Gah, I'm turning into a secret extended breastfeeder

(55 Posts)
coldcupoftea Fri 25-Jan-13 21:49:07

DD2 is 2.7 and still breastfeeding- recently I'm realising more and more that actually I enjoy it, I genuinely don't care how long it goes on for, it is a lovely feeling to give DD the one thing that totally gives her comfort and relaxes her.

So how come I feel embarrassed to mention it to people (and never really do) , if close friends ask 'you're not still feeding her are you??" in an incredulous voice I usually come over all sheepish and say something like "well yeah, I know, but it's only at bedtime and we're going to stop soon..." and quickly change the subject.

DH really wants me to stop ( apart from when she occasionally wakes up in the night, in which case he's kicking me out of bed to go and feed her). He keeps telling her things like "mummy's milk is going to stop soon, you're a big girl".

I never thought I'd end up BF an older child, but she loves it so much I can't see her stopping anytime soon.

And why should she stop?? And how come I'm feeling all this pressure that I shouldn't be doing it anymore? She is happy, healthy, bright, just a normal lovely little girl. It is the one thing that gives her comfort when she is sad or tired. She's never had a dummy, or a favourite teddy, just mummy. I think it's cute that she asks for 'milky' (though I cringe when she says it in front of anyone else). I think it's a bit sad that she has realised it isn't something we do in public, and she usually only asks for it at home, when we are alone.

No reason for this post other than the fact I can't talk to anyone in real life about this- even my most 'hardcore' breastfeeding friends stopped by 18 months. And I'm feeling a bit crap because DH wants me to stop.

narmada Fri 25-Jan-13 22:15:10

You could try making the point to DH that if you stop BF it is going to be him getting up in the night to go and comfort her, ditto all weekend when she gets upset/ tired/ cross grin ...

If people are rude enough to go with the 'STILL feeding...?' line, then I would be tempted to just say "yes I am. Are you not? Why did you stop? (and then look wide-eyed and aghast). Turn the tables I say (but then I am a bit confrontational in my head.

Honestly, it is no-one's business but you and your DD. Natural weaning age is anywhere up to 5 (and some would argue, beyond that). The majority of UK residents (and I include myself in that as I stopped at 7 wks with DS and 22 mos with DD) are the wierd ones, in comparative international terms. Do keep that in mind the next time someone sticks their beak in. You're doing a great thing for your DD.

narmada Fri 25-Jan-13 22:21:52

As to why you feel the way you do (a bit embarrassed and secretive) I think it's down to cultural pressures and social conformity. There is a lot of emphasis on the need for children to be 'independent' at quite ridiculously early ages here, and also on breasts as commodities and sexual objects. You're allowed to loan your breasts out for, oooh, 6 months to your infant, but then it's about time you claimed them back for yourself/ your DH..... Not very well expressed but you get my drift.

I also think there is a genuine lack of awareness about the natural course of breastfeeding, not helped by NHS advice that suggests a six-month stint is the ideal to aim for....

Teapot13 Fri 25-Jan-13 22:22:09

This is great, and obviously really good for your DD -- she'll stop when she's ready. 2.7 isn't "extended" anyway -- it's well within the range of time humans usually nurse. I fed my DD till 22 months, when she stopped abruptly. I thought it was a strike, and I did all the things they advise to get her started again, but she never did.

Has your DH verbalized what bothers him about it? If he genuinely things that she is too old, or that it won't be good for her to nurse this long, maybe you can educate him a bit. There must be some good information on the web, starting with WHO guidance? If he just feels squeamish about it, maybe you can agree to disagree and leave him out of it? I mean, since he's the father, obviously it isn't fair if his opinion counts for nothing, but he should at the very least have an informed opinion.

I really, really would not worry about what anyone else says. If you don't want to feed in public anymore you can work on "nursing manners" so your DD learns to request and feed in a way that's comfortable for you.

GandalfsHat Fri 25-Jan-13 22:22:51

I could have written your post, except DS is almost 18 months. DH would prefer me to stop, but no serious pressure yet. As for stopping, I have no idea how to go about it (not that I want to, anyway). I don't admit to anybody I'm still feeding him as I just can't deal with the comments anymore, from feeling sorry for me right through to ickyness and disgust, iykwim. How to you deal with that? Would love some tips. As for your DH, I have no advice, sorry, but can see that becoming an issue for me soon.

