I still breastfeed my toddler and I’m too terrified to stop

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I guess I should start by stating where I stand on the old breastfeeding debate. Well, basically I think that we should all looks after our own boobs and stop worrying about every other mum’s. Why is it that a mother’s worst enemy is another mother?

Honestly, the biggest shit stirrer among the whole debate is the media. Every day I read some kind of controversial article about breastfeeding, always trying to stand the bottle feeders off against the breastfeeders. And we fall for it. Every. Single. Time. We cannot wait to go in for the attack, trying to feel better about our own decisions by slamming anyone who chooses to do it differently. I’ve been feeding now for nearly six years and not once have I had a negative experience in public, not once. And I’m not shy, I whip a boob out whenever I’ve need to, and nobody has batted an eye lid. Or I’m oblivious to any negative reactions, but either way I’ve gone about my business without anyone saying anything. Yet online people are up in arms, whether It be about public feeding or choosing a bottle over breast. Someone has always got something to say and it’s getting really boring. I feel very strongly about the fact that information and support should be available to new mums regarding breastfeeding, but if a mum chooses not to after having access to it then it’s her call. I have friends who breastfeed, I have friends who extend breastfeeding, I have friends who tried their very hardest but just couldn’t and I have friends who flat out didn’t want to. All equally brilliant mums doing their very best.

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Anyway, back to the whole point of this blog post, I’ve gotten really carried away! What’s my story? I haven’t had a break from breastfeeding in nearly 6 years. I went from feeding one son, straight into feeding the other and it has been incredible. It’s had so many benefits for us and after a tough start establishing feeding with River due to his weak mouth muscles, it has made our lives easier. I’ve never owned a single bottle or a sterilizer! My baby bag was a spare onesie, nappies and a pack of wet wipes. I was able to travel anywhere with young babies, never having to worry about feeding schedule or carrying enough bottles. It just worked for us and it still does.

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But River turns 3 soon and he still feeds a lot, mostly at night but it’s still pretty full on. He just loves boob! He also really enjoys food and eats very well, but there is always room for breastmilk as far as he’s concerned. A bit like me and dessert really, you can never be too full for it! I guess the thing that concerns me is that he is nearly three and I have no intention of stopping anytime soon. Should I be more concerned about weaning him off my milk? If I’m completely honest, the thought of not breastfeeding anymore terrifies me. Here’s why.

1. His immune system is strong, he very rarely gets ill and has only had a handful of colds. A lot of children with Down syndrome have weakened immune systems and illness and infections can be common. Now River may not get poorly very often, but when he does he seems to catch whatever is going around so much worse. I swear its breastmilk that is helping him stay strong and makes it easier for him to fight off illness. I worry that if I stop feeding him, he will stop getting the protection provided and get ill more often. I can’t take that risk! Right now, I try not to get him too close to other sick kids, but I know that’ll really intensify if I start to think he’ll catch everything going and get so much worse than anyone else.

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2. Sleep. River has the potential to be an awful sleeper, and again sleep problems are extremely common in children with Down syndrome. Any children I know, but it is evidential that children with Down syndrome are prone to sleep issues. Well we co sleep, have done since our first born and it’s not up for debate whether it was a good decision. It has 100% worked for our family and I wouldn’t change it at all. Well I sleep right next to him, and if he wakes up he goes right back to sleep. I know for a fact that if I wasn’t next to him then he would wake right up ready to party. Without a doubt. River goes to bed at 7 and quite often at 9 ish we’ll hear the bedroom door slam and he’ll scurry as fast as he can down the corridor, sneak up behind the sofa, pop up with a big grin and shout ‘heeellllooooo’. He finds it hilarious and I know for a fact that if I couldn’t coax him back to sleep throughout the night by feeding him, then that would happen continuously all night. Now call me lazy if you like, but fact is that I’m a better Mum when I’m not exhausted Letting him cry it out is not and never will be an option and other than having a boob on stand by I’m not really sure how to achieve sleep for the whole family.

3. River has strong oral muscles which can be a big issue in children with Down syndrome. It is common for a child’s tongue to stand out and while it was once believed that people with Ds have bigger tongues, it is because they have weaker mouth muscles. They can be strengthened and for River that was through breastfeeding. The same with speech and eating real food, River is doing incredibly well and again I believe for us it has been because of breastfeeding. Now I may sound naïve here, but it is something that concerns me. Will his progress continue so well if his oral muscles are not being used as much? I just don’t know and again I am scared to put to the test.

