Today we went to a baby group where all the mums were breastfeeding (this situation is where my breastfeeding grief feels strongest, I’ve cried at a group before because I was the only one without a baby attached to my breast).
We were chatting and the topic moved to extended breastfeeding. That’s breastfeeding a baby over one year, a toddler or a child. The general consensus was that once they’re old enough to pull your top down and ask for it, they shouldn’t be breastfed anymore. A lot of the mums said that they think its probably ok to breastfeed until they’re a year old. One of the leaders described some children they had come into contact with who were breastfed until they were 3 or 4, and nobody felt this was right. Some of them believed extended breastfeeding would damage the child.
I used to think like this. I remember a few years ago a friend telling me she had seen a lady breastfeeding her 3 year old, and I thought it sounded wrong. I thought that once a child was old enough to realise what they were doing, they should stop. I guess it’s because I really don’t have a good relationship with my mum, and the idea of being that close makes me feel funny. But the reality is we are biologically meant to feed our children. Society puts so much pressure on children to grow up too quickly, and they are encouraged to wean at the first opportunity. Having been to our local La Leche League meetings where I have seen children up to at least 3 years old breastfeeding, I can see the benefits. The children are all incredibly brave and independent, polite and considerate, and I’ve seen children of all ages come back to mum for a cuddle. I want this with George, it breaks my heart that one day he might not want to be around me. Plus if I can’t get him to latch as a baby, once I can show him what to do, he might decide he wants to. Breastfeeding a toddler would be better than never having the chance to at all.
So I told the group, that if George ever does feed from me (ditto if he continues having expressed milk), he can have it for as long as he wants. He’s my son, I’m his mummy and I want him to go out into the world with a secure bond to come back to, and for me that includes breastfeeding.