Doug & I have a trip planned for just the 2 of us (first time in about 8 years), and so I've been slowly winding down our nursing relationship.
It's so bittersweet when these moments of dependence and togetherness come to a close. It's so precious to see their little baby-neediness, at a time when they are also asserting their independence through walking, eating more independently, and such.
God has designed this special way for mothers and babies to be connected with each other and need one another. Breastfeeding is not always possible, but it is such a wonderful design from our loving Father, to bond mothers to babies and babies to mothers. I'm so thankful for this last year of spending time knowing, learning the ways of, and loving my little Moses Henry.
If you are a pregnant mom thinking about breastfeeding, I want to encourage you that while those early nursing sessions can seem long, and while there often are painful moments to persevere through, the first year is so short. It's such a small thing we can give to our babies, and yet God has designed us as moms with this gift to give. God's unique design is still far better than anything men have created to try to replace it. Consider nursing, and consider committing to nurse at least to the one-year mark.
WHO can now say with full confidence that breastfeeding reduces child mortality and has health benefits that extend into adulthood. On a population basis, exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life is the recommended way of feeding infants, followed by continued breastfeeding with appropriate complementary foods for up to two years or beyond.Breastmilk is the natural first food for babies, it provides all the energy and nutrients that the infant needs for the first months of life, and it continues to provide up to half or more of a child’s nutritional needs during the second half of the first year, and up to one-third during the second year of life.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends:
How long should I breastfeed my baby?
The AAP recommends that babies be exclusively breastfed for about the first 6 months of life. This means your baby needs no additional foods (except Vitamin D) or fluids unless medically indicated. Babies should continue to breastfeed for a year and for as long as is mutually desired by the mother and baby.
I truly am thankful I've been able to nurse each of our 5 children to at least a year old... with my oldest son, he nursed just past 12 months, our second son nursed to 13 & 1/2 months, our daughter was weaned at 14 months, and Silas nursed until he was 18 months old.
Moses just celebrated his 1st birthday, is now walking in his little stumbly, disjointed way, and soon will be completely weaned... it's a wonderful time of growth and a sobering point of independence in his young life.
I want to publicly express my joy, and a bit of bittersweet sadness, that this time is now coming to a close.
Sometimes you hear the stories of early pain, infections, or difficulties with breastfeeding, but we don't often hear the stories of just how precious this relationship is... dependence, connectedness, and shared moments of silence and met needs. It is so sweet to have him contentedly curl up next to me and be satisfied at a time when he is also very physically mobile. To know that he still counts this time with me as a worthwhile time to slow down, snuggle, and have his needs met is meaningful to me. Each time I've weaned a baby, I've felt this bittersweet sense of awareness that they are indeed growing up, and I am very grateful to have this milestone to celebrate.
Be encouraged, pregnant or nursing mom, that it is worth it to press on if you can, to meet your baby's needs in this way. It is worth it!