Breastfeeding older baby

4 Extended Breastfeeding Tips

As a mother that really struggled with breastfeeding I really take my hat off to the moms that have managed to breastfeed for a long period of time. Any mother that manages to breastfeed until her child self weans is a hero in my eyes.

With my first daughter breastfeeding was a complete nightmare but it didn’t last long because in my ignorance I followed some advice to top up my daughter’s feeds with formula. In all honesty though, it was a relief to give my boobs a rest. The result was that by 6 months old my daughter refused the breast and went completely onto formula.

My son was a completely different story. It was easier to breastfeed him because he was firstly a very easy and hungry baby that knew what to do, plus I was older and wiser. I made the decision before he was born not to make the same mistake – he was only ever offered the boob and when he went through a growth spurt I would express in between feeds and drink jungle juice to quickly increase my breast milk to accommodate for his need for more milk.

So in that regard the second time around was a raging success… except for a few things. I detested breastfeeding. I loved the cuddling and closeness but the abuse on my boobs was awful.

The other thing was that making milk takes a toll and my immune system was in a bad way. I caught everything that went around and I was constantly sick and feeling week. I was told that breastfeeding while sick is great for your baby because a mother’s body is incredible, when you are ill your body creates antibodies that gets given to your baby in the breast milk for protection against that illness.

So I breastfed by boy through the flu, tummy bugs and more.. and he got stronger and healthier while I felt weaker than I have ever been in my life. I lost weight and I felt tired and weak all the time.

My boy loved breastfeeding but due to my health I weaned him at 13 months. Both times when I stopped breastfeeding I felt such a sense of loss and sadness. I don’t know if it is because such a closeness was lost or perhaps because of hormonal changes but I also really welcomed having my body to myself and being able to go back on my psychiatric medication!

That said now that my daughter is 7 years old and my son is 5 years old I wonder if I should have done things differently and tried extended breastfeeding. I can see now so clearly how fast the time goes and how things that seem so overwhelming at the time are just a fleeting moment of motherhood.

But I can’t go back and change anything, I can only share with you how I feel now.

I recently read a short book by Tanja Russita called “And Up To Nine” where she writes about breastfeeding her two children until they self weaned. It is an awesome, very funny and honest book about author’s 9-years-long breastfeeding experience. You can find other formats on Smashwords.

It was a brilliant read that found me nodding my head in understanding at times and laughing out loud at others – from pooping after birth to the well-intentioned advice given by others. This book inspired me to write this post today.

4 Extended Breastfeeding Tips

4 Tips For Extended Breastfeeding

Be Prepared For Criticism

If you are going to be breastfeeding your child until self weaning there are going to be comments about it. So be prepared for that. Also keep in mind that no matter what you do as a mother you will probably face judgement anyway.

When I was breastfeeding my son there were many people that were shocked I was still breastfeeding him at a year old and advised that I should stop as soon as possible. Then when I weaned him just as many people told me that I should have let him wean himself. See?

Do What Works For You

Once again you are going to get so much advice thrown at you. There will be the people that advise that you don’t breastfeed past a year, those that advise that you don’t stop breastfeeding until at least 2 years and those that say let your child self wean.

You will get those that advise breastfeeding on demand and others that say you should feed on schedule.

The point here is that you are going to get advise from everyone and everyone. There are only 2 people in this breastfeeding relationship  – you and your baby. The only way that there will be more than 2 people in this relationship should be if you are tandem feeding a baby and a toddler or if you are feeding multiples.

So yes listen to suggestions for sure, but use them for inspiration, nothing more. Take what you like and chuck the rest. Figure out what works for you and your baby.

Join A Breastfeeding Group

Getting support from like-minded people is always going to be helpful, especially when it comes to breastfeeding. The fact is that there is a lot of judgement out there, from when to stop breastfeeding to doing it in public and more. Being able to spend some time with other mothers that are also doing extended breastfeeding will provide much needed support.