As an aside, and if I may ask, have your periods returned? (sorry). I only feed him at naptime, bedtime and once or so at night if he is unsettled like when teething or sick. Just wondering when it will return. Def not pregnant, have tested loads.

narmada Fri 25-Jan-13 22:30:29

gandalf's hat I got periods back at around 15 mos, SIL not until she stopped feeding DN at just over 3. Totally normal (and bloody lucky IMHO!) not to have periods.

DD was breastfed until she self-weaned at 2.2. I got a lot of the same comments but fortunately DH was very supportive. I'm now feeding DS, who recently turned 1, and I just know people will start commenting again soon! hmm

As narmada said, natural weaning age is anything up to around 5 or 6. Something I found helpful was thinking of it as natural-term breastfeeding. 'Extended' implies that it has gone beyond its proper length of time, which isn't the case at all.

narmada Fri 25-Jan-13 22:32:22

Good point joyful.

DD the other day (nearly 5) said she would love to still be able to have milk. I believed her. .....

Gandalf after DD my periods came back around 9 months. I'm still waiting for them to come back after DS. You can still ovulate without periods though - I know someone who hasn't had a period since she conceived her first child and she now has 5!

KatherinaMinola Fri 25-Jan-13 22:42:45

Yes, it's natural term breastfeeding. No reason at all to stop. I still feed my DD (2y 8mo), in public too - but I'm in London, so I don't feel too unusual. Incidentally, on several occasions I've had women come up to me when I'm feeding to say that they fed their child to 3, 4 or 5!

I actually think it's quite horrid what your DH has said to your DD - quite stressful and upsetting for her. Presumably she still feeds because she's not ready to stop yet!

Just stop apologizing for yourself (that's a general rule of life, btw) and develop a 'Yep, what's it to you?' attitude. And no need to cringe when your DD asks in a sweet way for something quite natural.

KatherinaMinola Fri 25-Jan-13 22:44:21

Oh, my periods didn't return until DD was past 2.

Zappo Fri 25-Jan-13 22:44:24

I've bf my DD for a long time (a lot longer than anyone I know) and have no idea when she will stop. Whenever I ask her , she just gives me a deadline i.e her birthday, then we get there and she goes on.

My family know (but are keen for me to stop).

I can't tell people outside the family now as it's so taboo and I don't want my to feel self-conscious about it or for my DD to feel uncomfortable. My Dh does say "imagine if you were 18 and you were told you'd breastfed for x years, how would you have felt?". Does he have a point?

I'm very very proud of our breastfeeding journey but I now think it's probably time she stopped.

No need for you to stop but just be aware if they get to three without self-weaning they often go on and on.....and then one day you may have to initiate the end of breastfeeding.

GandalfsHat Fri 25-Jan-13 22:45:15

Narmada so 3 years and 10 months without periods and 5 years Jumper shock

I kind of miss mine...

(sorry for derailing your thread to periods OP)

KatherinaMinola Fri 25-Jan-13 22:47:51

Zappo, how old is your DD, out of interest?

coldcupoftea Fri 25-Jan-13 22:52:16

Ooh narmada I love your response! grin. Might try that one. It's true it's one of those things people feel they can comment on, they don't comment on other aspects of my parenting, so why this?

As for feeling embarrassed about it, I think seeing DD and how genuinely happy and secure it makes her feel, I feel annoyed with myself on her behalf, and think it shouldn't be secretive, it's a very positive thing for her. I wish we lived in a society where it was more accepted.

Teapot thanks for the lovely reply, DH's argument for stopping is mainly that she's too old- that's it! She only feeds twice a day most days, so not a great deal, and she is happy for DH to put her to bed, so it's not as if I can't leave her. It's a shame, as in the early days he was so suppportive of breastfeeding, and defemded me a lot against MIL who was very vocal that DD needed a bottle (she was 9th percentile and tiny- not that you would know it now!)

I am proud to have BF for this long, and I genuinely think it has been of huge benefit to her, we have a very strong bond. Shame he doesn't see it that way.

GandalfsHat, I am probably not the best example, a year ago my reply was usually 'yeah, I'll probably stop when she's 2...' grin My periods are surprisingly pretty regular now, but didn't come back until she was around 20 months.

Btw is anyone else now humming the R Whites song? grin

Zappo Fri 25-Jan-13 22:56:18

Don't know if this will out me.... (mind you not many in RL know). She has just started school.

Startail Fri 25-Jan-13 22:57:22

Why the hell does your DH want you to stop. Surely it doesn't affect him one bit. DD2 would tell him it's very nice and special feeding and all DCs should do it until they want to stop.

