Parenting: Breastfeeding a toddler: A Martyr or a Masochist – Northernmum

It’s the final countdown…

In six weeks BB will turn two, she will be spica free and hopefully on the road to recovery.  She will be a toddler and still breastfed.

It was never a conscious decision to breastfeed a toddler.

When BB was born I struggled tremendously with breastfeeding, it hurt like hell, my bosoms ached like they had gone three rounds with Tyson, and it was all hard work.  I carried on, not because I am a martyr or a masochist but because it was something I wanted to do.  Then at four months we turned a corner and suddenly everything fell into place. 

Then we have never looked back….

I have never really seen the point in stopping, she loves it, I love it, it has additional health benefits for us both.  Yet just lately I have caught my self saying ‘I am still breastfeeding.’  The use of the word still carries a slight connotation of embarrassment, it feels like I am coughing out an apology for the way I feed and comfort my child.

But I don’t want to stop.

I fall in from work some days and as I walk through the door I shed off my work attire and transform into mummy mode.  I am often knocked sideways by flying six-year olds and then treated to a lick and a leap from the dog and all the time I can see a spica clad toddler yelling ‘mumma mumma’ waiting for me to reach her and collapse her into my arms.

As bedtime approaches too soon after the reality of the working day she looks to me for her milk and as I cradle her against my chest we both sigh into relaxation and our eyes roll with comfort.

I can’t speak for BB, although she looks pretty content, but feeding my daughter is a priceless experience, I can see her every muscle resting, I watch her drift towards sleep and I see a milk induced smile linger on her lips as I put her bed. 

Before BB I questioned why people breastfed past six months and in having BB I have found my answer.

Doesn’t look like I will be stopping anytime soon….


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  1. April 10, 2012 / 9:11 pm

    If your both enjoying it then why stop? It’s nice bonding experience for you both and a time to reconnect.I stopped at 3 and 1/2 years on my terms and it a much more pleasant experience than when I was forced to stop with my oldest two I and wasn’t prepared for it either.Reading back on the guest post you wrote for me I can see how much breastfeeding means to you and sustained breastfeeding BB is part of both of your lives, which doesn’t make you either a martyr or masochist.

    • northernmum
      April 11, 2012 / 9:12 pm

      Thanks Aly, I am quite happy to keep on going, although it would be nice if she didnt whack my chest and yell boobie at times! 🙂

  2. April 10, 2012 / 9:17 pm

    Oh I miss breastfeeding and can’t wait to start again once Pea arrives. The Baby stopped breastfeeding just after her first birthday, her decision not mine, and I felt as if it was too soon. It’s obviously massively comforting to you and BB so no need to stop til one or both of you is ready!x

    • northernmum
      April 11, 2012 / 9:11 pm

      thanks anna x

  3. April 10, 2012 / 9:33 pm

    Its great to hear your still feeding! Bubs is now 8 months and I’m starting to get the ‘you can stop now’ comments, especially from medical professionals, it’s lovely to hear from someone who’s kept at it like I plan to although the whole world seems to want to pressure me into stopping! Good on you!

    • northernmum
      April 11, 2012 / 9:10 pm

      8 months?> when did that happen!?!

      ignore them x

  4. April 10, 2012 / 9:39 pm

    You make me want to carry on! I am in the process of stopping to feed my 8 month old, but I have to confess I do love it. Well done for getting to two years (nearly)

    • northernmum
      April 11, 2012 / 9:09 pm

      Can i ask why you are stopping?

  5. April 10, 2012 / 10:06 pm

    Aw, if I could have I would have. I physically grieved when I had to give up. I know it sounds mad, but I felt bereaved. If it suits everyone why change it?

    • northernmum
      April 11, 2012 / 9:09 pm

      Thats it, I just cant imagine not doing it!

  6. April 10, 2012 / 11:00 pm

    Breastfeed for as long as you want – as long as both you and your child are happy then there’s no reason to stop.

