Breastfeeding a 5-Year-Old
by Natasha Ickes-Saman
If you would have told me that I would still be breastfeeding my son at 5 years old I wouldn’t have believed you. In fact, I would have laughed and brushed you off as crazy.
And yet here we are.
I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. If I’ve learned anything along my parenting (and life) journey, it’s that you never know what’s going to happen.
Breastfeeding My First Child
I was 21 when I had my first child. I took a brief break from cosmetology school to give birth. 8 weeks later I returned to school swollen, emotional and exhausted.
Maintaining breastfeeding was difficult. It didn’t help that I was completely unaware of the immense benefits.
I had no idea that your breast milk adapts to fit the child’s needs, or that the milk has different components in the morning versus at night.
I was completely unaware that the baby’s saliva goes into your milk ducts, and when the baby is sick your body creates antibodies specifically tailored for your child- things formula simply can’t do.
So like many other mothers, especially young moms, I gave up breastfeeding early. My daughter was 3 weeks old.
There aren’t many choices I regret, but stopping breastfeeding so early is definitely one.
Related: My one Breastfeeding Regret
Despite being the team mom for her cheer team, volunteering in her classroom and spending afternoons in bookstores, I had mom guilt.
She seemed to get sick so easily and I always wondered if it was due to the lack of breastmilk. So, 9 years later, when I got pregnant again, I was determined to breastfeed for a year.
Breastfeeding My Second Child
I own a hair salon so I set up a swing set in the corner and brought him in every day. Things went well from the beginning. He latched on fairly easily and working with him was a breeze.
We quickly got a system down. I strapped him into a carrier and held him for hours, breastfeeding when he was hungry or cranky, all while working directly on clients. They got a kick out of getting colour and extensions by a mom actively breastfeeding.
Ironically he only drank from the left breast due to the way I had to position him to be able to work. I was proud of how I made it work and grateful for the bond we developed.
As with most breastfeeding moms, I was his human pacifier.
We travelled a lot as a family. We were on a plane 1-2 times a month for my daughters cheer competitions. In an effort not to bother the other passengers we booked red-eye flights and I breastfed the entire time. He never had a tantrum.
I kept assuming he would stop breastfeeding naturally. It didn’t happen. I told myself (and everyone else) that for sure he would stop by age 3. Then 4. Then 5.
And that’s where we are now. I have heard all the negative comments you can imagine. I also have had tons of support.
Despite it being an unconventional choice it is mine alone to make. Thankfully he seems to be weaning naturally, finally.
What I learned from 2 drastically different breastfeeding experiences is to never judge. I have an amazing bond with both children and they are both happy and healthy.
The truth is each mother, child and journey are different.
While I am a strong proponent for breastfeeding, I would never shame another mom for her choice.
Gandhi said, “The only way to live is to let others live.”
The most important choice is the one to raise a child with love.
About the Author
Natasha Ickes-Saman is a Best Selling Author, Certified Life Coach and Mom Entrepreneur with 3 kids. She has owned and managed Shear Passion Hair Salon for over a decade. Natasha is an Empowerment Mentor and the Creator of Unstoppable Woman Inc. She has owned and managed a hair salon for over a decade.
Despite the long hours at work in her hair salon, Natasha has found a way to be there for her children, by bringing them into work with her. She believes in the benefits of long-term breastfeeding and has managed to nurse her son for over 5 years.
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