Breastfeeding beyond two is a lesson in trust

My darling, you are two and still breastfed – the child I prayed to God I’d manage to nurse for six dear months, never sure we’d make it.

Your long, lean limbs sprawl out, growing surer. Your body, mind and voice are strong. I look at you and admire your growing independence, always ready with a “No” and surprisingly fast when you run away. Every day you do one hundred things I’d never imagine doing, such is your creativity, your confidence, your separateness from me.

So when you come to the breast, I’m under no illusions: our relationship has changed. I am not your life-source as I once was. You eat so many foods these days. It’s only comfort some might say, as if comfort were so mundane and unimportant a thing. As if the ability to create peace within another human being could be easily mustered by anyone. As if it were simple.

Yet what I see happening between us is so complex. At the breast you continue to learn trust. You learn that you may run into this world, exploring, inventing, asserting but I am here when you need retreat, when you remember you’re still so little. I am here to provide continuity in a world that is ever changing.

As we go on, I too learn trust. I trust that you will leave me when you are ready. I trust my instinct and won’t put others’ opinions above your needs or my own. And I trust that the bond we’re forging will survive lost memories of all these brief moments at the breast.

I trust, knowing that I don’t know how much time we have left.

There was a giveaway attached to this post, hence some of the comments are random. It’s long since closed, so I removed the details.

Join the discussion

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • Lovely post! I only ever planned to feed for 6 months – now at 18 months I’m happy for E to let me know when she’s ready to stop.

    • 20 months. I’m a student midwife so I work long shifts (helping other mums to start their breastfeeding journey :)) and its so nice to come in and be able to feed her and spend some special time together. I don’t have plans to stop, I’ll let her make that decision.

    • I’ve been bfing non stop since 2008, 3 babies and tandemed twice. I don’t forsee stopping until my youngest is 3 like the others so it should end in 2015!

  • This is such a beautiful post. I had a great breastfeeding journey with my son, and he stopped cold at one year old. I would say in a weird way, he was ready to stop before I was. But I trusted him and it was absolutely the right time, he never looked back.
    As I feed my daughter now, I am finding the journey even more amazing. I have managed to do this twice now, and at 9 months old she is fast turning into a little girl, while feeding reminds her and me that she is still my baby really.
    I’m starting to field the questions now, I’m feeling the judgement; about when we will stop. And honestly I have no idea. I want to do the year that I did with her brother, but beyond that I don’t know. And this post (and the other great ones I’ve been reading this week) really help make sense of the extended feeding. If nothing else, they will give me somewhere to send the doubters so that they can hopefully understand better. One thing is for sure, we won’t stop until it feels like the right time for us both. x
    lucy at dear beautiful recently dreams

  • This is all so true. I am constantly having to remind myself not to be concerned with other people opinions. In fact if I have visitors when S asks to feed I do feel self conscious and sometimes refuse her. I’m going to use this remind me that the only two opinions that are important in this relationship are mine and hers! Thankyou. p.s. I would love to win a piece of jewellery to remind me of nursing my beautiful babies.
    Purplemum recently posted..An Escape From Reality With Modern Television

  • Lovely post. We are coming up to 20 months with no end in sight for now! Will keep going till she’s had enough. I will definitely miss it though. X

  • My baby is 5 wks old, I breastfeed for 10 days but she lost nearly 2lbs so I have to formula feed so she could gain weight asap. I stopped breastfeeding but they found support and now I am building back up my supply but still feeding formula until I can fully go back to breast. It is a difficult time but I’m getting some support and hope to be doing it for as long as I can.

    • Julie, that’s amazing. It sounds like you’re doing a really great (and difficult) job. If you’d like to chat more about building up supply, let me know. I had to do the same. I’ve blogged about my journey pumping, taking domperidone, using breast compressions and supplementing with an SNS. I also supplemented with formula.

  • we are currently at nearly 6 months but I plan to carry it on until its not needed.. He is tube fed so not really the same, but Im pumping for him so hes getting all the benefit of it which I strongly wanted

  • I have been breastfeeding for 8 months, plan to feed for 12 months, but after reading all the blogs today … who knows!!!

