Posted by: Diana Cassar-Uhl, MPH, IBCLC | May 24, 2012

Yes, they’re 7 and 9 and yes, they’ve weaned.


This is Anna and Simon.  They’re my first and second babies, and they’re 7-1/2 and 9-1/2.  They’ve been weaned for a few years now, but since their mamma is an IBCLC, breastfeeding is part of their lives.

There have been a lot of questions over the last few weeks about how children who breastfed long enough to remember having done so feel about it.  Anna and Simon were happy to share about their breastfeeding experiences, and if you’ve got other questions, please post them in the comments and I’ll ask them!

I was definitely ready when Anna and Simon each stopped breastfeeding, because I was nursing a younger sibling each time (I had my three children in 5 years, almost to the day).  Both of them nursed through their first year of pre-K, which I was thankful for – they were still so young and since I worked full-time, leaving them in a school setting for a full day, 3 days a week was hard for me no matter how well I knew they were being nurtured there. Taking a few minutes to nurse when we all got home gave us the chance to reset and relax.  Could we have done that without breastfeeding?  Sure — but I don’t think we would have.  Breastfeeding sort of guaranteed that pause between the workday and the chaos of being home.  I was also really thankful we had breastfeeding to see us through their first major exposures to a classroom of kids (and germs).  Each of them weaned during the summer between pre-K years, after conversations with me (and with Anna, in Simon’s case!).  Both of them had lost their ability to latch and transfer milk; this was especially obvious in comparison to the younger sibling, who was breastfeeding efficiently.  While they weaned from breastfeeding, in the ensuing days, weeks, and months, we still spent a commensurate amount of time sitting together in our “milk chair,” being close and sharing a few moments when they might otherwise have breastfed.  As they wind down 4th grade and 2nd grade, Anna and Simon still enjoy (and, at times, demand!) regular hugs, kisses, and snuggles with me.  I’m happy to be their “home base.”

How old were you when you weaned?

Anna:  I don’t know, around 3-ish?  (She was 3 years, 8 months, and 5 days.  Her weaning was very intentional and definite.)

What do you remember about weaning?

Anna:  I remember not being sure if I was going to, but I finally decided to wean, and I yelled to daddy, “I weaned!”  I felt good that I had done a big-girl thing, but then I felt sad when I saw Simon still nursing and I couldn’t.  I remember telling him that weaning was the worst decision I ever made in my life, but I don’t think that anymore.

What do you remember about breastfeeding?

Anna:  It helped me stay healthy, helped me fall asleep at night.  When I was sad, it cheered me up.

What did you like best about breastfeeding?

Anna:  I still love your smell, and it reminds me of when we used to nurse.  I liked that it was with my mom, and I liked the taste.  I used to say it tasted like macaroni.  I liked how it made me feel – comfy and relaxed.  I super-liked that we did it a lot, and that you were always happy to nurse me, even if it was the middle of the night and you were tired. (Anna really did nurse “a lot.”  I’m glad she was first because I might have been worried about her had she followed one of the less-needy children.)

Do you remember sharing breastfeeding with Simon?

Anna:  Sometimes, but not really.

How do you feel when you see other people breastfeeding?

Anna:  I feel like, “hooray!”  I feel happy because that child must be healthy and happy and that mother wasn’t afraid to do what was best for her child, even in front of strangers.

Will you breastfeed your babies?

Anna:  Of course!  And I’m going to ask you to help me … if I have babies … which I probably will.

What do you want people to know about breastfeeding?

Anna:  That when you breastfeed, it will make you happy and proud.

A few weeks after their tandem nursing days ended: Simon, 2; Anna, almost 4

How old were you when you weaned?

Simon:  Um, around like, 4, I think?  (He was 3 years and 10 months old, but did ask a few other times after that – he didn’t remember how to latch on, though.)

How did you feel about weaning?

Simon:  I felt OK, because I could have other foods, but I missed it sometimes when I saw my little sister nursing.

Anna interrupts: Do you still miss it?

