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Why I still breastfeed my toddler

Thursday, 28 April 2016  |  Mummy and Little Me

When I was pregnant I went to all the classes just like everyone else and you get always get told that "breast is best". Neither me or my husband were breastfed and to be honest I don't know anyone who was. We both turned out perfectly fine and rarely get ill. I gave it some thought and decided that I would like to do it. Breastfeeding isn't for everyone I know that, and that's absolutely fine, it didn't come easy for me as I wanted to quit only 2 weeks in. I did try combined feeding with formula as well but my daughter didn't take to it as it made her projectile vomit each time, so I decided to go back to exclusively breastfeeding.

I really did not expect to still be breastfeeding her now that still is nearly 2 years old. But I want to tell you all that it's ok to breastfeed past 1 year and it isn't weird at all. I often talk about it as I'm not embarrassed by it and it turns out that a lot of women do it as well but they don't tell anyone (not even family) as they are scared of being judged.

I'm writing this post to let other mum's know that it's ok to breastfeed past one year, if that's what you decide to do. Everyone that I've encountered supports breastfeeding, even if it isn't right for them. One thing though is that a lot of people expect you to stop for good at certain intervals, these are:

  • 6 months old - when they start solids (they would still need formula until 1 years old though).
  • 9 months - around the time that most mothers go back to work. There is no doubt in my mind that if I had gone back to working full-time at this point then I would have stopped breastfeeding.
  • 1 year - this is the age when a child no longer needs formula and can move onto full fat cows milk instead.

When people find out that I'm still breastfeeding my nearly 2-year-old I know that they think that it's a bit weird and that I don't "have" to. they ask "so it's just 1 feed at night and 1 in the morning right?", nope I breastfeed on demand which means that whenever she asks I give it her. Sometimes this can be several times a day and sometimes a couple of times at night. Sometimes more if she is ill and sometimes less If we are out for the day. I do try to distract her if I'm busy but she just climbs on my knee and pulls my top down herself. Let me tell you that stopping isn't easy! I have tried.  I tried my daughter on cow's milk at 1-year-old but she wouldn't drink it. I tried it cold or warm, I tried different brands but it was the same each time she didn't like it. I have continued to keep offering it to her but I can't force her to drink it.

I don't let it get to me as I remind myself of the reasons that I'm still breastfeeding her, they are:

  • because it's easier than trying to stop right now
  • it's free
  • The World Health Organisation recommends that everyone breastfeed until the age of 2, they also recommend continuing past the age of 2 with no upper age limit.
  • it's good for her! Breast milk doesn't suddenly stop being nutritious when your baby turns one. It's constantly changing and adapting to her needs. Such as if she has an illness coming on, glands on my breast will pick it up from her saliva and start to make antibodies for her. I like to think that she isn't ill for as long as she would be without my milk.
  • it gives her comfort. Whenever she falls and hurts herself or we are somewhere new and scary I am her constant and she gets a lot of comfort from that. When she is crying from being hurt or upset she stops immediately as soon as she latches on.
  • I have lost a lot of weight and part of me thinks that I might pile it back on when we stop. Yes I know that this is a selfish reason and I wouldn't let this get in the way of her stopping.

I know that she won't be doing it forever as most kids start self weaning around the ages of 2-3. I know that she has already cut down as toddlers would rather be off playing and exploring the world than sat on mum's knee and that's good. I just want people to know that it isn't weird or unnatural to still be breastfeeding beyond the age of 1 in this country.

I know that each mother and baby are completely different and that breastfeeding isn't right for everyone. Some people can't get their baby to latch and have tongue-tie issues. Some people have problems with their milk or they can't do it due to certain medications and some people just decide that it's not right for them and that they don't want to try. Every one of those options is perfectly fine and it doesn't matter as long as the child is fed and everyone is happy. If I have another child I can't guarantee that I'd be able to do it again but i would try. At the moment I'm waiting for my daughter to give the signal to stop. I look forward to wearing dresses again and not being restricted to what I can and cannot wear and i try to enjoy each feed as it could be the last.

Jodie x