This post is all about breastfeeding an infant after their first birthday. Yes, we *still* breastfeed. No it’s not weird! Also it’s not really anyone else’s business.
I knew as Emily’s first birthday loomed that people’s attitudes towards me breastfeeding would change. Suddenly it would no longer be perceived as essential or even desirable but people would start to think of it as “not normal.” No one has yet confronted me about this but I have noticed the odd comment or strange look. “Bitty!” is one! Grr! “You’re getting a bit big for that now!” or “She’ll have to learn to cope without it.” Then there’s the change in body language. When I whip out a tit now, people no longer look at us as a cosy little unit but divert their eyes and look uneasy. Pfft!
So this post is my attempt to normalise breastfeeding older babies, to educate and inspire. I’m actually really fortunate as many of my mummy friends are also breastfeeding one year olds and all of their babies are older than mine. For some women they can feel isolated and alienated so I’m standing up for them.
Why should you breastfeed beyond 12 months then?
1. The World Health Organisation recommends it. Actually they say that ALL infants should ideally be breastfed to two years and beyond. These people are scientists, they done research, they’ve looked at the alternatives and they decided that a minimum of two years is needed. Why would I argue with this? Surely they know more than me!
2. Breastmilk continues to offer your child so much. Aside from it being a warm, milky drink, it provides nutritional, immunological and psychological benefits that are designed for your child. I can tell you now that you can’t buy that in two pint bottles in Tesco and if I could I’d be too tight to pay for it.
3. It’s quite a different experience. Feeding a newborn has its challenges. You worry about the latch, weight gain, tongue tie, nipples, thrush, mastitis, leaky boobs. At this age your problems are practically comical. You are managing casual nipple twiddling, bum in your face, reading books at the same time, tandem feeding toys and having your boob used as a shelf for a tea cup. It’s completely hilarious. Honest!
4. Overtiredness, tears and tantrums are all just a quick boob away. I honestly don’t know how Dan manages looking after Emily without lactating breasts. He says he uses an intricate system of distraction, cuddles and food. Personally a sit down and unleashing a nipple is a lot more my style. I’ve heard that many people have avoided the “terrible twos” with the power of the breast. I doubt I’ll be so lucky but I’ll keep it in my tool kit, thanks!
5. We’re happy! Emily loves boob. She loves it so much she wants it all night. I love letting her have it. Why then would I let other people’s opinions stop a good thing? If it ain’t broke don’t fix it! That goes for feeding babies too.
There you have it! It’s a sensible and normal thing to do, so please save any negativity you may have for a more worthy cause and offer all breastfeeding mothers your support.