Extended and Tandem Breastfeeding

Continuing our series of real life experiences from mums, today we have Ruth who blogs at www.rocknrollerbaby.co.uk

Breastfeeding is strange; it’s both incredibly hard and unbelievably easy! I appreciate that’s a contradiction but it’s true…

It’s often hard to get started in the first place and can take weeks for your milk supply to come in. My first baby didn’t latch properly and from cracked nipples I got mastitis which made me feel super poorly and required antibiotics. But from the beginning of my long breastfeeding journey, which is still travelling, I have never regretted my choice, even on really tough days (and there are still some, even now)! Once it has been established, the baby latches properly and your milk is in regular supply, I can’t imagine anything easier, lovelier or more bonding. It is something to treasure and a time which is special for both you and the baby. I guess as with anything worth doing it just has to be worked at but as with anything worth having, it is worth the effort!

Florence was always a feeder and although not properly latched, (which was only a problem for me and my poorly nipples) she fed all day long. From the word go. Almost from the minute she popped out! I never got a rest and was up all night just lying on the sofa feeding, feeding, feeding. Eventually, with lots of help and a fortnight of expressing and finger feeding so that my boobs could heal, she learned how to latch on properly and then neither of us looked back. In those dark early days where I thought one of my nipples might actually fall off, I did ask my husband to go and buy some formula. He refused. He knew if we bought it I would give up and he knew I would be disappointed in myself. I’m glad he stuck to that otherwise I might have missed out on breast feeding.

I fed Florence exclusively until she was 6 months and remember crying because I thought it was all about to come to an end and I was sad to say goodbye to our breast feeding time. Little did I know… Oh how little did I know! A year passed and my family and friends would ask ‘when are you going to stop feeding that baby?’ I would reply ‘She will self wean…’ I know some of them didn’t like it and judged me for feeding a baby over one but I was adamant that she would finish when she was ready. She didn’t…

I carried on feeding her and when she turned 19 months old I fell pregnant for the second time with Jimmy. My boobs were so sore that when she latched on it was like knives going in me but she was not just reluctant to stop – she physically refused. Ok, so perhaps if I was stronger and could bear leaving her to cry and I’d have stopped it but I did what I thought was best for her and continued to feed through the pain. About half way through the pregnancy and it finally stopped hurting but my milk supply shot up! Florence then thought it was absolute game on! She started to feed more than ever and I knew I had to do something!

Just before Jimmy was born we moved her into a toddler bed from our breastfeeding and co-sleeping pattern. Co-sleeping isn’t for everyone but when you’re lazy like me, then breast feeding and not having to get up at all in the night is SO welcome! She was just ready and thankfully started to sleep through the night feeding only before bed! I know she wasn’t ready before then and would never have tried to insist on it. We’d tried various things before but she just wasn’t in the right place. It was simply luck that meant she finally slept just in time for a new baby.


She didn’t stop feeding entirely and continued to have ‘milk, milk’ before bed every night for quite some time. I never thought I’d be the sort of person to still be feeding a three and a half year old but somehow I am? I don’t wear hemp skirts and nor am I a hippy. That stereotype of a prolonged breast feeder is not who I see myself as…

Perhaps people laugh at me but I don’t care. Perhaps people are disgusted but I REALLY don’t care about that! I do what’s right for us and for Florence. I still believe she’ll self wean and indeed these days she’s well on her way. She hasn’t breast fed in nearly a week as I write this so it’s going in the right direction. Gone is it a nightly occurrence and only now and then does she ask but when she asks she really wants it and I’m not really all that fussed about giving it to her. My friends and family may be so but it isn’t up to them now is it!

With Jimmy there were never any breast feeding problems and at 14 months he is still feeding too. He’s different to Florence and more feeds for the sustenance and then gets on with what he’s doing. She was and is, much more about comfort! He is very similar to her in lots of his feeding ways though and will squeeze my other nipple while he feeds which is excruciating. I had months of Florence doing the exact same and I’d love that element to stop but it won’t make me give up breast feeding because it’s so special. It’s worth a bit of pain and a bit of work and although I’ve been breast feeding without a break for three and a half years, I wouldn’t change it!

Breast milk is like magic. Babies get rashes and creams just do not work. Pop a bit of breast milk on a baby rash and it will disappear in a matter of hours! I was prescribed all sorts of creams for spots on Florence’s face when she was tiny then someone in a feeding room told me that! It worked and I have to think, if it does that on the outside then whatever kind of wonderful things is it doing on the inside!


You can find Ruth online at www.rocknrollerbaby.co.uk,  and also on Twitter.

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