The Accidental Extended Breastfeeder

Posted by on Jul 18, 2014 in Featured, Parenting | 42 comments

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!

 

extended breastfeeding

 

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

42 Comments

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  1. Sim @ Sims Life

    It is the most natural thing in the world and unfortunately ‘society’ has a lot to answer to! He will self-wean in his own time!
    Sim @ Sims Life recently posted…Did The 30 Day Detox Work?My Profile

    • Sonya Cisco

      Like Kate says in another comment, it is a shame that when it comes to breastfeeding society seems to have something to say about it whatever you do (or dont do!) x

  2. Tattooed Mummy

    Oh I think I would feel just the same – but when DD self weaned at 10 months I was crushed! I envy you those snuggly moments when he is small again. Such a precious time and over so quickly – yes even 4 years flies by doesn’t it!

    I once asked DD (now 14) when a baby should stop breastfeeding and she said ‘when it wants to’ which I think is pretty reasonable. But like you a niggling doubt a ‘what if he doesn’t…ever’ would lurk.

    So i wonder – if a baby didn’t ….ever…want to stop – at what age would you draw the line and genuinely think you had become that ‘bitty’ mum?
    Tattooed Mummy recently posted…I’m feeling sadMy Profile

    • Sonya Cisco

      I would definitely be more comfortable if he has stopped before going to school, so I guess if we don’t find a natural end by this time next year I will consider forcing the issue! But it’s personal to everyone isn’t it, I know some would feel I should have stopped by now, and others are happy to keep going for as long as it takes!

  3. Hannah

    Don’t worry about trying to discourage him, it is very likely he’ll stop of his own accord in the next year. Josiah stopped when he was three and a half, and his feeding pattern up till then was very similar to Syd’s by the sound of it. I was sad when he stopped (in a hormonal way!) but very happy that it was entirely his choice, and I never refused (though sometimes asked him to wait till later.) I think the important thing to remember is that our society has a completely messed up view of breastfeeding in all sorts of ways so you can’t look to prevailing opinions as a guide to what’s normal or appropriate. Other people’s attitudes can make it feel awkward which is a shame, but you are doing the most natural and sensible thing so best to ignore the critics if you can.

    • Sonya Cisco

      Thank you Hannah, reassured to hear that he weaned naturally at three and a half, am loathe to force Syd to stop when it seems we should be nearing a natural end point. x

  4. Alison Green

    Not a veggie and my family are all definately working class, but I always intended to breastfeed for the first 6 months or so and drifted into feeding longer like yourself.

    I have breastfed 4 children and I admit as much as I utterly defend the right to feed as long as you and the child are happy, other people can make you feel uncomfortable.

    My eldest went to expressed milk then just BF in mornings and at night as I had to return to work part time when he was around one so he naturally started to tail off and self weaned at around 13 months, my second, when I was able to take a career break, fed till around 16/17 months when she naturally seemed to wean herself off.
    But the two younger girls fed longer. Third child was still feeding at 3 1/2 ish at which point I was tandem feeding her and the new baby, but she said the milk had changed and started to want it less and less and again self weaned at that point, but she still talks about “brumma” milk and how she misses it at nearly 7 lol.
    Now left with youngest who is 4 and still shows little sign of stopping, I am at the stage you are where she only has it as a bedtime comfort thing, she does occasionally ask in the day, but once she reached 4 I had to stop these in hopes things would tail off. She starts school after the summer so I really want her to finish soon, but its hard just to say no at night when they cuddle up isn’t it.
    I have noticed in the last few weeks the feed is alot shorter and she isn’t latching on as well, so I hope she is reaching a natural self weaning point.

    We will see.

  5. Kate Williams

    It seems no matter how long you BF for there’s some kind of guilt, worry or concern what others think involved. Wouldn’t it benice if we could all just do it for how ever long we manage or fancy without worrying about other people who have no need to concern themselves with our boobs anyway!!
    Kate Williams recently posted…I am in actual love with Annie Spratt and Marie DonnMy Profile

  6. Galina V

    Sonya darling, I thought the same as my little man was not showing any signs of wanting to stop the night feed. Then all of a sudden, not long before his 3rd birthday, he stopped on his own volition. I think of those times as precious memories of closeness and bonding. I’ll never have another baby again, and I am quite nostalgic about the times when it was just about two of us, in our little world. Those people who use the creepy words are not worth talking to.
    Galina V recently posted…Warm chicken salad with grilled mango and peaches (Amoy Blogger Challenge)My Profile

    • Sonya Cisco

      So lovely to hear tales of others experiences and that their children came to their own decision to stop, makes me feel reassured I am on the right track. I am sure I will miss it, he is my last baby too xx

  7. becky

    Scuse me I rarely swear but David walliams is a F*** idiot for doing that sketch there are enough issues around sexualising breast feeding. I fed both of mine till 2 and stopped before we were ready because of people making me feel bad. its ridiculous its western and its a social construct to say you should wean at a given young age …when you are both ready it will be done for now enjoy its so sad when its over x
    becky recently posted…Creating a Beautiful Bedroom on a BudgetMy Profile

  8. Mummy Barrow

    The more I read stories like this the more I want to weep. Breastfeeding is what breasts are for. Not for splashing across the Sun. Or enhancing with silicone so they look better in a low cut top.

    This.

    Feeding our babies

    Why when we do it does a large chunk of society make us feel like lepers? Either pushing out of cafes / swimming pools / off the bus if we are on our own and doing it. Or commenting on how people are still feeding toddlers.

    And as for David Walliams. I would like to just punch him. How that sketch or the one about women being sick when somebody says they are gay, have ever made it on to mainstream TV is beyond me.

    You keep doing what you are doing.

    It is natural

    It is right

    It is your body and your son.

    * sticks two fingers up to the world on Sonya’s behalf *
    Mummy Barrow recently posted…Comment on Oradour sur Glane by Becky Goddard-Hill (@babybudgeting)My Profile

  9. Sarah MumofThree World

    It’s great that you’ve shared this (and people commenting have shared too) because you’re doing your bit to challenge society’s view that extended breastfeeding is somehow weird. I think you’re doing the right thing, just to let him take his time and make up his mind when he wants to stop. Two of mine self-weaned at 10 months and 15 months and I weaned one at 16 months. I would have liked to go on until about 2, but working and other children made it difficult.
    Sarah MumofThree World recently posted…School reports and social mediaMy Profile

  10. Izzie Anderton

    Pay no attention whatsoever to what society tells you to do! You are Syd’s mum & if you’re both happy it’s nobody else’s business!!
    Izzie Anderton recently posted…10 Tips for Shopping in the Summer SalesMy Profile

  11. You Baby Me Mummy

    I can just echo what the others have said, you must do what feels right for you and your son. Society make us all feel like lepers for some reason. Mine was because i DIDN’T want to BF. I have been judged, almost forced into it etc. etc x
    You Baby Me Mummy recently posted…Mums’ List #18My Profile

  12. Jess Howliston

    I think society and its judgements have a opinion on everything sometimes and regardless of what decisions w make someone will be judging us for it! I think breastfeeding is such a precious bond between a mummy and a child and you should feel comfortable to feed for as long as you see fit xx
    Jess Howliston recently posted…Cadbury Crunchie Pavlova Recipe!My Profile

  13. Nikki Thomas

    Do you know you are the first person I have ever met that has breast fed beyond the age of two and I say good on you! Breastfeeding and I didn’t get on with any of mine and I always felt a little sad that I never really experienced that bonding that you have. Syd is still your baby and you should carry on for as long as you want and not worry about what people think.
    Nikki Thomas recently posted…I hear thunderMy Profile

  14. model mummy

    Hello Miss Cisco

    A beautiful image accompanied with your post.

    I stopped breastfeeding a 6 months and really wish i had continued. He may be a big boy and he is still your baby. It would be horrible for you both just to take the feeds away and stop.

    Fingers crossed he will wean himself away!

