Breastfeeding an older baby
All of the women who were breastfeeding or had breastfed an older baby said that they hadn't started out planning to do so. It was something that they didn't notice and it just happened as their baby grew up day by day. Several women said that they set themselves little milestones along the way, like saying “I will just feed until six months”, and then reached that before they and their baby were ready to wean.
Initially, she thought she would breastfeed for four months but got into a routine and just kept...
So you set yourself little milestones?
How did you feel as a young mother with a little baby when you saw the nearly two year old feeding, do you remember, were you shocked? Interested, just astounded?
Yeah I think kind of, I think kind of surprised, you know, I think whenever you think of breastfeeding you do think of babies and sometimes whenever you see a youngster running around initially you kind of think, 'Oh my goodness', I know a lot of ones it's, they think, what about the teeth? And, you know, they kind of think once they have teeth that's it no more breastfeeding but we would have, I'd say half the group, and there's new mums come in and they see how long we have been breastfeeding for, and we're also trying to encourage some mums in the antenatal classes, there's a few of us from the breastfeeding group will go now at the time when they do the breastfeeding talk and they can ask us questions, and that's one, one question I asked, one of the mums is, 'What do you think when you see my daughter sitting there?' You know, because at that stage she was about thirteen months, I said, 'What do you think?'
And what did they say?
One of them said, 'Well, it could be for you, it wouldn't be for me but if you want to do it that's alright' and I says, 'Well to tell you the truth I never thought it'd be for me either' and because I'd fed my son on for the year I thought I'd try and feed my daughter for the year too. Whenever it came to the time she was the year, it was winter time my son was bringing home colds and whatnot from the school, I thought she would still be getting the benefits of it, she did have the cold but it never settled on her chest and I thought, 'Well I'm giving her the resistance to this', so I, thought 'I'd feed her on till they got over this, and then she was due her MMR jab so it was 'I'll feed her on until after this' and then I'll feed her on to the two weeks later in case she reacts.
Can we just go back to an earlier topic about seeing an older child feeding.
You wanted to tell me a bit more about that.
Whenever you're starting off to breastfeed and you have all those number of feeds and for the length of time and all the rest of it, you sort of assume that that's how it will always be, whereas whenever they get older they might feed for less and sometimes they might feed maybe slightly more frequently i
The women also said that it was something with which they, their baby and their family had to be comfortable and emphasised that breastfeeding an older baby was almost always in the privacy of their own home, not something that they talked about except with close family and friends and that the baby was only being fed once or twice a day (morning and/or night) more for comfort than for nutrition. A few remarked upon the irony that at the beginning they were receiving encouragement and approval for breastfeeding and then at some point that turned to surprise or mild disapproval and they found themselves fielding questions about it being time to wean and dealing with other people's attitudes even including disapproval from some health professionals.
There were times when it caused tension but it was wonderful to be able to breastfeed her son...
For her own comfort she discouraged her toddler from wanting to breastfeed in public.
Interestingly, a few talked about reaching a point at which they'd had enough and wished to have their body back (as if it had been on loan to the baby) or, in the case of a father, wished to have his wife back, so that they could all move on to the next developmental stage in their lives (see 'Weaning the baby from the breast').
His wife breastfed each child until she became pregnant with the next one. He thinks the...
It's been four and a half, five years.
So by then she's quite large.
Mmm very large.
What do your friends and family say?
That she, really she should have stopped feeding by now but it had, I mean it wasn't a regular thing, it wasn't well, no tell a lie, it was regular but it was just at a particular time of day.
I think it was just bedtime basically, it was just a night time, it really got down to that, to that point, but yes I mean it was, it was quite unusual, it wasn't something that any of not anything that our friends at the time had experienced or displayed and certainly none of the family to my knowledge had fed a child for that long.
What did you think of it?
I really wanted it to come to an end by that stage, I.
