“I feel proud to be doing my bit to normalise breastfeeding a toddler.”

As part of our series about Breastfeeding Toddlers, and after our Tetas, Toddlers and Tapas event last week, we interviewed another mum about her experience. This is Claire’s story.

Tell us a little bit about your pregnancy & birth…what number baby was it? Was it a good birth? Did all go to plan?

This is my third baby, I have two daughters already. My pregnancy had been good, more tiring but as everyone reminded me I was older than my last pregnancies, nearer to 40!! My pregnancy was classed as high risk, as I had pre-eclampsia and I haemorrhaged with my first and hypertension with my second, so I was under a consultant and went for regular midwife appointments. At 37 weeks I was induced as I had pre-eclampsia. I wanted a as natural birth as possible, even being induced and my main goal for labour was that I didn’t want my husband leaving as he nearly missed the birth of our second daughter, due to being sent home. I wanted someone to listen to me, when I said i laboured quickly. This time the midwife I had was great and she made sure he stayed, deciding we’d go to the delivery suite once visiting hours were over, as she thought I’d give birth that evening, as I was contracting. Little did anyone know how quickly!

I walked to delivery at 8.30pm and gave birth to Felix at 9.12pm. All went to plan, even though I felt very much in shock and felt very faint after birth. I was desperate to successfully breastfeed this time around, but when Felix was passed to me for skin to skin, I asked for him to be taken off me after a few minutes as I felt so weak and the after pains felt worse than the actual labour. Felix didn’t feed on the delivery suite and I was really conscious that he hadn’t fed even when I had been on the postnatal ward for a couple of hours, I still felt too weak to pick him up.

I’ll always remember the relief when a lovely midwife came onto shift at 8am and managed to hand express my milk into syringes and fed Felix. 

Did you experience any issues in the first weeks/months?

I’ve been really lucky and had no issues in the first weeks/months. My main focus was to successfully breastfeed as I hadn’t managed to do that with either of my daughters. This time, I had amazing support from a midwife and infant feeding support. If it hadn’t been for these ladies Felix would have lost too much weight (as he was not interested in feeding, no routing/feeding cues over the first couple of days). He only lost 7%, I’ve never felt such relief. In those first few weeks I mostly stayed at home to establish breastfeeding. I started to go to my local children’s centre, but was really disappointed to find out that they no longer had a breastfeeding support group in my area. I was finally so proud to be breastfeeding and wanted to go to a group and show everyone I could now do it. 

What reactions have you had breastfeeding your little one past 12 months?

Claire and Felix feeding / PIC – Claire Lawrenson

I have had nothing but support from family and friends for feeding after 12 months. The only negative comment I’ve had, was from a health care professional at the breastfeeding support group I volunteer at. She questioned about when would I stop and asked for if he was he my last child, when I said yes, she implied that it explained why I was still feeding. 

What have been the challenges you have faced breastfeeding a toddler compared to feeding a baby?

Now feeding a toddler (Felix is nearly 29 months) in some settings I feel uncomfortable feeding him, like in the middle of the school playground, as it isn’t the norm. Felix doesn’t tend to ask for mummy’s milk whilst we’re out and about, but I would do (I hope).  Recently we went camping and Felix was always grabbing my boob and pulling it out from my vest to fed and I didn’t stop him. I felt proud to be doing my bit to normalise breastfeeding an older baby/toddler. Most of my friends are supportive, some (who have breastfed themselves) think I’m only doing it for myself and that there is no benefit to still breastfeeding, not that they’ve said that directly to me, but about other feeding mums. I’m very open with anyone who knows me that I’m still feeding Felix, all my friends and work colleagues know and in work I tell them I’m trying to help normalise breastfeeding. 

Why did you decide to breastfeed for as long as you have done (so far)?

Feeding for this long hadn’t been a conscious decision, it’s just that we haven’t stopped. I’m not sure whether we’ll wean naturally, but it feels right, right now, so we’ll carry on. At first I took each day as it came, but I wanted to successfully breastfeed, so once breastfeeding was established I wanted to carry for at least 12 months, then once I went back to work and breastfeeding still worked, I aimed for the recommended 2 years. I wanted to breastfeed for at least 2 years to see if it lowered the chance of Felix developing asthma. I’m asthmatic and so are my daughters. So far he’s never had a chest infection, so we’ll keep going until who knows. I’ve recently been on holiday to New York (a belated 40th birthday celebrations with s friend) and I was so relieved that within 30 minutes of returning home, Felix was feeding again. Which just proved to me how important still breastfeeding is to me. 

How did you cope with weaning on to solids?

Weaning on to solids went smoothly. We mostly did BLW with some purées. We ate as a family and Felix quickly went into three meals a day. 

Did you co sleep or have another technique at coping with night feeding?

We haven’t co slept. I would feed when Felix woke and put him back in his moses basket or cot.  If he wakes now, my husband goes to see him. He shushes him, then he goes back to sleep. 

What tips would you give a mum wanting to breastfeed past 12 months?

I’d say do it! I think it is being seen as more normal and mums should be confident in their decision. It has been a god send for me when Felix had chicken pox. Breastfeeding solves so many things, it’s for comfort, for pain relief and works wonders for toddler tantrums. There’s also Facebook groups for older babies and toddlers and it shows there are lots of mums out there still feeding. 

If you need any support feeding your toddler, get in touch with us to arrange a 1-1 appointment.