‘I felt totally to blame’ Mum reveals the surprising reason she feels guilty about extended breastfeeding

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  • A mum has written an article about how she felt guilty about breastfeeding her son until he was three old after she found it damaged his teeth.

    Writing about her experience with extended breastfeeding for US parenting site Romper, Phaea Credea explained how continuing breastfeeding her son wasn’t a conscious decision but simply happened.

    ‘Breastfeeding my son Harvey until he was almost 3 years old wasn’t a conscious decision. It was more like a happy accident. We both loved having bonding and cuddling time, especially after I returned to work’, she wrote.

    ‘I looked back on those few years with not only zero regrets, but with a strong sense that I had done the right thing.’

    Her feelings towards the experience changed after she took Harvey, now four years old, to the dentist, and they found out he had a cavity, plus a few more potential cavities on the way.

    In her article, Phaea mentions studies that link tooth decay in young children to extended breastfeeding, including one done recently where researchers found that children who had been breastfed for more than two years had more severe cavities than the ones who were breastfed for less than a year.

    ‘Harvey’s prolonged exposure to sugary breastmilk, combined with the fact that I wasn’t brushing his teeth enough to protect his teeth, might’ve led to him developing cavities’, the mum wrote in her piece.

    ‘At best, I feel stupid. At worst? Neglectful — especially when it appeared that something as simple as brushing Harvey’s teeth in the morning might have avoided him needing a filling when he was 4.’

    But the mum, who’s now breastfeeding her 22-months-old daughter, says the experience hasn’t put her off extended breastfeeding completely.

    ‘Ultimately, I can’t predict the future or beat myself up for the past. I can only keep doing the best that I can and doing what feels right for my kids, with, like, 50 percent more teeth brushing’, she wrote, admitting she will probably continue to breastfeeding her daughter Mabel, but with added brushing.

    And observing a silver lining that made her mum guilt less painful, Phaea added: ‘Plus, Harvey on nitrous oxide was pretty hilarious, and somehow, giggling at my kid high on laughing gas was a nice counter to the soul-crushing waves of mom guilt.’