I think it was just a case that really it was time to move on, I felt that it was getting in the way of my daughter actually then moving on to the next stage of her life and to some degree it was, you know, getting in-between, not myself and my wife, but it was something that I think we just needed to move on from, rightly or wrongly. I did put a link between my daughter not being particularly settled or able to settle herself to go to sleep, she still needed this sort of contact with mum to go to sleep and she was still at that stage where she, you know, she couldn't really, settle herself and go and put herself to sleep. So of course it then meant things were very much more difficult for everybody really it couldn't, you know, we couldn't go out for example because, 'cause mum had to put her to bed, if she woke up she'd have to have mum there to put her back to sleep so it just made the whole experience of being a married couple more difficult I guess.
What did you do about that?
In the end it kind of, sort of developed, my wife fell pregnant for number two and that was pretty much it because I think then she being my wife, had actually then put a, the whole sort of situation into perspective whatever you want to call it and she decided that well, you know, I can't be feeding both of them when this baby comes then really I need to be feeding the baby and not and not the child, the five year old, or six as she almost was when the second baby came along. so it was much more of a conscious, a conscious effort at that stage that she'd that, you know, she tried to stop feeding, cut it out completely, and that's when it stopped [sighs].
Did you raise the issue of this long term feeding?
Can you remember the responses you got, how a conversation like that might have gone?
We talked about it, I always take the approach that, you know, very much it's a biological thing and that, you know, there is there is a big emotional bond between mum and baby and I think that's probably more important than the yeah, you know the lifestyle issues that perhaps it was causing difficulty with, and when we discussed it wasn't particularly something, I'm not the kind of person that will say, 'Look you've got to stop and, you know, this is what you do and you do it now' because, you know, there are obviously reasons for them for it continuing. So the conversations weren't particularly forceful if I remember rig
She still felt very attached to her baby which was wonderful but at the same time she wanted her...
Can you talk to me a bit more about wanting your body back?
Yeah I think just wanting, I think 'cause the only downside for me of breastfeeding is I did feel slightly tired all the time, I'm sure I felt, I'm sure it does make you tired 'cause it's quite a drain and also, you know, you go to a party and everyone's drinking and you feel like you can't because you're breastfeeding and also, you know, you've got quite big boobs and, you know, not very attractive to my husband, you know, you feel like, I feel like I'm still almost like part of the pregnancy phase almost still, you're still very much attached to the baby which is a really lovely thing and it's wonderful but I think also after a year you start thinking, 'I want to feel, feel that sort of feeling of having energy again'. And also I don't know, getting your figure back as well I think, I know breastfeeding is very good for getting your figure back in the early stages but I also think to some extent when you're feeding your body still holds on to, holds on to fat and I feel like, you know, you just don't feel quite like you used to until afterwards. I think it's the tiredness is the main thing I'm sure it made me more tired than anything and just being attached to, attached to the baby you can't go off for a weekend or, well you can but it's always a bit of a stress and not being able to, you know, have a couple of glasses and not feel guilty really.
Some women became pregnant again while they were still breastfeeding (see 'Managing weaning including thoughts and feelings'). Often the baby weaned him/her self about half way through the pregnancy (perhaps because of changes in the taste of the breast milk) but for a few, the older baby was still breastfeeding when the new baby was born. These women continued to breastfeed both babies, often referred to as tandem feeding, and devised strategies to ensure that each baby got what he/she needed. A couple of women said that tandem feeding seemed to decrease feelings of jealousy in the older child towards the new baby. They also remarked upon the growth spurt in the older child as a result of the new flush of milk.
She breastfed through all four pregnancies and tandem fed her last two babies.
