Breastfeeding :: You’re STILL Doing that?!?!

Breastfeeding Series (1){Click image above for more stories of inspiration, encouragement, and support.}

If you would have talked to me about extended breastfeeding just five years ago, my exact response would have been something along the lines of…  “Ew.”  I just could not wrap my head around how a mom would let a toddler…with TEETH…still nurse?!?  More times than I would like to admit, I think I even uttered the words, “If they are old enough to ask for it, then they are too old to get it!”

Well…my fifteen month old daughter literally just walked up to me asking for “night night” {read :: nurse me to sleep} right before nap, and I happily obliged.  Now, if you’ll just excuse me while I go insert my foot in my mouth.

Extended Breastfeeding (1)Extended breastfeeding certainly isn’t something I went into motherhood thinking I would ever do.  Like Chelsea and Heather, my original goal was six months…or until teeth…whichever came first.  But then we found out about Hayes’s omphalocele diagnosis, and my whole selfish attitude on motherhood changed in an instant.  It was no longer about me and what was easiest or most comfortable.  Now, it was all about sacrificing myself to do whatever was best for this little baby I was bringing into the world.

And I knew that without a doubt, breast milk was best.

It was the ONE thing that I could provide him that would help him get big and strong.  Nature’s best medicine, and custom made just for my little man.  But unfortunately, I was up against just about EVERY challenge there was… Thyroid disorder?  Got it.  C-section delivery?  Yup.  NICU stay?  Uh-huh.  The list went on and on.  But you know what?  I had one thing under my belt that trumped those all – determination.

To say it was an easy road would be a complete and total lie.  At the beginning, I suffered through round the clock power pumping and bloody nipples and a debilitating case of mastitis.  And that was all before Hayes even made it home from the NICU!  But we slowly {verrry slowly} got into the swing of things, and Hayes officially made the transition from bottles of pumped milk in the NICU to direct breast at home.  And all the while, I kept seeing the benefits that come with breastfeeding unfold first hand.

Did you know that babies who are breastfed…

  • Have a reduced risk of infection, stomach problems, allergies, and asthma
  • Have a reduced risk of SIDS
  • Are provided with the most easily digested food made just for them
  • Are given a boost for healthy growth and development
  • Have a reduced risk of developing obesity and diabetes
  • Benefit from mom’s immunities too!

And that’s just for baby!  Personally, I loved the fact that breastfeeding…

  • Provided the most special bond between me and my babe
  • Released feel good hormones that helped relieve the stresses of new motherhood
  • Saved me TONS of money in formula
  • Oh, and did I mention – got me to well below pre-pregnancy weight by my eight week postpartum visit!  WOOT!

Extended Breastfeeding (5)By the time I reached that original six month goal, I couldn’t imagine stopping.  And when my little guy got his first tooth at nine months old, it just took him one or two times of biting to learn that the only thing THAT would get him is a quick unlatch and no more milk.  Hayes was healthy and happy, and I was officially a full-blown breastfeeding advocate.  There was NO stopping us anytime soon!

Well, Hayes is now three years old – and no, he is no longer nursing.  In fact, he weaned himself completely by the time he reached sixteen months old.  It was such a beautiful and natural transition where he gradually just dropped a feed at a time, until he lost interest all together.  No tears or deprivation for him…and no engorgement or pain for me.  Just as it should be.

Extended Breastfeeding (4)And this second time around with my daughter?  Well…it has been an absolute BREEZE!  She latched just minutes after delivery, my milk supply came in by the end of that day, and we have been going strong ever since.  Of course, she is her own little person, and the whole breastfeeding experience has been completely different with her.  She went through bottle strikes where I couldn’t leave her for more than a few hours…and I once again suffered from not one, but TWO cases of mastitis.  Oh, and our biggest hurdle?  She doesn’t seem to want to wean…at all.  If it were up to her, she would still nurse around the clock like a newborn.

While some moms may be totally fine with that, it just doesn’t logistically make sense for us.  We are busy bodies – constantly out and about and in situations where nursing a toddler just isn’t a good fit.  So like with all things parenting, I have had to set some pretty firm boundaries and maintain consistency.  For instance, we only nurse at home on the comfort of our own couch.  That doesn’t mean she doesn’t request “night night” or go reaching down into my shirt more often than I’d like, but I just use that as a cue that some of her needs aren’t being met.  So I offer her a drink out of her cup, or a small snack, or make a note that she is getting tired.  And we get through it.  No big deal!

