish months.
Cons: No golden boobies. May regret that I didn’t stick it out for these two more months. Formula might be less convenient (more work!) than breastfeeding. May chunk up because breastfeeding won’t be burning calories anymore.
At this point, I am leaning towards one of the first two options.
Sometimes I lean towards breastfeeding exclusively until 12 months because it’s just so familiar and comfortable for both of us, and because of my stupid stubbornness about formula.
Sometimes I lean towards introducing formula because I won’t let Baby Boy cry at night and resort to nursing him 3-4 times because I’m convinced he’s hungry. We are both suffering from lack of sleep, so it seems dumb not to try something that could help — and my stubbornness is not a good enough reason not to try it.
I get swayed one way when I read comments online from breastfeeding advocates.
I get swayed the other way by Darling Husband, my family and my friends.
I just can’t decide which way is right for me.
So, of course,the logical solution is to get MORE opinions! …
I’m Heather Laura Clarke. I’m journalist and blogger in beautiful Nova Scotia, I have a 10-year-old son and an 8-year-old daughter, I married my high school sweetheart, and this is the story of my handmade life.
Whether I’m working on my novel, decorating a room, busting out my power tools to build furniture, getting muddy in the pottery studio, sewing clothes for my kids, or cross-stitching a swear word, I’m all about using my creativity to craft a life I love.