Why I Breastfeed my 2 Year Old

I didn’t want to breastfeed my son. Well not entirely at least. Let me contradict myself by firstly explaining that I am an advocate of breastfeeding. I did the peer supporter course, and I breastfed my daughter until age 2 and a half. However, when I was pregnant with my son, before I was even pregnant actually, I was adamant I was going to combination feed him pretty much from the get-go.

The reason for that was because I found it tricky to wean my little girl. At 2.5yrs old she understandably was very attached to breastfeeding; it was all she’d ever known and suddenly mum wanted to cancel it forever. It was a difficult time, but I had been ready to wean her for a good year or so and even though I did it really gradually, it was still a very difficult transition for her which I felt awful about. And so, when planning another baby this experience definitely factored in to the whole ‘I’m going to plan everything so it all goes much more smoothly on my second baby’. The plan was to breastfeed for the first few months gradually introducing a bottle of formula which would decrease my supply of milk incrementally then fully weaning him off the breast by about 10 months, 1 year at the maximum. How come I’m still feeding him at 2 then?


Breastfeeding in the NICU

Well, first of all his birth didn’t go to plan. I mean catastrophically didn’t go to plan. Cue me delivering a breech baby on my bathroom floor with no pain relief. He was born not breathing and needed CPR twice in the ambulance on the way to hospital. He was admitted to NICU and received a lot of care and treatment during the first 2 weeks of his life. I knew the best thing I could do for him within my power was to give him breastmilk, so that’s what I did. I set my alarm for 4am to get up to pump to encourage my supply and every night thereafter. Sure enough my body knew what to do and by the time he got home, having not had chance to sync with each other due to separation, I actually had an issue with over-supply (which is not nearly as great as it sounds at all.) The first time I fed him was at the hospital when he was 8 days old. Rich and I were over the moon when he first latched on. Because of the possible effects of lack of oxygen at birth, the fact that he was able to breastfeed was a really good sign. (He is now fine by the way, a very happy and healthy 2-year-old).

Already there had been a fight to provide my precious son with my own milk. Pumping on a regular schedule, storing the milk properly then transporting it in cooler bags to the hospital to be stored there for him.


Pain of Silent Reflux

His first night home was the most relaxed, blissful night, it was wonderful and we all slept well. Soon after, however, he began crying a lot. Which soon turned into screaming with pain. He would crunch up seemingly with stomach pain, his nappies were stinky beyond stinky and full of green mucous, and all this resulted in nursing aversion where he wouldn’t feed. He would cry for a feed, latch on and then pull his head back screaming in pain. Although he was so obviously hungry, he could not feed. I can’t quite describe how scary it is to have a weeks old baby who won’t feed. My husband and I were absolutely stumped. We didn’t know what to do to help him. It was really horrible and terrifying. I got some help from the GP thankfully and he was diagnosed with silent reflux and cow’s milk protein allergy. It certainly wasn’t smooth running from then by any means but the support from the GP was invaluable. Pop went my fabulous idea of introducing formula as the majority of them available in the supermarkets are made from cow’s milk.

I was still adamant I didn’t want to feed him into toddlerhood as I had done with my daughter, especially now it meant I would need to completely eradicate all dairy from my diet which I had obviously done immediately and was not particularly enjoying! Upon researching silent reflux and CMPA I found there were some formula milks he could have (of course there were!) but they were very expensive and health professionals were quite stringent with them and they had to be prescribed. My next meeting with the health visitor was the next day and she said she was unable to prescribe the milk and I’d have to see a doctor.

Consultant’s Advice

We had a follow up appointment with his consultant at the hospital the following week, so I continued to exclusively breastfeed and was still completely dairy free telling myself it was only temporary. At the appointment I explained all what had been going on and the consultant just basically said that if I could breastfeed him then that was the best thing for him. And that pretty much, was that. I had seen this man on the wards looking after my baby making decisions about his care I couldn’t begin to fathom myself, and I had so much respect for his knowledge and expertise, coupled with the fact he was telling what I already knew; that was that.

Although being the rebellious natured person that I am, I did order a tub of some weird smelling non dairy formula from some obscure pharmacy site in the US which cost about £27 in the end for one tub just to try. He had one bottle and had the biggest poo-splosion ever. It very obviously did not agree with him at all. So that was me dairy free for the next approximately 18 months and that is a whole other story.



There are lots of benefits of breastfeeding past infancy. I particularly love the Kellymom website for info on all things breastfeeding. Here’s a link for more info about breastfeeding your toddler:

Breastfeeding Past Infancy: Fact Sheet




The Day of the Silent Reflux Diagnosis

My daughter and I are both up and dressed. Baby has been crying all night and I’ve hardly slept but I’ve arranged to meet two friends at a soft play and don’t want to cancel on them.

