Mothering without Breastfeeding

It’s World Breastfeeding Week and we are celebrating at Fusion Parenting.  Come back for a new post on breastfeeding every day!

 

This post is really a bit of a ramble brought on by World Breastfeeding Week. It’s come at a time when my breastfeeding relationship with my daughter is drawing to a close, and caused me to stop and reflect on what breastfeeding means to me.

I’m about to lose the biggest tool in my parenting toolbox. Actually, it’s more like the magic wand in my box of magic tricks. For the past 2 years, I have used breastfeeding to solve just about every problem my daughter has had.

I used it to help put my daughter (and myself!) to sleep, and back to sleep for all night wakings.

I’ve used it to calm her down when she was having a tantrum.

I’ve used it as a nutritional filler on days when her solid intake was poor.

I’ve used it to make her forget the pain when she was hurt.

I’ve used it to keep her quiet during events/shows.

I’ve even used it to keep her in one place when it was unsafe for her to run around.

Before I became a mother, I never thought too much about how I would feed my baby. I always assumed that I would breastfeed. After all, that’s how my mum fed me, and her mum fed her, and her mum fed her all the way back until Eve. It was also important to me that I feed any child of mine for at least 2 years, as per Qur’anic guidelines.

What I didn’t know though is that breastfeeding, like everything else that is important in life, needs work. It took a bit (or a lot) of effort in the early daze to establish our breastfeeding relationship, and then I was able to sit back and experience the joy of watching my child thrive on my milk.

This was largely due to a great family support network, the Australian Breastfeeding Association, and my own determination to succeed. I vividly remember the many calls, emails and home visits I made to various Breastfeeding Counsellors and Lactation Consultants.

I also didn’t realise how much more there is to breastfeeding than just milk. And how it would become an essential part of how I view myself as a mother.

Weaning is naturally the next step on the road to independance for all breastfed babies, the only thing that varies is the time of completing the transition. For us, it started with her first taste of pureed apple at the age of 6 months.

And now that she’s almost 2, we’ve begun actively weaning. Setting limits is something I’ve been trying to do with her in other areas for a while now, and it seems strange to exclude breastfeeding from that. We’re both mostly happy with the flexible arrangement we have, and I’m trying to make the transition as easy as possible for both of us, regardless of how long the process may take.

Which means I need to find other ways to meet her emotional, nutritional, and physical needs. If she’s hurt, it’s going to take me a lot longer to comfort her and help her forget. I’ll have to pay far more attention to her diet and try to ensure it’s as balanced and healthy as possible. I’ll also have to be more careful about making water available for her to drink. And hardest of all, I’m going to have to find another way of getting her to sleep!

But that’s life, I guess. And as we both move slowly into the next chapter of our relationship,  I know that I’ve given her the best possible start to life.

No regrets.

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