Blissfully Informed Hippie Chick

Encouraging people to think critically about everything.

Breastfeeding Excitement: A toddler relatching after a year-long hiatus

on January 28, 2015

I’m so excited right now!!!! A little back story…

I was unable to nurse my first child. For too many reasons to delve into at the moment, she never latched on. I ended up pumping for about 3 weeks, until lack of support and knowledge led me to give up completely and just use formula. I know that I did the best I could with what I knew at the time, but I’ve always looked back on that experience with the sting of regret.

My 2nd child was born just 2 years later, and I was bound and determined to nurse her. I was armed with more knowledge and a stronger sense of determination. She successfully latched within an hour of birth! It was the most amazing feeling in the world. Still, I didn’t know a whole lot about breastfeeding, and nothing about natural weaning, the benefits of extended nursing, breastfeeding a toddler, etc. I believed the common misconception here in America that babies need to be weaned by 1 year old. (My first baby had stopped using a bottle by 18 mo.) Also, lacking support from everyone besides my husband, I felt ashamed to nurse in public, making it very difficult to go anywhere with her, so I wound up supplementing with formula for such times. I didn’t possess knowledge of successful pumping, as well, though not for lack of trying. All these things led to me weaning her from the breast at just 10.5 mo. Still, I couldn’t bring myself to deny her the bottle and pacifier, which she needed so much for comfort. So she used both until she was pretty much ready to give them up (with a little gentle nudging on my part), at about 2 1/2 years old.

By the time my 3rd baby was born, 7 years after the birth of my 2nd, I was a while lot more knowledgeable and had done a ton of research and soul-searching. I had my heart set on child-led weaning. Everything started beautifully. A home birth, attended only by my husband and my faithful dog. I nursed her for the first time mere minutes after delivering her on my bed, cord still attached, placenta undelivered. It was so raw, so natural. I was in love! My pregnancy had been rough, too say the least. I had hypermesis gravidarum. Severe morning sickness that lasted the entirety of my pregnancy. There were many days that I vomited 10+ times. I can’t count how many times I cried while trying to force myself to eat. My husband would make or buy me anything that I thought I might be able to eat. For the last couple months, I began to dread going to bed each night, because I inevitably woke around 3am to vomit. Every. Single. Day. No matter what I tried. I was lucky enough that I began my pregnancy a little overweight, because I lost about 20% of my body weight during that pregnancy. I counted calories, to little avail. Some days, I was forcing myself to make it to 1100 calories. I did little but lay in bed and read. It was heartbreaking. Needless to say, when I finally delivered my baby girl, my body was sorely malnourished. I was severely anemic. The last thing my body needed was another pregnancy…

About 3 1/2 months postpartum, my milk supply began to drop. I had no idea what was going on. My baby had horrible colic and silent reflux and was extremely high needs; needing to be held almost constantly, sleeping very poorly. I had already dealt with mastitis and thrush. I thought that maybe my baby just had trouble nursing like my oldest had. And then came a day when I told my husband,  “I’m either about to start my period or I’m pregnant.” I just knew. And I was right! I was due just before my baby’s first birthday. I tried desperately to increase my caloric intake. I made a list of lactogenic foods and put it on my fridge. I read stories of women who nursed through their pregnancies. The decision to start supplementing with formula was so difficult. I knew it was the right decision; my body couldn’t keep up. Every bottle I gave her just broke my heart, though. And every time I had to give her yet another bottle in place of the breast, I felt like even more of a failure. I admit, I cried about being pregnant again. I wondered why it had happened, how I would manage. I actually dreaded giving birth because of the anxiety I had about having 2 babies to care for. I hate to admit that, but it’s true!

I took lots of pictures of my little Natalie nursing, and I’m so very glad I did. I clearly remember the last time she latched on. She had gone a few days with nothing but bottles, and for some reason, she latched on when I offered her my breast that time. She suckled for a few blissful minutes, and I savored every moment. She was just 5 months old. Here’s the last picture I have of her nursing:

I had maintained hope that my baby (Natalie) would relatch once the new little one (Bobby) was born. To my dismay, she was uninterested. But over the last few months, she has shown more and more interest. Every time Natalie wanted to watch Bobby nurse, every time she wanted to see my nipples, I always let her. I would ask her if she wanted to try to drink mama milk, every time. But I never pushed it. I’ve expressed milk into her bottle several times, and when she was sick recently, she came to me with her bottle and indicated that she wanted my milk. I gave some to her each time she asked. Then about a week ago, she put her open mouth on my nipple, just for a second. I reminded her once again that she could try, just like she’s drinking a bottle. She seemed like she wanted to,  but didn’t know what to do, or maybe was even afraid. I admit, I’ve been afraid of her just biting down on me!  But deep down, I’ve maintained the belief that she remembers; that she knows what to do. Then tonight, while Bobby was nursing, she got up in my lap and pulled up my shirt. After some hesitation, she latched on and sucked twice!!!! She did that once more after stopping to play with my nipple for awhile. I’m not sure if she got any milk, but I was so freaking happy! After all this time, she still remembers what to do, and there’s still hope that she will actually nurse once again! That was such an amazing feeling, after a full year, after so much effort on my part to emotionally support her back to this point…I just can’t describe how amazing it is! I’m so grateful to have my husband’s support through all of this, also. Having him understand why this is such a big deal to me, and cheering me on, means more to me than he could know!

It’s my hope that this is only the beginning of a long journey of nourishing my little Irish twins.  =)


5 responses to “Breastfeeding Excitement: A toddler relatching after a year-long hiatus

  1. I’m so happy for you that Natalie is latching! That’s awesome and wonderful!


  2. […] have shared some of this before, in my post entitled Breastfeeding Excitement: a toddler relatching after a year-long hiatus. I wanted to go over it again in more detail, since it’s World Breastfeeding […]


  3. Stefany says:


    I hope you don’t mind me asking how the rest of the journey towards re latching your toddler went?

    I have a one year old that I wean when he was 9 months and I was 3 months pregnant. I would so love to relatch him and have started using a supplementer through a bottle teat over the nipple

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wouldn’t mind at all!

      I made it very clear to my toddler that she could nurse any time she wanted. I also gave her the option of drinking expressed milk. She would often give me her bottle and point to my breasts, her way of asking for it in the bottle. I tried to make it no big deal either way, and for several months after initially relatching, she would only very occasionally want to nurse. She is 27 mo now, my son is 15 mo. He nurses on demand very often. In the last 6 months, my daughter has nursed on average twice a week. Some weeks not at all, some weeks every day. I enjoy every time and never tell her no. She still uses her bottle a couple times per day, mostly to fall asleep. But I know that any amount of breastmilk is a good thing! And it helps ease my own guilt over getting pregnant again so soon and her not being able to continue nursing as a baby.

      Good luck with your journey! And I hope I’ve helped some! I couldn’t find any resources to help me when I was attempting this in the beginning, so I just followed my instincts =)


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