The Accidental Extended Breastfeeder
Syd turns 3 in three weeks time and I am still breastfeeding. In my own head I imagine extended breastfeeding to be the domain of earth mothers, vegans who knit their own organic yoghurt. But that isn’t me.
Well, I am vegetarian and I do read The Guardian but the only knitting I do is of my forehead when people who, upon learning I am breastfeeding Syd, respond with the word ‘Bitty’, the Little Britain catchphrase used about the grown man breastfeeding.
Totally creeps me out when people say that, as does the thought of David Walliams anywhere near my breasts in any capacity, let alone feeding him. *shudders*
That bloody sketch has a lot to answer for. I swear it is partly to blame for the fact I feel slightly conflicted about feeding a toddler. Plus why anyone would say that about a Mother feeding a two year old is beyond me, there is a world of difference between those two mental images!
My first two self-weaned at 14 months and 11 months respectively, and I sort of assumed Syd would do the same. But no, he still likes a feed before bed, and occasionally one in the early hours before snoozing again until morning proper comes around.
It feels natural to be feeding him still if he wants to, yet I don’t really like admitting it to people, when they wonder why I still don’t drink much for example. I am sure half the time it is me projecting my own uncomfortable-ness about it onto them, meeting their own astounded-ness halfway.
‘You’ll still be feeding him at school, haha’ is one of the often repeated phrases. So what if I am, he starts school 3 weeks after his fourth birthday and the world average age for weaning is 4.
I firmly believe that if he still wants to feed at 4 that that would be totally natural, but if I am still feeding him I will be encouraging him not to share that information for fear he would get teased for it, or that I would get labelled as a crazy freak Mum in the playground. But I shouldn’t feel like that should I?
In all honesty I too am a bit anti long-term breastfeeding, even though clearly I am not…. I know that makes no sense, but what I mean is that societies negative view of it has crept into my own head meaning I feel embarrassed that we are still feeding, but when we snuggle up for a pre bedtime feed, my tiny boys fingers wrapped in my hair as he curls up close it feels completely natural.
I am ready to encourage him to drop these last feeds, I have been doing ‘don’t offer, don’t refuse’ for a very long time, but he still asks, and I still don’t refuse.
In the daytime I sometimes chat with him about how breast milk is for babies and how he doesn’t really need it now, and he agrees, proud of his big boy status, and yet come bedtime he looks at me with pleading eyes and says ‘I small again now Mummy’.
Having worried that he will NEVER want to stop and panicking that ‘bitty’ may become an all too scary prospect, I did some googling. It seems most children left to their own devices will self-wean between three and four, and having come this far I don’t want to end our breastfeeding journey in an abrupt or distressing way. I shall continue to encourage him to have a little less, and a little less, in the hope he soon chooses to stop all together.
And I will try to stop feeling a tiny bit ashamed, I am not babying him, it is perfectly natural, and we will finish this journey together, hopefully before David Walliams turns up….
Love Miss Cisco XXX