Mothering and Life in General
Breastfeeding: Give Me A Nursing Toddler Anyday
A Twitter friend inspired this post today. After you are done here go over and check out her blog too! She is nursing a baby and has asked a common question, that I once asked back in the day. I still find it different that I am now another voice answering, I take pride and pleasure in doing so. This is not another everything-was-great-for-me breastfeeding story, this story is from my truth. That being said, I hope I am not going to detour mothers to breastfeed. In honesty, I would never regret our time.
“Does the teeth hurt? What if they bite? I am still unsure.”
Why yes my friend I won’t lie, getting bit hurts. It hurts as hurt can be, but once comparing it to the pain and frustration of when I was a new mother with a newborn baby; the choice does not stand a chance. I say give me a toddler with teeth any day. Pick me to nurse the child. I would gladly hold a toddler or child at my breast, than to choose a time of my frustration.
Yes, I faithfully nursed my daughter as a newborn, but I truly did not appreciate it like I do now. Back then it was stressful, looking for proper latch, trying to figure out how to nurse discretely. How to burp and what her cries meant. The frustration of if she is getting enough, counting time and diaper out puts. Remembering to eat, what to eat, or even if I should eat at all. Fussing about how many layers to put on the infant, if they are too hot or too cold. Are they happy? Do they need the other breast?
In a time of stress and hormones does one really take in the joy? Even with support this time is taxing. No sleep, deep hunger, and fogginess on the brain. The feeling of awe that they allowed me take this being home alone. Then you have rigid, bumpy gums that shredded my nipples raw, I was cracked and bleeding, and don’t know why. Toe curling uncomfortableness, those where my first few weeks. Others withstand Mastitis, clogged ducts or even engorgement; some lucky mothers experience nothing at all.
As my infant grew towards the middle of her first year. It got a bit more joyous, I looked down at my baby, and thought this is what I grew. I had pride and feelings of accomplishment, something I never felt before. My baby looked up at me, deep in stare and concentration. This is when I started counting lashes, and feeling silky skin. Then I sank a bit to think my goal is almost to an end.
Six months maybe what you’ve hoped for. Some are good to let go, others, like me, still want a little more time; either way you have to be good with the decision. By any means, whatever your goal or choice is: congratulations for your patience, your hopes and your triumphs. I know that no maker how long you’ve nursed, it was the most hardest thing to do.
Yet, what do I say to a mother who is deciding whether to continue nursing? What do I say to a mother who’s been bitten and is thinking this is not for them? Too start nursing is a choice, the same with continuing on. You personally have to make the choice what is right for you and your baby. I would love for another mother to have the experience that my daughter and I have. This experience has meant more to me than any other.
Being bit and children with teeth are always a hot topic in breastfeeding. However, you hardly hear of how mothers and babies can learn to nurse with teeth. Or even what it’s like in the child’s eyes. You hardly hear that this is a natural stage in breastfeeding just like distractions and weaning. I feel the more this is talked about, it will help with nursing an older child. Here are few things that have helped us, I hope it helps you too.
While the baby commonly go through painful teething the only relief is to chew. Sometimes our breast is there, it’s not something that the baby planned. It’s not intentional, this is frustrating for baby just as much as for you. After all said and done, I realized that when learning something new, you sometimes get hurt, but you must get back up and try, try again. The only thing that got me through, was the mother’s who’s been there before. In their answers they provided, what the baby might be feeling, while also validating mine. They gave me the hope that this stage is just another we will get through.
I will pass down what was past to me. The key here is to go back to the beginning. Look at the proper latch, take in what it feels. Once the latch looks or feels different, don’t be afraid to unlatch and try it again. Remember a baby can’t bit if they have a proper latch. Soon you and baby will notice the change, while doing other things. Either of you will correct the latch, before it will cause any pain. You both will master this, just like everything that came before. You both will get more in tuned with this new nursing ritual.
Pretty soon you will notice that this is really not that bad. You can do this again 19 more times and find with each new tooth, it will get easier for the both of you. You will also know when teething hits again, just by the way the baby feeds. To me it’s just another way of knowing my child completely. From what I have experienced each stage of nursing there is time to adjust, teething is just another stage. I am not saying be a martyr, what I am saying is biting can be fixed.
We have gone through our times of discomfort while nursing, we’ve figured things out and adjusted, this is just the same. For me I am glad that I pulled through. I say this, because we are in the stage of, what I call the ultimate. My 3 year-old daughter latches ever so gently now, and she knows what hurts and does not. Of course she plays around, with her toddler acrobats, but I am glad that I did not give up. I am validated what I chose is right for us when my daughter sees the breast, she giggles and her bright blue eyes light up.
She has learned what hurts another, she has learned the loving touch. She’s learned this as a child when most adults my age have not. She knows and honors my breasts as something to cherish. She also knows personal boundaries. Yes, there are times of reminders, and of frustrations. We do a lot of give and take. Yet, we both know every nursing moment is another learning joy.
All in all, I am glad I am a nursing mother to an older child. Looking back we’ve both been through so much. We’ve pulled through this together, making this mother-daughter truly a relationship. We’ve learned so much together, and I am grateful for each moment. I look back to see this one thing I will not change. You see, if I did not go through nursing an infant, a baby and child with teeth I would not have little special moments like these: