I love breastfeeding (most of the time, but deffo not always!), but this post isn’t to shame anyone who didn’t want to/couldn’t breastfeed, or who hasn’t carried it on as long as I’ve chosen to. I’m not about that, boo.
On the 15th of June, I will have been feeding Ruben for 18 whole months. That is around 547 days of producing food for him. For the first 6 months of his life, I was his main source of food and nutrition and in those exhausting first few weeks of cluster feeding, I would feed him for hours at a time.
I’ve always been quite vocal about our nursing journey and even posted a breastfeeding top tips blog when he was just 3 weeks old, as well as a later post on how you can support a nursing partner. I really want to undertake the training this year to become a breastfeeding volunteer and help other mamas who want or need support, because I feel that there just isn’t enough support for those who want to breastfeed, so I want to be a part of helping to change that.
I’ve never been shy about getting my boobs out, (as those who went to Uni with me will attest to!), so it wasn’t something that was ever going to change when there’s a baby attached to them. I think I’m lucky in that respect. I had to feed Ruben in front of people before he was even a day old, because I was sat in the hospital waiting room, on the way out, but our car had broken down. While waiting for the in-laws to rescue us, I noticed some feeding cues, so I knew I just had to do it – people around or not. I was glad I got that hurdle out of the way early as it meant I was a little more confident the next time (in the cafe in M&S when he was a few days old).
Now I’ll flop ‘em out at any old time. The only issue is that Ruben is currently going through a stage where he wants them both to choose from. Sometimes he wants to cuddle one, and feed from the other. In the right setting, it’s cute AF. But at a family BBQ, or in the park, it’s not so acceptable!
I’ve also had to feed him while wheeling him around in the trolley in Tesco. It’s not that easy to lean over with your boob in a toddlers’ mouth while you’re walking and grabbing your essentials, but I’ve done it and no doubt I’ll do it again.
Feeding a toddler is such a different experience to feeding a newborn. There are less calm snuggles, and more acrobatics. Ruben will sometimes feed while doing a downwards facing dog on the sofa. He has learnt to pull my top down or up to get them out, even though he can sign ‘milk’ beautifully.
We mostly feed in a straddle position now, which is very different from the cradle of newborn, but is still lovely when he nuzzles in and falls asleep sat on my lap. It’s also a nice rest for my arms!
Sometimes when he sees them, he gets so excited. I even did a TikTok challenge showing his reaction! He loves them. He recently handed me my bra one morning, pointed at his own nipples, and when I put it on, he waved goodbye to them – he’s so gosh darn cute! It’s just lovely!
So why am I still feeding an 18-month-old? Well, because I can.
But at the same time, it doesn’t hurt that The World Helath Organisation recommends breastfeeding until at least 2.
All the physical benefits of breastfeeding don’t just stop when the clock strikes midnight on their first birthday. They still get the immunity from colds, ear infections, and allergies. It still lessens the risk of me getting ovarian or breast cancer. There are so many benefits to breastfeeding.a toddler.
When I feed Roo, I feel happy that he’s getting everything he needs, even now at 18 months, so on days when he only wants to eat cheese and raspberries, (because toddlers can be fussy and weird) I worry a little less than I would otherwise.
If he falls over, or has a bad dream, I know that milkies can settle him and make him feel safe again.
Of course, that’s not to say it’s all sunshine and lollipops. I currently have a horrific sore on one of my nipples that heals up daily, but then is ripped open again during each feed. It hurts so much it makes my toes curl, but I think myself lucky because at the start of lockdown, it was on both sides and feeding knocked me sick. It’s also hard to get a diagnosis over the phone to the GP, so it’s been an issue, but thankfully the local breastfeeding support volunteers have been fab.
Another difficult thing is being shamed for still feeding. I get it a lot.
“Surely you’re not still feeding him?!”
“When are you going to wean him?”
“He doesn’t need milk anymore!”
Even a Doctor, who I went to with suspected thrush of the nips said with a sarcastic smirk, “Well, you could just stop feeding him? He’s a big boy”.
It’s annoying at best. Hurtful at worst. But then I get nice comments from other mums (usually online) who also want to feed their babies past 12 months, and it feels more like an achievement than something I should feel ashamed of.
Steven is also incredibly supportive. Me breastfeeding has certainly not affected the bond between him and Roo – they are bestest friends, and a lot of the time Ruben prefers Daddy anyway! There are other ways for dads to bond with their babies, so don’t let anyone try to tell you you shouldn’t breastfeed because Dad will feel left out.
Now don’t get me wrong, I can’t imagine I’ll still be feeding him when he’s 5 (no judgement if that’s your bag, you do you boo!). My plan at the moment is to keep feeding on demand, until he decides he’s finished, or I feel like I can’t any more. On one hand, I’d love a little break between finishing feeding Roo, and getting pregnant with baby number two (to enjoy having my boobs back, and perhaps even get a little tattoo while I can!), but then again, I love seeing people tandem feeding and it feels really special to be able to do that. I guess I’ll leave it up to fate.
So my point is, yes, I am still breastfeeding my 18 month old. I love it. He loves it. And honestly, I don’t care if you think it’s gross – you’re gross.