Thanks for hopping over from My Moo and Woo and welcome to my post for the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt Day 5 Extended Breastfeeding. We have over £700 worth of breastfeeding and baby goodies up for grabs including prizes from More4Mums providing a set of 'Hot Milk' Lingerie, a signed hardback limited edition copy of Milky Moments and a £30 voucher from Milk Chic Full details of the Grand Prize can be found here and all entries are to be completed via the Rafflecopter widget at the bottom of this post.
Extended breastfeeding is defined as breastfeeding a baby beyond the first year. I’m not a huge fan of the phrase because it makes it sound like it’s going above and beyond, when really, it’s perfectly normal to breastfeed past 12 months. Some people prefer to call it breastfeeding to natural term, or natual term breastfeeding. To me, it's just breastfeesing. There was a time, however, that I would never had dreamed I would be breastfeeding past 12 DAYS let alone 12 MONTHS!
If you read my previous post about the start of my breastfeeding journey, you’ll know that during pregnancy I was a little naive about breastfeeding. I had buried my head in the sand after receiving no encouragement or support. I kept telling myself that I’d cross the bridge when I got to it.
After finally getting going with breastfeeding when my son was 5 days old, I decided to take each day as it came. I didn’t look any further than the next week and hitting my first month of breastfeeding felt like such a huge achievement. Several of my bump buddies had stopped breastfeeding within the first month and I was already starting to feel like the odd one out for *still* breastfeeding.
I went for lunch one day with some friends when my baby was 2 months old. One of my friends had a toddler and the topic of breastfeeding arose. I asked how long she had breastfed her daughter, to which she answered “13 months.” I’m mortified to admit that I nearly spat out my ice-cream in shock.
“13 MONTHS?! But, what about her TEETH?!” was my response. [I cringe when I think about this]
My friend gently answered, “she’s was never a biter.” I left that day thinking she must be one of these new-age mums, and scoffed to my other friend that I wouldn’t be breastfeeding my baby for that long. Such is the power of marketing and advertising, that I honestly thought that breastfeeding was supposed to stop at 6 months and that babies then had follow-on formula.
That night during a feed I was browsing online and decided to look up information about breastfeeding. It was the first time I had actually read anything factual. I was blown away to read that it is recommended that a baby is exclusively breastfed for the first six months (around 26 weeks), and for breastfeeding to continue beyond that time along with solid food for two years or more. Wow, I thought. My friend was right and I was completely and utterly wrong.
I continued breastfeeding my son until 6 months and then decided to aim for a year. We reached a year and decided to continue further still. In the end my son weaned at 19 months old. I was pregnant again and he weaned about halfway through the pregnancy. I’ve read that it is common for toddlers to wean during pregnancy, and think that he would have continued to nurse had I not been pregnant.
Other mums were often curious to know what it was like to breastfeed beyond babyhood. In many ways, it was much easier than with a baby. For a start, he did not feed as often. He had dropped night feeds around 13 months old, and would feed once in the morning, once at naptime and once at bedtime. By the time he weaned completely, he was only feeding at naptimes. I don’t think he ever wanted feeding when we were out and about, although I wouldn’t have had an issue if he had. There is no guesswork with a toddler, he could make it clear that he wanted milk by signing or, if he was impatient, by tugging my top. There are some cons too, like the fiddling and the fidgeting! There were some days when I felt completely touched out but I was always glad that I continued until my son was ready to wean.
My second baby is now 10 months old and I’ve not given much thought to how long we will continue to breastfeed for. I would like him to be breastfed until 12 months old at the very least but beyond that, I haven’t set any goals or cut-off points. At the moment he and I are both happy to carry on, so we’ll just take each day as it comes.
And in case you were wondering: nope, teeth have never been a problem!
For more extended breastfeeding experiences please hop on over Lycrawidow where you can gain further entries into the grand prize draw. Full terms and conditions can be found on the Keeping Britain Breastfeeding website. UK residents only.