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So, there you have it, that’s why I don’t want to stop feeding my toddler. I also just love it, it’s been massively bonding for us and I love those 3pm cuddles when he crawls onto my lap and gets comfy. Breastfeeding is comforting for him, it calms him quickly when he is upset and soothes him when he is tired and tearful. It is working for us, and yes, he is coming up three but honestly, I just don’t care. I’m going to hope that one day he will just decide to stop for himself and I won’t have to make any decisions about when is the right time to wean him, but I also hope it won’t happen just yet.

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12 thoughts on “I still breastfeed my toddler and I’m too terrified to stop

  1. tps says:

    I know exactly where you’re coming from. I finally quit in July when my daughter was 2 years and 8 months. I had all of thr same concerns you do plus more. Glad you’re doing what works for you two!

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  2. moldingclaysite says:

    Great job! My son couldn’t breastfeed due to low muscle tone, even a bottle was a struggle. With therapy we got his muscles strengthened and he was drinking from a straw by 7 months old. I too sleep with my son that will be three next month. I did with my older son. Keep up the good work, I enjoy seeing your boys and reading about them. Thank you for sharing them.

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  3. mamachristie5 says:

    I could have written this post! I’m right there on all points. My guy just turned three and I’m not letting go until he does, so I’m pretty sure we’re set for life😜 Also, its boob for us. He used to call it that , but now it’s “ob” as his likely apraxia sets in. All the more reason for more boob! Our guys seem to have a ton in common, from what I gather reading your blog. Thanks for sharing! Please connect if you feel inclined to talk about our really cool kids and our parenting that’s got a little extra flavor.

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    • Hayley - I am River says:

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, it’s really appreciated. And lovely to ‘meet’ a fellow boob Mama haha! I agree with you completely, they will let go when they are ready and until then I’m just going to enjoy it x

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  4. oldhouseintheshires says:

    Well if it works for the both of you, what’s the problem? Carry on! The only thing that I can think of perhaps is add in a comforter that he can snuggle with whilst you feed so that when you do stop that can be his replacement for comfort? Just a thought. I expect you already have a blanket anyway? I love reading your blog. River is adorable. #dreamteam

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  5. beautybabyandme says:

    You’re amazing. I am a strong believer in breastfeeding and you are doing a great job. Its working for you guys so just continue until River feels ready to stop. You’re a fab Mama don’t let anyone make you doubt yourself xx #coolmumclub

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  6. The Squirmy Popple says:

    If it works for you and your child, why stop? I’m a big supporter of extended breastfeeding if that’s what the mother and child want. I breastfed my own daughter until she was nearly two, when she stopped on her own. It was the right time for us and that’s all that matters. #coolmumclub

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  7. motherhoodtherealdeal says:

    I totally get this hon. I stopped breastfeeding my daughter when she was 15 months and I was also terrified to stop. I think it gets harder the older they are because of the emotional attachment. And then one day I decided I had to bite the bullet. I did the lemons on the nipple thing so it sort of forced her to make the decision as I didn’t know how else. You have to do what is right for you and them at the end of the day but be brave #coolmumclub mama

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  8. Lucy At Home says:

    My eldest weaned herself off breastfeeding at about 18mths. I had hoped for the same with my second child but unfortunately, her big sister was rushed into hospital for an extended stay and so baby had no choice but to stop feeding from me. She was 14mths old. I am disappointed that I didn’t know her last feed would be her last, but I’m grateful for the time we had together. It sounds like this is really working for you guys and has so many benefits #coolmumclub

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  9. Rhyming with Wine says:

    It sounds as though breastfeeding has had such a positive impact for River and for you and your family. I loved breastfeeding my two too and I can completely relate a lot of these points here. It’s so lovely to hear such a great breastfeeding success story. Thanks for linking to #DreamTeam Hayley x

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  10. Musings of a tired mummy...zzz... says:

    My 3 all stopped of their own accord just after they turned 1, they just stopped wanting it, I miss it 😦 #bloggerclubuk

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