Extended Breastfeeding

I always knew that I wanted to breastfeed Roo. I always thought that it would be until she turned one. Then I had a preemie and her pediatrician recommended that I continue to breastfeed for at least two more months for the immunity benefit that breast feeding provides.

I never imagined that I would last this long. From what I’ve read, in the US, when one nurses for more than one year it is called extended breast feeding. The WHO encourages breast feeding for at least two years but it is typical for Americans to only do it for the first year and wean shortly after.

In my mothers group, every one of us started out breast feeding. There are 11 of us. Today, nearly everyone has already weaned or begun the weaning process. Other than me, I can only name two other moms who still nurse at least twice a day. I can think of only one other mom who nurses on demand still.

I am not judging. I’m just stating the facts. I honestly thought I would be done. Mentally I actually would like to be done. My understanding is that once I’m done that my sex drive will return. I hope that my boobs will attempt to return to a state of something more normal (but I doubt that). I also hope that I won’t be so exhausted (more in another post).

Apparently, I am not the only one getting a health benefit. Extended nursing has been thought to prevent breast, uterine and ovarian cancers in moms. That’s a fantastic benefit that I will take. Additionally, it continues to help mothers keep their weight down. I’m actually at a weight that I haven’t been in for years. I’m a petite person to begin with and it’s hard to imagine that I would ever weigh this little again but I am. Not surprisingly, pregnancy changed the shape of my body so even though I’m skinny as all get out at the moment, my hips widened and so my body is still a strange shape. My super skinny pants still don’t fit properly even though I weigh less than I have in years.

I actually also still enjoy nursing. The ability to comfort Roo is a delight and lifesaver. She’s screaming?! I pull out a boob! She’s hungry and I don’t have a snack along?! I pull out a boob! She wants to snuggle and feel close?! I pull out a boob. I love the closeness it offers us.

It isn’t often that I offer it to her proactively anymore since she eats three to four solid food meals a day but she still asks to nurse four to five times a day. Sometimes she will ask up to six times a day. That seems like a lot to me.

What I don’t like? I don’t like how distracted she can be. I hate when she latches on and then pulls off five seconds later to look around and then rinses and repeats over and over. I hate how my bras don’t fit properly anymore. My boobs aren’t as big as they were in the beginning so my nursing bras fit poorly. I don’t want to invest in more bras since I’m on the closer end to weaning. I hate how exhausted I am and I think it’s tied to still nursing her on demand. My body is still feeding two. I need to do a better job of feeding me!!

My goal is to make it to 15 months, which is only two months away. I will see what my pediatrician says then and go from there. I’ve read that kids will naturally want to wean between 2 and 5. I might let her lead the way but I would encourage her to wean on the earlier side. I can’t imagine that I would be “that” mom whose 4 year old is still nursing. Again, no judgment. Just how I feel.

Mommies who have/are sound extended breast feeding. Have you introduced cows milk at all? When did you start to wean? Did you wean partially and just nurse at wake up and night or did you still nurse on demand? How long do you think you will still breast feed?

I’m curious to learn about others experiences with extended breast feeding.

12 thoughts on “Extended Breastfeeding

  1. Still going strong at 18 months with no plans to stop. There are days I don’t want to bf anynore but then I remember he’s only this little baby once, he’s obly going to want to cuddle and bf for such a short period of time and I feel bf is soo important to help boost their health. My boy is going to grow up before I know it and in the end bf is such a short period of time in theirs and our lives. The world average age to weannis about 5 I think. And tho I’m not sure how long we will go for (two friends are at 4.5 and almost 4) I know it will be a while still. I think any amount of bf is awesome but I feel its important for my son and me to let him self wean and get the max benefits from bf as possible

  2. I just completely weaned my son at 32 months (!!!). Also never expected it to go that long, but he was a devotee. At two years we went down to once per day – only first thing in the morning. That allowed me to never have to stop what I’m doing to nurse or have to wear clothes specially planned for nursing, but to let him to continue to feel that he was getting the closeness or nourishment he wanted. He has never liked cow’s milk, which seems to be the substitution of choice for families that wean earlier. However, my pediatrician says kids don’t really need cow’s milk as long as their diet is otherwise healthy.

