Keep Britain Breastfeeding: Breastfeeding Beyond a Year (Or, My Breasts, My Baby, My Business…)
It’s day six already of the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt 2014 which means that… I’m 4 days from my due date! Today we’re talking about breastfeeding beyond a year which can be a touchy subject.
Unless you’re going to breastfeed exclusively at home and without anyone ever seeing you, then if you’re like me, by the time your little one is 6 months, people are already asking when you’re stopping breastfeeding.
It’s beyond irritating.
These are the questions that people feel the need to ask, that I never understand. What impact could my breastfeeding have on anyone except for me, my baby and my husband? Why do they care when MY body is going to stop nourishing MY child? Is there nothing else about my life they can think of to ask? But still they ask. And after four years of breastfeeding, and as I am about to enter my fifth, I have my answer.
When WE are ready.
Apparently over 6 months and your baby will turn into a biting, psychologically damaged being who has haunting memories of being thrust onto their mother’s breast for her pleasure according to some people I’ve met. Other people will look uncomfortable when you say you have no idea, and then tell their friends behind your back that you are STILL breastfeeding your baby and how wrong it is.
I’ve even had doctors ask me why I’m still breastfeeding. That one I find puzzling.
I never consciously made the decision to feed my boys as long as I did. I fed them until 19 months and 21 months, and both self weaned (although Lyoto did so with a little assistance as I mentioned in my Why Did I Decide To Breastfeed post earlier this week). Yet it worked for all of us to continue our breastfeeding relationship past the year mark.
Breastfeeding made so many aspects of parenting easier for me after one year, but it contributed to my sanity the most in terms of the amount of sleep I was able to get. Both my boys were accustomed to being breastfed at bedtimes until they fell asleep. My body was their comfort and my nipple was their dummy (pacifier if you’re American) and so they never needed any comfort blanket, special toy or dummy to settle to sleep. They fed, fell asleep at my breast and we co-slept. Jensen co-slept in our bed until his baby brother arrived and then he proudly moved to his own room as the big boy of the family, and Lyoto made the move from our bed a couple of weeks ago when we bought new matching beds for the “big brothers” to sleep in, in readiness for their baby brother’s impending arrival. They still sneak back in for cuddles, and I love that.
There are so many excellent articles published describing the medical benefits of extended breastfeeding for both mommas and babies and so I won’t go into these here, mainly because I’m not qualified to do so, but also because even if there was absolutely no nutritional value in my breastmilk after one year, the emotional benefits we gained were reward enough for continuing along our journey.
Jensen knows why I have breasts and he knows what a normal breast looks like. He doesn’t find them embarrassing or ridiculous or taboo, and I’m proud of that. And Lyoto? Lyoto cheers when he sees them and pats them like old friends, then snuggles up against them for cuddles. My body is still a comfort for my children and that makes my heart swell.
What I’ve found most peculiar about breastfeeding beyond a year is that although in my day to day life I only know one other momma who has fed beyond a year (my sister with her fourth child), when I connected with mommas out there on the blogging network, such as Attachment Feminism, it’s very common. It’s just another aspect of breastfeeding that we aren’t talking about and as a result, has become somewhat taboo. Let’s change that. Never let pressure from others dictate your choices for your baby, and lead to regrets later in your life. Just remember my first rule of breastfeeding club….know who you can and can’t talk to, and keep your sanity.
Today we’ve teamed up with old friends for the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt, Thrupenny Bits. We reviewed their amazing, and highly luxurious breastfeeding support pillows that they make back in 2012 and we can’t say enough lovely things about them. In fact, our pillow is hanging on the end of our bed in readiness for our baby’s arrival! Of all the breastfeeding pillows out there on the market, this has been by far the best we’ve tried. You can even use it as a bag!
This week they are giving away a very glamourous grey floral nursing cover (the photograph is of the blue one) worth £24.50! If you’re new to breastfeeding and need a little bit of privacy whilst you gain your confidence, or you’re a fan of nursing covers, this is the most beautiful and stylish one we’ve seen!
Photographs of Jensen at one year, copyright Cristina Barton.