Before I had a baby, I thought that once you got the hang of breastfeeding, it was all the same from there. Not so, my friends!
Turns out that feeding a newborn is vastly different from breastfeeding an older baby. I decided to compare the highs and lows of breastfeeding a baby at different ages. Let me show you what I mean.
Positives: Ugh, are there any? Keeping baby alive is one. Cuddling is sometimes another. Also, you can watch TV while feeding without distracting the baby.
Challenges: So, so many! Some have an easy time of it, but there are others who have a much harder time. You are solely responsible for keeping your baby fed and alive – no pressure!
So what are the challenges? Supply issues, latch issues, tongue tie, lip tie, cracked nipples, thrush, mastitis, clogged ducts, finding a good position, keeping the baby from falling asleep before they are full, staying awake so you don’t drop the baby – this shit is hard, y’all!
Achievements: Just being able to do it is a major achievement. (But new moms, please don’t feel bad if it doesn’t work for you. You are still a great mom, I promise.)
Other achievements: staying awake, learning to eat while breastfeeding and getting comfortable breastfeeding in public. (Cause you can leave the house for more than an hour! Win!)
5 Month Old
Positives: If you are still breastfeeding, you have gotten the hang of it by now. You and the baby are in the groove and things are going well. You can probably do it one handed, in public, while checking your email.
Challenges: Your baby is more easily distracted so they are constantly pulling away to look at everything and everyone in the room. Especially the person most uncomfortable with you breastfeeding. They seem oblivious to the fact that they are being squirted with breastmilk while they take a look around.
They are constantly hitting, kicking, touching your face, sticking their hand in your mouth/nose/eyes and, scratching your gums with their tiny razor nails. It is lunch with a side of baby torture.
Achievements: Getting through the night with no feeds is by far the biggest one. It was not a regular occurrence for me, but boy was it great when it happened.
Other major achievements: not leaking through your shirt and getting your baby to take a bottle so you can get a break.
10 Month Old:
Positives: There are lots of these! First, there are not as many feeds, because your baby has probably cut down to only a few feeds a day. This is both sad and AMAZING!
At this point there is also no need to wear specific nursing outfits because you can often feed them with food while you are out. Also, you have stopped caring if anyone sees a glimpse of your boob so you just whip up your shirt if baby wants milk. At this point, you may start dreaming of your old bras – you know, the ones that don’t click open and are interesting and colourful? You may also start dreaming of your old boobs, but no promises on those coming back.
Also, and this is the best one: You can leave the baby with
some sucker a babysitter and go somewhere, because your boob is not required every two hours. Living the dream!
Challenges: They are super distracted, want to stop to look at everything, have conversations and watch the dog scratch her ear. If they are like my little mover, they may try to crawl away before they are full, only to come back in two minutes for more milk. so, you can’t watch TV or check phone and you probably can’t even talk to someone or be in the room with other people. So breastfeeding can become a bit lonely and boring at this stage. Figures – just when you’ve gotten comfortable with breastfeeding in public!
By this point they probably have some teeth so biting is a major concern. Since they are experts in torture (see above), the baby probably does not understand your pain. In fact, the baby thinks it’s funny to chew on your nipple like a stick of gum. You, however, are less impressed. Pro tip: make a super loud noise after they bite, and they will do it much less often. (I know this from experience…sadly.)
They are also starting to wean themselves, which is news to your boobs. They will be upset for a few days, until they figure out what happened to that afternoon feed the baby no longer wants. Sorry boobs.
Achievements: Not getting kicked in the face or poked in the eye is a big achievement. I come out of feedings now kind of bruised and battered. Dropping a feed during the day and still getting night sleep is pretty huge too. Well, any sleep is pretty huge.
Bonus points for not panicking when baby drastically adjusts their feeding schedule randomly and not getting bored during a feed.
Did I miss any? Let me know in the comments!