How I became an accidental extended breastfeeder

Woman in a red tank top breastfeeding a boy

When I first got my boobs out to feed my baby, I had no idea I’d still be doing it nearly two years later. TWO YEARS. I didn’t think my boobs were going to get through two months of breastfeeding, and yet here they are, still doing their thing.

This is not a post about how extended breastfeeding can help your toddler get sick less often (mine is sick pretty much every other week). It’s not a post about breastfeeding promoting bonding between a mother and toddler, because there are lots of ways to bond that don’t involve getting your tits out. It’s not a post about breastmilk offering valuable nutrition, because my kid gets most of her nutrition from beans, yogurt and Organix bars these days. And it’s definitely not a post about how extended breastfeeding can help lower a mother’s risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers, because I’m pretty sure that my cheese, ice cream and wine-filled diet is increasing my risk of like eight other types of cancer.

This is a post about what happens when you start breastfeeding and then just…don’t stop. You never really have a reason to.

Our breastfeeding ‘journey’ hasn’t been smooth sailing by any means. The Popple was a tiny baby who spent a fair amount of time pummeling my boob and screaming, so I worried that she might not be getting enough to eat.

(She was. She’s just naturally petite and a bit…dramatic.)

I went through many of things that put mums off breastfeeding – cracked nipples, leaking, mastitis, and the frustration of not being able to do anything because I was basically a cow. But the Popple wasn’t keen on formula and I couldn’t squeeze more than a few ounces out of a breast pump, so we just kept at it. Eventually it just became a thing that we did together, and I didn’t really think about it.

(I’d just like to point out that one of the reasons that we could ‘just keep at it’ was because my employer offers a generous maternity leave package, which meant I could afford to take a full year of maternity leave and keep on with the whole boobin’ thing. I was lucky. Many women aren’t, and that needs to change. Ranty blog post coming soon.)

The Popple took to solid foods pretty well for such a skinny thing, and within a few months of weaning we were down to two feeds a day – one in the morning and one at night. The morning one went soon after, and we’ve been down to one feed before bed ever since. It last for no more than 5-10 minutes, and it’s probably more about routine than actual milk drinking at this point. But she wants it, so we do it. It’s that simple.

I’m not on a mission to convince all mothers that they should keep breastfeeding for years. You do what works for you, whether that’s breastfeeding for a week, or a year, or not at all. But if you’re a mother like me – one who became a long-term breastfeeder almost by accident – know that there’s nothing wrong with keeping it up. Some people may think that breastfeeding a toddler is weird, but some people also think that sparkling red wine is weird, and it’s actually kind of great.

Seriously. It is. Try it.

 

Image © Benjamin Magaña via the Creative Commons licence

 

Diary of an imperfect mum
Two Tiny Hands
My Petit Canard

59 Replies to “How I became an accidental extended breastfeeder”

  1. I’m still going at 14 months. First thing in the morning and before bedtime. I’m hoping one day she will stop herself when she’s ready, because I don’t know how or when to stop!

    Love this post! Xx

    1. Squirmy Popple says: Reply

      That’s my approach too – I have no idea how to stop so I’m just not stopping!

  2. Lovely post. Our journey was similar. Painful as hell to begin with and I never really thought about how long it would last. It went on for over two years. And until I went away for over a week with work he was still feeding nearly an hour at bedtime! I miss it sometimes. But totally agree noone should feel forced into it. Mums should be supported with all their choices.

    1. Squirmy Popple says: Reply

      I agree – everyone should do whatever works best for them and their child.

  3. Nothing wrong with that! I was fed up of people telling me I should stop breastfeeding feeding because my baby was over 1 years old. We kept going until she was nearly 3. And primarily we stopped because I was getting a bit fed up, not for anyone else’s opinion.

    1. Squirmy Popple says: Reply

      It’s really no one else’s business – if you want to keep on breastfeeding, then you should do it. If you don’t, you should stop. Other people don’t need to get involved in your decision.

  4. Ahhh great, honest post. Breastfeeding wasn’t for me – my boobs refused to work so we had to use formula.. Everybody has to do what is best for themselves and their family and not worry about what everyone else is doing/thinking. #familyfun

    1. Squirmy Popple says: Reply

      Exactly – do what is best for yourself and your family, whether that’s not breastfeeding at all or doing it for years.

  5. My son still feeds through the night and he turned 2 in Feb, he doesn’t breastfeed in the day though x #familyfun

    1. Squirmy Popple says: Reply

      Well done for keeping it up – I think I would have struggled if the Popple was still waking in the night!

  6. Flipping heck, I’m jealous of the one feed a night. My lo will be two next month, still nurses like a newborn…..day and night 😮

    1. Squirmy Popple says: Reply

      Oh wow! I probably would have had a hard time keeping it up under those circumstances. I was lucky that my daughter quite happily dropped most of her feeds once she started eating solids regularly.

