My daughter is now 16 months old. Now, this might shock some people, but I’m still breastfeeding her on demand. She has milk from me pretty much whenever she wants it, right around the clock. I didn’t set out with a plan to become an extended breastfeeder. It just sort of happened. And that’s why I don’t have an answer for when people ask me when I’m going to stop.
This is my second baby and I know there’s an assumption from many that I’m continuing to breastfeed her because I can’t “let go” of the baby phase or am unwilling to let my youngest (and probably last) daughter grow up. Well, that’s not the case.
In fact, when it comes to breastfeeding, I’m kind of ambivalent about the whole thing. There are many things about it that I don’t like – the occasional nipple bites, the fact she relies on it so much for comfort (that grates at 3am), the way she pulls at my top in the middle of the fruit and veg aisle at Tesco… But still, here we are. Breastfeeding just as much as ever, with no clear end in sight.
I can’t tell you how many times over the past 16 months I’ve tried, unsuccessfully, to introduce some kind of feeding schedule, or drop feeds or encourage my little girl to have her milk from a bottle. Mainly, it’s all been down to the sleep thing. I (now wrongly, I believe) assumed that if I could get her to be a little less reliant on the boob she’d be a bit of a better sleeper. Even though I’d breastfed her big sister who was a far more reliable sleeper, I doubted myself. I listened too much to the traditional advice about regimented feeding times, routines and baby sleep. I didn’t want to accept that my baby was, quite frankly, just a bit of a crap sleeper. The truth is, stopping breastfeeding now would be far more traumatic to both of us than continuing. I’m willing to put up with the harder parts if it means I don’t have to deal with a toddler screaming in my face from morning until night.
Breastfeeding makes her happy, which makes me happy. If she’s tired I have an instant way to calm her. If she’s grumpy I have an instant remedy. In fact, there’s pretty much nothing that a quick breastfeed can’t fix. Why would I give up my single most powerful tool in my anti-tantrum arsenal just to keep the Gina Ford devotees happy?
If my daughter was a different child the chances are we’d have stopped by now – her sister had long given up the boob by this point. But she’s not, so here we are. It’s yet another reminder that my mum was right all along – all babies are different. And that’s why I don’t have a plan. The truth is I’m just winging it from day to day. And that goes for every part of motherhood really.
Here’s our breastfeeding experience so far…
Breastfeeding in the very early days.
My baby used to breastfeed anything between every 10 minutes and every 3 hours.
Breastfeeding has always been a source of comfort for her.
I sometimes felt like I was chained to the sofa – especially during mammoth growth spurt feeding sessions!
Vital breastfeeding set-up in the early days included the TV remote so I could binge-watch Netflix while my baby fed.
She’s always been *very* attached to the boob.
Sleepy milk cuddles (in my stylish pink dressing gown…)
When she got to around five months she would grab hold of a bit of my top and not let go until she’d finished feeding.
More sleepy milk cuddles. Are you noticing a theme yet?
Breastfeeding on board our ferry to France last summer.
Breastfeeding is always part of the nap / bedtime routine (unless I’m not around for bedtime in which case she gets milk from a bottle and a cuddle).
As she’s got bigger she’s got more grabby during breastfeeding sessions!
Breastfeeding is a quick fix for pretty much any toddler trouble.
My toddler is such a busy little thing, it’s quite nice when she stops for a quiet breastfeed.
Breastfeeding with a biscuit in one hand. True biscuit devotion.
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Images by Molly Forbes.