Extended Breastfeeding (3)Honestly, my biggest struggle nowadays are the naysayers that I am constantly encountering.  I find it wildly ironic that there is this HUGE push to breastfeed right now, and if you don’t – you’re critiqued, judged, and asked a million questions.  But if you choose to breastfeed, you better cut it out by a year – or you’re questioned and made to feel bad too.  It’s like on Day 365, you just have to quit everything you have worked so hard for cold turkey.  Otherwise, you’ll get “You’re STILL breastfeeding her?” … “When are you going to stop?” … or my personal favorite, “Are you doing it for her – or for YOU?”  While we all know that we don’t owe these critics explanations, sometimes it’s helpful to bring up the extensive research that proves the relationship between higher IQ scores and extended breastfeeding.  Just saying.

Throughout these past four. years. straight. that I have been either pregnant or breastfeeding {not that I’m counting or anything}, I have come to this conclusion…  Breastfeeding is hard work.  Let me say that again – it is HARD work!!!  But for me, all of the sacrifices and all of the challenges have been so well worth it.  I have two beautiful, thriving kids, and I hope that my milk played just a little part in shaping them into the little people they are today!

Extended Breastfeeding (2):: Photo Credit – Momma’s Gonna SNAP Photography ::


Please Note :: We are so very thankful to have A Woman’s Work sponsoring our entire breastfeeding series! They believe that bearing and nurturing children is some of the most important work in the world, and we could not agree more.  If you are searching for products, services, and resources for birth, breastfeeding, and beyond – we urge you to check them out both online and in store!

A Woman’s Work

4101 Greenbriar Suite 210
Houston, TX 77098

713.524.3700

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26 Responses to Breastfeeding :: You’re STILL Doing that?!?!

  1. Teri August 5, 2014 at 8:33 am #

    Such a great piece! I too am an extended breast feeding mom. I nursed my first one till he was 27 months and he weaned himself because I was pregnant with my second. My second had some hurdles as well, premature, unable to feed, heart defects, NICU stay, but I too was determined!!!! He is now 18 months and just weaned himself this week. He is super healthy and that’s all I can ask for! Thank you for being a brave, determined mom!

    • Kelly D August 5, 2014 at 12:21 pm #

      Thanks for your kind words, Teri! Proud of you for sticking with it too. What a beautiful gift we are giving them!!! 🙂

  2. Sarah F August 5, 2014 at 7:14 pm #

    Kelly, LOVE this post! High five! We are at 14.5 months and I love knowing I’m not the only mama out there!!

    • Kelly D August 5, 2014 at 11:57 pm #

      High five to YOU, Sarah! My eyes have been so opened with this series, and I am learning that there are A LOT of extended breastfeeders out there. We are definitely not alone!!! :*

  3. Irma S August 7, 2014 at 10:42 am #

    Hi Kelly! I loved reading this, it’s good to know I’m not alone! Leo is 16 months and still going strong on nursing!! I’m thrilled about it and do get lots of support BUT I thinking I get more blank stares and side eye looks when I mention it. I immediately want to list all the benefits to my “haters” lol but ehhh to each there own. ✌️ Thanks for the encouragement!!!

    • Kelly D August 12, 2014 at 6:18 pm #

      Proud of you, Irma! Just remember all the benefits and keep doing what is best for you and him. Haters gonna hate!!! 😉

  4. Karen D August 10, 2014 at 7:04 pm #

    I think what you have done is amazing and you have given your children the best start they could possibly have. Thanks for sharing this story and I admire you. I know the other options are easier, but you’ve chosen to give so much more. An incredible mom!

    • Kelly D August 12, 2014 at 6:19 pm #

      Thank you, Karen!!!

  5. Deana August 12, 2014 at 8:39 am #

    Kelly I love reading other moms stories about their breastfeeding experience. Like you I never though I would do extended breastfeeding but my son just turned three and still nurses for nap/bedtime n when he wakes up in morning and so many ppl are always asking if I’m still breastfeeding and when we are gonna stop. He will stop when he is ready, I don’t see what the big deal is. Also for anyone who asks if moms do it for themselves have never breastfeed a toddler,lol they move around so much so it’s not always comfortable for mommy. Good luck to you and your daughter

    • Kelly D August 12, 2014 at 6:20 pm #

      Isn’t that the truth, Deana?!?! I am constantly being poked, pulled, and climbed all over when she nurses. Never a dull moment!!!

  6. Lindsay August 12, 2014 at 9:16 am #

    Thank you for this! I’m coming up on the “day 365” next week and have been going through the emotions of that. Hubby said making our boy quit cold turkey is not a good idea! LOL. I appreciate the words of wisdom and plan on letting him wean himself too!

