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Last one still feeding at baby group, feeling pressure to stop

(20 Posts)
YankNChristmasCrackers Wed 22-Dec-10 10:47:14

Went to a Christmas do for our playgroup yesterday, the babies range from 8 months-18 months, and have discovered I am the last one still breastfeeding (DS is 16 months). I thought one other woman still was, turns out she gave up 3 weeks ago. The conversation turned to how much other people hated breastfeeding, when did I plan to stop, isn't he just doing it for comfort, etc, etc.

We were down to just one feed a day and I was happy with that, but I was hospitalised recently and not allowed to see DS for 5 days, so now DS has been a lot more clingy and demanding and back to feeding 3-4 times a day (more if I'd let him).

I made a joke about feeling like the odd one out, and I don't mind being the only one, but how can I handle the questions and insinuations that I should stop? I like these people and they mean well, but I hate feeling like I'm doing something really weird. I mumbled something about him not really liking cow's milk and the WHO recommendation, but when I do that I feel like I'm criticizing those who didn't continue feeding!

Any advice?

tiktok Wed 22-Dec-10 10:52:12

They are rude, Yank.

Or perhaps unthinking.

Or perhaps a little sad they are no longer feeding.

What on earth does it matter to them that you are bf?

As for handling it - one way would be to be honest. 'Can I ask you to not keep asking about this - it's as if you are judging me or at least putting me in a position where I have to justify...makes me feel a bit sad and uncomfortable, sorry!' Say it nicely, with a rueful smile....the kind ones will feel conscious of upsetting you and will apologise.

Beveridge Wed 22-Dec-10 10:56:51

I think the WHO recommendations are entirely appropriate! You're not doing something weird in terms of being a human mammal, it's only in our bottle/formula focused culture that it stands out to bf past the first few months.

Teething, tantrums, illness - what's wrong with a bit of comfort? Better than a child screaming for hours, boobs are the original volume control!

I know what you mean about not wanting to stick up for bfing as you worry it sounds like criticism of those who have stopped - I feel like that too (still feeding DD 18months, and now 4 months pregnant)but isn't it ludicrous we should feel like that for doing the best thing we can for our children?!

lukewarmcupofmulledwine Wed 22-Dec-10 10:57:38

Can't you just say that it suits you both for now, and shrug it off and leave it at that? Why are you feeling the pressure now in particular? Just because you're the 'latest' feeder at your playgroup doesn't mean you're particularly 'late'. Hopefully you can get some support on here and then stop whenever the time is right for you.

I remember reading an article about a lady visiting Mongolia, where the norm is about 6-8 years! And if a woman is a bit 'full', she goes round the group and offers it to all the adults as well, as BM is pretty revered (sp?) there. So in the grand scheme of things, 16 months isn't that wierd. I know its all culturally dependant etc, but it made me think anyway (I'm not pro or anti extended feeding by the way, just think that its a shame you feel a pressure to stop if you don't want to).

just found it - here

RJandA Wed 22-Dec-10 11:02:28

Agree with tiktok - normally when people say unthinking things they don't realise how much they might be upsetting you.

If tiktok's polite version doesn't work, try "Gosh that sounded really judgemental and bitchy, did you mean it to?" smile

Lastyearsmodel Wed 22-Dec-10 11:02:59

You carry on if that's what you want. I had chats in groups about who's given up, etc, then months even years later, I spoke to friends who said they'd felt pressure to give up and later realised they'd rather have carried on.

What's said at baby group can be quite different from people's real actions and feelings.

That Mongolia article is brilliant, eh?

YankNChristmasCrackers Wed 22-Dec-10 12:01:31

That article is really lovely.

I said to my friends that I wanted DS to stop in his own time and if he hadn't by age two I might think about doing something to hurry him along and left it at that.

That sort of closed the conversation a bit, even though it is a bit of a lie since I don't believe in arbitrary dates/targets. I originally only thought about getting to six months. Then I thought I'd feed for a year. Then a year came and went and he's just not ready (in my opinion) to be without it. Now I just don't know.

At one point in my life (before DS) I remember being surprised by seeing a woman feeding a toddler on a train quite openly. I have become that woman without even realising it!

swanriver Wed 22-Dec-10 14:43:11

Three to four times a day sounds absolutely normal to me, not weird at all. I fed mine till they were two, and it was lovely. Ideal in a variety of situations. You enjoy it, he enjoys it, you don't have to justify it in any other ways than that! Lots of people like dentists think babies over the age of one shouldn't be sucking milk from a bottle, only a cup, so let them put that in their pipe and smoke it. Either he's too old to suck full stop or it makes no difference whether it's a bottle or a breast.

Carrotsandcelery Wed 22-Dec-10 14:47:08

Several of my friends bf until their dcs were 2 years or more. They made sure the children also had a varied and balanced diet. Their children are beautiful, healthy, gorgeous kids.
Pay no attention to what others think. It is entirely up to you and your body how long you do, or indeed don't, bf for.

jiggyjaggythistle Wed 22-Dec-10 15:13:18

I am sort of like this too.

My DS is 15 months and my two best baby group 'friends' were the ones I also went to bf group with. One stopped when her DD was about 10 months I think, and the other more recently when her DS was one. I have ended up not going to the bf group now although I still meet up with the two ladies and their DCs.

They were kind of dying to stop though and both started mix feeding and early weaning, because they believed they didn't have enough milk for various reasons and felt their DCs were feeding too often for them. I was looked upon as a bit odd for just plugging away and waiting till around 6 months.

