Breastfeeding a Toddler – Getting There and Being OK

Similac-disclosureI hated breastfeeding.  When my daughter was born, I thought I would be the mom who would breastfeed exclusively.  I thought it would be easy, feel good and be, oh so natural.  HA!  I quit within a month.

When my son came, I tried again.  I nursed him for almost 2 years!  However, with that decision came a lot of judgement from friends and family.

Here’s my story and how I reacted to the Mommy Wars. breastfeeding-toddler

Breastfeeding was the HARDEST task I have ever done as a mother.  Babies don’t appear out of the womb ready to breastfeed.  It is not instinctual.  It takes is a lot of hard work between mother and baby to make it successful.   There were a lot of frustration, a lot of tears and a lot of breakdowns – for both me and my daughter.

Every time she nursed I wanted to curse because her latch felt like a thousand needles in my skin.  I stamped my foot on the tile floor and tears would flow from my eyes at the beginning of each nursing session.  

I hated it.  I quit at a month. I still think it was the best decision I ever made for my sanity and well being at that time.

When my son arrived four years later, I wanted to try again.  This time, I prepared myself for what I thought was the agony of breastfeeding. I took a Bradley Childbirth Class with my husband.  I discovered that nursing was not supposed to hurt.  

As soon as my son was born, I asked for lots of help.  My Bradley teacher came to the hospital to encourage me. My doula helped me learn to nurse laying down so I could get more rest.  My husband helped me latch my son correctly in those first few weeks so that breastfeeding wouldn’t be painful.

My turning point came when my breast pump arrived in the mail.  My son was about 2 weeks old and I had been moaning about how I hated breastfeeding.  I hated the time involved, I hated not being able to give my daughter more attention, I hated being the only one waking up every few hours to feed.  I left that breast pump in its package, unwrapped on the stairs.  I wanted to send it back. I was going to quit.

But I couldn’t do it.  I walked past it every day and thought to myself, “I’ll just give it one more day”  A few days later, I opened it and used it off an on for two years.

Nursing a baby after a year old is met with some criticism in the US.  In other parts of the word, it’s common to nurse until 3 or 4.  Some cultures even nurse their young until 7 or 8.  But in our country, the practice is still pretty uncommon.  

This story of me and a friend is pretty typical:

The best way I found to fight criticism and deal with the judgement are to:

Know Your Reasons

For me, nursing was such an accomplishment based on what I went through with my daughter.  I knew the pain and yet I figured out a solution to it.  I survived this time and I was damn proud! 

Also, nursing just became the easiest way to feed my son.  If I was going somewhere, I didn’t need to think about packing food.  I was his food.  If he had a temper tantrum, nursing would calm him down.  If he was tired, nursing put him right to sleep.

It was the single most helpful parenting tool at my disposal and I held onto it.  

Know the Facts

Through my Bradley classes, I knew a lot of research on the benefits of extended breastfeeding.  For instance, nursing toddlers get a complete source of nutrition – which is awesome to know as a mom because toddlers are incredibly picky eaters.  

Know Your Support System

With breastfeeding, my support was always my hubby who encouraged me to breastfeed as long as I wanted.  He encouraged me as much to continue as he did to quit when I was ready.  I also had a group of women from my Bradley class who breastfed over the year mark as well. 

So many decisions we make as parents are personal and made based on our own experiences.  As parents, let’s support each other and work to stop the judgement and the mommy wars.

Now, it’s your turn!  Film your own quick selfie video about your own Mommy War story.  Share your mommy war story on the Similac Facebook page using #EndMommyWars.”

Simliac partnered with bloggers such as me for its Sisterhood of Motherhood program.  As part of this program, I received compensation for my time.  Similac believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words.  Similac’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.

JoAnn Crohn

CEO/Founder at No Guilt Mom
JoAnn Crohn, M. Ed is a parenting educator and life coach who helps moms feel confident in raising empowered, self-sufficient kid while pursuing their own goals & passions.

She’s an accomplished writer, author, podcast host of the No Guilt Mom podcast, and speaker who appears in national media. Work with her personally in Balance VIP

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