  • My daughter semi self weaned at 22 months. I went away for one night but caught terrible food poisoning which delayed my return home for 2 more nights as I was too sick to travel. She was only having a pre breakfast feed but declined the boob when I returned. I was devastated but also relieved that she had weaned independently without any trauma. I often wonder if I hadnt gone away how long she would have continued for. Im now loving feeding my son who is almost 6months and hope he self weans in a similar way. Although he isnt a comfort feeder in the way she was so I fear he will stop too soon.

  • What a lovely post! My intention was to breastfeed till 6 months, then it stretched to 1 year, now my baby is 8 months old and breast feeding is so special to me I have decided that I really am not going to set a time for me to stop! I will follow my instinct as a mother and be guided by my baby! But When the time comes I know I will never ever forget the most special gift I have given to my little girl. πŸ™‚

  • definitely agree there is no such thing as ‘just’ when it comes to comfort anything. people forget how important comfort and security are, especially for small children.
    I didn’t have an aim to how long is nurse for, that it’s too much planning and forthought for me! we are almost are three years and I’ll be honest in the last year I have weaned her down to just bm before sleep/naps. she would like a lot more but it was too much for me and I was struggling. having said that I will miss it when she stops.

  • I had no set time I planned to breastfeed for. Stopped with my daughter aged 2y10m, and I’m breastfeeding my 4 month old son hopefully until he self weans. I also tandem fed for a couple of months.

  • I’m at 7 months still going strong will feed baba til he’s ready to stop πŸ™‚ love breastfeeding easy convenient sterile the bond is amazing. We also co sleep and just started baby led weaning everything going good so fr πŸ™‚ I love breast milk keepsakes been a fan for a while cant afford to buy one for myself so a voucher would be amazing. Thank u for the chance x

  • I still feel only a novice compared to you other ladies! I am on my 5th month of breastfeeding and going strong! I knew from the moment I was pregnant I would breastfeed and give my daughter the best start in life πŸ™‚

  • My daughter is 2 years and 7 months and showing no signs of weaning πŸ™‚ I am cherishing every moment as she will be my last baby and I will miss our breastfeeding relationship when it eventually ends.

  • with my son I managed 4 whole months of breast feeding… I have never been so proud of myself! This time round i’m now twelve weeks in and I feel much more confident… I hope to go at least six months and will be over the moon if I make it even one day past that mile stone!

  • Lovely to read your post today. My son is 2 years and 1 month and still very much enjoying nursing. I didn’t think we’d make it past 2 and now I have no idea how long we’ll carry on and I’m a lot less bothered about when he’ll wean than I used to be. Taking each day as it comes as time flies past so quickly!

  • Breastfeeding is my life, my livelihood, and my favourite part of mothering so far. I think I enjoyed feeding my first little girl as a toddler even more than I did when she was tiny. She weaned from the breast on her third birthday when I was 20 weeks pregnant. I miss so much by not breastfeeding her. The instant calm, the chance to lie down(!), the raspberry blowing, milky smiles…. I’m now breastfeeding my second daughter – 17 short weeks and counting. All the little phases seem so poignant as I know she’s my last baby. I love every minute of it

  • I can’t think of a funny breastfeeding story although I’m sure we’ve had plenty of moments but my memory is rubbish. What I find tricky about breastfeeding in public now my son is older is that he likes to hold the other nipple while feeding so its a fight to stop him exposing me completely. He just finds it amusing the more I resist.

  • Lovely post πŸ™‚ I am breastfeeding my 15 week old little girl and it has been such a hard road so far. I always thought I would bf for 6 months but our many problems and knowing my little girl is getting the best start make me determined to go on as long as possible! Xx

  • I fed my first for 16 months and we stopped because she lost interest. And we’re at 13 weeks with number 2 so let’s see how long we’ll go for.

