Is it possible to start breastfeeding at almost 2.5 years old?

(34 Posts)
Sarahdesert Mon 24-Mar-14 08:35:08

I regret no being able to due to infection and now i feel i have lost a bond, is lactation possible now?

atthestrokeoftwelve Mon 24-Mar-14 08:48:33

It is possible to induce lactation or relactate at any time. Even women who have never given birth and adopted babies can breastfeed.
However at 2.5 years your child's suckling reflex may have been lost. Trying to recapture the early days of breastfeeding and bonding may not be possible. Ultimately the needs of your child must be considered.

Can you try other ways of deepening your bond- spend lots of time playing together, reading, cuddling etc?

Bornin1984 Mon 24-Mar-14 08:50:01

Is breast milk still beneficial to a toddler? Only asking as from one year olds can have normal milk

atthestrokeoftwelve Mon 24-Mar-14 08:55:23

bornin- yes it is very beneficial.A child's immune system is still developing as a toddler- breastmilk is packed full of antibodies otherimmune boosting substances which help to support the developing system. Toddlers do get themselves into some grubby situations and breastmilk can help prevent infection.

An interesting choice of words "normal milk"- it could be argued that breastmilk is the "normal" milk, humans are the only species that choose to drink the milk from another animal.

PirateJones Mon 24-Mar-14 09:10:36

hi Sarahdesert, I know how you feel. When my nephew came to live with me he was very distant, I loved him like my own child but he had issues and understandably couldn't bond.
The very real idea crossed my mind (for a very short time) to breast feed to try and make some kind of emotional connection, suggested by a friend of mine. I decided not to as he was 3 almost 4. but I do understand the feeling of wanting to bond with children this way.

PirateJones Mon 24-Mar-14 09:11:31

Thought I’d post that in case you get disapproving posts.

tiktok Mon 24-Mar-14 09:29:34

It's physically feasible, yes - but it would need you to express to bring in the milk (if you have breastfed at all, even for a short time, then it would take less time to get a little bit of milk than someone who had not bf at all). Then you would need your child to spend a long time bf direct, and this is proba unfeasible for a toddler who has other developmental needs to run about and explore and socialise and connect with you in different ways. Two and a half year olds who breastfeed typically have very short feeds (except perhaps at night.

If this is important to you, you could consider bringing in your milk by expressing and then giving the milk to your child on a spoon (if there's only a little) or in a cup (if there's a bit more).

If you feel you are not bonded with your child - as opposed to having 'lost a bond' - then this is something you need help with and focussing on the breastfeeding is not likely to fix it.....you can share your feelings with an HCP you trust, and see if there is therapy for you locally. It's important to tackle this soon, and it does resolve. Hope you find good help.

MoominsYonisAreScary Mon 24-Mar-14 09:41:07

Possible yes, but you might find he doesnt want to. Ds3 was 22months when ds4 was born and although he was interested in what the baby was doing and also nicked any bm that id put in a cup he used to say yack when watching him feed hmm

If you are worried about bonding it might be better to speak to a hcp and see what they advise, starting to bf at 2.5 is going to be difficult and id worry that if it didnt go well you could end up feeling worse rather than it helping you bond

atthestrokeoftwelve Mon 24-Mar-14 09:44:28

He may not want to or can't. Older babies lose the suckling reflex quickly if they don't continue to breastfeed.

MoominsYonisAreScary Mon 24-Mar-14 09:45:11

If it is just that you feel you may have missed out on some kind of bonding experiance due to being unable to bf, honestly i didnt bf all of my 4 dc and the bond i have with my ff dcs is exactly the same as the ones a bf.

Sarahdesert Mon 24-Mar-14 12:00:33

i just feel I'm missing an opportunity i will never get back.
pirate why did you decide it wasn't worth the effort at 4?

HappyAsASandboy Mon 24-Mar-14 12:19:03

I know that lactation/relactation is possible, though I would worry you go to the effort required only to discover that your child no longer has the skills.

I fed my twins until 2yrs 6 months and 2yrs 9 months. They're now 3yrs 5 months and have been showing an interest in breastfeeding (lots of friends with new babies about!). I've let them try, but they don't know how to suckle anymore - they put the nipple in their mouth then look at me a bit surprised and either laugh or try to suck it like a straw!

I am quite surprised how quickly they forgot how to feed. DD fed until 2yrs 9 months, and first tried to feed again at 3yrs 2 months, but she'd forgotten how. I could still express quickly and easily in the bath, so there was milk there, but DD couldn't remember how to get it out.

Good luck, whatever you decide to do smile

atthestrokeoftwelve Mon 24-Mar-14 12:25:08

happy- same thing happened to my children. They self weaned but actually "forgot" how to breastfeed within a few days, they did try a cpule of times and were even themselves quite puzzled by the fact that they couldn't remember how to suckle. They were amused by the fact that the ability to suckle just disappeared so quickly.
I believe that is part of the process.

