I wasn't quite sure what to expect after my last post. It was a subject that I had so far chosen not to go into, for fear of opening a can of worms. To be honest, until recently, I had not really given it too much thought. Breastfeeding was just a natural part of everyday life and babies grow up very quickly. Before I knew it here I was feeding a two and half year old (the other two were weaned by me at around the 18 month mark, which was no easy process). But I had started to notice the occasional raised eyebrow and a changing attitude over the past year, most of which I choose to ignore or laugh off. I try to avoid feeding when out if possible because I have been made to feel a little self conscious in the past, but I don't avoid the subject in conversation. Which is why I chose to write about it here in the first place. It is not something you see very often, and seems to carry with it a certain social stigma. Most of us are aware of the uproar that was caused by The Slap. I wondered how many other mothers were also in the closet about breastfeeding past the usual year or so. It felt right to raise the topic here, and put it out there (so to speak).
There were many wonderfully supportive comments and experiences shared. Just as there were also those that did admit to finding it uncomfortable, and I kind of expected that. Each to their own. I am okay with the honesty of the comments. But I do have to say that nobody knows your situation and your child's temperament quite like you do. There is often the preconceived idea of spoiling your child by extended breastfeeding, but I feel that this bears little reflection on other boundaries in the child's life. Some little ones are extremely attached to the experience, just as others become attached to their bottles or a particular toy. It is really a short, but precious time in the scheme of things.
In a positive light I thought I would share a few encouraging articles :
Breastfeeding your Toddler (ABA)
Breastfeeding Past Infancy : Fact Sheet
What are the Benefits of Breastfeeding a Toddler? (Thank you Christina, for this and the next link)
Suggested Responses to Still Nursing
*By no means am I saying that this is the only or right way, as many choose or have no choice but to wean. But I am hoping this may help someone who is struggling with whether or not to continue feeding.
I read most of the comments yesterday out of curiosity and it was interesting to see all the different viewpoints. I've had a few people comment about me rocking my little one to sleep and not leaving her to cry it out, and it can be hard to be doing something different sometimes. Your'e right that only the parents really know their child. Society as a whole seems to be in a great hurry for our kids to grow up, but my youngest is my last, and i baby her a bit and don't regret it at all ;)
So true Lauren! It goes so quickly doesn't it? I appreciate your comments :)ReplyDelete
Hi Tania, Thanks for covering this, it is nice to hear real life examples of alternative approaches to weaning. I'm currently breastfeeding my 6 month old and have no firm ideas of when I will stop, although he is my first and we'd like a big family, so I am not sure how I would go breastfeeding while pregnant. Given the delicate nature of our little babies digestive system and immune system, I'd really prefer not to have to give him formula after he weans (and will not be starting him on rice cereal as a first food). They both seem so refined and processed and I don't like the idea of the food preparation process being taken so far away from the home and being in the hands of the big multinationals! You've definitely given me some food for thought, and I'm proud of you for following your heart and also sharing it with us xoReplyDelete
I breastfed all my kids, including the twins for 13 months. It was a real battle at the start building my milk supply for two babies without supplement and I worked hard at it (with minimal sleep!) so it is an achievement I'm really proud of.ReplyDelete
13 months was long enough for us, but I would never want someone else to decide that for me or my babies.
Good on you for talking about your decisions and experience Tania.
People who can't or don't want to breastfeed shouldn't be judged either, I know we all make our own parenting decisions with much love and the best intentions.
I missed your last post, but in all honesty, I wish I had been able to breastfeed both of mine for as long as they wanted it, so keep going and ignore any judgemental looks.ReplyDelete
I am certain my son, who is now two and a half, would love LOVE to still be breastfeeding and I will always regret the long work hours that left me without milk around the 13 month mark.
With my third baby, due August, I will definitely breastfeed for as long as possible, but know that there are many circumstances, including the little ones temperament, that can cut it short.
Thank you for bringing up this topic.
Best wishes for you and your daughter. (:
One of the things that make the world an interesting place is the fact we may choose the paths we take for ourselves.ReplyDelete
Personally, I had enough milk to feed an orphanage and all my children weaned themselves at about 1 year and for that I was very thankful
Tania, I fed my now 27 year old son until he was almost 5 years old.ReplyDelete
This was through thick and thin- separating from his father and shared parenting week around.
It was a wonderful comfort for both of us- first thing he wanted when he came to my house for the week was a nurse.
People used to ask me "Whenwill you be weaning that kid?
He's nearly 5!"
I always replied that I was far too busy to wean him, he would have to do it himself.
And he did.
In his own time.
No big drama.
Just when he was ready.
I offer you this story in the hope that perhaps little Violet can wean herself when she is rready, not when the critics are ready.