Simon:  Yeah, a little, but I’m older now, and I don’t need to nurse.

What do you remember about breastfeeding?

Simon:  I remember that it really helped me!

How?

Simon:  It helped me when I was having a hard time.

What was your favorite thing about breastfeeding?

It made me feel safe, like I’m at home with my mom.

What’s breastmilk good for?

Simon:  It’s magic milk!  It’s good for pink eye, ear aches, and generally keeping you healthy.

What would you tell other people about breastfeeding?

It makes you healthy, gives you a better future, you know, not as many allergies, that stuff.  And that they should really breastfeed.  I loved nursing.

Do you remember sharing breastfeeding with your sisters?

Simon:  No, not really.  (Anna weaned when Simon was about 6 weeks shy of 2; Simon and Gabriella tandem nursed for about 8 months.)

How do you feel when you see someone breastfeeding?

Simon:  I feel great, like, WOW!  They’re nursing!

For an academic study of older childrens’ perceptions of breastfeeding, check out Dr. Karleen Gribble’s As good as chocolate’ and ‘better than ice cream': how toddler, and older breastfeeders experience breastfeeding

About these ads

Responses

  1. Out of the mouths of [not-so-much] babes ….. Thanks for a great take on the issue of breastfeeding as a parenting tool that really *is* a two-person activity!

  2. What a beautiful post! It is wonderful to hear from the children themselves what nursing was like and what it meant/means to them. I too have older children (now 16, 13 and 9) who all breastfed past age 6. Their responses to these questions were very similar. They are well-adjusted, normal, independent kids who still really value being close and loving, and most importantly still talk to me about issues in their lives. Something that I cherish since teens can be so rebellious and closed-off at this stage.

    I wish that we could gather all the older, now-weaned, extended breastfed children and do a study or collect their responses and show them to the so-called ‘experts’ out there that assume and state that children who are breastfed ‘too long’ will grow up to have attachment issues. What is wrong with our society that being attached is seen as somehow wrong?

    Thank you for sharing Diana!

  3. What a wonderful story! My teenage boys do not want to talk about the time they breastfed. It makes them squirm! They say they don’t really remember breastfeeding and they both weaned about 6 weeks before their 5th birthdays. When I ask them about other memories of that time period they don’t seem to have a lot of memories. One of my favorite “embarrass your teen story” was when “Breastfeeding Answers Made Simple” was first released I had order 50+ copies at a bulk rate and was distributing them to LLL Leaders who had ordered them. I had the boxes lined up by the front door. One box was damaged so I had those books out of the box one on top of each pile of cartons with the cover facing up. The cover had a picture of a breastfeeding dyad. One of the boys flipped over all the books as they were expecting friends over. It was really funny.

    Diana, I love reading your blog! I love the way write, I love the subject matter, and I love your kids!

  4. I LOVE this post. Great job mom! (and Anna and Simon :-) ) People are so often assuming what kids think instead of asking them. I love the way you asked the questions, and their answers sound so thoughtful and mature.

  5. I loved reading about breastfeeding from the kids’ perspective! Thanks fir this insightful post.

  6. Sorry, for not fir… Typing lefty on my iPad while nursing!

  7. My oldest (he’s 15) still feels cheated because I weaned him very early — at 9 months, since I was expecting again and very sore and at the time I had no experience with nursing during pregnancy and after. Several of my children afterwards made it until almost age 3 and I’m currently tandem nursing my 10 mo old and 2 year old.

  8. What well-spoken children!

  9. Great post! I love hearing the unique perspective of older breastfed kids.

  10. Anna and Simon, did you ever talk with your friends at school about nursing? (Pre-K friends) Did peer pressure “help” you to wean?

    • Thanks for your question, Laura!

      Simon didn’t talk about much at preschool, so not really nursing, either. (He’s still a pretty private kid.)

