I'm still breastfeeding Ollie, and he will be one on Wednesday. Now, with my other two boys I always said that I would breastfeed for a year, but they both stopped themselves just before they were a year old. So I've never done the whole weaning process. But Ollie is still going strong. He only has two feeds a day usually, but he loves those feeds. In fact, he demands them. He's showing no sign of wanting to drop them.
But this morning, he bit me. Ouch! I'm not planning on stopping just because he bit me. But it has started me thinking about what I want to do. I just can't make my mind up. Today has made me think about it a bit more too as (other than the biting incident) Ollie isn't very well. He's got an upset tummy and it seems the only thing he wants is breast milk. So that's what he's getting. He's still so little, and still a baby. My baby.
I recently trained as breastfeeding peer support worker so I know all the positive benefits of extended breastfeeding, and that the World Health Organisation recommends breastfeeding for a minimum of two years (http://www.who.int/topics/breastfeeding/en/) It just isn't as easy as knowing all that. I feel pulled in different directions by other peoples opinions, and also by myself.
Am I planning on continuing to feed for myself (as suggested by a certain someone very close to me)? Ollie could be my last baby so maybe I don't want to give up the attachment? He is still very much my baby, and I don't think it's because I don't want to lose the attachment, more that I know he really wants to breastfeed and I don't want to deny him. Is that so wrong?
Or is it time to wean him to...... (I'm trying to think of the reasons) ..Do you know, I can't think of a valid reason why. I don't feel like my body is not my own because I'm breastfeeding, and I think that my reasons for stopping now would just be to suit other people. And that's no reason. Surely the only reason to stop now would be because either Ollie, or I, decide that we don't want to do it any more. Shouldn't it come down to personal choice?
I wouldn't dream of telling another mum how to raise their child, so why do I feel criticised by others just because i want to breastfeed past the age of one? Breastfeeding in itself is not very common in my area, so extended breastfeeding is practically unheard of! Thank goodness for my breastfeeding support group, and most of my close friends and family. Without them I may give in to peer pressure.
I think there's always an element of guilt when it comes to making decisions about the children. I know that doesn't just apply to me either. I've got friends who feel guilty about how they fed their baby, when they started weaning onto solids, where their baby sleeps, even that their baby fell and hurt themselves (some of these also apply to me!) I do think that guilt is a natural part of parenting, and it helps to have friends who are going through the same things in order to rationalise and discuss concerns. In fact, I think it's extremely important for me to have this support. It helps me to feel happy and comfortable with my decisions.
When I started writing this post, I wasn't sure where it was going. Part of me wanted advice, but I don't think I need it any more. I'm happy, Ollie's happy, and that's all that matters. Writing this has helped me to realise that. So, we'll keep going a bit longer. And stop when it's ready for us, and not when it suits other people.