Screen Shot 2018-09-14 at 07.14.22.pngBefore you have a kid you have these preconceived ideas of what parenting is going to look like for you. And then the reality can be somewhat different. I was convinced I’d be wedded to a routine, was anti-dummies and adamant I would never co-sleep! How wrong I was. Since then I have been firmly of the belief that an over-arching ‘no-judgement’ rule is best when it comes to Motherhood.

One element that is particularly loaded is feeding. When really how you choose to feed your child is up to you. Or sometimes it isn’t a choice thing. For example I would love to be mix feeding now but Greta is still refusing the bottle. ANYWAY that’s beside the point. Here Amy Rubble talks about how her journey has found her still breastfeeding a toddler.

  • When I was pregnant with my son I spent almost the whole of nine months preparing for birth by doing hypnobirthing. I read the book, listened to the cd and went along to the classes. I gave no thought to breastfeeding.

  • I thought that because it was natural it would be easy. I was very wrong!

  • Dylan was born via emergency C section and I remember they bought him through to recovery for his first feed.

  •  He latched on and fed on both sides well. He lost weight in the first few days. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I hadn’t even researched how often a newborn feeds.

  • Weight loss in the first few days is pretty normal and common. I had no idea about this either.

  • Eventually he was back to his birth weight within a week, I worked with the midwives to do a feeding plan that we later dropped and went on demand.

  • The beginning was hard work. I had over supply, which made my breasts painfully engorged and I experienced recurring mastitis. The first 3 months were the hardest.

  • If it wasn’t for the support of my husband, family, the breastfeeding clinic and online groups I may have given up! Support and information is absolutely crucial to be successful at breastfeeding. It takes a lot of perseverance in the beginning.Screen Shot 2018-09-14 at 07.15.47.png

  • My first goal was to make it to 6 months, then a year and we just kept going. Slowly over the years I feel like the whole experience is so different now to the early difficult days.

  •  I now find myself breastfeeding my two year old, which is now considered to be extended breastfeeding.

  • I never imagined I’d be breastfeeding a toddler. In fact I’d never seen a toddler breastfeed until my son.

  • I recall years ago learning about a colleague’s wife breastfeeding her toddler and I remember thinking that was strange because only babies breastfeed right?

  • Breastfeeding past babyhood in main stream media is often portrayed as extreme (I’m thinking Game of Thrones) or the front cover of Time magazine. There is often lots of negative opinions around it, especially in GOT it is used as shorthand to portray an over bearing mother.

  •  People tend to think that a breastfeeding toddler is ‘needy’, too attached to mum and lacking in independence. However I have found the experience with my son to be the complete opposite. My son is confident when we are at social situations and happy for me to leave him with his Nanna for the day without any tears.

  • Breastfeeding a toddler is so completely different to a baby. Babies’ breastfeed for many different reasons also, it isn’t just about food and drink which is a big misconception with breastfeeding. With toddlers though it is even less about food, he eats meals and drinks water from a cup.

  • It’s all about comfort and soothing. When he is tired it helps him sleep. When he is overwhelmed or upset it helps calm him and reconnect back. If he is teething or hurt it’s a pain relief. If he’s sick and off food it’s a nutritious drink to help him get better. It’s a big cuddle from mum.

  • Still most of the time a cuddle from mum will do. He doesn’t always go straight to asking for milk

  •  Recently we flew from Australia to the UK which was two long haul flights. One was 8 hours and the second 14 hours. On this trip I realised how much breastfeeding helped him manage such a difficult and tiring experience. I was surprised how well he managed the flights and I believe breastfeeding helped him stay hydrated and calm. He also ate loads of food which proved it really isn’t just about hunger. The whole trip we travelled around a lot, I really saw his uncertainties in new situations were eased by breastfeeding regularly.

  • Breastfeeding a two year old can feel very isolating as it isn’t very common or understood as the norm.

  •  I hear lots of people say once your baby has teeth, they have no need for breastfeeding. However I feel the comfort side of breastfeeding is so often overlooked as unimportant. More socially acceptable ways of a child to sooth are dummies, sucking their thumb or a blanket. My son chooses breastfeeding.

  • Also a common concern for mothers is once teeth are grown ‘will my baby/toddler bite?’ From my experience I haven’t been bitten.

  • Occasionally my son will fall asleep while nursing and his mouth will slightly close. In this instance I pop my finger into his mouth to release his jaw.