      Anna, on the other hand, was more vocal about it. The teachers and head of school knew she was still nursing, and didn’t bat an eye when Anna wanted to say something about nursing in my mother’s day card! Anna also had a friend who was 4 weeks younger than she was, who weaned a few months prior, and they talked about that a fair amount — when Anna decided she was going to wean, she was excited to tell her friend that she had done a big-girl thing, too.

      Neither child felt pressured by peers. The ones who didn’t have any idea what “nursing” was (most of them) didn’t care and the ones who did were still nursing themselves, or had a baby sibling who was breastfeeding.

  11. I LOVE this! Finally we get to hear from the little ones, and how they feel about it! And it warms my heart to hear their sweet and very intelligent responses! My 14 month old still nurses A LOT, and although I never intended on having an older nurser, it looks like we are headed that way, and I am warming up to it thanks to great stories like these. It is sad that we have pressure from family/friends and culture telling us that nursing is all of a sudden “unacceptable” at a certain age. Thanks for writing this, I would love to hear more comments from your kiddos on the subject!

  12. I’m with MiriamP; My eldest is now 17 years and, as recently as last year, has expressed a sense of being cheated out of an extended breastfeeding experience. She was breastfed in-part until six months age. Her next two younger sisters both nursed until 3 years, 5 months, and 3 days (ten months of which was tandem.) The youngest guy in our family is currently nursing at 3 years, 8 months, and 27 days. We’ve had some good talks about it though–hopefully, our talks will help her be easier on herself when she herself becomes a Mama. You do what you can, with what you know, and the resources available to you at the time. <3

  13. Great post! I was wondering if anyone has had a similar experience t my own, and found a solution. I have a 2 year old, and I still breast feed her at night. I because pregnant when she was just over 12 months. My nipples became so sensitive and irritated, that I basically ended up weaning her. Now her latch seems different, because it’s still irritating me. she asks to nurse often, and I’d love to be able to, but need a solution to that crazy irritating sensation!

    • Hi Megan! Thanks for reading my blog and for your comment. I did breastfeed through two pregnancies and I experienced a lot of what you describe. I wrote about it here at this post:

      http://dianaibclc.com/2011/03/29/breastfeeding-in-pregnancy/

    • I have this same problem with my son and I wish I knew what to do about it. Nursing during my pregnancy was painful in the beginning but, somewhere in the second or third trimester, it became less painful but incredibly irritating. At its worst (and it’s always worst when I am feeling negative emotions, especially frustration felt toward him, which is often when he most wants to nurse) I would describe it as feeling like I’m being violated. My body sometimes responds in ways that I feel very uncomfortable with, especially when I am almost empty. I really want to be able to nurse him because I know he loves it so much and misses it, but I honestly almost dread nursing him the way things are :(.  Near the end of my pregnancy I severely limited him because it was so uncomfortable and I felt like I would squirm out of my skin, and I think he backed way off on asking because he knew I didn’t really want it. When DD was born I continued limiting because I was concerned about supply (I know now that was silly) and I think he just thought the “rules” had changed. I didn’t want to encourage more because I didn’t enjoy nursing him anymore (and I mean physically; I wish it was different because I would still want to more!) but I still feel bad for him even now. He only nurses a few times a month now, but I think he would still nurse at least once a day if he thought the invitation was there. He is 3 years, 7 months and DD is 10 months now. Do you have any help for me? Thanks! 

      • Hi! (1 hand type–feedybaby in other hand). The violation feeling has happened to me and other mums I’ve met through our LLL group. The feeling happened fo me when the transition from colostrum occurred. It was horrible as you described. I found the sensation really kicked in during let-down. My child was experiecing the upheaval of a new baby and therefore needed to nurse and I was almost violent trying to get him away from me. We used to have long nursing sessions at naptime, but sadly I can’t cope to do this anymore. He is now resigned to 1 feed in the morning which started off being less than a minute and this morning almost 3 minutes! I will also do tiny feeds when he is hurt or really upset.
        I think time has helped (baby is 7 weeks now). I also try to distract myself by singing “think of the bears” to remind me of a television documentary where a mama black bear was nursing her giant yearlings–it was ll so cuddily and cute!
        I feel disappointed because I always planned to tandem nurse. Eileen

  14. Thank you so much for that! Love knowing what a child is feeling. Safe and secure and healthy! Who could ask for more?

