Diaries Magazine

Breastfeeding Past 1

By Sjay235 @naturalmommainm
If you have read my blog over the last month or so, you will know all about Isabelle's birthday celebrations. I still can't believe I have a 1 year old girl on my hands! The time has flown, and I definitely haven't noticed it disappearing, or seen her changing from day to day.
Breastfeeding past 1
And some things haven't changed at all, and one of those things is the fact that I am continuing to breastfeed Isabelle. Now, I know that that is a thought which will make many people pull a little face, and think "Surely she's too old?" But, in honesty, to me, feeding Isabelle today is no different to feeding her 3 months ago. Every day has come and gone, and I have never once thought "That's enough now". Just as I haven't noticed her growing taller, and I get taken by surprise when it's time to get the new clothes out, I haven't noticed the change from feeding my tiny baby to feeding my hefty toddler.
Breastfeeding past 1To me, it is just as it has always been. Feeding provides food/drink for Isabelle, and it provides her a huge amount of comfort. In fact, I know that the main reason Isabelle continues to feed is for comfort rather than anything else. If she gets upset, or if she's tired, she makes a very distinct little "feed me mummy!" noise, and a few months ago started pulling at my top when she wanted fed, and most of that is for comfort. She can be in meltdown, and a few minutes feeding creates a totally different child My granny put it perfectly when she simply said "That is just her little thing  for comfort", and she is right. Some babies have dummies, some have teddies, Isabelle feeds. So when people ask me if I am stopping now, I often reply "Ok, I'll stop...but you can keep her for a week!" simply because I know how upsetting she would find not being able to feed when she needs some comfort. And when Isabelle is upset, she is LOUD.
That said, she is perfectly capable of being comforted in other ways - Simon can comfort her easily, as can my family, and I can too without feeding, it's just that sometimes, that is the comfort she wants, and I am certainly not ready to deny her that.
Then, people tell me "It has no nutritional benefit past 1" which makes me laugh, almost as if at midnight on 9th April my milk suddenly turned from nutrient rich goodness into pure water! I could write a whole blog post on this thought alone, as it is just total rubbish and nonsense! Instead, here are the scientific facts:
"In the second year (12-23 months), 448 mL of breastmilk provides:
  • 29% of energy requirements
  • 43% of protein requirements
  • 36% of calcium requirements
  • 75% of vitamin A requirements
  • 76% of folate requirements
  • 94% of vitamin B12 requirements
  • 60% of vitamin C requirements
– Dewey 2001 (Source: Kelly Mom)"Breastfeeding past 1
So, along with the comfort Isabelle is getting plenty of nutrition too - I haven't suddenly started producing mineral water! There are lots of other physiological benefits too, over and above nutrition.
But, even though I am thrilled to be making such good stuff for Isabelle, the nutrition is no longer why I feed her. Now, it's about that all important comfort, and the fact that it makes her happy. We all want to make our kids happy, and this is such an easy way for me to do it. Maybe that's selfish of me - wanting to take the easy route to making her happy and stopping any tantrums and tears - but there we go! Our daily feeding schedule looks something like this:
9am for morning nap
12.30pm for afternoon nap(depending on whether we are in the car or not)
.....any time in between!
More than the comfort, I genuinely believe exclusively breastfeeding Isabelle for this time is responsible for the incredibly close bond we have. Nobody else can provide for her that thing which she needs or wants - only me. Because of breastfeeding, I have never left Isabelle for longer than 5 hours with anyone - and that was purely because I was sick - so she gets concentrated mommy time all day, every day, and it means that she and I are the greatest buddies in the world!
Breastfeeding past 1I read a statistic a few months ago which said that less than 1% of mothers in Northern Ireland breastfeed exclusively (using no formula) until 1 year old. I suppose that I move in circles where that 1% flourish, as I know plenty of people 'still' breastfeeding well past 1 year old. We still go to our breastfeeding support group every week, and it's be so wonderful to see babies born in the few months close to Isabelle grow and reach their first birthday, and still be feeding too. It's one of our favorite groups, and I think even if we stopped feeding tomorrow we would still go!
I suppose the obvious question is then "when will I stop?" To be honest, I don't know the answer to that question. I have never set a time limit on feeding Isabelle. To me, it was all about getting past the first few weeks when it is most difficult, and I am so proud of myself for making it to 1 year+, with no issues to speak of. I had assumed Isabelle would start to cut down gradually by now, but we are still feeding on demand so she hasn't! She can easily go for half a day without milk, when she is with Simon or my parents, but that doesn't happen very often. As we are together all day everyday, she is too tempted! I suppose if/when I go back to work she will be forced to cut down, but the earliest that could happen is when she is 17 months, and I think I would continue to feed at bedtime. That said, lately when I feed her in public I have been thinking "I wonder if people think this is strange?" because she is so obviously not a tiny baby - the hair alone shows that! - and as much as I love feeding her, I don't want to end up one of those people still breastfeeding at 7 years old (no offense to them!). I have never cared what people think when I nurse her in public, but every so often now, I do just wonder...
So really, I've no idea what the future holds. All I do know is that feeding Isabelle is something I am so proud of, and something which she values so very much. And that means that we won't be stopping for a while to come...
2 great sources for breastfeeding mums:
La Leche League International

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