As I mentioned in our breastfeeding story I always knew I wanted to breastfeed though feeding past age 1 was never in my plan and it’s something we have just naturally fallen into. Breastfeeding was working well for us when we hit my goal of 9 months and it didn’t seem right to force Ailsa onto a bottle and formula at that point so I made the decision to see where we would be at a year and decide from there. Well Ailsa is 14 months now and still quite happily feeding from me and I am quite happy to carry on.
|Photo By Kris Hall @ khphotography|
Before I was a mum I just kind of thought that you feed for 6 months or a year and that was that. It wasn’t till I started feeding and had been feeding for a couple of months the that I realised just how hard it might be to give up for both Ailsa and myself. I of course understand that some mums choose to stop feeding at a certain age and I know some children quite happily stop feeding from their mums earlier than others and some much prefer a bottle to the breast but not Ailsa. We have never had much of a nursing strike and she never took to a bottle and it has only been in the last couple of weeks that she has been able to drink water without completely soaking herself from her many different cups and cows milk get spat right back out.
I remember way before being pregnant reading different stories of breastfeeding toddlers and just thinking that it wasn’t right and that the parent should stop them (oh if only it was that easy), that it was for the parent not the child, that it would never be something I would do and essentially my thoughts were breastfeeding a toddler was wrong but I realise now that I was wrong. I have never been around breastfeeding much, I knew about it and of course knew that it was perfectly natural and seeing women breastfeeding has never been an issue. It’s just that the children around me were for the most part bottle fed or had finished feeding by the time they were 1. So feeding past a year wasn’t something I was exposed to in person until I went along to my local breastfeeding group when Ailsa was a month old. There were little ones of 15 and 16 months being breastfed and even a mum who had fed her twins until they were 2 and a half. At the time I must admit that I thought it was crazy to still be feeding at 2 and a half but now having been doing it for 14 months myself I now have a greater understanding and it’s not a crazy idea at all.
Breastfeeding is about so much more than food, and that’s something I didn’t realise till I had been doing it a little while. For us at least, it is very much about comfort. A way to settle Ailsa if she is upset, in pain, frightened or in a strange environment. It is a familiarity which helps to make her feel safe and secure and I don’t want to forcibly take that away from her before she is truly ready as I know that at the moment stopping feeding would be very upsetting for her as she does rely on it quite a lot. I know that she will eventually cut down and stop on her own and I am going to wait on that happening.
The past year has truly opened my eyes in how judgemental I was towards extended breastfeeding and I think it’s because it isn’t the norm. You don’t see someone in a coffee shop breastfeeding their toddler but why not? Having become a breastfeeding mother and doing what I think is best for my child surely if I choose to feed past a certain age others should respect the wishes and rights of me and my child? At the moment Ailsa is quite small (the size of an average 6/7 month old) so it doesn’t look much like I’m feeding a toddler but I am concerned what may be said to me now Ailsa is walking and then comes over to me for a breastfeed. Even now I try to distract Ailsa, I offer water and snacks before milk but sometimes only milk can make things better for her and I don’t think I should deny her that. I am discreet when feeding and nothing is on show so it shouldn’t be offensive to anyone.
I always think that mums try their best and of course we all have to do what is right for our families, for us that is to carry on with breastfeeding till Ailsa is ready to stop, I know this wouldn’t be the right choice for everyone, but for us we feel it is the right decision. My eyes have truly been opened this past year (and a bit) and parenting is certainly not a one size fits all for anything. None of us should judge another’s decision (of course it is a different case if a child is being neglected or abused) for anything and I will certainly not be making any more judgements when it comes to extended breastfeeding like I would have in the past.
What are your thoughts on extended breastfeeding? Let me know in the comments below.