Well done both of you with this
loving and affirming special time
It's such an individual thing. We're unique with a unique set of circumstances, just as our children are. If it feels like the right thing to do, then it's the right thing to do. Simple as that. xReplyDelete
I think the supportive and open comments were a lovely reflection of the tone of your blog, Tania. Breastfeeding is so tied up in a mother's hormones, I guess that's one reason the topic can provoke very emotional responses. Even though I had two great breastfeeding experiences, I still feel the crushing pain of 'failing' at it the first time, 12 years ago! And it still touches a nerve when I hear broad statements like 'the greatest gift a mother can give' 'the best thing' etc. since it's simply one part of a loving parenting relationship ... parenting should not be a game of one-upmanship and there's so much else to feel guilty about! It's curious to me that there's even a specific word in our language for the end of breastfeeding: 'weaning'. I wonder if there is a similar term in other languages?ReplyDelete
Hey Tania, I didn't catch you're last post, but can kind of get the jist of it from this one. Breastfeeding is such a personal complex phenomenon...no two mothers will do it the same. Both my kids self weaned, each at different ages and if they had of gone one past the 2.5 year mark I probably would have happily let them...but then again, I only know my situation and no one elses. good luck on your journey with your daughter xReplyDelete
Well done on keeping this sometime fraught topic friendly.ReplyDelete
I fed Ginger to 19 months, but was by that stage already three months pregnant with Tom Kitten. She gave up her evening feed with no problems, so I suspect I had very little milk left anyway and it was more just a comfort thing. I was keen at that stage to have her forget feeding because I knew there was another baby on the way and I didn't want his feeding to be another source of jealousy. (maybe it wouldn't have been - but we make our decisions based on imperfect information). I think having another baby on the way was really the game changer for me.
That said, I do miss the closeness we had when we had that shared time together; and I think it would have helped us through the twos. So, well done for keeping going - if it is right for you and Violet then carry on.
Thank you for this post, and also for the last one. I'm nursing an eight-month old and plan to continue until he feels ready to let go (which I suspect will be quite difficult for me!). We're mammals, we're mamas- it's what we're meant to do.ReplyDelete
I think your blog is beautiful and honest and relevant, in general too, and even though you're across the globe from me, I can relate to so much of what you say. Please keep saying it! xo
Thank you for writing about this and for the interesting links. Babies do grow up so quickly and so I think it best to just enjoy these moments of closeness as long as they last!ReplyDelete
Gosh she looks so grown up in that picture and you are right independace is a personal journey :)ReplyDelete
It broke my heart to give up breastfeeding my son at just over two years of age. I felt pressured into it, and I cried a million tears, probably because I knew this was my last baby...he is now 17. My how time flies :)ReplyDelete
I think one of the most useful things anyone has ever said to me on the subject of breastfeeding was: 'Look around at your friends and acquaintances. Can you tell who was breast fed and who wasn't? Can you tell who was weaned early and who was weaned late? Can you tell who had a dummy and who didn't?' Just maybe this stuff isn't that important in the big scheme of things (at least for those of us in the western world who have access to clean water and good quality formula). I think that women should feel free to do whatever works best for them and their children and STOP JUDGING each other. Honestly, I think we all do it tough enough without the judgement.ReplyDelete
Hi Tania, I've been on a bit of a blog holiday so missed your last post. I'm hoping to find my blogging mojo again shortly :o)ReplyDelete
Well done for bringing this up and I just wanted to say keep on breastfeeding her until you or Violet have had enough!! All children are different and some just need that closeness for longer - whats wrong with that?? All 7 of my kids were breastfed - one weaned himself at 6 months and the youngest kept on till she was almost 3 1/2, with the others somewhere between. Ignore the looks or words of others - it's all about you and your baby!
Breastfeeding.... aah, I have fond memories and miss it so!!!!
Only you know what is best for you and your darling girl, nothing else matters xxReplyDelete
You go, girlfriend!! (said with snapping fingers and snake neck movements). LOL I'll just add one last thing after my big blab over on your last post, I think the opposite is true re: breasting feeding equals spoiling and over-indulging. Meeting kids needs when they are little and helping them feel secure and safe when they are little helps them to grow up feeling much more able and capable and connected with others than if their needs weren't met. Just something I thought about when I was breastfeeding Lew and as a breastfeeding counselor with ABA years ago. xReplyDelete
Reading your blog I have often imagined that were we to meet and have a cuppa, we would get along easily and have much in common. (Hopefully not sounding like a stalker. :) This is yet another post that gives me that feeling.ReplyDelete
Thank you for your honesty and for broaching this subject. Perhaps if more of us spoke of these matters in this way, the taboos around breastfeeding might eventually fall away. Once can at least hope.
Keep doing whatever is right for you and Violet. xx
Just catching up on your posts and comments. Breastfeeding...it can be such a fiesty topic can't it, (along with birth of course.) I love hearing stories of long term breastfeeding. Love it. Both my boys weaned themselves at 16months and 21 months. I frequently get asked how long I'm going to keep feeding my little one. "Until one of us doesn't want to do it anymore" is my usual response- followed by a quiet eye roll to myself.ReplyDelete
I love that bonding time. To be able to sooth a stressed out child in a matter of seconds or for her to gently suckle off to sleep is a truly wonderful thing and I'm incredibly grateful I'm able to do it.
Great couple of posts.
I breastfed my oldest until he was 3 (stopped because I was too sore as I was pregnant with number 2) and my youngest until he was 4. He just wasn't ready before that, and frankly, neither was I.ReplyDelete
I have been reflecting lately on how quickly children grow up (although, as someone once said, a mother can choke on a day!). I miss those days when my children were in my arms. Enjoy them and make the decision that works for you and your child. You know in your heart what that is. Other people don't.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your experiences. I appreciate your honesty and applaud your perspective! Breastfeeding is such an amazing gift we can give to our children! Keep it until you decide it's time to stop.ReplyDelete