I’m still breastfeeding my two year old. I call it breastfeeding although it is increasingly becoming some weird kind of boob yoga. Anyway, she gets comfort and nutrition from it and I get some peace and don’t mind that my breasts are sexy, feedy and exercise equipment-y. Overall it’s a win-win for all of us
Other people, however, can seem less comfortable with the situation and there has been even been one occasion where I experienced a bit of downright rudeness. It is important to remember that the vast majority of people we come across are going to be supportive at heart, but maybe a bit inquisitive, understandably given the preferred ‘three-legged-dog-chasing-sunrise-sideways-warrior-nipple’ pose that my toddler’s favouring of late.
So, from me to you directly for your convenience, here are some handy FAQs to share with any of our eyebrow raising chums:
1. Teeth aren’t actually uncomfortable
I’m not going to lie, both my middle baby and this one have been biters, I seem to remember the first had a little go too. However, unlatching them using your little finger to break the seal, putting them down and firmly stating that it hurts usually does the trick. Babies very quickly realise that when teeth come out nipples go away, and they stop doing it. Other than those very few, but admittedly painful, times you cannot feel their teeth so we can all stop wincing.
2. I don’t know when I’ll stop
It can be hard work getting breastfeeding established. It took at least three months to find our rhythm with my eldest and although quicker with the other two, I’d say still quite a few weeks. It does seem though, that the second you find your happy place people are desperate to know when you’re going to stop and everyone seems to want to tell you their own arbitrary cut off points. I say, as long as we’re both happy, or indifferent, then it’s fine and we’ll just plod along. Alternatively you could smile serenely and state your intention to purchase a breast pump for when they leave home, we’re sure that the technology will be quite spectacular by then.
3. If she didn’t want it, she wouldn’t do it
More than once I’ve come across the old it’s not about the baby, it’s about the Mum at this point. If a baby or toddler doesn’t want to feed then they won’t, they just won’t, that applies to any vessel. (Actually, this applies to almost anything in parenting I also want them to put their shoes on/brush their teeth, that’s for me, but guess what…)
4. They’re my breasts anyway
My body is multi-functional and it does a lot of things that I don’t have to ask anyone’s permission for. That includes my breasts. My toddler breastfeeding isn’t in any way harmful to you, and if you’re uncomfortable with breasts and babies please do look away. But don’t tell me what I can and cannot do with them. Remember the mantra?
My body; my choice.
5. I’m not doing it for anyone else
We have all got to accept that women’s bodies are incredible and busy doing lots of reproductive stuff and it isn’t a statement. These things are often beautiful, personal, inconvenient, embarrassing or a mixture of all three and we may be comfortable with everything that’s going on, or not. We also may not have a choice over whether or not it’s noticeable.
So, in the same way as Amal Clooney isn’t ‘showing off’ every time she walks out of her front door, women aren’t breastfeeding their babies to show off.
For me, I’m not doing it because I feel strongly that everyone should, I don’t particularly want to use my own breasts as some sort of patriarchy dynamite (interesting thought though…). I have no opinion on how you feed your baby or for how long, only that you are supported. I’m feeding my baby because she needs to be fed and that’s how we get stuff done.
So, go forth, feed your babies with love and support each other.
This post previously appeared on Infant Feeding Support UK