  7. I am surrounded by bf mums who are still bf their 3 year olds at night. They all pretty much gave up during the day though after 2 so I’m hoping that R will give up a bit in the day now. We’re a morning, once in the day and to sleep at night boobing. I can normally palm him off with snacks during the day now which I am actively trying to do! I’ll keep going till he loses interest. ‪Thank you for linking up to the #familyfunlinky‬

    1. Squirmy Popple says: Reply

      I think I’ll keep going until the Popple loses interest too – and bribing with snacks helps!

  8. ‘There are lots of ways to bond that don’t involve getting your tits out. ‘ I started chuckling here and then did not stop until the end. I love this post for its wit and the way that reading it does not make me feel shit for not breastfeeding, I just feel utter pride for you that you kept at it and did it for you. Much love lady! Thank you for linking to #stayclassymama xx

    1. Squirmy Popple says: Reply

      Thanks hun! I think people just need to do whatever is best for them.

  9. So I’m going to go right in and be totally honest here – I usually skim straight past any breastfeeding posts or articles; I was unable to breastfeed and my little hunk of chunk did okay on formula BUT I have a huge amount of guilt and bitterness still, I can’t bear to read any articles that tell me/us how breast is best yadda yadda.
    So reading this, was a breath of fresh air – so open and honest and I’m so pleased your bf journey has been positive and is extended. I’m a huge believer in trusting maternal instinct and doing what you think is best, not what stats and keyboard warriors say you should do.
    Well done mummy, you are doing amazing, and thankyou for such a lovely read, I truly enjoyed it xxxxxx #stayclassymama

    1. Squirmy Popple says: Reply

      Thanks! I’m so glad you enjoyed it.

  10. What a remarkably refreshing post about breastfeeding. Well written and interesting with no agenda or wish to persuade anyone one way or another. It made me laugh too! Lovely read. xx #ablogginggoodtime

    1. Squirmy Popple says: Reply

      Thanks so much! I definitely don’t have an agenda – I just wanted to share my story and let women know that it’s all good no matter what you choose.

  11. Back again for the #familyfunlinky xx

  12. A fab post, thanks for sharing! I love your zero agenda message. I stopped at 13 months, my daughter was nowhere near ready to stop but I was so broken, it was the first thing I did since she was born which put my needs first. Whilst I don’t regret it as it helped me get a tiny bit of respite and begin regaining sanity, I could see how much she missed it, and struggles with sleep/comforting herself afterwards. We only can do our best though hey? #blogcrush

    1. Squirmy Popple says: Reply

      It can be hard to keep going, and it’s totally fine if you need to put your own needs first. We all need to take better care of ourselves!

  13. I was really interested in reading this post because sometimes I feel guilty for stopping at 7 or 8 months. It was mainly because I went back to work at 6 months (thinking I needed to in order to do well in my career – that was a load of shit!) and it became too difficult pumping at work so I cut out the lunch time feed and eventually it all gradually slowed down and I stopped. I think when you realise that it gradually only becomes one feed at night, it doesn’t seem as bad and is actually quite nice. Towards the end of breastfeeding my son I really started to enjoy it, and as you’ve said here, it became more habitual for me. I like your take on this though, a lot of other moms can be quite preachy and tell you why it’s beneficial and all that shit, but doing what’s best for you is KEY. Thanks for sharing with #StayClassyMama

    1. Squirmy Popple says: Reply

      I would have found it hard to keep going if I’d had to go back to work at 6 months – me and the pump weren’t a good match. I kind of like our nighttime bf routine now, but I also know that she can go to bed without it if I’m out (which, let’s be honest, is rare these days).

  14. That’s great you are still doing it at 2 years because it works for you! My daughter was down to a single morning feed just before her first birthday. I had to wean her because I wouldn’t be able to continue it when I went back to work. To be honest, she was barely feeding anyway and didn’t seem to even notice! But I would have carried on if it were an evening feed. Thanks for sharing your experience! #FamilyFun

    1. Squirmy Popple says: Reply

      Thanks! Thankfully my daughter was down to two feeds when I went back to work (one in the morning and one at night) – any more than that and I wouldn’t have been able to keep it up.

  15. I breastfed my daughter for 19 months, I think. I liked it, she liked it…my mom and mom in law thought I was doing it for too long, but…weaning off the breast came so easily! I think because my daughter was ready by then.

    1. Squirmy Popple says: Reply

      Some of my friends and relatives probably think I’ve kept it up for too long, but it’s like you said – if I like it and she likes it, why stop?

  16. I fed BB and Little B for 2 years too, also because there was just no reason to stop. The only reason I stopped feeding Little B was because I was pregnant with Littlest B! #familyfunlinky

    1. Squirmy Popple says: Reply

      That’s a good reason to stop!

  17. Well done! I’m breastfeeding a toddler too. He’s 1 and half now and still feeds loads, he’s a total boob monster haha.
    #blogcrush

    1. Squirmy Popple says: Reply

      Haha – gotta love the boob monsters!

  18. I breastfed til 18 months and was getting to the point where i was conscious that people thought it was “weird”.. “You can’t still be feeding her when she’s 5” (my mother!). It isn’t at all. Thankfully it got to the point where my daughter didn’t really ask for it so I just stopped offering it and then we stopped. I was happy with how it ended and hope to feed for as long again next time if we have another. #FamilyFun

    1. Squirmy Popple says: Reply

      It’s great that you were able to stop naturally on your (and your daughter’s!) terms.