Last night was the first night since bringing baby home from NICU that hubby has had to stay away for the night with work. The baby has been fretful for a few days, probably about a week now, we’ve been giving him colief. Yesterday though, he was bad all day so I booked in with the GP. I’m now thanking God I did. After a 4am google session I’m pretty convinced he has silent reflux. Which means his immature gut is not coping with digesting the milk but instead of throwing it up it only makes it so far up the gullet causing acid heartburn. Now I’m pacing the kitchen with him on my shoulder and he is screaming. It’s really loud. Dear God, why does he have this pain after everything he’s just been through. Logic kicks in “pain is the body’s way of telling us something is wrong.” There is definitely something wrong. Screaming, writhing, arching. I can hear the acid bubbling up, can feel it through my hand on his back. Oh my baby is in pain and there’s nothing I can do. He’s really screaming, do I go A&E to get him something to help? No, take it easy, it’s probably acid, try and calm him, he needs to sleep. Shush shush shush, switch on the oven extractor fan for the white noise. Still pacing, still screaming.

Shit I’m now half an hour late and still haven’t dressed the baby. It’s alright, it will be OK once we get out of the house. What else can I do? We have to ride it out until the GP appointment at 4pm. Everything will be OK then.  Can I expect him to be in this much pain for another 4 hrs? Am I just going to let my baby be in this much pain? I’m shit. No, it might get better. Get him in the Moby wrap see if he will sleep. Still screaming. “Mum when are we going out?” my 6 yr old calls from the living room. I go in “we are still going don’t worry” I shout over the baby. I get him in the wrap and keep pacing the kitchen. He manages to drop off. “Thank you Lord. Take the pain away from him please Lord.” Right, quickly text the girls see if they’re staying much longer. We’re really late now. Don’t give up, keep trying. It will be OK. Shit I’ve had about twelve messages. Reply to first one. Sorry baby ill. Second one says: “You OK,I’m quite worried now”. I reply “sorry baby ill”. I give up. “not gonna make it”. Baby wakes up crying bless him. Oh my God it’s actually woken him up. I feel so bad for him. I’m proper knackered. Shit I’m still crying. “Are you crying Mummy?” Oh God what is that worth in therapy terms, a month, two? “Yes babe I’m just sad that baby has pain and we’re not going out today I’m sorry.” She nearly complains but looks at the tears streaking down my face and just returns to watching T.V. instead. My six year old is way older than her years in emotional terms. I feel bad about that. Keep pacing, put him on my shoulder that seemed to help the most.

Manage to get the baby back off in the wrap when my friend calls about half hr later. “You alright?” “No, not really to be honest.” “Right, I’m coming up. You want a Big Mac?” She knows me better than I thought. My default kicks in. “No it’s alright, I got docs in an hour.” Would be nice for Beg to be able to play with my friend’s girl but I can’t help wondering what million things she has to do that she’s casually waving off. “I’m pretty sure it’s acid reflux.” My friend has recently been through the same with her youngest. She tells me some of her experience. She asks me questions, asks if I’m OK. She talks me down.

We get to the doctors and the afternoon sun is blaring through the window but the heating is on too. That is not helping. Babba is crying. I try to feed him but I think it makes it worse. He starts to scream again. I stand up with him. We’re both sweating. Beg is immersed in some awful game on my phone. “Dear God please let this not be affecting her.” Everyone is staring at me and the screaming baby. I’m stood up shushing him, trying to keep him upright. My bra is still undone. We finally get called in. The doctor asks what’s wrong, I start crying again while trying to explain. “You have to help me” I say. Shit she thinks I’m mental. She asks me to lie the baby down so she can strip him off and have a look at him. I’m dreading it, lying on his back is a no-no. She coos at him. He smiles! The biggest smile I’ve ever seen him do! A rush of love washes over me. I notice the quiet. My girl is reading a Peppa pig book on the floor. She looks up. She’s as surprised as me. The doctor says “Is mummy fibbing about you?” I know she’s joking and I almost laugh. Thankful. It’s hard to describe the non-stop-ness of the past 2 days. She prescribes medicine. “Thank you God”. Baby starts to cry again as she is explaining the script to me. I can’t hear her, I’ll read it later. Come back in 2 weeks she says. Thank you.

Babba drops off to sleep in the Moby wrap on the walk over to the chemist. He’s exhausted. He wakes up crying while we’re still waiting for our prescription. People are staring so I sit down to feed him again although I don’t know if it will make it worse. I can hear the acid bubbling up. A lady who works there comes over “I’m not asking you to move but if you would like to use the side room you can.” “My 6yr old is enjoying looking at the lip gloss” I reply. Internal dialogue adds –it’s the only thing she’s had just for her all day. The lady goes over and helps show Beg the lip glosses. I am insanely grateful.

Finally we get back home and my husband is back. I realise he has no clue about anything as I haven’t had time to speak to him or text. He takes the baby. I feel relieved, then guilty about feeling relieved. Beg shows him her new lip gloss. She doesn’t seem too traumatised. I don’t really speak to him just go to prepare the medicine. It seems to work. Baby falls asleep. I update hubby. What a day.

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