Throughout my pregnancy, I knew that I wanted to try breastfeeding, but I frequently heard how difficult it could be.
After listening to stories from friends and family, I was a bit nervous about breastfeeding in general.
After my son was born, I had written down some small breastfeeding goals; things like ‘make it through four weeks of breastfeeding,’ then 12 weeks, and then six months.
I never imagined that we would make it to almost two years of extended breastfeeding!
As a mom who made it through 22 months of extended breastfeeding, I can tell you that there are many misconceptions out there.
Also, there are so many things I wish I knew before starting this long breastfeeding journey with my little one.
If you are a mom starting to breastfeed, here are 11 things I wish I knew about extended breastfeeding.
1. It’s Not Weird
Many people have negative opinions about extended breastfeeding, but don’t let that make you feel a certain way.
There is nothing weird or strange about breastfeeding your child past one year of age.
My best advice for dealing with people’s opinions on extended breastfeeding is to simply ignore them.
You know you are doing what’s best for your little one, and that’s all that matters!
2. You Are Not Alone
Many moms are breastfeeding their children past the one-year mark, just like you!
So, any time someone has something to say about your breastfeeding journey, remember you are not alone.
If you are questioning yourself on whether you should extend breastfeeding or not, find some support!
You can join some local breastfeeding groups or even breastfeeding groups on Facebook and connect with other moms who have felt the same way.
3. Continue Comforting Your Toddler
Breastfeeding has been a source of safety and comfort for your child from day one.
Another fantastic thing about extended breastfeeding is that you get to continue comforting your toddler in a unique way that only you can.
Because you can calm and comfort your toddler easily through breastfeeding, it can make things like substantial life changes more manageable.
For example, if your family is moving to a different house, your toddler can rely on the known comfort you bring through breastfeeding.
In my experience, extended breastfeeding also made things like sleeping easier for my toddler.
Breastfeeding before bedtime or naps made my son more relaxed and ready to go to sleep.
4. Provides Quiet Bonding Time
Toddlers are always on the move; it can be challenging to get some easygoing moments with them!
Breastfeeding into toddlerhood gives you more opportunities to have relaxed and quiet bonding moments.
5. It’s Still Nutritional
Many myths out there say breastfeeding after six months of age brings no nutritional value, but that’s not the case!
Your breastmilk is constantly changing alongside your baby to get them more immune-boosting nutrients.
6. More Hydration For Busy Toddlers
Getting your toddler to stop and drink some water can be hard at times.
When you are breastfeeding into toddlerhood, it can help to ensure that your toddler is getting plenty of fluids throughout the day.
While on the topic of hydration, extended breastfeeding is also great for keeping your toddler hydrated while they are sick.
Sick children don’t necessarily want to keep drinking fluids, but they will undoubtedly want to breastfeed for comfort!
7. It Can Be Physically Awkward
While extended breastfeeding isn’t strange, it certainly can be awkward at times!
All of a sudden, your little baby is a large toddler, and you can’t quite get comfortable.
If you find yourself in this situation, you might have to keep trying different positions until you get comfortable.
Keep in mind that a position that allows you to maintain good posture will make all the difference!
8. Teething Will Pass
Before actually starting to breastfeed, I was a mom that insisted I would be finished breastfeeding when my baby started getting teeth.
Well, my baby started teething, and I quickly realized that he was nowhere near ready to stop breastfeeding.
In the beginning, breastfeeding while your baby is teething can be undoubtedly hard.
Your baby will bite you a few times, and your baby might want to nurse more frequently, but teething will end before you know it.
The thing that helped me the most when breastfeeding my teething baby was knowing the best remedies to help soothe him.
These remedies gave me more ways to help comfort him, other than snuggling and breastfeeding.
9. You Will Want To Quit Some Days
There will be days when you want to quit, no matter where you are in your breastfeeding journey.
I always figured that once you’ve been breastfeeding for months, it just becomes second nature.
While that’s kind of true, breastfeeding is still so much work, and it can get tiring! After breastfeeding for close to two years, I can remember many times that I wanted to give up; that’s perfectly normal!
When it comes down to it, you will know the right time to stop breastfeeding.
Whether you start the weaning process or your toddler does, it will be what’s best for both of you!
10. Nursing Sessions Are Short
Another thing about extended breastfeeding is that it’s much different from nursing your newborn or even your 6-month-old!
Toddler breastfeeding sessions tend to be much shorter and less frequent.
These short sessions also mean that you won’t be on a nursing schedule.
Your toddler might want to nurse at specific times, like nap or bedtime, and that could be it!
11. Weaning Will Be More Relaxed
Once you or your toddler start the weaning process, it will most likely be less stressful than weaning a baby.
When you start weaning your toddler from breastfeeding, they understand more of what you communicate to them.
You can explain what’s happening more clearly and help them feel more secure. Or, your toddler might even stop breastfeeding all on their own!
In the end, however long you choose to breastfeed your child is outstanding.
It’s hard work whether you breastfeed for two weeks or two years! And, if you are planning on breastfeeding your little one past their first year, remember – you’ve got this!
How long have you been breastfeeding your child? What are some things you wish you would’ve known?
Share in the comments below!