How I became an accidental extended breastfeeder
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.)
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