1164 days, that’s how long I’ve been breastfeeding Tilly for. Tilly was born after 7 years of unexplained infertility. Having had two babies previously I knew what I was doing with breastfeeding and Tilly did too! As a newborn she latched straight on and we didn’t look back. My biggest struggle is possibly slightly different to lots of other peoples. What I have struggled with the most is just how much she loves it. Right from day one she would latch on and stay there very happily for hours. We co-slept because she wanted to be physically close all the time; she would tuck her body along the length of mine and not let go all night long. Luckily I found the world of woven wraps as because she couldn’t be away from me, and having two older children, I couldn’t just sit on the sofa with her all day long. So I learnt to feed while wearing her. She has never slept without me, either at night or for naps, I was physically with her for 24 hours a day for a long time. This was, and often still is, exhausting. Her dependence upon milk effected her relationship with others because she just couldn’t bear to be away from me at all. At six months when we started to introduce solids she wasn’t interested, she just wanted milk! We have continued in that way ever since. For the first maybe 2 and a half years of her life she would feed up to 10 times a night. The exhaustion that you feel when you are deprived of sleep for this long is extreme. She is now three. I never imagined I would still be breastfeeding a three year old, I fed her brothers for about 12 months until they just very naturally and gradually stopped and I had assumed the same would happen with her.
I have worked hard to very gently reduce the amount of feeds, just six months ago she was having between 10 and 20 feeds in a 24 hour period. We are now down to three. She knows exactly when in the day she can have milk - in the morning, after lunch and at bedtime. People don’t seem to talk about breastfeeding a three year old much so the way her relationship has developed with it has surprised me, it’s a very personal relationship. She can tell me when the breast is empty, she knows how to get more out, she knows how to be careful with her teeth. This all surprised me as no one talks about it. If anyone is reading this and is tired, despairing, touched out, going through a period of aversion, wondering if it will ever end, it’s ok to feel like that. I have felt so guilty for feeling all these things at times, especially when she loves it so much. I would beat myself up about wanting to stop something that she loves so much. Breastfeeding for so long is wonderful, but it can also be intense.
So we’re still going. My experience with breastfeeding Tilly has been wonderful, we have had many many moments that I will hold in my heart forever, I have hundreds of precious moments and memories to look back on. It has also been intense and I have struggled with feeling alone with it at times, I don’t know anyone in real life who has breastfed for this long or to this, for want of a better word, intensity. I am ok with saying that I hope that in the next 6 months she will naturally wean. I am ready for her to. But who knows, maybe I’ll be writing a post in a years time about breastfeeding a four year old!
Author: Amy, go check her out on Instagram @tillystoys.