I would also be concerned that at 2.5 years a child who had not been suckled to that point would no longer have the ability to breastfeed.

PirateJones Mon 24-Mar-14 12:32:12

*pirate why did you decide it wasn't worth the effort at 4?*

Most children stop breastfeeding by 4 when weaning is child led and he probably wouldn't have remembered how to feed. I suppose I could have expressed and gave it in a cup, becuase he was barely fed and needed all the help he could get (he was on medication for calcium and vitamin D deficiency), but I just decided not to.

Sarahdesert Mon 24-Mar-14 14:03:40

she still has a dummy, will that help keep the suckling reflex?

HappyAsASandboy Mon 24-Mar-14 16:40:53

Sarahdesert, the dummy doesn't change things, IME. My two are both big dummy users, but they still forgot how to feed.

I really hope you don't think we're trying to put you off doing this if you want too. I am certainly not, and I don't think anyone else is either. We're just trying to prepare you for the fact that Breastfeeding takes two, and it could be heartbreaking for you to go to the effort of relactating and then realise your child can't/won't feed from you.

As tiktok says, maybe there are better ways to develop your bond? I am sorry if that sounds harsh, it really is meant with a great deal of support.

MinesAPintOfTea Mon 24-Mar-14 16:53:19

To put this in perspective, ds is about 2 and still bf. I don't think its an important part of our bond any more than me serving other foodstuffs is. Its a lot of effort to go to for a "might help". And trying to bf a child with teeth when they aren't interested its quite risky.

It might be possible, but it would require a lot of patience and luck on both your parts.

CrimeaRiver Mon 24-Mar-14 17:04:08

I have to ask, OP, is this about something you are missing or something you feel your DC is missing?

By which I mean, do you feel that you have lost an opportunity to experience something particular and that you want to try to have that experience for yourself?

Or do you think your DC is missing out on something and you want to do this for your DC to not miss out?

(Regular name-changer, not a first time poster).

Sarahdesert Mon 24-Mar-14 17:54:25

I think its something she is missing out on. not only bonding but also the benefits of the milk.
i was just hoping it might be possible.

Ericadm Tue 25-Mar-14 05:51:08

I bottle fed my daughter and i am breastfeeding my son and IME is making no difference in the strength or type of bonding.

I think ypu should look at orher ways to bond and other ways to boost her health if you think you need to. Make this a positive thing in its own right.

MinesAPintOfTea Tue 25-Mar-14 06:29:12

At 2.5 only a tiny minority of her peers will all be breastfed. She is not missing out compared to them. Could you have a chat with the hv about ways to improve her health?

If reading pro-bf information makes you feel this way then I'd stop reading it. I spent months beating myself up about not having skin-to-skin with ds when he was born (due to both of us needing medical attention). Eventually I had to accept that it probably wouldn't have made much difference and move on. Once a child us at the age when only the most committed bfers with the most milk-loving children are still going it might be time to give up on that dream.

FamiliesShareGerms Tue 25-Mar-14 06:57:17

I don't know about starting bf at that age, but I can share my experiences of bonding with my two children.

DS is a birth child and was ebf until 6months and he self-weaned from me at about 8/9 months. The physical closeness def helped the bonding process, though off set by the physical pain and sheer tiredness of feeding on demand esp through the night. Although it was nice to have some exclusive to us both, bf did become something functional rather than always a bonding experience, IYSWIM, he rarely fed for comfort except in extremis eg after an accident.

DD was adopted when she was 15 months old and I never considered bf her - not least because she had enough upheaval to deal with without such a substantive change in routine from bottle to having a strangers boob shoved in get face smile. We bonded by things like making very clear eye contact during bottle feeding and meal times; sting peekaboo; and physical contact games such as "row row row your boat". She has never been fond of skin to skin contact, and that's not done thing to force, IMO.

Both of my children are as healthy and intelligent as each other, despite their different starts in life, so unless you have a particular health reason for wanting to bf now I would say not to be concerned about that. There are lots if ither ways to bond with a child other than bf - although I have very different relationships with my two (who are very bye different children), I can honestly say that we have equally strong bonds.

I am very pro-bf, BTW, I don't want you to think I'm trying to put you off, but please don't see it as a panacea to a problem, esp as if you try and it doesn't work for whatever reason it is likely to undermine your confidence.

Ouch at sting peekaboo! One for the more competitive families I feel grin

PirateJones Tue 25-Mar-14 07:05:58

There is chance that she would have weaned herself by this point anyway. I only considered breast milk at 4 because the child was very malnourished and i thought it might have helped with bonding as well, he's 6 now and has been fine without it. There is nothing missing because it was never "there" if you see what i mean?

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