    Good luck xx
    model mummy recently posted…Cheeky WipesMy Profile

  15. Manneskjur

    Whatever works for you and Syd is all that matters. I couldn’t carry on breastfeeding due to having too much milk (I know, how lame is that), but I wish I had of done. What a lovely bond you must both have x
    Manneskjur recently posted…62. How Does Your Garden Grow?My Profile

  16. Cass@frugalfamily

    It’s so sad how judgemental people can make us feel. I couldn’t breastfeed and struggled with that because I felt like people around me thought I was less of a mother because of that. The looks you get when you say that you didn’t breastfeed are very judgemental even though people don’t stop to think that it may not have been a choice.

    I’m very envious of the fact that you can and still do breastfeed although I completely understand how you feel about it and about what other people might feel or say.

    You’re doing what’s right for you and Syd and that can’t be a bad thing!
    Cass@frugalfamily recently posted…A month of spending in review….My Profile

  17. Michelle

    I think as long as you do what is right for Syd and for you then, then sod what anyone else thinks! x
    Michelle recently posted…Berry Nice [Project 365:2014 - Day 201]My Profile

  18. Vicky (@aroundandupsidedown)

    As someone who was shamed into breastfeeding two babies who should not have been breastfed (both tounge tied) I first thought I would not be able to comment. Then I thought, wait…I let ‘society’ and pushy midwives force me into situations that in hindsight were not right for either me or my children, and I don’t think anyone should be put under that pressure, either to breastfeed when it’s not right for them or their child, or to stop breastfeeding when it so obviously is. Stick to your guns babes – feeding your child is what they are for ;-)
    Vicky (@aroundandupsidedown) recently posted…Challenging isms: Ableism in Media and the Fashion Industry – An Accurate Representation of the PopulationMy Profile

  19. Jenny

    It’s lovely to read so much support for what can only be your and Syd’s decision.
    Jenny recently posted…20 Disney Planes activitiesMy Profile

  20. Ness (@jibberjabberuk)

    I stopped breastfeeding my son at 14 months when he decided bedtime stories were better than bedtime milk. He could have had both but wanted cuddles and a story more. What you do in your own home is up to you. Many people just don’t understand breastfeeding full stop.
    Ness (@jibberjabberuk) recently posted…Meaty BologneseMy Profile

  21. Rachel @ Parenthood Highs and Lows

    My youngest has just self weaned at 21 months. I only ever thought I’d feed for six months maximum. I am far from the typical extended bfer (if there is a typical one!) But I enjoyed it. I think had I not been pregnant he would have carried on feeding a lot longer, but in all honesty I was ready for him to stop as well ( nursing aversion was kicking in big time!) But I’m so proud to have bf. Anyone, whether bf for 2 days or 3 years should be proud !
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  22. Laura

    First of all, well done on breastfeeding for so long! A lot of women can find it difficult (me included) so it’s inspiring to hear about someone who has been able to keep it going for so long.

    I agree with others, that Syd will stop in his own time. If you’re both happy with it for now then why not continue? It’s society’s problem, not yours. There’s too much judgement in this world, especially when it comes to the issue of breastfeeding.
    Laura recently posted…Entertaining children for less during the summerMy Profile

  23. agatapokutycka

    Good for you and good for your little boy.
    I think you should do what feels right and ignore all the “crazy” people around.
    agatapokutycka recently posted…Baking with Soreen – Chocolate Soreen FlapjacksMy Profile

  24. suzanne3childrenandit

    Brilliant post Sonya. I think this is sadly another thing that society is making us feel guilty over. I am experiencing similar over being (largely) a SAHM mum at the moment – the pressure to go out and earn my way. The facts are, we shouldn’t feel we have to do anything because someone is telling us we should. Follow your heart and your baby’s needs. He will tell you when he doesn’t want it anymore and if he doesn’t, then I’ll see you on one of those fly on the wall documentaries in 10 years time lol! Seriously, please dont feel guilty. Breastfeeding is a beautiful thing. x x
    suzanne3childrenandit recently posted…Family Days Out – View from The ShardMy Profile