  • A few months ago I got mastitis and had to see my doctor for antibiotics. My doctor was very surprised to hear I was ‘still’ breastfeeding. He even said there is nothing of nutritional value in my breastmilk for my son now. Which isn’t correct, even if that were true I would still choose to continue for the emotional support it provides.

  • I have learnt that sometimes medical professionals are not always up to date and fully informed about breastfeeding to term. It is important to seek advice from a lactation specialist.

  • In fact the World Health Organisation supports breastfeeding to term and recommends breastfeeding up to the age of two and beyond.

  •  Even after two years of breastfeeding I still get moments where I feel like I’ve had enough. Block ducts are painful and tiring to clear.

  • Breastfeeding a toddler vs a baby is easier in some ways but challenging in a completely different way. The wriggling and twiddling (all normal) are sometimes frustrating. I often have to remind myself why I’m still doing this, take a deep breath and know that in the large scheme of things this is a short time in my life. It is not always easy but the positives always outweigh the negatives for me.Screen Shot 2018-09-14 at 07.16.22.png

  • I plan on weaning naturally which I do believe will happen.

  • Most days my son only feeds at nap time, bedtime and first thing in the morning. He asks for milk normally by pointing to my boobs or I will say ‘you look tired, would you like some milk and bed?’ and he will nod his head or point. I think eventually he will drop down to one feed a day and then in time drop that one too. He rarely asks to nurse during the day.

  • I am currently teaching him to say the word milk but he is more interested in learning the words for various different vehicles. So funny that he can say school bus, ambulance and car first.

  • We do have boundaries which I slowly introduced between 12-18 months.

  • As he is older and he can understand when mummy says no. I found though that naturally he doesn’t ask for milk during the day because he is too busy running around, playing with his toys and experiencing the world.

  • Obviously there are a couple of exceptions. For example recently we were visiting Amsterdam and while at check in at the airport Dylan tripped, fell and bumped his head. Toddlers are extremely accident prone and to soothe his distress I gave him a big cuddle and offered him some milk which almost instantly helped him feel better. We found a quiet spot by the side to nurse, I didn’t notice anyone looking but then again my focus is on my boy and helping him feel better.

  • In the whole two years of nursing I’ve only been asked to move once and it was on holiday when my son was a baby.

  • When you are breastfeeding a baby every day you dress in the knowledge that you’ll be nursing every couple of hours. It’s different now he’s older. There are times where I can predict that I am likely to be supporting my son though an unfamiliar situation like the airplane. In those instances I do consider what I am wearing and whether it will be easy for breastfeeding. I will do things like wear a strappy top under my tee shirt and a zip up hoody to make it more convenient for me. On a regular day to day I can wear anything.

  • I love breastfeeding and am passionate about sharing my experience and normalising breastfeeding toddlers. But more than anything I’m passionate about support for women in their journey through motherhood. Becoming a mum is one of the biggest life changes you can experience, and we all need all the help we can get.

  • I believe that what is ‘best’ is different for everyone. There is no one way to parent and that ‘There is more that unites us than divides us’ as mothers raising our children, caring and supporting them to grow. I believe that there needs to be more support and access to correct information available for all mums.Screen Shot 2018-09-14 at 07.15.21.png

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  • Reply Emma February 3, 2019 at 10:54 pm

    Agrrr 100% about the comfort aspect of breastfeeding. My daughter still had a night feed until she was nearly 4, didn’t plan to feed this long it just happened and was was right for us. I don’t even think that I was producing much milk by then but she found it comforting and helped her get to sleep. Also worked wonders after accidents or if she was stressed. A few embarrassing moments when she begged for ‘booby’ in public, wish we’d just called it ‘milk’. A few people were judgemental and said she’d end up too clingy. She is now 19, at university, happy and healthy.

  • Reply Lorna November 10, 2019 at 9:54 pm

    Hi. I’m not sure how old this post is but it could be, word for word, a description of my own situation. My daughter is two and still breastfeeding too. I struggled so much at the start that I could never in a million years have imagined that we would still be doing it two years later. Exactly as you describe, she’s confident, eats and drinks well and by no means clingy. It’s just that she needs it to sleep at night. I worry constantly that this is ‘weird’ and that she will never be weaned. This post has made me feel so relieved to know I’m not alone. Thank you so much for being brave enough to put it out there xx

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