Through our baby group I’ve made friends with a great group of mums all of whom are first-timers. To begin with, and surprising to me considering the breastfeeding rates in my local area, the majority were breastfeeders. This has changed slightly over time and I think we have a 50/50 split now as people have weaned onto formula for a variety of reasons. As our babies get older, the first two soon to hit the 1 year mark, there’s more talk of weaning and the question has been asked, ‘So how long did you breastfeed the others for?’.
The person who’s asked is handily the one who is most able to understand that everybody does what is right for them and my choice does not mean I expect you to do the same. I’m not ashamed that I fed the other two until they were a few months past their third birthdays but I know how strongly people can react to the idea of feeding a young toddler let alone a walking! talking! able to ask for it! pre-schooler. I’ve heard one person voice the idea that ‘it’s wrong when they’re bigger’ and it makes me sad and frustrated that it’s this attitude that can make extended breastfeeders hide away feeling that they are doing something strange and that they aren’t supported.
I hope that my answers to this question or its companion – ‘so how long are you going to breastfeed Eli for’ given truthfully puts a normal face to longer-term breastfeeding rather than the ‘look at the strange weirdos’ image the media likes to put across. I also hope that it shows that you don’t ‘have to’ wean at 6 months/1 year or which ever arbitrary milestone is reached whether or not mum and baby want to continue. Of course mostly I’ll be carrying on doing what works best for my family and me and happily supporting my friends in what works for them.