  19. That’s exactly it, there’s plenty telling you how to start but nothing on how to stop, so I haven’t 🙂 27 months in and no end in sight! Thank you for your post!

    1. Squirmy Popple says: Reply

      Thanks – 27 months is impressive!

  20. What a great post- and it’s lovely you were able to do extended breastfeeding. I like how it was accidental and how you’re openminded about it and not pushy. And maybe I should try sparkling red wine!? Thanks for joining us for #marvmondays x

    1. Squirmy Popple says: Reply

      Yes, try sparking red wine!

  21. Sparkling red wine, you say? 😉

    I couldn’t breastfeed my first – I found it excruciatingly painful and it never got any better. I used to sob through every feed. With my second, I braced myself for it not to work – and to my surprise it did! He’s almost four months now and we’re still going. I don’t really know when we’ll stop – I think we’ll keep it going as long as we are both happy to.

    Dunno how people breastfeed babies with teeth though – that’s the next challenge! x #marvmondays

    1. Squirmy Popple says: Reply

      It can be so hard at first – and yes, they do sometimes bite when they’re teething!

  22. I love this! I became a extended breastfeeder by accident with my first. It was just so natural for us to keep going and we both loved it. I feel a bit guilty that I couldn’t with my second. With her dairy intolerance I just found it so hard! Anyway, good for you both. Enjoy it. I loved all the hugs we had. Miss that now!! #MarvMondays

    1. Squirmy Popple says: Reply

      I think I would have struggled with dairy intolerance – my breastfeeding friend had to give up dairy for ages when her son had it and she hated it!

  23. Haha, I love this, especially the last line! 🙂 This is as refreshing to read as going outside right now in the Spring sun. Motherhood isn’t a rigid affair, it’s bendy and soft and it adjusts to life and our little ones as they grow. Anyone trying to slap a host of rules on it doesn’t realise that that is what makes it difficult. Expectation, guilt, judgement, they all go against the basic premise that we’re all kind of winging this and that is ok. All that is pliable is unbreakable, much like motherly love 🙂 #marvmondays

    1. Squirmy Popple says: Reply

      “All that is pliable is unbreakable, much like motherly love” – love that quote!

  24. I love how everyone is so freely posting videos and photos of them breastfeeding now!! I think it will really help others!
    Lx
    http://workingmumy.blogspot.com
    #MarvMondays

    1. Squirmy Popple says: Reply

      I agree – it really helps normalise it.

  25. Great post. Everyone needs to do what is right for them and their child and bugger what anyone else says or thinks. There is no right or wrong, no timeframe, just what works for you x
    #MarvMondays

    1. Squirmy Popple says: Reply

      Thanks! I agree – everyone needs to figure out their own path.

  26. Oh I love this post, your whole attitude to it all is wonderful. I’m currently breastfeeding and my aim is to feed my little boy until he’s one but if he wants to carry on after I’m not going to force him to stop. Congratulations, thus post was linked up as someone’s favourite to #BlogCrush xx

    1. Squirmy Popple says: Reply

      Thanks – and good luck with breastfeeding!

  27. Great post. Everyone needs to do what is right for them and their child and bugger what anyone else says or thinks. There is no right or wrong, no timeframe, just what works for you – I also love sparkling red ha ha ha
    Thanks for linking to #ablogginggoodtime

    1. Squirmy Popple says: Reply

      I’m glad I’m not the only fan of sparkling red!

  28. Wow that sounded like my inner voice or mirror voice! Exact same journey from ‘Oh she’s not getting enough’ [yeah mine is on the dramatic as well as petite side too] and well the whole grind of trying it all to make something work!
    She’s 19 months and we are at one feed before she sleeps 🙂
    Love to you and your little one. Cheers to this journey!
    Oh and yes wine and extended feeding, basically everything that we like n works for us rocks!

    1. Squirmy Popple says: Reply

      Ah, these petite and dramatic babies put us through the ringer!

  29. I love this! Next week marks 6 months of breastfeeding for me and my little man. He’s my 3rd baby but the first one that I’ve successfully fed myself. I have no idea how long we’re going to go for but if he wants to feed for two years then I’m good with that! #MarvMondays

    1. Squirmy Popple says: Reply

      Congrats on 6 months – that’s great!

  30. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. You’re still in the realm where your little one won’t remember this in adult life. In my opinion, that’s the line that should not be crossed. Peachy was weaned about 2 months ago when she was 14 months old. We were also down to just the one feed before bed but at that point my supply started getting low and I didn’t see much of a point in continuing. We replaced breastfeeding with reading a book and Peachy didn’t seem to mind. Sorry for the super late comment. #StayClassyMama

    1. Squirmy Popple says: Reply

      I think my supply is getting low too so it won’t be long now. The Popple loves reading stories but she won’t accept any substitute for a boob before bed!

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