Friday, 28 June 2013

Breastfeeding Beyond a Year

Breastfeeding wasn’t really something I’d given much thought to before I became pregnant. I knew I was breastfed, and that it was better than formula milk for babies, but other than that I was clueless. During the pregnancy, I was very worried about breastfeeding. I was worried that I wouldn’t know how to do it, that it would hurt and that I’d feel like a failure.

I soon found that, after the first few tricky weeks, I really enjoyed breastfeeding. It was amazing to me that my body could produce something that could nourish a baby. I planned to breastfeed until Ebony was one, thinking that by that time I’d be heading back to work and would have to give up anyway.

During the first few months of Ebony’s life, the only time I ever got to myself was in the bath. So I had a bath everyday. Admittedly, most of them were interrupted by a hungry baby wanting a feed, but at least I got a chance to relax a bit. I spent these precious moments reading parenting books, because I’m the kind of person who really knows how to relax.

I read The Attachment Parenting Book by Dr Sears, which I would strongly recommend if you haven’t read it. In the book, he talks about the importance of natural parenting instincts such as breastfeeding and babywearing. I was already doing all of the things he talked about, but reading his book helped me to see the importance of these practices. In the book, he talks about how attachment parenting methods can be used to ease the process of returning to work. He explains that many women find breastfeeding a good way to reconnect with their child at the end of time apart.

I already knew that the benefits of breastfeeding do not suddenly disappear at the baby’s first birthday. Stronger immune systems, higher IQ and, of course, all the nutritional benefits of breastfeeding are noted in breastfed toddlers. The World Health Organisation recommends breastfeeding until the child is two or more. And the global average age of weaning is four years old. In this country, we actually have quite an unusual culture of breastfeeding with many women choosing not to do it, or stopping when the baby is still very young.

When I read Dr Sears talk about the bonding benefits of extended breastfeeding, I realised I might like to continue after my return to work. It seemed like it would be a nice way to reconnect with Ebony, and have some quality time, at the end of a long day.

In the end, I decided not to return to work. Ebony is seventeen months old now and she is still breastfed. This may be unusual, but it feels right. She still gets a lot of comfort from the closeness, and very rarely requires painkillers (because of the natural pain relief properties of breastmilk). I don’t worry about her diet, because I know she is still getting a lot of nutrition from breastmilk.

As she gets older, Ebony breastfeeds less frequently. She can now go up to six hours without asking for a feed. Other times, such as when she’s teething or having a growth spurt, she may feed more often. For the time being, I’m happy to follow her cues and let her decide when to feed.

The only downside to breastfeeding a toddler, is that they can talk. Where your tiny baby would discretely tug at your top, a toddler will screech “BOOBIES!” at the top of their voice. Repeatedly. No matter where you are.

To find out more about the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt, click here.

There are loads of bloggers taking part in this event, so please check out some of the posts. Mum 2 Baby Insomniac, Petit Mom, Little Scribbles, Simply Hayley and sorry about the mess are all taking part in the event, so feel free to pay them a visit!
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  1. I Love it! i plan to feed until baby doesn't want to anymore. i just love the closeness and the feeling that only i can give her that special booby time!

  2. Yay! Well done you. I loved that book too - it was a real antidote to some of the Gina Ford stuff I was hearing. Ebony is a lucky lady!

  3. I would like to feed him until he decides he doesnt need it :)

  4. I plan to give up when my lady gives me up

  5. a great post really positive :)
    I breastfed my daughter for 19 months, we're currently 18 months with no sing of stopping with my son.... we'll stop when we are both ready hopefully

  6. I've always said up to a year as a minimum, then what works for both of us beyond that.

  7. I shall stop when Thamar decides to. She's currently 27 months. There's some interesting research by Kathy Dettwyler about the natural age of weaning here:

  8. Until Luca decides he wants to stop, though probably not past two years. Currently on 11 months.

  9. I haven't really got a set date when i was to stop :) but i really cannot imagine giving up! im truly addicted

  10. I've never really put a date on it, for as long as she wants to!

  11. I hear your last comment. My daughter is 13mo and claws at my top pulling it up or down and sometimes screaming til she gets her boobies (hers I add, no longer mine)

  12. Still feeding DS at 34 months. I'd like to let him self-wean but unfortunately I'm getting a bit touched out (also feeding DD2 @ 7 months) and am hoping it's soon!



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