  • I am a first time mother and have always dreamed of starting my own family and I knew I would breast feed from the very beginning! And my son is now 9 weeks old! We had an easy and great start! He latched perfectly, ate good and was perfect! I had to be hospitalized for a week and was completely unconscious most of the time and therefore didn’t pump or breast feed. Thankfully I had a freezer stock for him but my milk almost completely dried up! When I finally was able to wake up and get home I pumped maybe 3 drops and I was terrified I’d dried up the whole time I was hospitalized. I worked my bottom off pumping, nursing, and even just letting him use me as his pacifier! And finally after a week to two weeks my milk has come back and he hasn’t had a bottle since! I am so glad to be alive from my ordeal and my breast feeding relationship didnt end! I plan on continuing this relationship as long as I possibly can! And I am recycling all the things I’ve learned and tips and tricks to everyone I know who wants to listen! It’s a special bond and there isn’t anything I wouldn’t give to continue this journey!

  • I never thought we’d be going for as long as we have been. It certainly didn’t look like we’ manage at all stuck in hospital not being allowed to leave due to weightloss. I’m so happy & proud of my boy & myself that we managed an I don’t think he’s ready to give up any time soon

  • After a bumpy start with static weight gain and milk allergies. Things are finally settling down. My twin girls are now 9 weeks old both are feeding well and we’ve got tandem feeding sussed πŸ™‚ I’m keeping my fingers crossed we make it to 6 months but i hope to keep going as long as they want to πŸ™‚

  • I breastfeed my little boy for 2 years and 3 month and the bond between us was always brilliant! I had a gorgeous little girl 2 month ago and breastfeeding her on demand. I hope that I’ll be able to continue as long as she wants it!

  • I am still nursing my little one at 13 months. Our next goal is 18 months and would love to make it to 2 years but I let her lead and decide.

  • I had no plan beyond baby would be breastfed (never entered my mind it wouldn’t be). So once he was born there was no plan for how long.I never really had any understanding about the ridiculous attitudes towards it and the dreadful breastfeeding atatistics in this country but now at nearly 19 months I am quite adamant that baby feeds for as long as baby wants to and woe betide anyone who would ever criticise me!

  • DS1 is 34 months and DD2 is nearly 7 months. I’m really starting to struggle feeding DS1 now though (agitation, I just dislike it), and whilst I really don’t want to force him to wean I’m hoping he will soon πŸ™

  • I have breastfed all three of mine until 10 months. Glad I’ve had the chance to share that closeness with all of them – it will be something I’ll always remember.

  • My little girl is 8 months old next week and our breastfeeding journey is still going strong πŸ™‚ Before I became a mum I knew I would breastfeed till at least 6 months. However now my goal is at least to a year and probably longer x

  • this was a lovely post to read, and I am sure your daughter will appreciate it.

    I breastfed my daughter for 19 months, we’re currently 18 months with no sing of stopping with my son…. we’ll stop when we are both ready hopefully

  • My little girl recently turned one. We are still breastfeeding and I plan to continue for as long as she wants.

  • I breastfed until my son was 13 months. I was so disappointed when he self weaned. I was 24 weeks pregnant with my 2nd and had been told he might stop due to the milk changing back to colostrum.

    I really hope to be able to feed my 10 week old until he is at least 2.

    Enjoy every moment ladies!

  • I’m expecting twins any day now. I’m hoping to breastfeed for anything between 6 weeks and 6 months.

  • Oh what a lovely post, it has made me want to treasure our time feeding even more. Currently on 11 months feeding and happy to continue until baby decides differently. He’s been off his milk the last three days as he’s poorly and won’t feed at all and I’m really missing the experience. Hope he comes back to me soon, if not we’ll always share the close bond we have.

  • We are at 13 months the early days were so hard for us but I’m glad we persevered πŸ™‚ not sure when we will stop I love our milky snuggles x

  • I hoped to breastfeed for 6 months and was not sure I could manage it. Now we’re at 10 months and I’m hoping to get to a year. After that … who knows?

