Breastfeeding. It’s natural, it’s normal. It’s also controversial depending on who you’re discussing it with.
In today’s world, in Western Culture, there seems to be an unspoken rule among mothers that once your child can walk, talk and ask for it, it’s time to give it up.
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But there are mums out there that are challenging the ‘norm’. Mums such as Maha Al Musa who are breastfeeding their children well past the age that is considered ‘normal’. Maha will be appearing on The Discovery Channel’s Extreme Breastfeeding series, talking about her decision to continue to breastfeed her six year old daughter, Aminah.
Image source: Maha Al Musa Spiritual Birth Advocate
This topic certainly has tongues wagging around the globe and has sparked a conversation in the MoM office around what we did with our little ones, when and why we stopped breastfeeding.
Here is what 3 MoM mums had to say….
Lesley – Mum of 2
With my first I stopped at 5 months only because I didn’t enjoy it. With my second I stopped at 9 months ONLY because he wouldn’t take ANYTHING else, no bottles, NOTHING! I had planned to stop at 3 months lol! For me I think it’s a personal decision, however I think 1 year would have been the limit for me as that’s when my boys teeth seemed to come. There was something about breastfeeding children with teeth that didn’t appeal to me.
Nikki – Mum of 4
I always assumed I would breastfeed. From the time I had my own baby doll I remember telling my mum I was “feeding” my baby as I held her to my teeny tiny flat nipple! 30 years on I have breastfed all 4 of my children and am very happy that I did although it probably didn’t go quite as I planned. No. 1 son was a muncher and loved to use me as a dummy so breastfeeding for the first few months involved nipple shields, hand expressing, cracks – you name it! But once we got into a rhythm, it all went well. He actually weaned himself so to be honest, I felt a little let down. I had expected to feed him for much longer than that. At close to 12 months, he decided he was far too busy to stay with me for a feed – preferring his sippy cup or drink bottle.
No. 2 son was a dream from the word go – either he or I had it down pat and he was very happy to have my breasts as his only form of milk. Forget the bottle, forget the cup he just wanted me. Although when I fell pregnant with my third child when he was only 7 months old, my milk either changed or dried up and he was hungry all the time so I had to wean him onto a bottle. Again, I was happy to be pregnant but quite let down that it was short lived.
Both my girls breastfed happily and well although by this stage I was back working and much busier and the girls were with carers more than the boys ever were so feeds were often just morning and evening and by 10 months, both the girls were fully weaned.
In total, I breastfed for well over 3 years. I don’t feel I missed anything but I do sometimes think I could have persevered a little longer to give my babes ‘the good stuff’ for at least the first year of their lives. Particularly now they are so grown up and moments of closeness are snatched in between the busyness of every day.
Thankfully I never felt judged for my choices. And I like to think I never judged anyone else. Breastfeeding has a functional purpose but there is so much emotion attached it’s become a real minefield of opinions. Like I always used to say about how I gave birth, the objective is a healthy baby and a healthy mum.
Jacinta – Mum of 2
With my first I found breastfeeding HARD. It was either my nervousness or the fact that my bubba didn’t quite latch on as well as the midwives had promised – most likely a mix of both – but I struggled. I had really, really wanted to breastfeed. From the conversations I had had with midwives and nurses AND from all of the research I had conducted (yes I was going to be the BEST parent ever….) I was adamant that breastfeeding was THE ONLY choice for me. But when my little bundle arrived nothing went to plan. My nipples cracked, they bled, I used nipple shields, I expressed, I cried. Yet I persevered. Why? Because I felt pressured to do so. I kept going for 4 months, though it was mixed feeding for most of it. I finally gave up feeling guilty for formula feeding my baby and focused on being the best mum I could possibly be instead of putting pressure on myself. It was the right decision for me and I probably should have given up much earlier.
Then number 2 arrived, what a difference a second child can make! I completely expected to give birth, attempt to breastfeed and then move onto formula pretty quickly. But it just worked. Whether it was the fact that I was more relaxed, or that she latched easily (she certainly was a hungry baby!) or maybe it was just that with a two year old running around I didn’t have time to think about it – whatever it was, it worked. I fed my little one up until 14 months old, it was the only way she would have milk. When I started coming back into the office when she was 8 months old she would go the whole day refusing milk feeds, wait for me to come home and then refuse to get off me. Which secretly, I loved. It was hard to stop breastfeeding her, hard to remove the connection we had – but I had to wean her, the fact was, we all needed to get some sleep. If she had of slept through the night without wanting to be fed constantly I’m not sure when I would have given up, I could quite possibly still be feeding her (she is 21 months old).
What about you mums? When did you stop? How did you stop and WHY did you stop? No judgement here please, this post is simply about SHARING each mums feeding journey.