This pic is all kinds of sublime isn’t it? Look closely, that’s a toddler breastfeeding right there. It was taken on our recent holiday at Goa. We were walking around the lush green lawns of the fairly plush resort we were staying at… and babyT wanted “du-du” right about now! Our room was a good and leisurely 10 minute walk away. My husband pointed to this little spot and said “It’s nice and shady there, plus you can get a good pic for your social media.” I made a beeline for it. 🙂 Lol. Toddler Breastfeeding is as good for babyT as it is for mommy’s social media accounts, right?
BabyT is exactly 17.5 months today.. to the lay person who doesn’t keep track of months (only moms do that.) he is almost 1.5 years young. And he is still breastfeeding. He has never tasted formula milk. He cannot have cows milk – he seems to be allergic to it, we haven’t tested it yet. Breastmilk is all he has. (And water. Coconut water. Juices. Soups etc. Of course)
When I began my breastfeeding journey I had not planned on a date or time when I would stop feeding. I had not planned I would feed him this long either. We did decide to follow baby’s cues and let him decide till when he wants to have breastmilk.
Breastfeeding has been a saviour for us in many ways –
- It has helped him be relatively healthy with very few incidences of colds and fevers
- Even when he did contract a viral infection he recovered fairly quickly from it
- We sailed through teething
- We got by those days of no appetite and hunger strikes and survived solely on breast-milk
- BabyT is fairly bright chap… i am sure it is genes and a lot of other factors too at play. But he could identify a few colours around the time he was 10 months, knew parts of the body (some, not all) by 11 months and had a vocabulary of at least 10+ words by the time he was 1 year. (it is normal to have a 10+ vocab at around 18 months age) I am sure breastmilk nutrition went a long way in giving that to him
To know more about the benefits of extended or toddler breastfeeding visit my breastfeeding bible La Leche League International’s post on this.
However I will admit it can be difficult and mind numbing on some days. Like today. I had planned this blog post on toddler breastfeeding as part of my blog anniversary celebrations but babyT had other plans. He was extremely fussy, cranky and irritable and wanted only breastmilk. Every 10 minutes at that. If I refused he would wrestle me down on the bed and lift my top and have a sip and disappear, only to return in another 20 minutes. I was beyond harassed. I was frustrated, half cursing myself for not stepping out (he is usually fine if I am out of the house and doesn’t fuss for breastmilk) Also cursing myself for not having ever developed a routine of pumping milk. It was a hard day in all.
Hell, I had not worn a single outfit which did not offer access to my breasts for babyT to feed on indoor or out of home. That’s 1.5 years of very limited types of clothes one can wear.
But this is a decision we have taken and there will be tough times. What I have learned about toddler breastfeeding and actually about everything related to baby is DON’T QUIT ON A BAD DAY! I heard this first in a breastfeeding support group for mothers, but it has held true for so many things in the past 1.5 years of parenthood. If you are currently pregnant or a new parent or know someone who is, please do them a huge favour and ask them to joing this group on Facebook – Breastfeeding Support for Indian Mothers.
Some tips which help me in this current phase of extended breastfeeding are –
- Ignore everyone else’s comments, eyerolls, stares & whatever have you – even the most educated, well read and well meaning of people have told me at some point of time that it is enough now and I should start weaning. Some young folk look at me like I am a villager and that I am causing some major trauma to my child. Just blank them out from your life.
- Get used to nursing in public – Since the first time I nursed in public I have never looked back. Restaurants, Cabs, Planes, the Park (pic above) we breastfeed whenever babyT wants to. And like with most things, the first time is the hardest and you just learn and get better at it. Wearing breastfeeding friendly clothes can be a boon. However I will also admit that there is a serious dirth of them out there. Pretty ones at least. So look up the two T-shirt method and practice.
- Do yourself a favour and live a little – I pumped once in my life so far. It was liberating. BabyT was happy while I was out with my fellow mommy bloggers attending an event for Baby Chakra. For the longest time I tied myself down to the baby and within the 4 walls of my house, but pumping/ expressing milk and keeping it for baby while you are away is a blessing and I would highly recommend it. You may even find the push you need to continue toddler breastfeeding.
- Keep reminding yourself that you chose this and you WANTED to do this for your baby. As I said before never quit on a bad day. Here is a poem I wrote on the occasion of World Breastfeeding Week last year and I am so proud that it is a well circulated one in social media circles and has been read so many times. Because it is true, we are all in this together.
- Remember that even toddlers go through growth spurts and terrible teething phases. Damn those molars. So when babyT is being fussy, I know that he is most probably going through something which is hard for him so I let him indulge. It may not be nursing for milk, it may be only for comfort and he needs it. In fact thank your stars that you are still breastfeeding your toddler, it is so much easier to comfort a fussy baby.
I don’t know what they future holds for our breastfeeding journey. Like many other children babyT may suddenly decide overnight to wean himself. Or he may still want to breastfeed well into toddlerhood. Whatever life throws at us, I do know that I am grateful for having got the gift and ability to breastfeed and that I have done complete justice to it.
Does anyone you know need inspiration to continue breastfeeding? Share this blog piece with them, won’t you?