    I fed my last child until she was sixteen months. I have friends that have carried on until their children were two or even three. I’ve also got friends who chose to bottlefeed from birth. It’s up to the individual to choose what feels right for their family and their life, and no-one has the right to pass judgement on anyone elses choice.

    So enjoy. For me, memories of those quiet bedtime breastfeeds are really precious.

    • northernmum
      April 11, 2012 / 9:09 pm

      very well said mrs x

  7. April 10, 2012 / 11:02 pm

    Gorgeous description of the bedtime feed. It sounds like it’s doing you both a lot of good. No need for embarrassment. It’s no one else’s business. I do understand the feeling though. I can’t believe mine isn’t even a year yet and I’m getting the “you’re STILL feeding”? I guess it’s just different when it’s your baby.

    • northernmum
      April 11, 2012 / 9:08 pm

      as said above I think you will find at a year people stop questioning, but it comes back – keep up the boobie work! x

  8. April 11, 2012 / 5:11 am

    You shouldn’t have to apologise or defend your decision. It’s got jack all to do with anyone else. If you both enjoy it and aren’t ready to stop, then don’t. I miss it. Totally wasn’t ready for when F decided she’d had enough. Fickle child.

    • northernmum
      April 11, 2012 / 9:07 pm

      Frog so rules the roost!

  9. April 11, 2012 / 6:23 am

    I miss bfeeding and I only did it for 3 months. I always say to myself next time I will go longer. If yours both happy and content just do it. One day she won’t want it anymore and it’ll be the end of a beautiful era.

    • northernmum
      April 11, 2012 / 9:06 pm

      part of me does hope that day will come before she is 25!

  10. April 11, 2012 / 6:25 am

    Iyla is 18 months and I am still breastfeeding her, I always knew I was going to breastfeed but I had no idea I would still be going after this long. I did used to be one of those people who said that it was weird once they were walking and talking but the thing is that is just doesn’t feel weird. She still feels like my baby when she is feeding and it has been a lifesaver when she has been ill. My OH wanted me to stop when she turned one but luckily he said he is used to it now and appreciates the benefits so with his support I feel better about carrying on. Screw everyone else! X

    • northernmum
      April 11, 2012 / 9:06 pm

      ha! BB is not walking anymore and talking doesnt happen much so really she is a baby!
      I dont get really negative feedback from people but a lot of surprise and I think some people think I am a bit mad.

      None of these things could be wrong of course but I like it x

  11. Helloitsgemma
    April 11, 2012 / 6:37 am

    If it makes you both happy. Who needs to care?

    • northernmum
      April 11, 2012 / 9:02 pm

      aww thanks x

  12. Ruth Taylor
    April 11, 2012 / 7:01 am

    It’s really what feels right for you and your child. I fed my first for 21 weeks and then had nowhere convenient at work to express or store milk, so reluctantly changed to bottle feeding (this was a long time ago and hopefully workplaces are better at providing places for returning mums to express now). As a SAHM with my second I carried on until 21 months which was when he chose to stop. I must say I got a lot of negative comments from my mother aboout how long I continued to feed. maybe just her generation, but not very supportive. Apart from the health factors for mother and child breastfeeding is also cheaper and no need for all that faff with sterilising.

    • northernmum
      April 11, 2012 / 9:02 pm

      I was never particulary good wtih sterilising!

  13. April 11, 2012 / 7:35 am

    I stopped at 7 months in the mistaken belief that formula=sleep. Of course, by that point, I had been listening to the “Are you STILL feeding????” questions for four months. I was completely unprepared for the emotional low that followed stopping. If I ever have another baby, I hope to continue breastfeeding until we are both ready to stop, and I hope I would be less influenced by the opinions and “advice” of others, and more influenced by my own relationship with the baby. It certainly sounds as though BFing is working for you right now, so why change it? 🙂

    • northernmum
      April 11, 2012 / 9:02 pm

      I have two forumla fed children, I could have let you in on the secret that sleep is something you will never properly have again!

