(I can’t believe I had to go back to the month Eleanor was born to find a breastfeeding picture. I suppose people don’t just go around taking snaps of me with my boobs out, but still, I spent enough of my time doing it, you’d think there could be more evidence of that.)
Eleanor is 16 months old. Anyone who’s followed this blog for a while will remember the hell I went through trying to establish breastfeeding in the first few weeks and, given that experience, I suppose I feel that I should really keep going as long as she wants me to. I breastfed Rosemary until she was just over two, though near the end she was down to one feed a day, which was basically the one that got her down for her nap and she stopped when stopped having a nap (pretty much when she started nursery school, in fact). So, of course, another part of me has the classic ‘Well, I fed her big sister so long, I can’t feed her for less time or she’ll feel I didn’t love her enough.’ Which is, of course, silly. I have no idea how long my mum breastfed me or my sister for, but in no way would I assume that the length of time indicated a level of love.
Eleanor is still feeding a fair bit. She doesn’t usually have a bedtime feed, as Chris puts her down (and she goes to sleep very easily). If I put her to sleep, lately, though, she’s insisting on having a feed and won’t go down for me without one (sometimes she’ll fall asleep, sometimes she’ll go down awake with no problem, but she’s demanding a feed each time I do her bedtime stories). She then wakes at 10.30(ish), anywhere between midnight and 2am (though sometimes she misses this out) and then at 4 or 4.30 and has a feed each time. Sometimes she doesn’t wake until 5am and just gets up. In the morning, she’ll have a feed when we get downstairs and then sometimes she won’t have another before we leave the house, while other times she’ll spend the whole morning (5 to 8.40) having little feeds in between books or playing. She’ll then have a feed when she gets in (or when I get in, if I’ve picked Rosemary up instead of Chris). She’ll usually have one more feed in the afternoon at some point before dinner, though not always.
So, at the least, she’s having two feeds in the night, one or two in the morning and one or two in the afternoon, and at the most, multiple ones then. On weekends, she’ll usually have more, because we’re together more, but often it seems she’ll have disproportionately more at the weekend.
I think I wouldn’t be considering stopping if she was just having two or three feeds a day, but it’s the times when she’s feeding on and off all morning or all afternoon – or all weekend. I don’t mind the night feeds too much, though I’d prefer them to go away, of course. Ideally, I’d like to be able to set my alarm for 5am and get up and do some writing before the girls get up, but even if she goes back to sleep at 4.30 or 5am I almost always go back to sleep, too, because I’m made more sleepy by the hormones. But the constant feeding in mornings, afternoons and weekends (when it happens) really gets me down. I would like to spend some time cuddling with her and playing with her and not constantly have her tugging at my top or pointing and shouting at my boobs!
But if she’s having so much, doesn’t that mean she must really need that much? Even if I decided that it was OK for me to stop, how would we do that? Try to cut out the night feeds first? Remove the temptation (I’ve taken to standing up and reading in the mornings, because then she doesn’t climb onto my lap and try to get to the milk)? Go away for a few days (well, if we haven’t got the feeds down by Cybermummy, that might be the answer)?
I’d really appreciate anyone’s thoughts, tips, advice on this one? Have you stopped at a similar age and how did you do so? Have you managed to cut down without stopping? Have you cut out night feeds at this stage?