On breastfeeding

I have been breastfeeding for 3 years now and tandem nursing (feeding more than one child) for 9 months. For something that people have been doing since our genesis it has been way more complex than I expected. Growing up around Ethiopian families I must have seen babies nursing at some point, but I really don’t have any memories of seeing breastfeeding. It’s always been normalized in my home – my mom would tell me the story of the first time I bit her and she must have fed my siblings in front of me but again I have no recollection of it. So when my first was born I assumes breastfeeding would take some work at the start but I was not prepared for what it actually entailed.

First of all, no matter how many books you read which explain how often a newborn eats, you can’t really understand it until you live it. There were days I couldn’t get out of the house because I spent the day feeding the baby and myself. That’s another thing no one told me: breastfeeding parents need to eat A LOT! My partner was shocked when I started out-eating him.

Well I got through the first year with my eldest and thought I was a breastfeeding expert. Especially since my academic work also includes work on breastfeeding best practices. But then I ended up breastfeeding through my second pregnancy and began tandem nursing. I never thought I would be nursing a preschooler but it came about so organically that it feels very natural to our family. And things have been challenging. Between sibling rivalry, repeat thrush infections, tongue and lip ties and feeling touched-out, the year has been full of breastfeeding challenges and triumphs. I am hoping to allow my children to self-wean, but if there is one thing I have learned from the past few years it’s that anything could change at any minute.