When people find out that I’m still breastfeeding my
toddler, who is now almost two, the reaction I usually get is, “When are you
going to stop doing that?”
The answer quite simply is, why? Firstly, why does it matter
to you? How is the fact that I choose to continue offering my child the best
possible nutrition any of your concern?
Secondly, why not? The World Health
Organisation recommends breastfeeding for the first two years of life – and yet
I find myself very much in the minority when it comes to doing just that.
I suspect this is more of a middle-class problem, as
millions of women across the world without access to the various media, arguing
the benefits of breastfeeding and debating whether nursing mothers should
cover-up or not, continue to breastfeed their children until they wean
I intend to do the same. I am not at all sure when that will
be – if he wants to drink at the breast until he is three, then I will allow
him to do so. My mother breastfed me and my brother until we were three with
very little social judgement. But things were different then.
Not always easy
while I know I’m judged for choosing to breastfeed my child for so long,
despite all the benefits – the only drawback being continuing sleepless nights
– I know that for many women breastfeeding is tough, and for some, not even an
I don’t judge them for this because every situation is
different. Every mother is different. For me, this works. And if you can
possibly breastfeed, I strongly suggest you also make every effort to do it for
as long as possible.
Breastfeeding didn’t come easily to me. Despite what many
people think, it’s not really a very natural thing at first, and for months I
struggled. Apart from difficulties with latching, I didn’t have enough milk – even
with medication to boost my milk supply. It was tough and for a while I topped
up with a bottle of formula every day.
I didn’t want to go that route, but my baby was losing
weight and the doctors advised it. And it worked. It didn’t last long but it gave
me a chance to catch my breath – as any new mother knows, those first few weeks
are a blur.
The good news is that it does get easier – in some ways.
Breastfeeding a toddler isn’t always easy, they don’t lie still, they often
want to chat while they nurse and they do occasionally bite.
But lying next to my child in the dark while he gently feeds
himself to sleep, as I stroke his back and marvel at how he has changed from a
baby to a little boy, the closeness that I feel to him in those moments is
Breastfeeding is not only good for him – it feeds my heart
and soul as well.