Breastfeeding Goals

Age 1 month - my little nurslingDid you know that >75% off all new moms would like to breastfeed? Some of them want to make it to 6 weeks or 6 months or even a few years. What were your breastfeeding goals? Did you have initial milestones that you reached and did you revise them when you got there? What made you choose those goals?

I’ll tell you my story.

I always knew I would breastfeed.
I never really thought about how long until I got pregnant. Then I thought I would breastfeed for a year. That was my goal. I went back to work when my son was almost 4 months old. Working and pumping is a big commitment – but I was determined to make it work. At some point I was having a conversation with my boss about how long I would be pumping at work and I said at least one year – maybe two.

It was at that moment that I really decided there was no reason to stop at age one. I was lucky in that I had a lot of great role models of moms who nursed their babies beyond the “magical” age of 1. And all of a sudden, my new goal was two years. I had heard so many stories of babies that “self-weaned” at 18-24 months – and that was what I wanted.

My son was an AVID nurser! At 12 months he was nursing 10-12 times per day and at 18 months he nursed 6-8 times per day. At age two, he was down to only about 3-4 times per day – but he didn’t miss any of those sessions. There never seemed to be a time where we “needed” to stop, so we kept going. I remember when my son was somewhere around 20 months old or so. My husband wanted to know “WHEN” I would stop nursing him. He didn’t want me to stop right then, but he did want to know just how long we would go. Jokingly, I said “Three years!” – I picked that number because I couldn’t actually imagine going that long and I thought for sure my son would wean himself by then.

Age three came and went.…and by this time we were nursing only once per day or maybe even every other day. And again, there never seemed to be a time that “hurrying up the process” seemed necessary. At this point, no one in my family dared to ask about how long our goals might be. I did start employing some “gentle weaning” techniques, though. I talked with son about our nursing relationship and how it would end someday when he was a “big boy” and I used distraction to lessen the frequency of our nursing sessions.

At this point, I don’t think I had “goals” anymore. I surpassed all of the original goals that I had set. There were times that I felt “touched out” or “ready to be done” – but I tried to let my son lead the way. And eventually he did. Sometime before his 4th birthday, he weaned – all on his own – and so gradually that I don’t even know when, exactly, it happened.

What were your goals? Did you achieve them? Did you set new ones? Did you do things you never dreamed you would?? Please leave a comment and share your story!

17 comments to Breastfeeding Goals

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Judy Masucci, Wendy ArmbrusterBell and You! Lingerie, Erin Clotfelter. Erin Clotfelter said: RT @MommyNews: New Blog Post: Breastfeeding Goals: – what were yours? […]

  • Oh that is awesome. I just need to know- how did you do it? Judah nurses like 10-12 times a day for 30-45 minutes and all night long on top of that and I just don’t know how long I can keep it up. For one, I’ve got toddler twins with autism…I have my hands full and being on the couch for at least 6 hours out of the day is just too much. That said, we made our 6 month goal, limping along, supplementing before naptime. I’m lucky that he LOVES to nurse, he’s just a bottomless tank!

  • You are doing great Erin! Hang in there, the nursing sessions will definitely get shorter. You may want to try unlatching your little guy early and see if he is “OK” with it – he might like to nurse for 30 minutes at a time, but he might also tolerate it if you take him off at 25….then 20….then 15…..and after a few months – you will be down to 10-15 minute nursing sessions. — Judy

  • My daughter has decreased the frequency, but the sessions are a good 15-30 minutes. I was surprised that she went down to 5-6 feedings already, but she’s growing!

    When I was pregnant my goal was a year, now I’m more open to 2yrs :) Only at 4 months so far though!

  • Wow – way to go! I love that you just kept doing what worked for you, and didn’t let anything get in your way. 3 years is huge!

    Thanks for linking up to this week’s BFing Blog Hop ( Next week’s topic is “Tips For New Moms” – I hope you’ll share some!

  • That’s great Darcy! It’s amazing how much the grow and change in the first year. And it’s amazing how much we change too! You are doing a great job with your little one. Cherish every moment!! — Judy

  • Thanks for linking up with this weeks breastfeeding blog hop!

    What a great accomplishment!

  • Brupe

    I origingally intended to breastfeed for a year, because after that they can have cow’s milk and ‘there’s no need’ to breastfeed. Then I had my baby and found that breastfeeding is about so much more than milk, it’s about mothering. There was no way I was going to give up *the* most effective mothering tool I possessed, so we kept going. She was joined by her little sister when she was 20 months old and eventually weaned at just gone 4 years, her little sister carried on by herself and eventually weaned just before Christmas at 5.5 years.

  • Jahnava

    I also always knew I would breastfeed. I did not know how much of a battle it would be; the hospital caused problems at the beginning so I spent the first two weeks desperately trying to get my son to latch with no success. I “gave up” and committed to pumping exclusively.

    I will never diminish the act of pumping for anyone. It has to be one of the most difficult things I have ever done.

