Before I ever decided to have a child, I knew that I would want to exclusively breastfeed. I know that this isn’t easy for some, and it can be painful in the beginning, but I wanted to persevere and I got through the difficulty of latching and the painful stage.
I’m not going to lie, during the first week I suffered, I struggled, it was painful and I was sore. I discovered these silver nursing cups* that actually helped heal me quite quickly. A much cheaper and apparently effective method to help with this issue is cabbage leaves. I never tried it, but you can always give it a go before spending money on something you will probably only use short-term. I have kept mine for future use.
I completely understand why so many women can’t breastfeed, or decide not to. Sometimes baby just won’t latch, its not the most comfortable thing in the world, and even if you get through the difficult stage, your breasts feel uncomfortable when engorged. They leak and suddenly you have pads in your bra to avoid a wet patch, honestly, I get it, it’s not easy, and it’s definitely not glamorous. But my decision was to continue, and I didn’t want my son to take formula.
My baby and I got into the swing of things after a couple of weeks, and actually, it became a bit of a struggle for me to get to the point of giving up breastfeeding. This is the initial bonding time for mother and baby, and my son showed no signs of wanting to give up. To be honest, the longer I continued breastfeeding him, the harder I found letting this go. My baby boy went from little baby to toddler in what feels like a blink of an eye, his growing up so fast, and I guess in a way I have been trying to hold on for fear of losing this bond. But I really didn’t want to turn into that mum that breastfed her 9-year-old! That just seems wrong.
I breastfed for 22 months, and I got massively judged by many. I didn’t expect a medal, but I expected not to be judged for something that’s the most natural thing in the world, even by a nurse, she actually laughed at me. Seriously?! I don’t get the problem, or why people find breastfeeding beyond 12 months so disturbing. I got the same question all the time “You’re still breastfeeding? doesn’t he have teeth??”. Why not praise me for continuing and only giving my son organic foods, what’s so wrong with this?
Tamara Ecclestone breastfed her daughter Fifi until she was at least two or three, I don’t know if she’s still going, but I think each to their own, and what feels right for you. For me continuing until my son was 22 months and 2 weeks was long enough, and I pat myself on the back for carrying on for so long. I feel proud, not embarrassed to say that I continued for as long as I did.
My son started taking a bottle (Oatly*) when I started back at work, but one day he just decided he didn’t want it anymore. I was stuck breastfeeding in the morning whilst trying to get ready for work and again at bedtime and sometimes even when I got home from work.
I eventually weaned him down to just late evening, and sporadic feeds, but he still wouldn’t take a bottle, and I think it was more about comfort than actually needing milk from me.
That all changed when my sister popped round recently. My son was tired and wanted a nap, and sometimes he wanted comfort from me before taking his nap. My sister took him upstairs and demanded I got a bottle ready, I said “he won’t take it”, and she said, “just try”.
I went upstairs and gave my sister the bottle, but my son immediately started reaching for me, and I reluctantly left the room. After about 5 minutes my sister appeared in the living room, she said he took the bottle and his settling for his nap. Honestly, I was surprised, but from that day forward I think I breastfed him only one last time, and since then he takes a cup of milk as his choice of beverage during a meal, or after lunch when he asks for it, and before bed.
All it took was for me to walk away to get him back on the bottle. I tried so many times before this and he always refused it, I think because it was always me offering it to him, and he wanted comfort from me instead of a bottle of warm milk. Having my sister offer it to him, he had no choice but to take it, and since then it’s been a breeze.
If you are thinking about weaning, I recommend dropping one feed at a time over a couple of weeks and offering a bottle. If your child doesn’t take the bottle then let someone else try, this is where I failed for so long, so learn from my mistakes and good luck!
I just want to say thank you to my husband, who supported my decision to do extended breastfeeding. Also, thank you to my sister for helping me and my son move on from this stage. It’s an end of an era.
*Please note that I have used a couple of affiliate links in this post. This post has not been sponsored, and this is just my personal experience and views on breastfeeding.