  • Lovely post- it brought a big tear to my eye! My little girl is only 4 weeks and breastfeeding has been tough so far but we’re coming out the other side now and I really hope we can continue to breastfeed for at least 2 yrs or for as long as she wants it.

  • I fed my two elder children for 16 months and am still going strong with no 3 – he is 17 months old and showing no signs of weaning. As I know he will be my last baby,I really am in no rush to stop!

  • I breastfed DD for 6 1/2 months. DS is now 6 months old, and starting to get very easily distracted by his big sister at feeds, but I’m clinging on for now πŸ™‚ hoping, for convenience sake as much as anything, that we can continue until after our summer holiday.

  • I breast fed my first son until he was 16 months. I wasn’t ready to stop but I was 5 months pregnant with my second child and my nipples went extremely sensitive and blistered. My breast feeding journey to that point was perfect.
    I was so disappointed that it ended the way it did.
    I’m currently feeding my second son and have no definitive age at which we’ll stop. I completely intend on feeding until he is at least 12months. I will take my direction from him past that point x

  • I breastfed my son for 22 months and just gave birth to my daughter at 16 weeks gestation in may my milk came in and once I have a big enough stash I will b donating to a mommy in need in my area

  • I am so proud to still be feeding my son at almost 19 months, I didn’t make it past 1 week with my daughter.

  • Love your post! Your words are very much something I can relate with.. My original goal was 6 months and we are almost to 33 months. I don’t know what the future holds with our breast feeding journey, but we are taking it a day at a time and I am always remembering to trust this process and block out everyone else opinions on it. I believe I am providing my son with the best possible start to his life and am constantly thankful for these moments with him.

  • I breastfed my daughter until 14 months but had to stop after I returned to work. It was a difficult decision because she wasn’t ready, but I had to work shifts and if I was on nights, she was simply distressed to get to sleep without the breast, so it seemed kinder to give her a bedtime comfort that would be with her when I couldn’t. Now breastfeeding my son at 4 months with no plan to stop until he is ready. Loving our journey together. Thank you for your beautiful blog.

  • I fed my first little girl until she was 16mths, she self wane really, I was sad to be honest. But now 1 million % enjoying breast feeding again with my 8 week old, I will feed as long as she wants to x

  • I bf baby #3 for 11 months, baby #4 is 10 months now and we plan on bf til she decides she’s done πŸ™‚

  • What a lovely blog! I have now been feeding my beautiful son for 6 months which has been one of the greatest and most cherished achievements in my life! Following a very difficult breastfeeding journey with my daughter which ended far before I was happy for it to, I am so happy that my breastfeeding relationship is now such a strong one and plan to continue feeding until by boy tells me its time to stop xx

  • I have been breastfeeding for 19 months and plan on keeping going until my baby boy decides to stop, what better gift can we share?

  • I’m still feeding my 30 month old (wow, when did she become 30 months old?!) She’s slowing down and her latch is becoming very lazy. I’m pretty sure she’ll wean soon, but in her own time.

    I would love a breast milk keepsake before my milk goes! X

  • I too find comfort in our breastfeeding relationship. We had our 1 year anniversary last week. It makes it even more special knowing it is only a fleeting thing. When my daughter outgrows her need for my breast I hope I will be able to remember all the beautiful small things that go with it.

  • I am currently feeding my 3rd 2 year old. My older daughters both self weaned shortly before they were 3. I tandem fed my 2nd and 3rd daughters and I am so glad I got the experience. I fully intend to let my last baby wean herself when she is ready. There is no greater gift I can give my children. πŸ™‚

  • This is a wonderfully article!! After a very rocky start to breastfeeding I only had one goal, which was to get through one more painful day at a time… 8 weeks in it started to get a little easier! And now 20 months later we are blissfully breastfeeding on demand day and night πŸ˜€ Neither of us have any plans to stop soon x x

  • I currently Breastfeeding my 11 month old daughter. Very hard to start off with and thought I would be lucky to breast feed for 1 months. Well done my beautiful daughter.

Further reading