I had no idea with my first son that we would end up breastfeeding for so long. He was in intensive care for a few days after he was born and was so stressed from the birth that I wasn't allowed to even touch him meaning we missed out on vital skin-to-skin and the 'first latch' that I'd been reading all about in pregnancy. I was determined to build a supply by pumping and managed to feed him syringes of colostrum while we then began to work on him latching. I remember sobbing in hospital after days and days of no sleep, ineffectual pumping, and cavalier midwives who I struggled to communicate with.
Giving birth in Switzerland added a whole other level to my feelings of isolation and I had more than one farcical moment where midwives would mime what I was supposed to do whilst shouting key words at me. 'Douche douche, tres chaud' on the third day when my breasts were like over ripe melons about to explode with milk was particularly memorable!
In the end, we managed to put on a convincing enough display to be allowed home and from there we kept working on the latch, using nipple shields until he could eventually do it himself.
So all in all a pretty fraught start! However, very soon breastfeeding became a magical thing that would immediately settle my son, put him to sleep and basically solve everything! My parenting superpower became breastfeeding and I lazily didn't really factor in what would happen when we stopped.
We learnt to feed in public and not give a damn what anyone else was thinking and to come up with blistering responses when anyone asked whether we were STILL going.
And then eventually at 2.5 years, I felt that we were done...but how to end this beautiful thing?!
Through a combination of the gentle techniques I've included in 'A big change for Seb' we began to reduce our feeds, eventually only really feeding to sleep for naps and bedtime. Having my partner take on some of these moments really helped with the transition and eventually there came a week where an illness made it difficult to feed and everything came to a fairly natural end!
Now that I'm feeding my second baby, I'm even more aware of how different children can be. This one hardly ever feeds to sleep...bye bye super power...but was much easier to get started and is ruthlessly efficient at taking what he needs and finding comfort in other ways.
'A big change for Seb' might not work for every toddler but I hope it will help to prompt discussion as well as representing breastfeeding a toddler in a positive light.