  25. Kara

    I have breastfed all mine until at least the age of 2 and a half, two of them were gone 3. It is a challenge getting them to stop and in the end cold turkey was the only thing that worked – it only takes 3 days to change the habit……….you have to want to change the habit though :0)
    Kara recently posted…Hippychick Hammam Toddler Poncho Towel GiveawayMy Profile

  26. Julie

    I’d ignore what people say, syd is your son and it’s your choice. I don’t think people should judge anyone for breastfeeding until later or anyone who chooses not to breastfeed.
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  27. Pauline

    My daughter alternates between ‘I’m a big girl’ and ‘I’m a little girl’ depending on whether she’s using the potty or wanting to nurse. She turned 3 this week and I see no end to breastfeeding as it stands. It doesn’t help that I’m more regularly nursing the 1 year old but she’s always been a milk addict and who can blame her, she tells me it tastes a bit like ice-cream…
    Pauline recently posted…Not a toddler anymoreMy Profile

  28. Karen

    The ‘I small again now mummy’ comment literally brought a tear to my eye. It’s a hard one isn’t it. Not quite the same thing but my little one is nearly 3 and still has a dummy at night. Funnily enough even though we’ve had similar ‘you’re a big boy now’ conversations. But similarly is a comfort. I’m due in sept and don’t really want to take that away until he’s ready.

  29. Swazi rodgers

    I was gutted when my boy self-weaned off the breast around 14 months as I’d intended to breast feed for as long as possible. It’s no one else’s business and you’re doing what’s best for you and Syd.

    You go mama !!
    Swazi rodgers recently posted…It’s not all work, work, work you know :)My Profile

  30. Sarah

    I’ve come under pressure to use bottles since my daughter was born, she is now ten months and I still get comments from family members about how bottles and or formula or cows milk would be better (so far she is exclusively bf). It seems many people think they are entitled to make judgements and pass comments on how you look after your baby and what you do with your body. I am continually trying to retrain myself not to be affected by what people say and also what I imagine they are thinking or saying, and it sounds as though you are struggling with a similar problem. As we can see in your situation, Schools are one of the most intense places for enforcing conformity and suppressing people through collective judgements, and it wonder if it might be interesting to see how far one can withstand the fears we naturally have about playground issues for our children and ourselves. If he is still fed at four, so what and why should any child or parent pass judgement on that? If someone is unpleasant about it, that is they who have a problem, not you or your son. Shaming children for something that is not wrong, would be very wrong. See if you can imagine being less afraid about that milestone and tell those imagined playground bullies that they are nothing more than bullies and it’s none of their business . Your and your sons happiness and security are what matters here. Be proud.
    Sarah recently posted…Dear DaughterMy Profile

  31. dairyfreebabyandme

    Thank you for putting this into words. I felt like I was reading about us, when I read your post. I too have felt the ‘shame’ because of negative remarks in the media and have consequently hid it to some extent. Yet I know I’m doing the right thing for me and my LO. Even though it was not what I imagined in the beginning, I couldn’t imagine doing this any other way.

    ‘No retreat, no surrender,’ say I!

  32. laura godfrey

    My daughter was 3 in may. Still feeding her at night time, even though I told her it would have to stop when she turned three. She wont go to sleep without it… well not for a very long time when I’m not in the house.
    Find it v depressing when people realise and say blimey she’s old to still be feeding.
    The start of our breastfeeding journey was tough, and as my first child failed to ever latch on I was determined for it to work second time. Just seems to have worked too well…!

  33. Anya from Older Single Mum and The Healer

    I think it’s wonderful and brave you’ve blogged about this. Like you say, the average age worldwide is four. You’re doing nothing wrong and neither is Syd. Not only is it good for him, but it’s awfully good for you too. And if our society were a bit more accepting of this kind of thing, perhaps it wouldn’t be so f*****d up! Congratulations on doing what is right and perfect for you both for so long and perhaps he’s picking up on you not wanting to let go either, and there’s nothing wrong with that either. Much love. Long may it continue x
    Anya from Older Single Mum and The Healer recently posted…How to Make Curry and The Good Wife Test.My Profile

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