8 Truths About Extended Breastfeeding

8 Truths About Extended Breastfeeding

Title image for blog post, 8 Truths About Extended Breastfeeding by LilHelper.ca Blog

Hey Y’all, it’s Erin!

There’s been conversation about breastfeeding during the first year. Caitlin shared her breastfeeding journey recently, and it really got me thinking about my own breastfeeding journey.

I’ve been nursing my daughter for the last 18 months. Things look very different today compared to day 1.

Breastfeeding after the age of one is widely considered “extended breastfeeding.”

Jess recently shared all of the benefits of extended breastfeeding!

I wanted to share 8 things about extended breastfeeding that I’ve learned or experienced during this second year of nursing.

You’re an established team.

You’re an established team. 8 Truths About Extended Breastfeeding by LilHelper.ca Blog

The early days of nursing are often full of uncertainty, pain, and learning.

You’re learning how to nurse your little one and they’re learning how to latch on.

One of the beautiful things about extended breastfeeding is that you’re both very comfortable with your process. Nursing has become a part of your routine.

You both are confident and comfortable, often times in sync with an easier groove.

However, the experience is different.

I used to feel like all I ever did was nurse my daughter. She would nurse for 30 minutes at a time every 2 hours.

As exhausting as that was, now I miss the days when she would always lay still and snuggled next to me while she drank herself into a breastmilk induced coma.

Long gone are those days.

Nursing a toddler often means that you’re getting a foot to the face while they’re latched on. 8 Truths About Extended Breastfeeding by LilHelper.ca Blog

Nursing a toddler often means that you’re getting a foot to the face while they’re latched on.

They may ask to nurse, and it only lasts for a few minutes because they’re ready to explore something else.

One of the big things about extended breastfeeding that I’ve learned, is that nursing is often much more about comfort than about food.

At this point, they’re eating solid foods so it’s not the primary source of nutrition. This means that they won’t be nursing as often anymore either.

But, breastmilk still has many health benefits.

Just because your little one doesn’t need breastmilk they way that they used to, it doesn’t mean that it is no longer providing great benefits.

Breastmilk still provides antibodies to protect your child’s immune system and is still full of nutrients that are going to be a wonderful addition to their diet.

In fact, after our recent post about surviving an illness with your child, I really started to reflect on the role that breastmilk plays in helping get my daughter back to 100%.

Even if I can’t get her to eat other foods, she will always nurse.

This is just another of the things about extended breastfeeding that has surprised me.

It’s a great way to comfort her when she’s feeling bad, while also making sure that she’s staying hydrated and getting things that her body needs even when she’s not eating solids.

You’re still going to leak.

Breast pads. You’re still going to leak. 8 Truths About Extended Breastfeeding by LilHelper.ca Blog

I thought that after a while, your breasts stopped leaking.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but they don’t.

There are many things about extended breastfeeding that I love, but leaky boobs after the first year is not one of them.

Fortunately, we have some fantastic breast pads to help combat this issue, but it still sucks.

People are going to talk.

EVERYBODY'S GOT SOMETHING TO SAY THESE DAYS gif. People are going to talk. 8 Truths About Extended Breastfeeding by LilHelper.ca Blog

Every single week, someone comments on that fact that I’m still nursing.

Of all the things about extended breastfeeding that I had to learn, growing a thicker skin was one of the harder lessons.

“You’re going to be nursing her until she goes to college.”

“Isn’t it time for you to wean her?”

“She’s just using you as a pacifier.”

“It’s weird you’re still nursing her with teeth.”

My personal favorite, and the one that leads me to my next point, is “when they’re old enough to ask, it’s time to stop breastfeeding.”

They’ll ask or let you know they’re ready to nurse.

FEED ME MORE gif. They’ll ask or let you know they’re ready to nurse. 8 Truths About Extended Breastfeeding by LilHelper.ca Blog

My daughter uses a variety of methods.

She and I have worked hard on our baby sign language, so she can sign “more” and “milk.”

It started with her signing more and just pointing to my chest. Now, she signs more and milk.

She will also try to pull up my shirt.

One of the coolest things about extended breastfeeding is that it’s allowed us to have a trusting relationship where she’s been able to really develop her communication skills within bounds of this shared experience.

They do more with their hands.

This topic is probably the “weirdest” of the things about extended breastfeeding.

Your little milk monster is going to try and utilize their hands more during nursing.

This can be as simple as squeezing the breast that they’re nursing from to aid in flow.

Or, it can be as painful, awkward and frustrating as somehow stimulating the opposite breast.

Adalind does a variety of things. Sometimes she just smacks or pushes the other side.

But the thing that really caught me off guard is nipple twiddling or pinching.

They do more with their hands. 8 Truths About Extended Breastfeeding by LilHelper.ca Blog

It’s been proposed that children do this as a biological instinct to help assist in milk production. By stimulating the nipple on the opposite breast, it will help trigger your body to make more milk.

Either way, it’s super annoying and often painful.

I try to keep the opposite side covered, but it frequently turns into a battle between the two of us that I lose.

It’s hard, but rewarding.

In my mind, making it to the 1 year mark meant that breastfeeding would become way easier.

I don’t know why I thought that. It couldn’t be farther from reality.

Extended breastfeeding comes with it’s own unique challenges, but has been very rewarding.

It still gives me a chance to sit down and have a special time that’s just for me and her.

Now that I’ve gone back to work and am trying to balance life as a working parent, our nursing sessions are even more precious to me.

That being said, it can be exhausting having to continue sharing your body, space and energy.

I’d like to allow her to wean herself, but in all honesty, sometimes I’m ready for my body to just be mine again.

Weaning will be the last step in our breastfeeding journey, and by nature of having nursed into the second year, is going to be challenging for us both.

8 Truths About Extended Breastfeeding

But for now, these are the things about extended breastfeeding that I’ve learned.

Do you have experience with extended breastfeeding?

What things did you learn?

What was your experience?

8 Truths About Extended Breastfeeding 8 Truths About Extended Breastfeeding

8 Truths About Extended Breastfeeding

2 thoughts on “8 Truths About Extended Breastfeeding

  1. I had no expectations when I started breastfeeding. I wanted to make sure I didn’t set myself up for failure. Well now we are 2.5 years and going strong. It has helped us through sickness, teething and temper tantrums. It’s allowed us to slow down when I need a quiet moment or when my daughter needs one too. It has been comforting to the both of us and I find my only issue with it is feeling irritated at times when I don’t want a toddler on me. Otherwise it’s been a lot easier for me than most. I have talked about weaning but I feel I use breastfeeding for myself just as much as my daughter does for her so I haven’t really found the right way to do it yet.

    1. Heidi, that’s exactly where I’m at. I get so frustrated when my daughter wants to nurse and I don’t want her on me. But, the thought of “our time” ending just makes me so sad. It’s a very emotional and personal decision (whenever it’s decided!) to wean. Thanks for sharing your experience!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.