  15. Wonderful, beautiful post! I’m breastfeeding my 27 month old and don’t see us stopping anytime soon. Its so wonderful to read about your babies having great memories of it. I hope Gwen does as well.

  16. Lovely! I am tandem nursing my 32 month old and 8 month old. I don’t get a lot of support for this from my husband, which is frustrating, since my older child still really needs it and is clearly devastated when she is not allowed or able to nurse for one reason or another. It is nice to hear what the children think! I wonder-do you have any advice for getting my husband to see the importance of this relationship?

    • Hi Jenny, thanks for your comment. In answer to your question, have you asked your husband what about your situation he feels uncomfortable with or doesn’t like? Is there something specific he worries about (perhaps feeling left out or not as important to your daughter, concerned that an older child breastfeeding is sexual in nature, or fearful that it might be years before he gets your attention again)? If you give him the chance to talk through his concerns with you, and you just listen — no defense until he’s done — perhaps you can help him with unfounded concerns, or together you can find a way to compromise so that your daughter’s needs are still being met, but in consideration of your husband’s feelings (for example, if his mother gives him a hard time when she sees you nursing your daughter, maybe you could talk to your daughter about no nursing when grandma visits)? While I believe the most important people in the decision of how long to keep breastfeeding are the mother and the child, father/husband’s opinion comes in second … I wish you luck and peace in working that out.

  17. This is so fabulous. My older son came home from school today and told me he and his 2 friends were “talking about boobies”.

    “Yeah Mom! J said he drank booby til he was 6 and guess what?! He’s 6 now! And S said he thinks he stopped around 3 years…isn’t that so sad?! He *only* nursed for 3 years!”

    I’m not sure if any of this is accurate information, but am pretty proud that my 7 year old is so proud of something we spent so much time enjoying together.

    What a beautiful post…totally made my night. Your kids sound like really lucky, wonderful beings.

  18. I asked my niece what sis she remember about nursing (she breastfed until 3-ish). She said the milk tasted like chocolate and strawberries! She says she misses nursing. SO CUTE!

  19. Sweetest thing I’ve ever read! I hope to be an IBCLC one day and I hope I hear these things from my babies!

  20. Lovely post. My child weaned when she was four. The last time she nursed she smiled and patted my breasts and said, “Thanks!” She has fond memories of nursing. We even made it through the period when she was just learning to talk and would say “nerd?” instead of “nurse?” in public. So wish every child had this experience.

  21. My son will be 4 in 2 weeks time. He still nurses once a day upon waking. sometimes he will adk for booby milk during the day if he is hurt, sad or struggling with his emotions. Since he has been able to talk ive loved asking him questions. The first was “what does booby milk taste like”? The answer was chocolate lollipop! He tells me when my booby is fat it means there is milky (i dont think they get bigger but maybe he does). I asked the other day “how do you think milk is made”? He pointed to all around my boob saying it comes from “there, there and there and some from your heart”. I admit I nearly cried! He tells me he loves milky

  22. Sorry, posted before I wss finishef. Anyway, he tells me he loves milky becsuse he likes being close to me. It is a special time. Soon the time will come when he no longer wishes to nurse (months, days, who knows!) but I will always be glad I let him decided when our breastfeeding journey was to end. I never imagined for a second I

  23. Sorry, posted before I wss finishef. Anyway, he tells me he loves milky becsuse he likes being close to me. It is a special time. Soon the time will come when he no longer wishes to nurse (months, days, who knows!) but I will always be glad I let him decided when our breastfeeding journey was to end. I never imagined for a second I would nurse this long, its just evolved that way.

