A little post from me whilst I feed the small person to sleep about what is like to feed a baby at one year old.
In past posts I’ve talked about attitudes towards breastfeeding and I’m going to take that a bit further by looking at attitudes towards “extended” breastfeeding (as it’s often called). What it refers to is a bit confusing-beyond 6 months? Beyond 12 months? Longer than that?
Many people in Western society see breastfeeding as something disgusting-either because it clashes with the sexualised societal view of what breasts are our because they cannot see humans as mammals in the same way that pigs and cats and monkeys are. They see us as more important and more civilised than animals and therefore find the suggestion of breastfeeding inhuman.
My point is that we are mammals, named so because of our mammary glands. We are linked to other mammals by the way we carry, give birth and feed or babies.
I chose to breastfeed my baby because I simply couldn’t see any other options that I was happy with. I am a mammal and is what my body was made to do, therefore I’d try my hardest and persevere to ensure I could do it. What I didn’t then want to do was chose an arbitrary cut off point at six months or a year. How would I explain to my body and my baby that decision?
I have gone back to work three days a week. So for ten hours a day for three days a week I don’t breastfeed him at all. He has decided that he didn’t want any kind of milk (formula/expressed breast/cows) from any receptacle except me (bottle/cup/sippy cup) and so goes without milk when he isn’t with me. We had a small breakthrough this week when I was out late for work and he deigned to take a bottle of warmed cows milk though. A year later!
Anyway. Feeding a one year old is different to feeding a 3 week old baby. He is heavy and he wriggles. He makes his own decisions about when and how he latches on (including making the decision after swimming half way through getting changed! ). He can ask for milk (usually patting a boob) and pull at my top. He has six teeth. He can support himself when feeding so it’s not so uncomfortable. He feeds much less often so I can wear more normal clothes. We have a giggle together whilst he feeds.
Most babies and toddlers I know that were breastfed on demand self weaned between 2-3 years old. Technically children can breastfeed until they lose their milk teeth-adult teeth change the shape of the mouth so the child can’t latch on any more. I don’t think I plan to feed him that long and I hope he doesn’t have plans like that either! But I would like him to chose for himself whether he wants breast milk any more.
So for the people that ask How long are you planning on feeding him the answer is I suppose that it’s up to him! I have no plans on stopping and don’t think that’s weird at all!
Your one year old might even have a spare hand to stroke the cat!