I know, I know – it’s a bit late in the day, but I finally got round to marking World Breastfeeding Week with a blog post. I mean, I couldn’t not could I?
Today is the final day of the campaign. And what an important campaign it is.
I am all for fed is best, really I am. But with breastfeeding rates being so low in the UK, and having health professionals who seem to think that breastfeeding beyond six months is not required despite the World Health Organisation recommending feeding until the age of two – breastfeeding is something that needs to be talked about. A lot.
I have to admit that I never, ever thought that I would still be breastfeeding my almost two year old. We had such a rocky journey. There were times when I was in so much pain I wanted to give up. But I pushed through and here we are. The requests for boobah strong. And even though I do try to not feed him in the day, he still feeds to sleep every single night, still feeds through the night when he wakes up, and sometimes gets a cheeky feed or two in during the day.
You see, to my boy – boob is comfort. He doesn’t need the milk, and in fact, there isn’t nearly as much readily available to him as there used to be. But to him, it makes whatever is the problem, better. He doesn’t have a dummy. He doesn’t have a muzzy. He has boobah.
He is tired and wants to go to sleep – boobah.
He is in the middle of an epic tantrum and he doesn’t know how to get himself out of it – boobah.
He has fallen over and hurt himself – boobah.
He’s upset about something – boobah.
He’s not feeling well – boobah.
You see the pattern here? There is nothing that I can give him in those moments (and many more) that make him feel better about whatever the issue is. A cuddle won’t work, distraction doesn’t tend to work. He quite simply needs it. And I give it to him. In fact, it wasn’t too long ago that he had a really awful cold, was feeling pretty rotten and went totally off food. The only thing he wanted was boobah and I was so glad that I could still give it to him – so that he was still getting something nutritious despite not eating.
But like I said above, I never thought I would still be feeding a toddler. In fact, previously I would have been one of those people who thought it was a bit weird. I mean, each to their own. But you wouldn’t find me with a two year old and a full set of teeth anywhere near my boob. It’s funny how your mindset can change completely when you are thrust full force into the situation.
And how does it feel now?
It feels completely natural. Admittedly, I haven’t fed in public in a long time. I am not sure whether I would be as comfortable now as I was when he was a small baby, but if he did decide that he absolutely needed it, I wouldn’t refuse after the initial trying to distract.
But when we feed at home, when he curls up into my lap, latches on and breathes that sigh of relief. It just feels like what I am supposed to do at that moment.
And as for bedtime. Well, yes – I would love to have a night out and not worry that I was needed back home, But my time will come. I can happily go out and enjoy myself in the day and still be back in time to put him to bed.
I am so proud to still be breastfeeding my boy. Proud that we came through the hard times and still get through the hard times. I’m proud that at the age of almost six, Zach sees breastfeeding as something completely normal. That hopefully, he will grow up to think of it as normal and that if he finds himself a wife (or just a girlfriend who wants babies before marriage like his Dad did), he will be just as supportive to her as he has been to me.
There is no right or wrong when it comes to breastfeeding. But as long as we still talk about it, learn about it, encourage it, but accept that it isn’t for everyone, then that’s all that matters.