Baby Azila has just turned 9 months old!! About half of American moms who were breastfeeding their babies as newborns stop doing so when their babies are 6 months (CDC report). It seems to be the time when a lot of breastfeeding moms switch to formula, for one reason or another. So, I wanted to talk about my experience breastfeeding from 6 months up to now, since there is so much benefit for both mom and baby to continuing to breastfeed after 6 months.
I’ll break down my experience into what’s been going great and what’s been challenging.
Going Great: Breastfeeding is (Usually) Pain-Free!
Every breastfeeding mom knows the pain of the first few weeks — or months — of breastfeeding. For me, it was painful for a good 2 months. You could say my baby had a really strong latch. She just wanted to make sure she was really firmly attached to that nipple. Well, I’m happy to say, that the pain does go away, almost completely. There may be an occasional firm latch or bite when your baby has teeth. Azila only bites when she’s not particularly hungry and she’s teething.
Going Great: Feeding Schedule/Routine
When you breastfeed, you don’t have to worry about getting a bottle ready. When baby is ready to eat, the breastfeeding mom is ready to feed, and doesn’t have to listen to her baby cry while he waits.
Since I breastfeed on demand and don’t stick to any feeding schedule except my baby’s cues, I pretty much need to drop whatever I’m doing and feed. By now, I’ve learned to have my “breastfeeding station” ready for me whenever it’s time. This means I have a comfortable setup with pillows always in place, plus my Kindle ready to pick up once she’s latched on, or a podcast ready to be played, depending on how I want to use my breastfeeding time that day. It’s also great to keep a water bottle at your station that’s easy to drink from in any position (particularly if you lay down while breastfeeding!).
At 6 to 8 months, my baby started getting on a more consistent routine with her eating. She started having three “long feeds” a day and one or two “snacks” in between those. She still woke up once or twice in the night to feed, but went right back to sleep after (once of the many benefits of co-sleeping!).
Yes, breastfeeding eats up a lot of your time. But no, it doesn’t have to be unproductive, boring or irritating! You simply need to find your groove. Find things you can do while breastfeeding. Sometimes I just close my eyes and relax to recollect my energy. Other times I actually get a lot done while feeding my baby at the same time!
Challenge #1: Baby’s Distracted!
“OMG, I can’t get my baby to focus on eating!” Yep, it’s pretty common for babies to get distracted while breastfeeding once they get to be a few months old and become so terribly fascinated by their surroundings. In the beginning I could snack on some munchies, read a book or have a conversation with someone while my baby nursed away. Starting at around 5 or 6 months, she became easily distracted by any little move or sound I made. She’d see me move a peanut toward my mouth and instantly unlatch and stare in complete fascination. She’d want to look at the screen on my kindle and she’d unlatch if I so much as uttered a word to someone.
My solution? After a while I finally found that if I be completely still for the first couple minutes of her eating, she’ll typically stay focused for the rest of the feed. Even if not, she’ll go back to eating after I go still again. It’s just one of those things.
Challenge #2: Fingers in Her Mouth?!
Why would you put your fingers in your mouth if you want the nipple in your mouth? We’ll never know. All we know is that baby loves her fingers. She just can’t get enough of them, to the point that she even feels the urge to put them in her mouth during her precious time with the boob. With those razor sharp finger nails, it can give mom quite a painful little surprise. I’m often swatting my child’s hands out of the nipple zone while feeding her. It gets annoying sometimes, but again, it’s just one of those things.
Challenge #3: Rolling Around and Won’t Be Still!
Apparently she’s got places to be and is trying to take her meal on the go! Most of the time she’s calm while eating. But sometimes she just won’t wind down and is constantly rolling and tumbling around while trying to eat at the same time!
What About You?
That’s pretty much it for me. I’d like to hear about your challenges breastfeeding a 6 to 8 month old in the comments section below. Feel free to ask questions, and if you have any solutions you can share with us, please help a mama out!