Extended Breastfeeding: 4 kids, 57 months & Counting

by beth on July 26, 2010

D-man is still nurs­ing at 16 months old, any­thing over a year is gen­er­ally con­sid­ered extended breast­feed­ing. I have breast­feed all my chil­dren for a year or longer.   At this point I have breast­feed for a total of 57 months.  Did you catch that? 57 MONTHS or 4.75 years.  I was actu­ally sur­prised when I added it up, it didn’t seem that long but I have nursed for longer than my under­grad­u­ate degree took.

When I started breast­feed­ing I never thought much about how long I’d do it for & never thought I’d have nearly 5 years under my belt. Before I knew it days turned to weeks, weeks to months. I have strug­gled with cracked nip­ples,  pump­ing for work, milk sup­ply, mas­ti­tis, post­par­tum depres­sion, & the day to day strug­gles that go along with breastfeeding.

Tak­ing it slowly, hav­ing help when chal­lenges arose, being in the moment & hav­ing a really great sup­port sys­tem helped. My hus­band has always been my rock in sup­port.  Mike’s sup­port of breast­feed­ing, in par­tic­u­lar, is tremen­dous.  He’s a very hands-on par­ent, we work toward being part­ners in par­ent­ing & this wasn’t any dif­fer­ent, minus the whole “he has no breasts that lac­tate” thing.

And with each strug­gle I was able to work though them with Mike’s sup­port & con­tinue the breast­feed­ing rela­tion­ship.  I feel like after real­iz­ing how LOOOONG I’ve been at this I’m all nos­tal­gic about it, even though it wasn’t all roses.  

Mr. J nursed for about a year.  Being it was my first time I had ever nursed I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I can say we did have a rough start, latch­ing & just get­ting a groove. Once we found it & worked through his acid reflux & my over active let down we did very well.  I learned how to nurse or pump while: read­ing, writ­ing, typ­ing & brush­ing my teeth.  He was my ini­ti­a­tion into multi-tasking at a whole new level.

Mr. J and Mr. G are also 18 months apart.  He was 9 months old when Mr. G came into being & by my 2nd trimester my milk was dry­ing up. Mr. J was a year old when the milk sup­ply was gone & he wanted no part in nursing.

Then Mr. G was a breeze baby.  Really when it came to sleep­ing & eat­ing he was a piece of cake.  I thought it was because I was a pro!  But really now that I have more expe­ri­ences under my belt I real­ize that it wasn’t my pro sta­tus that made it a breeze.  He just didn’t encounter some of the same strug­gles his brother had. Then when Mr. G was 10 months old, Mamacita was on the scene.  While she was cook­ing away my milk again decreased sud­denly when I entered my 2nd trimester.  Mr. G made it to 14 months, but again when the milk was gone he wasn’t interested.

Mamacita nursed for 15 months.  She taught me that I couldn’t rest on my lau­rels when it came being a pro.  In fact, now that I think of it she still does this.  I guess she’s help­ing me learn humil­ity. Any­way, she was more chal­leng­ing than Mr. G in how she latched.  She also wanted to com­fort nurse more than either of the boys before her.  Her need for com­fort cou­pled with my over active let down had to be worked through.  She also self-weaned at 15 months, not because I was preg­nant again but I had some weird hor­mone flux that caused prob­lems with my milk as my milk pro­duc­tion con­tin­ued to decrease she became less inter­ested in nurs­ing.  Before we knew it we no longer were breastfeeding.

Now there’s D-man.  He & I have had prob­a­bly more chal­lenges than the oth­ers. With him I had my first hor­ri­ble bout of mas­ti­tis, I had never had it go full blown before, but it did with him.  I dealt with severe post­par­tum depres­sion & the unique chal­lenges to nurs­ing that existed through this.  He also bit me, he once drew blood.  At that point I did con­sider end­ing breast­feed­ing, I mean it really hurt, but he wasn’t ready & I knew it would be an awful time.  So we worked through teach­ing him not to bite & to be gen­tle.  I also had to work through my TOTAL ter­ror at the thought I might lose a nipple–seriously that kid has a mas­sively strong chomper.

BUT I’m glad we worked through it like we did because he’s 16 months & I’m not sure when he will be ready to wean.  I lean toward the idea of child-led wean­ing or self-weaning of a child although I may at some point decide to intro­duce gen­tle wean­ing.  I’m not sure yet.  After one year I don’t rush it, obvi­ously given my cur­rent track record.

I do crack jokes about how long he might nurse, but that’s because I’m not able to NOT crack a joke.  It’s against my nature to be any­thing but a smart-ass I think it’s in my DNA. How­ever, even with my smart-ass self  this breast­feed­ing rela­tion­ship works well & is gen­tle for both of us.  I’m really glad that we’ve got­ten to share it together, as with the other rabble-rousers back when they were littles.

