I’ve shared my breastfeeding journeys here in the past – first to talk about my first experience with breastfeeding (Essley), and then again to talk about breastfeeding baby number 2 (Emmett). It’s been close to a year and a half since that second breastfeeding post, and I starting thinking it was about time I touched on the subject again – especially because it’s whole different world when you’re still nursing a child who is approaching age 2. Yep. Emmett turned 21 months old on Monday, and we are still breastfeeding. This wasn’t the plan. But it’s happening. And it’s the right thing for us. Maybe some of you are in the same position. Or maybe some of you think it’s strange, or excessive. Regardless, I think it’s an important topic to openly discuss, and I’m excited to share our story with you. (Bonus: there’s a really awesome giveaway from my pals at EverlyWell later in the post!)
My breastfeeding journey with Emmett started off a little differently than with Essley, because while I was more confident having done it before, his latch wasn’t as good as her’s. It turned out he had a mild tongue tie. We visited a specialist and opted to have a very simple procedure done, and had no issues at all after that. (Side note: As I mentioned in a previous breastfeeding post, I know some parents of children with tongue or lip ties choose not to “fix” them and everything turns out just fine – this is a personal decision and while it was the right one for us, that doesn’t mean it is for everyone else.)
I’d nursed Essley for 18 months, and planned (hoped) to nurse Emmett for a full year and then see how things went from there – but then something happened that changed everything. When he was 7 months old, Emmett was diagnosed with Infantile Spasms, the most catastrophic form of childhood epilepsy. He was put on a harsh medication (that we had to inject into his legs at home, twice a day) with severe side effects that included excessive hunger. He began to nurse around the clock, even though he was already on solids by this point. For the first time ever, I had difficulties with my supply not being able to fulfill his demand. I even ended up buying formula to supplement, which I never needed to use because my supply eventually caught up (but would have been happy to had it been necessary; just like breastmilk, formula is a great way to feed babies!). The medication (thank the universe) worked and his seizures stopped, but he had to remain on it for 3 months and it made him miserable. Nursing was his greatest comfort, and even as we approached a year, I knew we wouldn’t be stopping any time soon.
As our breastfeeding journey moved along into Emmett’s second year, I was quickly reminded of the pros and cons of toddler nursing that I’ve experienced with Essley.
Continuing to nurse a toddler is not without its challenges. Here in America, society isn’t always supportive of nursing past infancy – and while I don’t care about this kind of judgment, it can make public breastfeeding more difficult. There is also the fact that kids Emmett’s age are approaching the tantrum phase, and when little man wants the boob and mommy won’t give in, it’s not always pretty. (Right now we are trying to night wean, and let’s just say it doesn’t make for a good night’s sleep.) Also, toddlers like to twist nipples. And pinch. And squeeze. I’ll leave you with that painful visual.
On the other side, there are some truly great things about breastfeeding a toddler. If your little ones get sick, they’re likely going to want to nurse for comfort, which means even when they’re refusing food or liquids, they’re getting proper nutrition and staying hydrated. (This will be the hardest thing for me to give up as it makes illnesses so much easier!) Breastfeeding a toddler also helps provide him or her transition into a more independent period of life by giving them a healthy “safety net” if they need comfort. It’s a wonderful way to bond. And of course, breastmilk continues to provide immunities and vitamins, and protects again allergies and illness. The World Health Organization and UNICEF actually recommend that babies be breastfed for at least two years.
Our breastfeeding journey will likely end before or right around Emmett’s second birthday, but for now, it is a part of our lives. And even though he’s a toddler and getting most of his nutrition from food, it’s important to me to make sure he’s also receiving healthy benefits through my breastmilk. This is why I continue to eat healthy foods, take a prenatal vitamin daily, and also why I recently decided to get my breastmilk tested for DHA. DHA is incredibly important to babies’ and children’s brain health and cognitive development. With Emmett’s history with epilepsy, a brain disorder, this is especially important to me.
I ordered my at-home breast milk DHA test from EveryWell (the exclusive provider of this type of test directly to consumers here in the U.S.), and the process could’t have been easier. The package arrived in a few days with clear instructions and everything I needed to take the test. I just dropped a couple of drops of breastmilk on the supplied card, placed in a bag and back in the box, sent it back with their enclosed postage sticker, and in about I week, I got my results emailed to me. It turns out that my DHA levels were in range (optimal is .32+, and I was .44), which was great news! It gave me peace of mind to know that both Emmett and I are getting the proper levels of a fatty acid and nutrient that is so important to brain health, especially in a time when many people have lower levels than they should. And the experience with EverlyWell was so just great that now I want to take a bunch more of their tests!
And now I’m so excited to give one of you the chance to win an EverlyWell At Home Breast Milk DHA Test of your own! If you’re pregnant or nursing, or know someone who is, this is a great opportunity!
Use the form below, and/or enter directly on Instagram, right here. There are several options for extra entries as well.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
This giveaway will run through October 18, 2017, and is open to Bubby and Bean readers with U.S. shipping addresses. All entries from the Rafflecopter form above and Instagram will be combined. A winner will be randomly chosen via Random.org and announced here shortly after the end of the giveaway.
Thank you for reading and following along on our breastfeeding journey. If you’re breastfeeding or toddler (or have in the past), I’d love to hear more about your experience as well!
This post is in partnership with EveryWell. Thank you for supporting the brands that help make Bubby and Bean possible.