My Experience Of Extended Breastfeeding

I've spoken about my breastfeeding journey before. How, aside from the very beginning it's been pretty smooth sailing and the only thing I ever really struggled with is knowing when/how to stop.

My Experience Of Extended Breastfeeding

With my oldest, breastfeeding was really hard in the beginning. It's not something you just immediately 'get' and become a pro at. It takes practise, it takes finding out what works for you both, different breastfeeding positions you can try, and working through the possible pain in the early days. I breastfed her until she was almost a year and a half, and one day she just decided she didn't want to anymore, and that was that. I was pregnant with my boy at the time, so I figured it was probably something to do with my milk changing to suit his needs.

With my boy the journey was a lot smoother. I knew what I was doing. It felt easy, comfortable. The only trouble was I also had another child this time around, so I couldn't solely focus on him. I couldn't just sit down constantly throughout the day to feed him. Gradually it wore me down and I decided I needed to stop. And that's ok. I breastfed him until he was two years old and honestly by then, I just wanted my body back. I had been breastfeeding for almost 3.5 years with only a month or two break.

Don't get me wrong, I loved it. I loved everything about it, but it was exhausting.
With my youngest I just kind of went with the flow. I had no plan, I'd been out of the breastfeeding game for a while so I decided to just do what my littlest wanted. And she wanted milk, a lot. I found myself feeding her constantly during the day, I'd feed her to sleep at night (which got more and more awkward when she moved into a cot, and then a toddler bed) as I had to try and lie next to her! She would also take a good few hours to fall asleep and wake up regularly throughout the night wanting milk too. It was again, knackering. But I persevered, and did what was best for my little one. 

My Experience Of Extended Breastfeeding

(Diamond Breastfeeding Milestone Keyring from Hello Treacle)

So we continued on, the first year was easier than the second although the frequency of feeding never really changed. Particularly as she has spent the majority of her 2nd year of life being at home, therefore having access to breastmilk basically on tap, whenever she wanted it. 

Honestly, I never thought I would breastfeed for as long as I have done. I always knew I wanted to, but I guess I never really thought about how long I would do it for. It just sort of, happened. I remember as a teenager, seeing other mums breastfeed their children when they were 2 or older, kind of freaked me out. I know, that's stupid. I'm ashamed to admit it. But I guess things change, your perspective changes when you become a mother yourself. 
My youngest is very active, she's always on the go and rarely stopped for cuddles or kisses (aside from with her dad, but that's a different story. She's definitely a Daddy's girl!) but when I would feed her, it was special. It was just me and her, and I loved the idea that I was able to nurture her in a way that only I could.

Same goes for my older two. It was our time together, and it was so special. 

There are a huge number of misconceptions about breastfeeding over 1. The main one being that they only do it for comfort, not for nutrition or food as they will be eating real food by then. But breastfeeding has a huge number of benefits. Including over the age of 1, plus the comfort aspect too. I feel like I possibly could have stopped before now, but due to what was going on in the world, I felt like it was another way I could protect her I suppose. 

But toddler breastfeeding is fun, right? If you've experienced it, you'll know what I mean. I'm not sure if fun is the right word, but it's completely different to breastfeeding a baby. Babies will lie in your arms. Babies will snuggle next to you, and sometimes softly stroke your skin (OH it's the cutest!) Toddlers are different. Toddlers are busy, busy, busy! They want milk but it's like they cant possibly stay still to have it! Haha. They'll wriggle, they'll pull your hair, they'll spin upside down and slap you on the boob. They'll refuse to let go while they rapidly turn their heads and pull your nipple along with them. They'll kick you in the face and help themselves to milk. It's an experience to say the least! But it's incredible, it's heart warming, and it's a special bond between you and your little one. 

My Experience Of Extended Breastfeeding

So here we are, 2 years 3 1/2 months and I have decided it's that time again. I'd like my body back. I made the decision one night as my littlest woke up for the third time asking for milk, and I was exhausted. I needed me back and I needed more sleep, and more energy again. I slowly weaned her during the day, that was the easy part. Being able to distract her, play with her, keep her mind occupied on something else. It wasn't so much for comfort for her during the day, it was something to do! So she needed something else to do instead.
Weaning during the night has been harder. The first few nights were exhausting, really exhausting. She wouldn't go to sleep, even with a bottle of warm cows milk, or water. She was excited to be able to have a drink in bed! But it wasn't the same. She would wake up crying, saying "Pwease, PWEASE" and it broke my heart a little bit. So I gradually eased her out of it. As long as she didn't breastfeed to sleep, once in the middle of the night, now and then wasn't the end of the world. And then she just, stopped. Honestly, it made me really sad that I made her sad. It's hard! 

But a few weeks in and it's all ok. She likes to be cuddled, really tightly to sleep and I don't mind that at all. She'll make me wrap my arms around her, and hold both of her hands, and that's ok by me. In fact, it's better than ok. I love it. She still has her comfort, she still knows I'm always there.

So here we are, the end of the breastfeeding journey with my 2 year old. Honestly, I'm proud of myself to have reached this point, to have fed them all for as long as I did. I've reached my "Diamond - Breastfeeding Milestone" and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. 

Do you have any experience of extended breastfeeding?

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My Experience Of Extended Breastfeeding

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