Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Still breastfeeding: A tale of extended breastfeeding through pregnancy

I’ll let you in on a secret: I’m still breastfeeding my two and a half year old. I know a few other people who are breastfeeding their toddlers (not that any of us mention it very often), but I hardly know anyone who has breastfed through pregnancy. That’s sad because for months I have wanted someone who I can turn to and commiserate with about how much it sodding hurts. 

Me and My toddler both happy and wearing matching tops

My experience of breastfeeding while pregnant


Until very recently I fed my youngest daughter to sleep most days, but over the last few weeks I have persuaded her to cuddle to sleep instead. She normally wants a feed when she wakes up in the morning though.  Sometimes I can handle feeding her, but at time's it's unbearable. One night I couldn’t stop saying “ow” when she latched on, to the point that she looked at me, gave me a cuddle, rolled over and went to sleep without "mummy milk". I now talk to her about how it hurts me and ask to cuddle instead and we only try breastfeeding if she gets upset. Yes she can sleep without breastfeeding, but at times she still wants it and it is the fastest way to chill her out and get her to sleep.

I wish I knew other mothers in the same situation. I wish I could complain to people who wouldn’t even think of saying “why don’t you stop?” in response to me sharing the sensitivity and pain I feel in my nipples. As any extended breastfeeder knows the decision to breastfeed is not mine, but my child’s.

Please don’t think I’m saying a mother has no right to choose when to stop breastfeeding. Of course she does, we all have the right to choose what happens with our bodies. BUT I didn’t ever intend to be feeding a 2 and a half year old, I didn’t expect to breastfeed in pregnancy and I really don’t want to tandem feed.

The baby is due in 3 months and Little still wants to breastfeed. She tries to latch on anytime she sees me topless and I can only imagine that constantly having a boob out to feed a newborn is going to prove a lot of temptation for her if she has been forced to stop before she is ready.

And I benefit despite the pain, I can get her to sleep in 5 minutes instead of 30 which is bound to be helpful when the baby is here. But if she stopped tomorrow I think I would be ok with it. It would be nice to have my boobs to myself for a few months before my next breastfeeding journey starts. I have accepted this an unlikely to happen.

A woman holding a toddler in her arms while wearing a teething necklace

It's safe for most women to breastfeed while pregnant unless they are considered high risk for miscarriage or early labour and a medical professional may advise them to stop. Some children may choose to wean in pregnancy anyway due to a decline in milk production around month 4 or 5. I think my decline just encouraged my youngest to try to feed for longer in an attempt to build up my supply!

So here I am, feeding a toddler, sharing my pain with my partner and wishing there was a way to spot other women who in the same situation.

Breastfeeding an older child while pregnant

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