  24. Great post Diana!!

  25. Beautiful post!! I am inspired to do something similar with my son who nursed until he was nearly 4. You can read our journey here: http://tinyurl.com/bfingjourney

  26. Thank you for this emotional post, it’s wonderful. I am a breastfeeding mom myself and I cried while reading this post. I believe most people don’t see the beauty of this incredible bond and try to show breastfeeding past a few months as being shameful. Is it ok if I translate your post in romanian and post it to my blog http://eusibebe.ro/blog/ ? It is a blog about breastfeeding clothes and breastfeeding in general. Thank you, big hugs, Iulia.

    • Hello Iulia! Thank you for your kind words. You may translate to Romanian, but please link to my post and send me the link to your post so I may see it. Please translate the text only — I’d like for the photos to stay here on my blog. Thanks and I can’t wait to see it!

  27. Beautiful post. I love reading their perspective. I am triandem nursing my 5 1/2 year old, 3 year old, and 7 month old. I feel like I am being asked for milk all day and say ‘no’ often because it can sometimes just feel like too much. After reading this I will be saying yes more. Thank you so much for this. I hope and expect my kids will look back with the same fondness of this special time. I love that they will remember the closeness and comfort of nursing.

    • Very much liked this ; )) Tandem nursed 1st 2, am still nursing almost 3 year old and expecting 3rd child in a month. It can be tiring and I can feel all touched out at times but ultimatel it’s so worth it. I love when my litlte ones make clever/sweet observations about it too. And the nursing styles of my 1st 2 have been completely different so that’s been interesting. My current nurser loves to tell people she’s just met that her Mummy has a baby in her tummy (as if you could miss it!) and that she gets ‘mummy noo’ from my boobs (said in a boastful way). We live in Switzerland, so most people are none the wiser after her little speech but it gives me a chuckle every time. And good on you Dr Nancy – nursing 3 at one time! Don’t be too hard on yourself for saying ‘no’ sometimes, I explain that mummy needs to eat/rest etc so that she can make milk for the next feed and that has helped them ‘get it’ that sometimes it’s not always available just right when they want it (apart from the smallest one of course!).

  28. This had me in tears of happiness. Still feeding my 5 year old, who has great fun describing the ‘flavours’ of ‘mummy-yummy’ – we had ‘green olives’ and ‘lemon juice’ the other day – both favourites of hers, I should add :-)

  29. This is beautiful. I must ask my lo if he remembers but he was only 27 months when he weaned.

  30. Thanks for sharing this. It’s lovely to hear about it from the children’s points of view and has made me feel really positive about my decision to breast feed full term :)

  31. It saddens me because if I want to have another child, I will have to wean my daughter in order to do so. We have to do IVF and I will not be able to breastfeed with the medications you are given :( But I loved your story :) thanks for sharing!

  32. So glad you posted this. I myself nursed long enough to remember it but rarely hear hear stories of other people with similar memories. I also remember tandem nursing with my younger brother.

  33. Hi ,

    I am amazed by your post.Actually my son 19 months is still nursing and I am happy to go with it as long as he shows that he enjoys it.Nonetheless I have a concern and would ask you about it since may be you know more than me : Do you have any knowledge about the impact of breastfeeding on a long run over the calcium status of the mother.Does it expose the mother to an osteoporosis ?? Especially that I am not a young mum !!Thank you to please answer me.
    Eva

  34. this is crazy! you people are sick! if my child had a bottle past one yrs of age that would be wrong! you people need child protection at your house! stop babying your children! let your kids grow up!

    • Are you serious? You are going to take breastfeeding and turn it into child abuse? The who recommends nursing til AT LEAST age two. Breast milk doesn’t lose it’s benefits just cause a child gets older. Formula never had any benefits to begin with, so yeah, stopping feeding you’re child chemicals at one is a good thing.

  35. […] as they got older, was a lot for me. I’m thankful I had support and the ability to allow both of them to wean more or less on their own schedules, but frequent conversations and a special “weaning lunch” out with me helped bring those two […]

  36. Beautiful insight! Thank you for sharing.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,291 other followers

%d bloggers like this: