Note from Naomi: Today's post is an interview with Harriet from Toby and Roo about her experience of continuing to breastfeed beyond the average age of weaning. Make sure you check out her blog over at Toby and Roo.
How old is the child you are currently breastfeeding?
Edith is now 21 months old.
What would you consider to be, 'extended breastfeeding'?
I think for me 'extended' is anything past the first recommended year.
After 12 months there is no pressure to continue feeding - despite the world health organisation recommending 24 months.
If you had to choose one word to describe your experience of extended breastfeeding, what would it be?
Hmm, that is a really tough question! I’m not sure to be honest - it depends when you ask me!
Taxing is definitely one word I would use. Edie is such a demanding baby, and I really struggle with her constant demands to feed still.
On the flip side it is so special and the bond I have with her is magical.
Why did you decide to continue breastfeeding beyond the UK average of 6 months?
I didn’t, she did!
Personally I wanted to let her self wean up to a year, but she wasn’t overly happy when I tried to encourage her to stop.
Has extended breastfeeding affected your relationship with your partner?
Hmm, I think he is much freer around breastfeeding now, like, he really couldn’t care less!
He has a hilarious affinity with Edith and calls her a, 'boobie lover just like him'! HA!
Has extended breastfeeding affected your relationship with your other two children?
Not at all, Edith’s arrival has but not the feeding.
Does it hurt when your daughter feeds now she has teeth?
It does at the moment because she’s been unwell and has upped her feeds, plus I think she seems to be losing her latch.
Teeth wise, she’s bitten me a few times and, yep, that hurts like hell.
Does breastfeeding really help you lose weight?
It didn’t really help me that much to be honest, but I do diet.
I did find that it made me hungrier - constantly so.
What do you do when you go to work; or your child is with a family member or babysitter and you're not around?
So at this point Edie just gets on with it - funnily enough.
If I’m not around, she’s not bothered, a bit like your favourite chocolate bar - if it’s there you want it, but you’re not bothered if it isn’t.
If we’re going out she will have a feed before we go and then she’s happy to be snuggled to sleep by someone else, usually my mum.
Do you have a set routine for breastfeeding (for example only at nap time or bed time) or do you still breastfeed 'on demand'?
I’m still on demand, though the only two times she really demands and I can’t really refuse are bedtime and wake up.
She will feed constantly through the day though if I let her - and it is very frustrating - but I’m a push over and give in!
Does extended breastfeeding affect your daughter's eating habits?
She is a really bad eater to be honest.
Until she was around 12 months old the only thing I could get her to eat (despite blatantly refusing her it all the time and begin her to eat everything in-between) was chips and chocolate.
It was like my worst nightmare.
She was a total contrast to my boys who are fab eaters; but she is a law unto herself. I am unsure if this would have been the case whether she was breastfed or not!!
Do you ever feel self-conscious about the fact you decided to extend breastfeeding when people ask you about it?
No. Ultimately I’m a really easy going person when it comes to personal choices - you do you, I’ll do me!
Opinions on my choices aren’t really something I dwell on, haha!
There is a lot of people who think that it is strange to breastfeed beyond the first year (despite the world wide average being 2.5 years in age). How do you respond to these judgements?
Fortunately I’ve never had anyone say it to me, but I’m pretty convinced that anyone who had been on the receiving end of one of Edith’s screaming fits would be happier to whack a boob out than sit and struggle with it.
It’s my ultimate way to calm her and make her happy.
When do you think you will stop breastfeeding?
When she chooses. I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit that I hope she stops soon, but then a part of me would be very sad and will be gutted when she does. It makes no sense, but what does in parenting?
Would you do it again?
I think it would be the same scenario - if the baby wanted to continue I would go along with it. However by preference, I’d hope for around a year!