By Alyce Collins
FROM LATCHING her toddler to her breast while cooking, to satisfying his thirst while she sits on the toilet this mother explains why she chooses to breastfeed her TWO-YEAR OLD despite receiving regular criticism by online trolls and even being bitten by her son who now has TEETH.
Writer and stay-at-home mum, Becky Vieira (42), from San Francisco, USA, has become an Instagram heroine for other mums after posting about her extended breastfeeding of her son, Archer (22 months), showing how she grapples with daily tasks with the toddler latched onto her boob during regular “nursing sessions”.
Becky was overjoyed when her wish of becoming a mother was finally answered at the age of 40, but with this came so many unanswered questions and an overwhelming struggle to get everything done ‘right’ by society’s eyes.
Becky has been breastfeeding Archer for 22 months, and she shows no sign of weaning him off her milk, despite the criticism she faces on a regular basis.
“Mums are told that we must breastfeed our babies, but it’s considered wrong if we breastfeed for more than a year or so,” Becky said.
“I breastfed my son at first because I knew it was good for him, but it was painful and awkward at first.
“It was uncomfortable initially, it felt like someone rubbed sandpaper on my nipple and put it into a pencil sharpener. But I saw how healthy he was and how he was growing.
“Like everyone tells you, it gets better with time, patience and practice.
“Archer was diagnosed with acid reflux, so his paediatrician was worried formula would aggravate his situation. So originally, I just wanted to get my son passed his reflux – but look at us now!
“We take it day by day, and as long as it works for both of us we’ll continue to breastfeed. But it is getting more uncomfortable as he gets older and bigger now.
“In many ways it’s easier because we’ve been doing it for so long that we’ve perfected things. I can do other things while I breastfeed, like vacuuming or go to the toilet.
“But he will grab my breasts which isn’t fun. Some people say they could never breastfeed a child with teeth and he has bitten me a handful of times if he’s been falling asleep.”
Archer started eating solid food at the age of six months, but he still has breast milk every day on top of this. Usually, Archer will be breastfed in the morning and then have two feedings later in the day.
Many people believe there are lots of benefits to extended breastfeeding, and Becky has even had her breast milk analysed for its nutritional value which showed it was still full of vitamins and healthy fats.
“Other mums have said I made them feel less alone and helped normalise extended breastfeeding,” Becky explained.
“Many mums who were unable to breastfeed are incredibly supportive and encourage me to continue.
“I’ve had mums tell me how much they miss it themselves and wish me well – it’s amazing, it feels like a true community.
“Of course, there are trolls who offer unsolicited opinions and tell me I’m wrong for nursing still and that I’m enabling bad behaviour on my son’s part. There are even some men who find it sexual and send me graphic photos.
“I’ve had people call me a ‘freak’ and had men say it’s ‘sexy’ and that my son is ‘lucky’.
“It’s funny, with all the mums in the world you’d think we’d be more supportive and open about things. There’s still pressure to present an image that everything is neat and tidy at all times.”
Following Archer’s birth, Becky faced severe postpartum depression and she felt incredibly lonely as she had no other mums she felt like she could relate to. Becky hopes to make mothers like her feel less alone and to normalise extended breastfeeding, which is so often looked down on.
“I try to remind myself that no one besides myself, my husband and our paediatrician know what is best for Archer,” added Becky.
“Sometimes those nagging voices do creep in, but I follow my gut and trust my instincts. That is what has led me to continue breastfeeding.
“When I began to tell my motherhood story on Instagram, from the breastfeeding to the postpartum depression and the nappies, I was able to connect and build a network of online support.”
Becky looks to continue breastfeeding her son for the near future, and she will continue to encourage other mothers to speak openly about breastfeeding, feeding in public and extended breastfeeding.
For more information see www.mediadrumworld.com