The Four Year Milestone

So much taking place in the world which gives me a variety of topics to write about. Today I am choosing to practice exactly what I preached in my April 1, 2020 Emotional Self-Care post. I am making the deliberate choice to control my self-care narrative.

Today is January 16, 2021 and I am nine days away from having a four year old. The time has flown by quickly and it feels like we were just discharged from the hospital. Her birthday, January 25, also represents the fourth year of our breastfeeding journey 🎉🏆!!! We had challenges immediately following birth and I would have had unpleasant words for anyone on January 25, 2017 had they told me that I’d still be nursing my daughter four years later. To utter such words would have been the ultimate form of disrespect resulting in the end of a relationship! At that point in time we lived life in three-hour increments and it was asking too much of me to even focus on the next day.

Time flies fast! The three-hour increments turned into a day. The days turned into weeks. The weeks turned into months and the months turned into years. I am amazed that the four year milestone is quickly approaching and we are still at it! I vividly recall setting our breastfeeding goal for six months. We were supposed to be done in June 2017, however, the art of breastfeeding somehow became easier and we never stopped. Fast forward to 2021 and my baby (she will always be my baby) is content with nursing a few times a day. She knows what she wants and will not hesitate to grab her milkies when she needs a quick snack. All challenges have disappeared and I have zero complaints about this leg of the journey.

I am beyond grateful for our journey; yet I recall our humble beginnings! You couldn’t pay me to be grateful in January 2017 and six months could not come quick enough. Grateful is the feeling because the choice to breastfeed my daughter has created new opportunities for me. I had no idea that I would become a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) and would assist other babies, parents and families. A blog certainly was not on my radar in January 2017 nor was a Monthly Breastfeeding / Chestfeeding Subscription Box. Who knew!? I simply hoped to shower every few days, catch a quick nap and survive the next three hours. Anything beyond that was not important. I also cannot forget about the friendships and professional relationships that I have built in the last four years. Breastfeeding is still a way of life for me because it has positively impacted every aspect of my life. The unbreakable bond with my baby and the unwavering desire to breastfeed her was the catalyst that sparked it all!

There are still those that respond with negativity when proudly state I breastfeed my daughter. Said people existed at every part of the journey. They really frown when I state that my baby still nurses as she approaches four years old. I am not offended and will respond by dropping facts about breast / chestfeeding. My teachable response often results in silence by the other party. Their silence is not my concern as I have done my part by educating. I admit that I wasn’t always in this space. My outward confidence was not the best early on given our struggles, however, I remained steadfast and never waivered on my goal to nourish my baby.

In closing, it is imperative to remember that the duration of your breast / chestfeeding journey is between you and your little one. It is your personal choice to determine what works best for you and your dynamic. My personal experience highlights the importance of choosing a supportive tribe. I will forever and always preach about the need to surround yourself with a positive and affirming breast / chestfeeding community. Such communities exist. Do yourself a favor and seek them out! You won’t regret it.

Until Next Time,

💙 Salimah

Peace, Love & Breastmilk™

The Maziwa Tribe blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Content from Maziwa Tribe’s blog is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. The information provided on this blog is intended for general consumer understanding. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Please contact your family doctor or other medical professional to obtain medical advice.

My little one nurses frequently… Please send help.

The title says it all in this case. Parents with infants and toddlers may find themselves nursing frequently with no end in sight. I am one of those parents (raises hand)! As I am writing, my three year old has asked for milk for the hundredth time. She switched it up by using the Baby Shark melody (“I want my milk do, do, do, do, do, do…”) this time around. Someone, please send me a lifeline asap.

In these instances I am forced to revert back to what I know about breast / chestfeeding. It is natural for our little ones to choose human milk. The breast / chest represents safety and a sense of security to our little ones. The request to nurse isn’t always about hunger. The following diagram lists a variety of reasons why our little ones nurse.

Please keep these factors in mind as you nurse your little ones. Sometimes we all need a friendly reminder.

