Happy World Breastfeeding Week!
Chinami has been breastfeeding for almost 13 months now. She knows the ASL "milk" sign and is never shy to let me know she wants some! She loves breastmilk and I think sometimes uses the "milk" sign to communicate how much she loves it sometimes, rather than simply communicating a need. Sometimes, in the morning, while she is having her first nurse after waking up, she will look at Yasushi and sign "milk" happily.
Yes, at 1 year old she "still" nurses, she "still" has "dream feeds" 2-3 times between 8pm and 8am, and she is a big, chubby, healthy, happy, smart little girl!
I am very lucky that I have had no problems breastfeeding. A little bit of soreness the first couple weeks from a shallow latch, ice packs and nipple cream helped, and then one bout of mastitis at around 9 months, and that was it. I had an abundant supply as well and was able to pump a good freezer stash.
I had no special techniques or help, just read a lot of research and had my doula and midwife show me how, but mostly, it was Chinami who led the way. We let her latch on soon after birth, and for the next few days, we stayed in bed together, me recovering, her nursing whenever she wanted. After three days, my milk came in.
I always knew she was getting enough because I could hear her gulping the milk down, sometimes there was even too much and she would start coughing, which was adorable.
In the beginning, I nursed with her curled up in my lap and leaned over to her. Now I mostly nurse her laying in bed before she sleeps or after she wakes up. She also can walk to where I am sitting, and if I lift my shirt, she will latch on. She will also grab my breast and guide it into her mouth while asleep, which makes night feedings very easy for me!
If for some reason, I wasn't able to breastfeed (which medically is a rare occurrence) I would have used donor milk. I believe more widespread milk sharing would help so many families, particularly low-income families. If I hadn't been able to breastfeed, and didn't know about donor milk, I would have had a lot of trouble covering the cost of formula, and in that case I would have been glad to convert to cow's milk at 12 months. But more than the cost, having to heat and prepare formula as many as 8-10x a day for the first few months, and all that washing by hand, would have been absolutely exhausting!
Along with all the other decisions I made for Chinami, I am glad I chose to breastfeed. It's so simple, breast really is best. There is no scientific research that would suggest otherwise.
I hope that I have at least one more year to share this special bond with Chinami.