    • Kelly D August 12, 2014 at 6:21 pm #

      Your hubby is a wise man, Lindsay! Keep doing what you’re doing mama – we support you!!!

  7. Katie August 12, 2014 at 9:24 am #

    Brilliant to read this! I am really proud to still be breastfeeding my little girl who is nearly 19 months old. It is our special bond and knowing it is beneficial for her health-wise means it’s a no-brainer! I get the comments saying ‘what about her teeth?’ – well, she was born with a bottom tooth so we’ve both just got on with it! No issues there. We too mainly just feed at home but to be honest, this is because she has learnt to be a proper acrobat when feeding – bum in the air, and the bruises on my thighs from her ‘walking’ on them while feeding, jeez….! Wouldn’t change it for the world though.

    High fives to all you extended breastfeeding mummies out there! 🙂

    Katie

    • Kelly D August 12, 2014 at 6:22 pm #

      High fives to you too Katie! Go mama, go – bruises and all!

  8. Angela August 12, 2014 at 9:45 am #

    I nursed my oldest daughter until she self-weaned at 18 months, my second until 28 months, and still going strong with number 3. They are now almost 12, 6.5, and 8 months. Determination was key at first, but now I can’t imagine it any other way!

    • Kelly D August 12, 2014 at 6:23 pm #

      Isn’t it funny how it just becomes second nature, Angela? I often say that I can’t imagine NOT breastfeeding. When the day comes that she finally stops, I have no clue what I’m going to do with myself!!!

  9. Laura August 12, 2014 at 10:19 am #

    I breastfed my son till he was 3 we stopped when we were ready and i did not care what other people thought. 🙂

    • Kelly D August 12, 2014 at 6:23 pm #

      Awesome, Laura – just the way it should be!!!

  10. Winnie August 12, 2014 at 12:57 pm #

    I am still proudly breastfeeding my 3 1/2 year old daughter! Keep up your good advocacy and I will too. Maybe someday there will also be a push fir extended breastfeeding.

    • Kelly D August 12, 2014 at 6:24 pm #

      You too, Winnie! Thanks so much for the kind words and great support!!!

  11. Cory August 12, 2014 at 1:55 pm #

    I just weaned my 4 1/2 yr old. She nursed every 2-3hrs till she was 2 and we regularly nursed in public till at least 2. I said all those same things and never planned to nurse longer than a year. But things changed. I also had a cesarean and she has food allergies so for almost 5 yrs I didnt eat dairy or peanuts. Also nursed her tandem for a while. I had to encourage her to wean. But kids are all different and she seemed to need it so much. My little one. 7mo actually eats food so I expect it to be very different this time.

    • Kelly D August 12, 2014 at 6:25 pm #

      So amazing, Cory! My hats are off BIG TIME to all of those mamas who give up foods while nursing for the betterment of their littles. Super mamas, for sure!

  12. Andi August 12, 2014 at 5:13 pm #

    I usually have a real aversion to mum blogs which so often state the obvious “ten things that no one should tell a pregnant women” followed by “ten things you wish people had told you before you had kids” (the same ten obviously) but I enjoyed your perspective on this. I’ve spent 7 years of my life nursing and the last 3 and a half being pregnant and nursing, given this baby isn’t born yet it’s going to extend a couple more and I can completely relate to your points, especially the ‘when are you going to stop’ – such an annoyance!

    • Kelly D August 12, 2014 at 6:27 pm #

      Thanks, Andi! We work hard to break the status quo here at Houston Moms Blog!!!

  13. Julie K November 6, 2015 at 2:56 pm #

    What a great piece!! I was of the same mindset that I’d never go past age 1(whether she liked it or not ?). Fast forward to the present and I am still nursing a 2 yr old with no end in sight. I am so thankful that we have been able to continue. She was born with a rare genetic tooth condition and has had to have 2 oral surgeries(so far). Her dentist and pediatrician have both said the continued breastfeeding have been lifesavers for her. With another surgery in 6 mo, I’m sure that we’ll be breastfeeding quite a while longer.

  14. Alysa November 6, 2015 at 7:56 pm #

    I had no idea that that was considered extended breast feeding and never thought twice about feeding either of my guys up to 20 mos, even in public, when they weaned themselves. It was convenient and worked for us. So sorry anyone is feeling pressure to quit if that is not what they want. But if there is one thing I learned early on, it is that every one has an opinion about something you are doing… so might as well do what works for you!
    Glad you were able to do what worked for you and your family!

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