“I never thought I’d be an “extended breastfeeder”. Before I had children, the thought of having a baby attached to my breast made me cringe! However, when my baby was born, I found breastfeeding was a beautiful, miraculous and natural thing for me to do.
I loved watching my baby boy fall asleep in my arms – it felt very special to catch that moment when his eyelids finally settled. Breastfeeding made me slow down and connect with my baby.
When my son was still a baby, I remember seeing a mother breastfeed her three year old. I was shocked and thought that three was far too old. I wasn’t sure how long we would breastfeed for – we just did what felt natural and right for us. I wanted to let my son wean slowly, at his own pace. He weaned just before he turned three.
I have taken the same approach with my second son. He has just turned three and is still breastfeeding. This is new territory for me – I didn’t expect this to happen! My first son let go when he was ready so I trust that my second son will too.
Although my son continues to benefit nutritionally from breastfeeding and it gives his immune system a boost, I find the biggest benefit is how it gives him a physical and tangible way to feel close to me, to calm himself down, and feel safe and loved. Breastfeeding doesn’t stop him from developing or becoming independent. He is just as active, rambunctious, determined and playful as any other toddler!
As a mum who is an “extended breastfeeder” I find it hard sometimes. I haven’t had many negative comments, but I don’t get much encouragement either. I find it helpful to connect with other breastfeeding mothers for support, understanding and a sense of belonging.
The recent provocative Time magazine cover put extended breastfeeding in the spotlight and shocked many people. It is easy to judge and criticise but we each have to make the best choices we can for our children and ourselves. Every mother needs to be supported and respected.” in Mother & Baby Magazine, August 2012.