DCs who are not BF ing still wake in the night. Even big 10 year olds get horrible coughs and demand hot Ribena and hugs at 3am.

I was lucky one friends DD also fed to 5 (stopped because she really was a pain at night) and another friends would have done if mum hadn't had another baby.

DD2 fed well into school age (she cottoned on to letting parents sleep about 2 or 3 and fed while letting us snooze anyway). She didn't stop until she really was old enough to have typed the above herself grin

It was her not me who choose to keep it a secret.
She's far and away the most socially astute one.

She simply didn't ask to feed in public after she was about 18 months and I didn't offer. Not because I minded, but because she got to tall to feed not on a sofa or in bed. She just didn't fit on my knee.

Only DSIS has ever said anything about how long I fed her for and she knows full well that I'm not going to worry what my little sister thinks.

Please tell your DH that DCs who carry on feeding do so because it's important to them, they don't do it annoy.

I'm certain It gave DD2 a sense of security that was part of what allowed her to be the most confident and grown up of children at nursery and then at school.

pearlgirl Fri 25-Jan-13 22:58:10

I found myself not correcting people who assumed that I had stopped bf ds3 as he approached 2 but in conversations with friends with children the same age I discovered they were still bf as well. Ds3 bf until he self- weaned - the only comments I got were from pil and dh dealt with them.
This time ds4 will bf until he chooses not to - and I made a conscious decision to answer people's questions. DS4 is now 2yrs 9months and in the summer my brother made reference to the fact that I could now go away and leave ds4 for longer periods of time and was very suprised to find I was still bf him.

changeforthebetter Fri 25-Jan-13 22:59:23

I never intended to feed long term. X was against going past 6 months. But DD2 loved her milk. She still talks wistfully about bf a year after weaning at just over 4 yo. She just loved it. I knew it was good for her. End of really. And as for making her clingy; she is happy, confident and full of beans, skipping through the door at school with nary a backward glance. Wish I had taken the same approach with DD1......

KatherinaMinola Fri 25-Jan-13 23:02:42

Zappo, I seriously doubt you are the only one bfing a 4 year old grin Thanks for replying though - I suspect DD is in for the long haul too.

coldcupoftea Fri 25-Jan-13 23:06:18

Joyful, natural term breastfeeding, right I'm going to stick with that one! I think DD will definitely carry on for as long as she can, she just genuinely loves it so much.

Katharina you are right, and lately I am trying to stop being apologetic about it. I don't advertise the fact, but when DD starts sticking all the dolls up her jumper at toddler group and says 'they having milky' it's hard to ignore grin

Zappo, I'm also intrigued to know how old your DD is? I actually can't imagine my DD ever self weaning.

Zappo Fri 25-Jan-13 23:07:29

Yes I know there are loads of us out there in cyberspace butI don't know any others in real life (or they haven't admitted it). I do live in an area with a low bf rate though.

KatherinaMinola Fri 25-Jan-13 23:12:49

Mine does the same (breastfeeding teddies etc). It's very cute! Really, really, it doesn't matter if people know she still bfs. I don't know where you are or what the norm is there, but no-one bats an eyelid when I feed at toddler groups, and until recently there was another mother feeding an older child at a group I went to.

The more we behave normally, the more normal this becomes. As I say, in London it does not feel an odd thing to do.

GandalfsHat Fri 25-Jan-13 23:13:52

Before DS1 was born I had read all the books, bought the crib, the cot, the everything, I was going to parent Like The Book Said. The DS turned up and turned it all upside down. I could not put him in a cot/crib/anywhere, I had to have him with me at all times and as irrational as that sounds, I had the URGE to parent that way. My intentions for routine etc turned into full on co-sleeping, breastfeeding, AP without me even thinking about it. DH was trying to be very 'helpful' until we had a big argument one day and I tried to make him understand that a lot of what I'm thinking/feeling/doing is driven more by a primal instinct of what I need to do with and for my baby than anything else. I was never prepared for the way the way instinct would just take over my brain. And him calling my 'instinctive actions' into question caused real anxiety! I think the 'extended' breastfeeding issue is the same. We all know, instinctively, that it is right, for us, our DC's, see the benefits in their development, etc. I think if I get one more comment, I am ready to respond with a kindly 'fuck off'. And he is only 18 months. I cannot see him stopping soon. But I will deff keep doing what feels right for us. The day it doesn't, I'll stop. And that's it.

What's with this 6 month 'acceptable limit' anyway? Who dreamt that up?

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