    At 8 weeks my amazingly awesome pediatrician encouraged me to try nursing on breast one more time. My son took to it like a seasoned professional. He is almost 11 months and we are still nursing with me pumping at work.

    Throughout all of that trouble, my goals constantly changed. Instead of the original plan to nurse 2 years, my goal changed to pumping to one year. Then nursing to one year, and now I’m back at my original goal of two years. I have a leech for a son though, and his favorite way of passing the day is to nurse for 3-4 minutes every half an hour or in between toys or every time he gets distracted. So I suppose my newest goal would be to get down to just a few nursing times per day rather than constant.

  • Great article!!!!! THANKS for doing a great job… your baby thanks you too! hehe

  • Skyfire

    When I was pregnant, I didn’t give much thought to how long I would breastfeed. I figured at least a year, because that’s the CDC recommendation, but I didn’t come up with any specific goals. Then my daughter was born and breastfeeding hurt and I hated it. Still, I knew it was best, so I contacted a lactation consultant. She really helped me. “Give it four weeks,” she said. “Then you’ll know for sure.” So that was my first goal. At four weeks, things were much better, I had no more pain, and though I can’t say I enjoyed it, I decided to keep going until DD’s two month check up. By two months, breastfeeding just seemed the way to feed my baby; not good or bad, just normal.

    Now DD is almost three months, and my new goal is six, but only because I like manageable chunks. My real goal is never to wean to formula, and to avoid purees. If she seems to want to wean herself before a year, I’ll encourage her to keep nursing. After that, I’ll leave it to her. I anticipate at least 18 months because I’m holding solids ’til I know she’s ready, so she’ll need my milk longer than 12 months. The WHO says at least 24, and at this point I’m not opposed to it, but it’s so far in the future I just can’t say.

  • Great article! My own breastfeeding journeys have had that organic ‘lets see how it goes’ quality about them too. Looking forward to seeing how this one pans out!

  • This is fabulous! We need to hear more stories like yours. Thanks for sharing.

  • Ruth

    I didn’t really have a goal with my first child, and she weaned the earliest, at 9 months. That’s something I regret far more than the cost of the formula. My goal for my second child was to breastfeed exclusively for at least 6 months, knowing that early introduction of solids was what led to my eldest’s early weaning.
    Well, me second child ended up being born at 33 1/2 weeks, so our breastfeeding relationship started out with pumping and tub feedings, but because of my goal, I stuck with it despite all of his latch issues and lazy nursing. He ended up on exclusive breastmilk until 10 months!:-) And at 14 months he went on a nursing strike, but since I had no idea what that was, I thought he wanted to wean, and that was the end of that breastfeeding relationship. With my third, I again intended to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months at least, and she was a good nurser who made it easy. When she got to 6 months, she was huge, and I tried giving her solids to no avail. She also ended up not taking solids until 10 months. Because she was much larger than my second child, and I had lost a considerable amount of weight while nursing her, I gently tried to get her to wean, and she weaned at 16 months.
    With my fourth, I decided that I really wanted to nurse until age 2. I had become quite the attached parent my then, and I felt that nursing into, if not through, toddlerhood would be good for my child. But my fourth child demanded solids at an early age (5 months!), so I knew we might have a rocky path ahead to make it last that long. Thankfully she formed a strong attachment to me. I made up a “nursing song” all about her that I sang to her each time, and a special version of rock a bye baby that she loved. I was a bit sad when she weaned herself by 20 months, but we had at least gotten close!
    My fifth child fell in love with my breasts. It wasn’t about the food with her. She got an abcessed molar when she was about 15mos, and went on a strike because of the pain. Thankfully this time around I knew what a nursing strike was, and with wonderful encouragement from my LC, I stuck it out and got her back to nursing after 10 days. Once she was nursing again, she loved it even more than before, and we had no trouble meeting my goal of 2yo. in fact, she would have gladly continued to her 3rd birthday, I think, if I hadn’t gotten pregnant with twins. For some reason, the pregnancy made my breasts very painful and tender, and the pain got so bad that I had to severely limit nursing sessions, and finally call a stop to them altogether. She was 28 mos when we weaned.
    At this point, my goal for my twin boys is that they be able to nurse from the breast.:-) I’m gonna take it one step at a time this time around. Things aren’t going well, and my supply is low, so I hesitate to make any long term goals. I think I have to be open to whatever works, whether that be breast or bottle.

  • Thanks so much for sharing your stories Ruth! And congratulations on your twins! You have done such a wonderful job and it is so interesting to read how each baby has been so different for you. I look forward to reading more about your twins as they grow. And remember, no matter how much milk you are able to give them – it is such a gift – even if you end up not being able to go as long as you would have liked. Please read this article by Diane Wiessinger – it is always such a great reminder of what a wonderful gift we have been able to give to our children: — Judy

  • Great Blog!! My oringal goal was a year and my son turned 1 on the Feb 25th. My next goal is 18months and I am hoping longer.

  • […] always knew I would breastfeed – but the time over which I was willing to “do it” changed over time. When I was […]

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