Once you've been nursing for more than a year, you probably assume all lactation-related road bumps are far behind you in your nursing journey. It's just you, your toddler, and the open road until one (or both) of you decide it's time to call it quits. But anyone who has been down that road knows that extended breastfeeding isn't always easy, regardless of how long you've been at it. In fact, there are a few extended breastfeeding red flags that you might be experiencing that definitely deserve some extra attention.
Even though you've been in the nursing groove for well over a year (maybe even longer than that), breastfeeding takes a toll on your body. Similarly, it's easy to get so into "the groove" and routine of your daily nursing sessions that you may forget to check in with some common issues that can arise for both you and your toddler if you're not careful.
Extended breastfeeding can be extremely beneficial, but that doesn't mean it's easy. That's why it's important to pay attention to potential signs that something is "off" with your extended breastfeeding journey. as it was when you just started nursing your newborn. There are much fewer red flags to watch out for, but they're there just the same.
1. You Feel Exhausted All Of The Time
Exhaustion is a real threat to moms at any stage, but it's particularly common for extended breastfeeding moms. Attachment Parenting noted that at a certain point, some moms just feel worn out and may be tempted to wean. Whether you think the end of your time nursing is near or not, making sure to take care of yourself should be one of your top priorities.
As La Leche League International (LLLI) noted, breastfeeding isn't the sole cause of your exhaustion and it's many benefits for your body alone (like decreased risk of disease, healthy hormones, and the opportunity for a few calm moments each day) are reason enough to keep at it. However, ensuring to care for yourself and get enough rest is key to staying happy and healthy while you're breastfeeding.
2. Your Toddler Is Waking Too Often To Nurse
Whether you co-sleep with your child or they have their own room, if they're still waking up at night to nurse, you'll need to monitor how much sleep they're getting at night to make sure they're well-rested for the day. According to Parents toddlers need 10 to 14 hours of sleep per day, including their nap. Generally, 10 hours or more per night is the average for a well-rested toddler. LLLI noted that the interrupted sleep can take a toll on both of you, so setting limits on nighttime nursing when you feel its appropriate and needed is totally acceptable.
3. You Feel Hungry All The Time
Granted, excessive hunger is normal when you're breastfeeding, but once you've been nursing for long enough, moms tend to put themselves on the back burner, neglecting to feed themselves enough to stay energized.
Be sure to stay on top of your nutrition, eating when you're hungry and filling your body with healthy food to help you keep up with your equally hungry toddler.
4. Your Toddler Isn't Getting Enough Nutrition Elsewhere
Since your child is still drinking breast milk, they're reaping all of it's nutritional benefits. But just like when you began introducing solids, it's important to monitor the balance of solids and breast milk to make sure your child is getting enough of important vitamins and nutrients.
Dr. Sears recommended performing a "nutritional analysis" on your child if you suspect that they may be lacking in a certain area. Otherwise, be sure that they're not relying on breast milk as their main source of nutrition, since at that point, they should be well versed in solid food.