Breastfeeding one year on

It’s funny, but it almost seems like people’s attitudes to hearing that you breastfeed your baby flip overnight from “Well done” to a shudder of disgust on her first birthday. You don’t have to anymore, so why would you? They start to get a little nervous: they always thought you were normal, but are you going to turn out to be an Extended Breastfeeder, and will they have to grin and bear it while you whip your boob out in a cafe and feed your three year old?

I am sitting here at stupid o’clock in the morning, feeding her. This is our last and only feed in the day now. I dropped the late afternoon/early evening feed around her birthday with a sigh of relief, turning my attention back to my non-nursing bras and un-breastfeeding-friendly dresses. But I also feel a bit bad. Dropping the evening feed was my decision, not hers. Sometimes she gets fractious at that time of day and tugs at my top, and I let my gaze guiltily slide away from her. I get up and find her a banana or some bread sticks. I have offered her cow’s milk, but she doesn’t like it. She will take a sip and let it sit in her mouth for a moment. She pulls a face and slowly it comes dribbling back out. She now knows the pink cup does not contain tasty water like the orange one and won’t even try the contents.

She has always been a young lady who knows what she likes. She will try any kind of food once, but if it doesn’t meet with her approval she will offer it back to me, and if I’m not prompt about accepting her gift, she drops it on the floor. Milk was not popular. I am amazed and astounded, really, because as a family we go through litres of the stuff per week. Her brother is a milk evangelist: any little friend he visits who is reportedly a milk-refuser will be eagerly drinking cup-fulls of it by the time the Boy goes home. But he has yet to work his magic on his sister.

She knows what she likes.

She likes Mummy’s milk better.

And why wouldn’t she? It is still the best milk for her. It is still designed just for her. It still tastes a little different every day – and let’s face it: cows eat grass, but Mummy eats lots of chocolate, ergo she produces tastier milk.

My baby is one, and I am still breastfeeding her. It is still good for her. It is still full of things she needs. It is nutritious, it protects against illnesses, it is comforting. Yes, it is comforting. When I sit here at 5 am and she won’t go back to sleep quietly and we are both crying because we are so tired, it is comforting for her and me. Frustration melts away. She feeds and calms down. She tugs on my hair. I lie my head back against the sofa and snore with my mouth open while she feeds. She grins at me and all is well. Then she toddles off, slipping and sliding on the laminate on her pyjama-ed feet, clutching a plastic banana in one hand and a Numberjacks DVD in the other.

My baby is one and I am still breastfeeding her. I’m not embarrassed. I’m proud. I have made it this far from really very difficult beginnings. I so nearly quit so many times when she was tiny, but I persevered and saw it through and managed to give her the best nutrition I had available. It was true that there was pain in the night, but joy came with the morning.

So my baby is one, and is a toddler now, and I am still breastfeeding her. In case you were wondering, the appropriate response is still: “Well done.”

25 responses

  1. You get a big well done from me Judith. I had a similar experience with my second, who I fed for 15 months. At a year we were down to one feed before bed and, because it was an integral part of her routine, I wasn’t going to take it away from her before she was ready to give it up. I got all sorts of comments though – especially from nursery which shocked me as I would have thought they would encourage feeding. Anyway, good for you. Who cares what other people think? If you and your girl are happy, that’s all that matters really🙂

  2. And a well done from me too. The World health organisation recommends up to 2 years so it must be ok😉. My 25 month old daughter and I are in the slow process of ending breast feeding. She’s decided she’s no longer interested most mornings. I will feel sad when it’s over for a short while, but I’ll never feel guilty that we went over 6 months or a year. It’s good for her, it was good for me and we never had to spend a penny on formula.

  3. Well done Judith, only you and your daughter know what is best and as long as it feels right for you both it really is no one else’s business! As long as she needs the feeds it is great that you supply them.

    • Thank you, and you are right, it really is no one else’s business. They wouldn’t even know… except I just put it on the Internet of course.🙂

  4. Absolutely well done, with a bouquet of flowers thrown in and a cherry on top! It’s such a natural, wholesome thing, and as Tibbons approaches the 1 year milestone and we continue with the breast, I can empathise with a lot of what you say!

  5. Such a lovely post. And bloody well done on getting to a year! I really really struggled with breastfeeding, expressed for four months instead and have always wished I could have done what you’re doing! Carry on for as long as YOU want to, sod everyone else.

    • Four months of expressing! You’re a bit of a hero. Well done!! I think if the Girl hadn’t decided after a month to feed from both boobs after all and I had had to continue expressing I would probably have given up.

  6. Well done Judith (I didn’t need to read the last line to know to say that either!). It’s amazing what you have given her. Try not to feel bad about dropping the evening feed. There always has to be a balance. You will know when the time is right to stop. And you have the rest of your lives to not breast- feed, so enjoy it while you can. I still miss it 4 years on xx

    • Generally she seems fine with just the one feed so yes, perhaps I should shelve the guilt! I will enjoy the early morning cuddles while they last, as you say, there will be plenty of time to not-breast feed.

  7. Wahoo! A MASSIVE well done! I so wish there had been parent blogs like yours around when I was nursing mine, as I found it so hard (going on for so looooong that I couldnt’ practically do it for my second as we never got out to take my eldest to the park etc). I felt guilty a bout that to begin with but then thought heck, I can’t beat myself up if i felt i couldnt do it. I look at mums breastfeeding and go all goo-ey eyed. I love it. And yet I found it so hard and really didn’t have enough support to see it through. So big big pat on the back. S

    • I could never have got this far without massive amounts of support! I really think successful breastfeeding is dependent on how much support you get (when needed, of course, I’ve also heard from mums who found all the offers of help irritating as things were going fine). Now that I’m at this point it’s hard to remember the time when I was crying during every feed because I was in so much pain and felt I couldn’t carry on.

  8. Too right the response is well done. The HUGEST well done! This post is wonderful. Made me well up and laugh – chocolate milk totally trumps grass milk😉 You paint such a clear picture that so many mothers will know all too well – the exhausted tears, the difficulties of moving on from the breastfeeding chapter and the beautiful connection it can foster. You should be incredibly proud of yourself xx

    • Have been patting myself on the back all day!🙂 When I think how close I was to giving up in the third week, I just get a little tearful to think that now it is so easy, so natural and such a lovely thing we share.

  9. I think that’s wonderful! I breastfed my last baby up until he was a year old, he didn’t protest at stopping but then we discovered he was allergic to cows milk, I felt terribly guilty for him feeling so ill and wished I’d stuck to breast feeding for another year.

  10. It’s so lovely to read that you are managing to continue such a special and important feeding relationship. Mothering is nurturing and we do that in whatever way feels natural and right – well done you!

  11. Hiya, well done. You say it so perfectly. I remember stopping breastfeeding my daughter at one yrs old. I stopped because I thought I should and because people were telling I should be going out etc by now (I didn;t go out ever whilst breastfeeding). I regret it and I remember the sadness I felt when she finally accepted it. I missed it terribly xx

  12. Good for you for keeping going! I think attitudes have improved to breastfeeding even since mine were little. I fed two of mine beyond a year – to 15 and 16 months – and the other to 10 months. I think far more people go beyond a year now than did back then. I would have liked to have gone to 2 with my daughter, but she opted to stop herself a 15 months. The only one of mine I ‘forced’ to stop was my younger son, at 16 months. Both my daughter and younger son picked up chicken pox within a month of giving up. Coincidence? I think not!
    My kids have always been very healthy and I put this down to extended breastfeeding, which can protect up to age 7 from some illnesses.

  13. Pingback: The Politics of Breastfeeding | Mummy Tries

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