  3. Really like reading your posts on breastfeeding. I remember when I was recently pregnant and Roo was a couple of months old! And now she is one year old and growing beautifully and you are still breastfeeding; time truly goes by fast! I hope I can breastfeeding K as long as that πŸ™‚

  4. I wanted to make it until 2 with my 6th(and last) baby. I nursed my others 3,4,6,11 & 12 months. Well 2 came and went on 4/30 so we’re at 27 months now. I’ve been trying to wean but it’s hard to say no and easy to yes. I honestly don’t mind but I do worry about perception no matter how hard I try not to. I’m glad she doesn’t ask for it in public anymore. It’s only a few times a week at this point. When I’m having trouble getting her to bed, if she wakes at night, or gets up too early. My 3yo is allergic to dairy so she’s never had cows milk just Almond milk occasionally. Funny thing is that she is potty trained so I imagine someone saying “She’s STILL nursing!” and I reply, “And your kid is STILL pooping her pants!”…But that would be judgmental so I wouldn’t really say that:)

  5. After a ton of reading and research I decided we would definitely be extended breastfeeding, or breastfeeding as most countries call it. I have no intention of weaning or discouraging breastfeeding until Archie is at least 2 years old. It’s just too good for him and as much as he makes me crazy when he’s rambunctious or distracted at the boob, it’s worth it. He’s getting close to walking and lately he’s been standing and doing like a downward dog movement while nursing, the kid is crazy. But when he’s sleepy and all cuddled up nursing and falling asleep there is just nothing better.

    I plan to not introduce cows milk (in any form, no yogurt unfortunately) until he’s at least a year. Then we might do a little yogurt. As for milk though if we do any it’ll be either raw cow or goats milk since those seem to be the most nutritious for them.

    Stick with it as long as you can and do what feels right. I think we all know what’s best when we listen to our intuition πŸ™‚

  6. I breastfed my babe until my RE told me i had to quit in order to do if for my second baby. I agreed to his face but only really stopped for the days i did injections ( just wasnt sure those extra hormones would be good for him???) then just once a day until i found out the if worked. Then even though i worried it could affect ‘implantation’ of my little embryo (never asked if this was actually a possibility) i let him start nursing again more. When Nyah was born he was to to nurse every time she did!!! That was way to much for me. Now i just let him have one nurse a day (usually during morning cuddles and after N has nursed). He’s 3 and 5 months so I’d love for him to ‘wean’ anytime now!!! Lol hang in there you’re doing great!!

  7. Cue crying! I just finished our breastfeeding journey (for reals this time) on Sunday morning. It was so so so hard today not to feed her this morning. It has been a very gradual finish and I will miss it terribly. I am only doing it for the chance of #2. I wish I had some frozen embies, I wish I wasn’t entering the advanced maternal age but I am and I do dearly want just one more. Roo will benefit from your extending feeding!

  8. I’m so happy for you. I wanted to do extended breastfeeding when I started my pregnancy journey, but things just didn’t work out. D was actually on donor milk for his entire NICU stay either in full or as a supplement to my supply. I love hearing of other’s success with it though.

  9. I am hoping I will never have to wean….that when I go back to work it will just slowly Stop. I’d like to still nurse at night (as much for me as her) for a little while….but I guess we will see. I go back to work 3 days a week when she turns one. I will send frozen milk with her to daycare and nurse when I am at home. When I run out of frozen milk I’ll use cows milk. And in my mind she will just stop asking to nurse. Although just to write it makes me sad….good luck.

    • You never know! I have a friend who is a doctor as went back to work at 4 months and pumped at work and nursed at home. Her son still loves to nurse on demand when she is home and doesn’t show any signs of wanting to wean! She thought he would want to stop but he doesn’t. He also started drinking whole milk at 11.5 months…We have another friend who stays home and her son wanted to wean at 9 months. So I would just see what happens!! πŸ™‚

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