Musings by a mama in Maine

I posted this originally on my blog, Adventures in Frugal Living. If you like this and the other posts on there, please become a fan on our Facebook page to be notified of new posts. Thanks for reading!

Before I became a mother, I never thought about breastfeeding versus formula, when to start solids, or any other baby feeding issues. When I was about 5 months pregnant with our older son, my mom called me one day and asked (in a tone that sounded much more like a command) “Are you planning to nurse my grandson?” Honestly, I hadn’t really thought about it, and I stammered and said “Well, I guess so.” Apparently my mind was made up then and there! I never stockpiled “just in case” cans of formula, and the only bottles we had were the ones that came with my breast pump, since I had to return to work. Once I made up my mind to breastfeed, it never occurred to me that it wouldn’t work out.

Once our older son was born, breastfeeding became much more important to me. Since he was born by unplanned c-section and I was left with many questions about my physical capabilities, a successful breastfeeding relationship was of extreme importance to me. What I didn’t realize ahead of time, though, is that what is normal in breastfeeding can widely vary, from baby to baby and from mother to mother.

Our oldest was a big comfort nurser. In the first 8 weeks of his life, he literally spent more time on the breast than off. When he was a baby and he was hurt or scared, nursing was what he always wanted to calm him down. He wasn’t actively nursing much of the time, but he was seeking the physical connection. He’d play with my hair, stare into my eyes, and hold my hand. Even until he weaned at three (at which point he was only nursing once every couple of days) he was a very sweet and loving nursling. Sometimes it bothered me how much he wanted to fiddle around while nursing, so I tried to wear a chunky, beaded necklace so he’d have something to play with and I wouldn’t get that “touched out” feeling.

Our youngest, who is now 8 months old, is very matter-of-fact when it comes to nursing. When he was born, I was amazed that there were babies in the world who didn’t want to nurse constantly. He would nurse about once every hour and a half to two hours while he was awake, and he was quick and efficient right from the start. Usually no longer than 15 minutes from start to finish, he’d eat just as much as he needed and then pull away. There have been periods of his life when he does seek comfort by nursing, especially when he is teething or has some other major development going on. But for the most part he eats when he is hungry, enough to satisfy his ever-growing appetite, and then doesn’t ask again until at least two hours later.

It’s so interesting to compare my little nurslings, and to realize how a basic function like feeding can be so different with each child. Of course I also think about what’s different because they are different people, and what’s different because of the things we consciously changed the second time around. There’s no way that we can know that, of course. All I can do is be thankful that I’ve gotten to have such a rich and beautiful relationship with each of my children, in the way that is most beneficial to each of their individual needs.

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Nov. 17, 2010 at 5:11 PM

Thank you for sharing your story with us :)


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Nov. 17, 2010 at 6:13 PM

That's lovely, Nathalie! Even as newborns, our babies are individuals, and I think that we often see them more as blobs than real people, who have every right to be different from others!

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