In association with Pumpables
I never expected to breastfeed a toddler.
I breastfed Bee for about six weeks, which on reflection wasn’t a bad go really. I was only 17 at the time, I lived in a house full of people and I went back to college about a month after she was born. And the MILK – my God, the milk. There was so damn much of it. At night I had to cut nappies in half to stuff in my bra otherwise the duvet, sheets and mattress would be soaked through. There was no way I could have gone back to college OOZING like that.
Second time around then, I was open-minded. I was prepared to give breastfeeding a go, but I was also prepared to stop if it didn’t work out. I wasn’t putting myself under any pressure.
When Belle was about six weeks old I went to a breastfeeding group. I’ve written about it before here, so I’m not going to harp on about how life changing it was, you’ll have to read the original post for that. Needless to say that it was, and I ended up breastfeeding Belle for two and a half years. I also trained as a breastfeeding counsellor, volunteered as a breast pump hire co-ordinator, wrote about breastfeeding for The Green Parent magazine and starred in an international breastfeeding calendar.
I was ALL about the boobs.
There were a few things that surprised me about breastfeeding a toddler:
The fact that I did it at all
I remember that first session at breastfeeding group and seeing a mum there with a baby who was ten months old. Next to Belle the baby looked MASSIVE, like maybe six years old?
I remember watching her feed him and thinking ‘good grief, no way would you catch ME doing that.’ Which just goes to show that you never know – keep an open mind and you might surprise yourself.
That it made me so skinny
I mean look at me! A veritable twig. I’ve never been that skinny before.
(Belle wouldn’t let me put her on the rug, I had to be holding her at all times. Also note that Belle seems to be crying – I don’t think anything had happened, this was just her default for about four years.)
It didn’t mean no one else could ever feed her
As you can see from the photo above, Belle wasn’t the most relaxed of babies, and I’d be lying if I said I was expressing milk and going away for weekends all the time. I wasn’t completely a prisoner in my own home though, and I did have a breast pump so that every so often I could express some milk for someone else to give her. It was a manual pump, so it was a bit of a faff, but it was worth it sometimes just to have that extra flexibility and freedom.
Have you seen the Milk Genie Plus breast pump from Pumpables? I know it’s 15 years now since my last baby, but reading about the Milk Genie Plus I’ve been blown away by how far breast pumps seem to have come in that short space of time.
When I worked as a pump hire co-ordinator the electric pumps we loaned out were gigantic noisy contraptions that came in a case like some kind of WW2 code breaking machine. The Milk Genie Plus looks incredible – quiet, discreet, lightweight – it’s almost enough to make me want another baby just to be able to try it.
I didn’t attract any negative comments
This one surprised me a lot as I certainly didn’t make a point of covering up or hiding in corners to feed out and about or anything. I know that as a rule I’m fairly oblivious to what other people think about me, so it could be that shifty looks were being thrown in my direction, but I never once had anyone say anything negative to me.
I did have several people over the years come and say positive things though, which was always lovely.
It gave me confidence in my body
When I first saw that 10 month old baby being breastfed I couldn’t imagine ever having the balls to do that in public, but breastfeeding a toddler gave me a confidence in my body that I could never have imagined. It’s amazing when you think about it, that you’re able to sustain two lives at once, without really even realising it or doing anything special.
The older Belle got, the more sassy I seemed to become. I would feed her wherever we happened to be, and I suspect that this positivity about the whole thing went a long way to keeping those negative comments at bay.
I’ve just started breastfeeding my first (he’s 4 days old), and was having a conversation with my mom today about the support available today compared to when she tried to breastfeed me almost 40 years ago! I’ve had classes, I know where my local group is, I had such amazing support at the hospital, etc. An exciting journey to be starting out on!
That IS exciting Emily, and amazing that you have so much support! The breastfeeding group I went to was the key for me – I made friends there that I still meet up with once a month 16 years later!