You can physically meet up with other mothers or you can socialize online if there are no groups near you. I joined the La Leche League group on Facebook and it was fantastic to get advise on whatever I was struggling with and I loved reading all the posts by other breastfeeding mothers.

Remember It’s Not Forever

This is the thing that I can see now. I never even planned on breastfeeding my son past a year – my goal was a year and I went past that. While it seemed like such a long time then looking back it went so fast. My son loved breastfeeding and we would spend so much time cuddled together. Time that I often resented because I was needing to “get things done”. Honestly if I could go back now I would have given him a little bit longer and enjoyed the cuddles more. I can see now that there was nothing more important than spending those precious bonding moments together.

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  1. Nuraan Abrahams

    Thanks Lynne for the info

  2. Very usefull tips! Thank you

    • good tips thanks for the info

    • Lauren Kinghorn

      Such excellent tips, Lynne! I was on a mission to breastfeed for 2 years as per WHO recommendations and when we reached the 2‐year mark, it made no sense to stop… so we just continued until my son weaned naturally. Yes, people (including family members) gave me flack but I figured it had nothing to do with them. If this was what my child needed to feel secure and keep healthy, who was I to deny him? We still miss our nursing days. It was the most special time in my life, wouldn’t change it for all the world.

  3. Cheron Hercules

    Thank you for sharing

  4. Very useful information as a mom to be who’s due in September I will be be visiting this page more often.

  5. couldn’t agree more about the sense of lose felt when we stop.
    i try to recapture that by holding my toddler a little longer after she fall asleep

  6. Oh how I remember that period of breastfeeding… My daughter stoped accepting my left breast when she was 3 months old I think, so we continued only with the right one all till the end. But the funny thing is, just like you said, people telling you what to do… When I think about it now it was like they didnt even care about any of this at all, they just needed to say something. Because when we struggled with breastfeeding at 3 month everyone was saying that I MUST breastfeed till she is 1 year old. And then, as soon as she turned 1 year and 1 day, those same people where giving me they eye and telling me that is not normal to breastfeed THIS long. Now, I am laughing at this. ? I think that every mother should do how she feels… and not listen to anyone, because people will always have something to say, and the important thing is that you and the baby are together in this… those people will never be around…

    • Lynne Huysamen

      LOL that is exactly it Karmen! I find that no matter what I did someone had something to say and it really upset me some of the time then but now these things I just brush off. You are right every new mother takes it to heart – I think it is because a new mother is so unsure of herself and scared of making a mistake.

  7. Starting to breastfeed my son as soon as he was born wasn’t easy. But we got into the sync in a couple of days and after that it was pretty much a breeze, not counting sitting up nights and for the first six months feeling as if he was always latched on to my boobs. I breastfed him until he was about 2, of course tapering off from when he was 1.5. Weaning him off wasn’t so hard either but yes, the criticism and the unwanted advice from others were all very annoying. I too felt a sense of sadness when he stopped, but I think it was because I was used to the cuddling and the coziness. The four tips are something all mothers should read! While struggling to juggle stuff, the last thing one needs is to feel bad about anything.

  8. Breastfeeding is hard! Period LOL and if anyone says otherwise they’ve never had to do it for a long period of time. I tried breastfeeding all of mine but my third one I went the longest with it was 22 months. I tried to go until she was 2 but I had to stay in the hospital for a week and it was almost impossible to keep it up so we had to stop and u know what? I cried…for weeks I cried because I didn’t hit my goal and a lot of mothers did criticize me for weaning before 2 but others were like woah I can’t believe you went that long! You’re right it doesn’t matter what you do or how you do it u will receive criticism regardless. So with that being said I wish every momma would do what they want or need to do and stop worrying about what others think.

  9. Hi Lynne!
    I agree it is definitely something to be proud of if you can manage to breastfeed baby for an extended period of time because there are so many reasons to stop breastfeeding. It is not nice when baby refuses the breast. I also agree that every situation is different and also every baby so it is to the mommy that knows best 🙂
    Thanks for the helpful tips

  10. Thank you for sharing

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