People casually dismiss and criticize 'extended' breastfeeding all the time and it can feel hard to defend yourself.

Even my mum who has supported me loads is a wee bit hmm about DS feeding, I think she saw my wee cousin at his mums top all the time a few years ago and decided it was wrong somehow.

It does make me a bit nervous about the topic, I really should have more confidence in my own decision I think.

DS is fairly undemanding and feeds 2-3 times a day, not including the odd night one and loads when he is teething.

He doesn't really ask much, although he has recently been doing a kind of lizard impression with his tongue, while eying/poking my chest, I believe this is a hint...

Sorry this ended up a bit long blush

EauRudolph Wed 22-Dec-10 19:16:30

I've found that asking people to redirect their 'when are you going to stop' question to DD puts a stop to it! They will get bored of asking, I had a lot of people ask when DD was around 12-14 mo but no one asks now she is 2 (even though I'm 31 weeks pregnant). Or maybe I've just become immune to it!

MavisG Wed 22-Dec-10 19:30:40

It really really helps to meet people who are also bfing toddlers/older children. If you have the time, go to a La Leche League meeting, or even a slingmeet. Google Attachment Parenting groups in your area, you don't have to do identify as an Attachment Parent in everything you do. Might take a few goes but I think it's worth it.

I'm not saying dump your bottle-feeding friends, of course! Even if you and your child bfeed until junior school this is just one, finite, aspect of parenting, but I do think (for me, anyway) that it's more important than it might initially seem to know other people who are natural term bfeeders too.

I am slightly nervous/uncomfortable about the prospect of Christmas with family, my nearly 2 year old feeds as and when he wants and I have no intention of trying to stop him, he is gradually feeding less as he gets older, but it's still several times a day, especially when he's a bit overwhelmed (like in a roomful of great-aunties). I just wish it weren't unusual.

HighFibreDiet Wed 22-Dec-10 20:00:07

La Leche groups are great - near us we have an informal toddler group and it's so encouraging to meet up with other mums who are not only still breastfeeding their toddlers but also have no fixed plans to wean at any point. I don't go very often but I always feel I fit right in and it's no problem whether ds3 feeds or not.

In retrospect, I am quite sad about when I weaned ds1 and I'm sure I was overly influenced by what other mums were doing at my postnatal group - especially those with older kids because I definitely looked up to them as being wiser than me (or at least having had more parenting experience). When ds2 came round I had to relearn loads of the stuff I thought was the 'right' way to breastfeed and instead to pay attention to what my baby actually needed. Unfortunately at that point I didn't have any friends (in real life) who breastfed as long as me, but ds1 had such bad food intolerances and ds2 was so ill in other ways that I was absolutely determined to breastfeed for as long as he wanted. And although I encouraged some of the weaning (when pregnant with ds3) I left the very last part completely up to him and I feel very satisfied that we did it that way.

But I have to say that, like jiggyjaggythistle, even my previously supportive mum started to make comments once ds2 was past 2. Not really direct ones, but things like attributing my tiredness to my breastfeeding and saying 'oh I started to feel like that just before I stopped breastfeeding your sister'. In truth I had several more likely reasons for feeling tired as ds2 was very ill and his epilepsy was still uncontrolled, plus I was in the first trimester of my pregnancy. I think people sometimes feel threatened if you continue for longer than they did, as if you are doing it to show that you are better than them, when really it's just between you and your child.

jiggyjaggythistle Wed 22-Dec-10 20:21:42

you probably have something there.

my mum breastfed my younger sibling and i till we were about 8 months or so. this was in the late 70s and then in the early 80s. most folk went about all the time asking why she didn't just get us on bottles (like all my cousins of the same age).

so really she did well with not much support at the time, but maybe feels different seeing me with DS now.

She comes out with the standard line about it being all for the mother after a certain arbitrary age. don't know if she really believes that, or just can't articulate what she really thinks of it. i just kind of play it down and don't mention it much.

jiggyjaggythistle Wed 22-Dec-10 20:27:53

also explains why my MIL was spectacularly unsupportive and drove DH nuts.

she wasn't able to bf at all in her circumstances (genuinely, not through poor support or anything). so i feel sympathetic to a point as she doesn't understand. we didn't try to make her feel bad obviously but she really didn't listen and constantly questioned us about bf.

theboobmeister Wed 22-Dec-10 22:44:30

jaggy - I've heard that one about it being 'all for the mother' too and it drives me bonkers angry

Last time it came from the mouth of a male friend who was, with his new husband, lavishing the most truly revolting amount of attention and physical affection on their new dog. Paranoid parents had nothing on these two. And then he had the bloody cheek to tell me that BF a child over one was all for the mother!!

You do exactly what you want to do, Yank. The PPs are right, these rude questions will stop as people lose interest.

jiggyjaggythistle Thu 23-Dec-10 05:05:13

boobmeister - and it doesn't actually make any sense. no one has actually said it to me for months.

I'd actually quite like to ask them what on earth they mean! clearly DS is just feeding to keep me happy confused

KellyBronze Thu 23-Dec-10 06:07:43

lovely blog entry on toddler feeding.

porcamiseria Thu 23-Dec-10 09:04:36

fuck them! just dont discuss, change subject and dont be defensive, treat it like a non issue

HighFibreDiet Fri 24-Dec-10 13:07:06

yes jaggy I feel quite proud that my mum managed to breastfeed both of us with absolutely no support from anyone. So I certainly wasn't meaning to challenge her with ds2 feeding so 'long' (not in Mongolian terms lol) but clearly something about it made her feel uncomfortable.

Both those blog posts are great.

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