Elaine didn’t always find breastfeeding her son easy. But she persevered through the struggles and three years on, she’s still going strong.
And, despite the reactions of some, she’s not about to let judgement stop her nursing her child any time soon.
The mum, who writes a blog called Single Mum Speaks, has opened up about her breastfeeding journey and defended her right to breastfeed her son for as long as she chooses.
She begins her post by explaining about the challenges she faced when she first started nursing her son.
“Three years since I battled my way through the challenging early feeding terrain,” she writes.
“Desperately pleading with those who had been there before me that ‘it does get easier doesn’t it? Please tell me it gets easier’ before almost keeling over and expiring there and then at the thought of doing this-THIS!- for another three months or, God forbid, six months.”
But after eventually getting the hang of feeding her son, she explained that before she knew it, the years had passed and she found herself still breastfeeding her soon-to-be three-year-old.
“We have gone past the NHS guidelines, past the oft-quoted (by me) WHO guidelines (shame, as I can no longer use either of these as a handy defence against the aghast faces of those who insist on having unwelcome opinions on the right time to stop breastfeeding). And still we show no signs of stopping or even, for that matter, slowing down,” she continues.
Elaine goes onto say that though she didn’t have an idea in her mind of how long she would breastfeed for, she hasn’t yet felt the need to stop.
“I am in the murky territory of not particularly feeling the need to stop, with a child who continues to love his milky pops and requests it frequently, and the only reason to stop seems to be the disapproval of others. And I will not let the disapproval of others dictate my choices,” she writes.
But that doesn’t mean that the judgement she sometimes faces don’t upset her.
“I admit, words can hurt. Words like ‘You’re doing it for your own benefit,’ and ‘You’re trying to keep him a baby.’ Or ‘You’ve left it too late! You’ll never get him off the boob now!’”
All of which Elaine claims to be untrue.
Extended breastfeeding is often considered to be a controversial subject. Earlier this year, Tamara Ecclestone hit back at critics who slammed her for continuing to breastfeed her now three-year-old daughter.
“A lot of people wouldn’t breastfeed now. But it’s so comforting for her and she loves it,” she told Fabulous magazine.
“It’s whenever she is done, but this beast is never going to be done!” she joked.
“The paediatricians say it’s uncommon to go past four years old.”
But Tamara isn’t ruling out breastfeeding past that milestone.
“We’ll cross that bridge if it comes to it, but for now she’s my baby,” she explained. “You’re doing something that is so amazing for your child, but it can cause such hostility and anger. It makes me wonder what’s wrong with the world. Breastfeeding is such a natural thing.”
Despite the fact that the NHS recommend breastfeeding for about the first six months (26 weeks) of a baby’s life and the World Health Organisation for two years, women are made to feel uncomfortable about breastfeeding a toddler or preschooler in public.
After the first six months, the NHS’s advice is to “give your baby breast milk alongside family foods for as long as you and your baby want will help them grow and develop healthily.”
They also say that “breastfeeding still has lots of benefits for you and your baby after six months. It protects them from infections and there’s some evidence that it helps them to digest solid foods. It also continues to provide the balance of nutrients they need.”
Elaine finishes her empowering post by explaining the personal reason she has chosen to continue breastfeeding and to hit back at any haters.
“So why AM I still breastfeeding? Well, in a nutshell, it’s easy (this one’s for all you struggling new mothers out there. Have hope-it DOES get easier), he still wants it, it calms him down and helps him sleep, and it costs nothing on my part, except the occasional raised eyebrow and some awkward feeding positions. If he didn’t want milk anymore, I would stop tomorrow, but other people’s opinions are just that-opinions. Ones I don’t happen to share.”
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