At an event last year, I met a mum who knew about my business and of course we got chatting about all things breastfeeding. During the conversation she mentioned she breastfed in secret. I asked her to explain as I was curious how you would even do that.
She explained her little toddler was only feeding at night now and she does it without her partner being aware, as he thinks she should be finished by now.
Of course, this led me deeper into the rabbit hole of finding out why, what and how this could be possible?
Firstly, she explained her little boy was nearly 2 and he just wanted a small feed to settle himself back to sleep. So, he would come into her bed at night and feed and then stay there. Her partner was just assuming he is coming in for cuddles and not at all aware his boy is being breastfed at night.
When I asked her if she would not just come clean and tell him, she said it was not worth the hassle and considering he only looks for it when she is there and it is not every night, what harm was it doing keeping it quiet.
I did wonder at some point would her little boy not ask about boobies during the day or even mention he had them during the night. Apparently not. Maybe he is in such a sleep daze he either does not remember or forgets about it during the morning.
I then wondered what happens when she must go away for a night and she is not there to soothe him. Kids are just so clever. He knows when his mum is not there that breastmilk is not available so he never asks for it, when she is not there overnight.
I thought about this topic for a long time before I eventually decided to share it with my followers. As with most things breastfeeding, if one mum is going through it, you can be sure much more are too!
As with most things breastfeeding, if one mum is going through it, you can be sure much more are too!
I ran an Instagram poll and was shocked by the results
So, I ran a poll on Instagram and I was shocked by the results and the messages I received afterwards.
10% of mums admitted to breastfeeding in secret, with 30% knowing a mum who breastfeeds in secret.
Of the mums who got in touch with me directly, some explained it as, the baby is over one year old and extended family expect breastfeeding to finish at that age. As her baby only feeds during the night now, she just has not told her extended family that she is still doing it.
Other mums said it was easier during Covid lockdown to feed, as no one was coming to visit and therefore there was no interference, or judgement from extended family and therefore she did not have to tell anyone she was breastfeeding.
Women were being secretive about breastfeeding a child past one year old
Most women who got in touch with me were keeping their breastfeeding a secret from extended family and it was usually because the baby was older (i.e., greater than one year old). There is so much expectation from society that you must stop at one year. The judgement and negative comment these mums got from their extended family was so harsh and at the same time difficult to believe.
There is so much expectation from society that you must stop at one year
I still find it shocking that some people still find breastfeeding a taboo and have so many opinions and negative comments about it.
To quote my local lactation consultant;
“We are the only mammal that will choose to feed milk to our young from another mammal.”
Until we have more acceptance for breastfeeding in society mums will shy away from it, from fear of judgement. You have enough to think about as a new mum, without judgement from family and friends about how you are feeding your child.
Both the World Health Organisation (WHO) and American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) recommend exclusively breastfeeding for 6 months and to continue for up to 2 years of age and beyond.