“Mothers breastfeed their toddlers for many of the same reasons they breastfeed their babies: they recognize their children’s needs, they enjoy the closeness, they want to offer comfort, and they understand the health benefits.”

La Leche League International

The breast / chest can be a source of connection for the parent and infant in the midst of uncertainty and a changing routine. Additionally, human milk is magic and there are several studies which prove that it is key in helping babies and toddlers to remain healthy and free of common illnesses.

“One of the most amazing qualities of human milk is how it adapts. As mother and baby are exposed to bacteria and viruses, milk includes antibodies specific to those antigens. It also contains more general disease-fighting substances that provide help in preventing many common illnesses. A mother will pass antibodies to her baby through her milk, which can actually destroy bacteria in the infant’s gastrointestinal tract before they have a chance to make baby sick.”

BreastfeedUSA

Access to human milk is invaluable during natural disasters and other emergencies as highlighted by the United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC). COVID-19 has certainly presented unique challenges in that shelves containing infant feeding products are often empty. This is a valid reason why one would choose to continue producing human milk for their little one. There are several ways to make this happen – directly nursing from the breast / chest, securing human milk from a reputable human milk bank and bottle feeding expressed milk.

Life has changed as our daily routines are impacted given COVID-19. States have implemented a shelter in place mandate which has resulted in many remaining home. Jobs are remote in some cases. Schools and day care centers are closed causing parents to keep children engaged at home. Work schedules have shifted and some may find themselves working shorter or longer than normal hours. Grief may be present as many cope with loss. Our daily lives are different and our little ones are also experiencing the impact of a sudden change in routine. Indeed parents and little ones deserve a bit of self-compassion during these challenging times.

My toddler has not verbalized it, but I sincerely believe that nursing is her preferred form of self-care just as music serves the same purpose for me. This does not diminish the fact that parents may find this time to be challenging. This is a normal response. Several factors can be true at the same time. Breast / chestfeeding is normal. It is also healthy, yet exhausting at times. Admitting this does not make one a bad parent. It shows that we are human! But yes, please send us all a lifeline and help asap.

Until Next Time,

💙 Salimah

Peace, Love & Breastmilk™

The Maziwa Tribe blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Content from Maziwa Tribe’s blog is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. The information provided on this blog is intended for general consumer understanding. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Please contact your family doctor or other medical professional to obtain medical advice.

Three Years and Counting…

“Breastfeeding is a gift that lasts a lifetime.”

— Unknown

I am a mother, social worker, therapist and lactation counselor. I never envisioned that lactation would become such a major aspect of my life following the birth of my daughter in 2017. The books I read throughout pregnancy made breastfeeding look relatively easy. By no means did it look comfortable; but it certainly looked relatively easy. Latch the baby on after birth and life goes on. Simple… Simple was not my story – I will spare the details for now. Let’s just say that I focused on one hour at a time in addition to living my life in three-hour increments. We were the little engine that struggled for a variety of reasons.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendation1 of exclusive breastfeeding for six months was a stretch. The continuation of breastfeeding for one year or longer was indeed asking too much of me at that time. I would have laughed if I knew then that I would still be breastfeeding three years later! Yes, three years and counting! There is no foreseeable end in sight and my little one is living up to the meaning of her name – one who succeeds.

I bring the above experience with me in the lactation work that I do with parents. “Have you ever done this?” is the question that I am almost always asked by those experiencing challenges early on. Being able to say “absolutely” makes me proud. I get it – been there and still doing it!! My testimony is proof that the journey may not mimic the textbook. And guess what? It is ok! 

1 https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/AAP-Reaffirms-Breastfeeding-Guidelines.aspx

Until Next Time,

💙 Salimah

Peace, Love & Breastmilk™

The Maziwa Tribe blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Content from Maziwa Tribe’s blog is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. The information provided on this blog is intended for general consumer understanding. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Please contact your family doctor or other medical professional to obtain medical advice.