I found the early days of breastfeeding were hard, really hard. I had a terrible time – Kayleigh had a tongue tie which made feeding her very painful. I also ended up in hospital with an abscess after a very bad bout of mastitis which didn’t respond to antibiotics. Somehow (sheer stubbornness I think!) I managed to keep going through it all. You can read more about what happened in my previous post on this site.
After 6 months things were much better, but there were a whole new set of challenges to contend with. The feeds became much quicker so I was no longer chained to the sofa, but distractable, inquisitive babies are very difficult to feed in public, without exposing yourself! I used to try and feed Kayleigh before going out, or else I would try to find somewhere quiet to feed her like in the car or in the bedroom if we were at someone’s house. Weaning was another new factor after 6 months. We followed a baby-led weaning approach but I suddenly realised at 9 months that I was still breastfeeding Kayleigh just as much as ever, and so I tried ‘don’t offer, don’t refuse’ which worked really well for us (i.e. I only fed Kayleigh when she actually asked for it), and we soon started to drop down on milk feeds.
Now Kayleigh has just turned 1 and I am still breastfeeding her, first thing in the morning and at night. People say “well done” when they hear I have breastfed her to a year but I don’t really understand why, as it seems like the easy option to me – no bottles to wash and sterilise, no boiling kettles, no having to buy formula, it’s just there whenever you need it!
I suppose I am now officially breastfeeding a toddler, and I am starting to feel like we have double standards in this country. Throughout pregnancy and when your baby arrives you are bombarded by the ‘breast is best’ message and encouraged to breastfeed, but as soon as they hit 12 months everyone wants to know when you are going to stop. For me personally, I haven’t decided yet, it will probably be whenever I feel the time is right. I am slowly introducing cow’s milk as a drink just so that she can get used to the taste, and hopefully this will make the transition easier. The WHO recommends breastfeeding up to the age of 2 (at least) so I am in no hurry and I intend to continue breastfeeding my toddler for as long as it works for both of us.
Thanks toZoe, mummy to Kayleigh, for writing this. First published November 2011 by support4women