Diary of an Extended Breastfeeding Mom: Month 12

Medela's own Kate takes us first-hand through the challenges & successes of her extended breastfeeding journey. See her post on making it to Month 12.

Call it "extended breastfeeding", "full-term breastfeeding", or "natural-term breastfeeding", nursing beyond one year is the norm throughout the world and recommended by experts to maximize the amazing benefits of breast milk. In this series, third-time working and breastfeeding mom, Kate, shares her experiences with nursing after 12 months in her own words. Kate is part of Medela's marketing team, working as the senior manager of communications and public relations. She is happy to share her journey with you all - including her challenges and flaws - as a real glimpse into the perfectly imperfect experience of breastfeeding. 

Month 12 - We Made It!

Today is worth celebrating. Today, I pat myself on the back and enjoy that extra little something - treat myself for a job well done so far.

Today, I've been nursing and pumping for 12 months - 365 days that I've provided my baby with breast milk. At (roughly) 8 - 10 times each and every day, about 20 minutes each time, that's a lot of time. (Like, a full-time job worth of time.) And we're still going strong. 

I’m not very sentimental, but this is a milestone that matters to me.

Mom sitting on floor nursing baby

This isn’t my first rodeo. She’s my third breastfed baby. This is my third time transitioning back to work and living the pumped-milk, reverse-cycle life of a breastfeeding and working mom with another baby who doesn’t sleep well. She is, however, my first baby to have access to donor milk, and my last baby that I will ever breastfeed. This, technically, is an emotional time... but I feel stronger than I did with my first. I feel healthier than I did with my second. I feel way more confident about what I’m doing and why I am still doing it – even where I do it has been easier this time around. But I am looking forward to it all being over… when it’s the right time for her.

As a second-generation breastfeeding mom, 12 months doesn't seem "extended" to me. Experts say to keep going and two years and beyond is normal around the world, so here I am - staring at this first year of breastfeeding and saying let's keep doing this

Though I'm ready to be done, it's clear my baby has no such plans today. I know mother-led weaning is a thing, and though at times I am tempted, for now I plan to keep at it...for now. For her. 

Starting today, I can feel better about taking our breastfeeding journey one day at a time. I know she’s getting more meals during the day and less bottles, so that means I can start to wean from the pump at work (insert hallelujah hands). I know she’s nursing through the night, but she’s also adjusting to sleeping in her own bed, teeth, the growth that happens around Year One, and having a mom who works 40+ hours each week. I know I’m her Comfort Center, and I’m okay with that … today… for now. One day at a time.

Smiling baby laying on stomach

Every day, she’s growing a little more and needing me a little less. Why rush her to move on? She will let me know when she’s ready. And I’m here for this.