Some great resources for sup­port & infor­ma­tion on breast­feed­ing I’ve turned to over the years:

  • Kel­ly­Mom: Very easy to use & a go to resource when I needed help fig­ur­ing out what to do. I love the way this site is laid out.  It offers a trea­sure trove of information.
  • Moth­er­ing Mag­a­zine: I may not do every­thing all nat­ural but the sup­port over­all has been really won­der­ful for me. Moth­er­ing also has a great forum that has a lot of sup­port avail­able in this area.
  • As a Catholic who breast­feeds I also drew on the fol­low­ing book for sup­port: Breast­feed­ing and Catholic Moth­er­hood: God’s Plan for You and Your Baby by Sheila Kip­p­ley.  Even though I got it as I was hav­ing my 3rd, both my hus­band & I were not a prac­tic­ing Catholics until after the birth of Mr. G (a story for another time), & I was feel­ing wor­ried about bal­anc­ing 3 kids under 3 while breast­feed­ing.  It helped me to turn to my spir­i­tu­al­ity for addi­tional sup­port.  While there is NO offi­cial Catholic Church teach­ing on breast­feed­ing (this is because each mother-child rela­tion­ship is unique) the Church is very sup­port­ive of breast­feed­ing moth­ers as it is of all moth­ers & it helped me to have that support.
  • And another great Catholic resource is the Catholic Nurs­ing Moth­ers League.  This is a great net­work of sup­port for women of Catholic faith who are breast­feed­ing while prac­tic­ing gen­tle Catholic mothering.
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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 beths_confusion July 26, 2010 at 11:41 am

[New Post] Extended Breastfeeding: 4 kids, 57 months & Counting – via #twitoaster http://theconfusedhomemaker.com/2010/07/


2 IASoupMama July 26, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Congrats! I did CLW with my daughter, for the most part. I was (am) struggling with fertility as we’d gotten to the point where either her nursing was a cause or I was going to be put on meds and would need to wean because who wants a girl getting Clomid through mom’s milk? Not me. Of course, she was 29 months old at the time, so weaning was as simple as, “Oh, no! Mommy’s breasts are out of milk!” She pouted for a minute and that was that.


3 beth July 27, 2010 at 1:18 pm

WOW 29 months! Amazing :) It sounds like you had a very gentle weaning process.


4 IASoupMama July 27, 2010 at 3:46 pm

I think it was harder on me than it was on her…


5 Imene July 26, 2010 at 10:28 pm

I nursed my 3 children for 41 months. 3.4 years!! Wow I had never done the math. My only regret is that I didn’t breastfeed my eldest for a longer period. I was a young mom and not very sure of my choices then…


6 beth July 27, 2010 at 1:19 pm

I know, isn’t it crazy the amount of time when you add it up? It doesn’t feel that long when you’re doing it.


7 Kathleen July 26, 2010 at 11:13 pm

This is really, really inspiring. I’ve been nursing my 8-month-old since his birth – with a few bumps along the way – and I hope to continue at least a year (and after that, whenever he’s ready).


8 beth July 27, 2010 at 1:20 pm

8 months is great, I think the bumps are par for the course with babies. Here’s to making it to your year (and beyond) :)


9 Melissa B. July 27, 2010 at 8:20 am

More power to ya! One of my girls was breast-fed, the other raised on the bottle because of health issues. I’m impressed with your enthusiasm. SITS sent me by, and I’m glad they did!

That Sinking Feeling


10 beth July 27, 2010 at 1:23 pm

Thank you! Glad to have you here :) I think it’s wonderful that you met your girls needs in the ways that allowed them to get what they needed! Every situation is different & it is good we have advances to help when breastfeeding isn’t possible or there is another situation that arises.


11 Kelly July 27, 2010 at 3:53 pm

I recently added up all the months I’ve spent nursing and realized that it’s longer than my undergrad and grad school put together… and like school, nursing had its ups and downs… more ups than downs fortunately!


12 beth July 27, 2010 at 4:14 pm

It’s fun to see the time laid out & compared to other things we’ve done. And that’s a perfect analogy between school & nursing, with ups & downs.


13 LaRee July 30, 2010 at 12:56 am

I have ‘nursed’ all 6 of my baby girls. Sometimes I wonder if boys nurse differently. I don’t know where exactly I got all my firm decisions about it from. My mother breastfed all her babies, and I am the oldest. I know that had a great impact, she was a skinny lady and always had to supplement with bottles and ‘Pablum’. I have always weaned mine at 9-10 months. That was about as far extended as I got ;) I saw a video of a mother monkey breastfeeding a bouncing running baby..OUCH! Thats what I am reminded of every time I think of nursing longer.


14 beth July 30, 2010 at 9:08 am

The image of the momma monkey makes me think ouch too, but I can’t help laughing at the thought :)


15 Jen Mum July 13, 2011 at 2:43 pm

I love that you are so open about your breastfeeding and that Mike is so supportive. It seems you never have to look very far to find more research about its benefits.
I hope you will write up a piece how #5 and yourself undertake this aspect of motherhood too.


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