      One thing I have found is that between 12 to 20 months people dont question as much as what they so 6-12 months with feeding, but it does sadly come back

      • April 12, 2012 / 12:42 pm

        I probably would have ignored you, I so desperately wanted to believe that there was a simple fix to our sleep problems. (Actually as it turns out, there was a simple fix – time! But I wasn’t interested in that one!)

        I wonder if maybe people don’t question from 12-20 months because they just assume you’ve stopped?

        • northernmum
          April 12, 2012 / 7:55 pm

          I think people think that when you go past 12 months you are going for the WHO recommended time of 24 months so they leave you alone until about 22 months and then the raised eyebrows start! to be fair I dont get hassled but the odd jokey comment but am always surprised why people dont ask me why I continue, as in whats so good about it (and it aint the so called weight loss!)

  14. April 11, 2012 / 8:58 am

    My Dexter is 14 months old now, and it’s only been in the last couple of weeks that my OH has been pressuring me to stop. I did really well for the last two weeks, not feeding him at all ( it was so horrible for me – but not for him), and last night, after hearing him fussing, I actually brought him into bed and let him feed. My OH was a bit cross, but I figured that if I’ve still got milk after two weeks of not feeding him, it might be a sign to keep going! 😉 I love the closeness and I know Dex loves it. It’s the only thing guaranteed to calm him down whatever the circumstance.

    • northernmum
      April 11, 2012 / 8:59 pm

      yes, BB can be quietly settled with a spot of milk, I think if more people did it in the UK then of course the stigma would disappear/

  15. Amy Le Pelley
    April 11, 2012 / 10:10 am

    Cora self weaned just short of her second birthday (and I went back to work when she was 9 months old), it was such an easy happy process that I would definitely allow baby number two to self wean. I occasionally got the ‘Are you STILL feeding….she has TEETH?’ question but it always seemed an odd argument to me, if she doesn’t bite me when we cuddle or play or sing songs, why would she bite me when she fed……. I am glad you are both enjoying the joy of feeding your child. x

    • northernmum
      April 11, 2012 / 8:58 pm

      The daft thing is that it is impossible to bite when latched on, I would worry more about a teething baby using a nipple as a teething ring that a toddler.

      thanks for comment ames! x

  16. April 11, 2012 / 4:25 pm

    I breastfed Little A until she was just passed two years old. We loved it. But it was time for me to finish. So glad I fed passed 6 months. I think its really made a difference!

    • northernmum
      April 11, 2012 / 8:57 pm

      Really? that is reassuring but in what way? x

  17. April 11, 2012 / 5:28 pm

    Enjoy and savour it, it’s a special time and I doubt you’ll still be doing it when she’s 10. I wouldn’t call you a martyr, just a Mum who loves her children and is doing her best for everyone. (I may call you one for giving your children animal shaped sandwiches however. That is dedication for you. 😉 )

    • northernmum
      April 11, 2012 / 8:57 pm

      ha! It was a birthday party for her older siblings, but you would be amazed what they will eat if it is shaped like a dinosaur!

  18. April 11, 2012 / 9:17 pm

    You have to do whatever feels right for you and your baby and don’t let anyone tell you any different. She’s so cute.

    • northernmum
      April 11, 2012 / 9:20 pm

      thank you xxxx

  19. MuminBusiness
    April 12, 2012 / 10:27 am

    My boy is 27 months today and shows no signs of wanting to give up! It hasn’t always been easy, it still isn’t always easy, but there was no way I was going to be faffing about with all those bottles and sterilising nonsense – plus it’s expensive stuff formula! There are plenty of times (around 3am) when I wish he would decide to stop (I’m under no illusion that it will be his decision to stop not mine!), but it does solve virtually every problem in the book so there are plenty of times when I’m thankful for it! I too try very hard not to say ‘still’ when people ask me if we’re ‘still breastfeeding’; it’s hard to seem nonchalant though, determined not to be all militant about it though!
    Sometimes the OH gets a little annoyed with him when he starts nagging me for milk at odd times of the day, but he’s always been supportive so I’m lucky I know(he’s another one for the easy life, plus it means it’s always been me who gets up in the night!). I’m sure I’ll miss it when it’s gone, so when The Toddler is being cute I try to savour those moments and forget the screaming rows at 5am when he wants to get into bed and fall asleep while feeding yet again thus leaving me in agony……

    • northernmum
      April 12, 2012 / 7:56 pm

      The 5am feeds!

      I do those but I can normally sleep until she wants to change sides…

      I think one side is lemonade and the other cola….

  20. April 13, 2012 / 4:40 pm

    A beautiful post again Jane. I applaud you for nursing BB to now; it is dam hard at the beginning but once you are over the first few weeks, it has so many perks – no faffing with bottles, instant ‘pain’ solver, sleep solver and those special moments when they look in to your eyes with such satisfaction are just priceless.

    The same as your other reader who posted earlier in the comments section, my daughter is now 8 months and we’re ‘still’ going strong. I too am being asked how long I plan to continue and for now I just say when one of us has had enough.

    Although I’m starting to miss alcohol a bit now….. might need a night off soon so could dip in to the frozen milk supply which is for when I go back to work!! x

    • northernmum
      April 16, 2012 / 11:03 am

      BB only feeds twice a day now so I can drink sensibly! and she can miss a feed if I fancy a night out although she isnt always happy about it!

      Crack out the freezer supply!

      thanks for stopping by x

  21. Tracey
    April 13, 2012 / 8:23 pm

    Hi Jane,
    I believe you should breast feed until your baby wants to give up. I fed my first baby until he was nearly two, but was lucky that my family thought this was normal. My mum fed my youngest sister well into her threes!
    It is a special time and some thing that only you can do for your little one. Enjoy this time. xx

    • northernmum
      April 13, 2012 / 9:34 pm

      Thank you Tracey – good advice if I ever heard it! x

  22. April 14, 2012 / 1:15 pm

    Wonderfully put. First of all, the World Health Organization now recommends breastfeeding for at least two years, so you are right on track. I know you know that, but unfortunately, the rest of the world needs to still catch up with that information.

    I work on educating more people about that fact and the many health benefits for child AND MOM with my blog every day.

    I’m still breastfeeding a 5 1/2 year old. We just forgot to stop. He was 1, and all of a sudden he turned 5. He now only nurses to go to sleep for a few minutes, obviously not in public anymore, but it is still a wonderful and special time for us.

    You might like this post:

    Breastfeed on as long as you want, mama 🙂 It’s nobody’s business anyway. Especially after medical procedures it is a wonderful tool to have to comfort your child. I’ve been there.

    • northernmum
      April 16, 2012 / 11:04 am

      Thanks Dagmar!

  23. April 25, 2012 / 2:30 pm

    I totally agree with you, it “is a priceless experience” which makes it hard to stop them. I say keep going until you and / or her really want to stop. For me with my 32 month old that time has come to stop – I am going to miss it as much as him I think. It’s a very special thing to have done for your child. xx

    • northernmum
      April 25, 2012 / 9:26 pm

      Good luck

  24. June 30, 2012 / 11:18 am

    What a lovely post – I really relate to your comments and feelings I still feed my 2 1/2 year old and though I am now confident I need to stop, I think it will be a long process! It has been a wonderful experience and something which has comforted, calmed and nourished her and me and different times. I would definitely repeat with another baby. It’s not something I broadcast, but close friends who do know are supportive (to my face at any rate!) xx

    • northernmum
      July 2, 2012 / 9:13 pm

      If you have any tips on stopping please let me know! xxxx

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