From going to La Leche League meetings and from experiences of other mums and that I've talked to other mums, their babies seemed, their toddlers seemed to have weaned by the time their next baby came along, there was one mum who had tandem fed and I felt at the time it wasn't something that I was that keen on doing but I wasn't completely opposed to it so it would be if it happened it happened anyway, it didn't my son weaned, he weaned himself with I think he was down to one feed in the morning and the way I stopped that was I just used to, I just got up out of bed before it happened and that was it and it was never an issue, he was never, I didn't, he wasn't upset about feeds stopping he just, he just stopped when my second son was born. I can remember saying to my La Leche League Leader, 'What will I do if he asks for it?' and she said to me, 'Don't offer, don't refuse' so if he asks don't refuse him just say, 'Yes, let me just finish feeding the baby then' and he did ask and I did that and when I said, 'Come on then come and sit on my knee' he ran off [laughs] and it and it's like, 'What are you doing?' so he, once he knew he could have it, it wasn't an issue for him and that was it, he never looked back. Next one again he weaned but he was older he was three because I had a bigger gap and he weaned, he was having two feeds, no he was down to one feed, this was the night and I started just around I started when he was three, trying to wean him and he no I didn't start his last feed, would have been around his third birthday and what I did instead of lying in bed and feeding him I just sat on, knelt on the floor and cuddled him and I think we had something like two nights where he didn't have it then the next night he asked for it and I let him because I didn't want him to get upset about it and it went on like that for I think a week and then it just gradually, he just stopped having it and it took me from then which was February till May to wean him off me actually being with him in the room to go to sleep and I gradually, I remember reading a book, got further away from his bed to actually standing on the landing and sorting out the washing to go in the machine that night and that was how I got him to sleep by himself and that was three and then my next daughter, my first, my eldest daughter she again I nursed her through pregnancy but she didn't show any signs of giving up at all
Her first baby was only one year old when her second was born. She fed them both together for a...
So just tell me how you worked that, logistically'
'did you feed one and then the other or both at the same time?
They were both at the same time, because I had my son in my lap feeding him from one breast and she wasn't walking at that time because she was only one and thirteen days old, and I'm talking about the day I got back from hospital, and she was, the difference between them was one year and fourteen days at that time, so as soon as I got into the house, my husband brought me home from hospital, and he settled me down and everything and he said, 'I think he's ready for a feed' and I said, 'Yeah' so I put him on and she crawled up to me and she said to, I said to her like, 'Do you want dudu?' because I thought maybe I've gone to hospital she's forgotten it all, and she started nodding her head and saying, in my language, 'Yes, yes', so I was like, I was like trying to fumble, fumble with my top to get her to the other breast and she just like helped me as well, and lifted my top up as well and, she was actually holding on to the settee and, and clinging on, was standing up and clinging on to my, one of my other breasts and just taking it off there, she was just taking, sucking it off my other breast while my son was like on my, arm, was on my arm on this other breast.
So she was desperate?
Yeah she was like, yeah she was just, and I, and even at that time I didn't, I felt proud that, 'Oh look she's, even until now she's one and I thought maybe she's forgotten but she's still breastfeeding off me' and I felt so proud but, still it was just that, it's what they, what I'm meant to be doing for them, that's how I felt all the time.
So what happened to your milk supply in that time? Obviously you were feeding her before you went in what, once or twice a day?
Yeah I was, when I got back from hospital and well like I said, I fed her straightaway and that then I had the midwife come in to see my son and examine him and then I had the health visitor coming in and they were asking me like how am I doing with the breastfeeding? I said, 'Well I'm doing fine' I had no problems whatsoever as well, but when I told her that I was breastfeeding my daughter as well who's one, and they let me do it until, until my son was two weeks old, and they said I have to stop, that I had no choice because there won't be enough for him then. Because she's a growing child, and she was taking most of the feed, most of the milk, and it's going to take a time to produce again and she was saying that and then he, probably ready for his feed at about, say about two and half hours later, and they'll be having, you'll be having difficulty all that but they were saying it's entirely up to me what I wanted to do but it's best for him because he needed it more at that time, and she was a growing child, she was taking most of it, so they were, they were persuading me to stop as soon as
One woman experienced the death of her foetus in utero at twenty-two weeks while she was still feeding her nine month old daughter.
She had trouble convincing hospital staff that she did not wish to 'dry up' her milk because she...
Last reviewed November 2018.