We have had some huge changes to our breastfeeding relationship in the last 12 months. This time last year Little Cat was coming up for three years old, and was breastfeeding every twenty to thirty minutes through the day, and around 6-8 times during the night.
Then I was bitten by a tick on a walk in the woods in August, and developed symptoms of Lyme disease. This resulted in a three week course of antibiotics which had a dramatic effect on my ability to feed my son and caused me a lot of pain, which I eventually discovered was down to ductal thrush. It was 8 months before I discovered the cause of the pain, and during that time I had little choice but to start limiting feeds quite dramatically and make them much shorter than we were used to.
I did it as gently as possible and my empathetic three year old worked with me to get through the pain by accepting his less frequent feeds with grace and understanding. It was during this time that he began waking just 2-3 times at night for milk. He even went a few nights with no milk at all, and I started to get more sleep for the first time in many years.
Something which my body didn’t want to give up lightly.
So when I found the answer to my painful breasts and treated the ductal thrush, it came as quite a shock to find that Little cat began to steadily increase his feeds once again. It wasn’t long before he was waking every hour or more through the night for milk. If I refused or even asked him to stop after a long feed, he would scream and scream, becoming more angry than I have ever seen him.
Before the thrush, I coped just fine with these frequent wakings. My body had learned to adapt. But now that I had had a taste of what being rested felt like, giving it up to go back to all night feeding was not so easy.
I began to struggle with my patience during the day. I was snappy and unmotivated. I didn’t want to talk, to go to the park, to play – I just wanted to lay on the sofa and read and rest. I was struggling, and my parenting was too.