A resource to inspire, inform and empower parents.

Breastfeeding at 56 years old – Penny’s story

Written by Badass Penny

I discovered Badass Breastfeeding Podcast while desperately searching for a supportive voice and education on my breastfeeding journey. 

As a first-time mom at the age of 56 I already face a lot of judgment just for having a child so late in life.  I have received so much conflicting information of what I should and shouldn’t do. After having a c-section with my son I got a slow start on breastfeeding. At my lowest I was a complete wreck, sobbing and feeling like a total failure. 

Your podcast is a wealth of information you are like my best breastfeeding girlfriends. You have helped me begin to trust my instincts and reaffirmed me on this journey. I love your no nonsense approach and hilarious sense of humor. I have listened to about 100+ episodes so far and plan to listen to every single one. I’m focusing on the episodes that apply most to me and my various challenges. I’m especially grateful for the tongue tie episodes (which validated our decision to disregard comments suggesting we needed to have our son “snipped”). And also for the episodes on alcohol which helped me to educate my family on why it’s okay to have a glass of Cabernet. I especially love all the “myths” episodes and was shocked how many I had heard just over the last 3 months from healthcare workers (example:  “don’t shake breast milk because it’s fragile.” LOL!) But probably most of all I appreciate the reality check on what a “good milk supply” is. I felt so bad that I wasn’t able to pump more than an ounce. Realizing that was totally normal and that my baby is actually getting more than that put my mind at ease. I was also able to increase my pumped milk by using some of the tips you provided. 

While I am still not exclusively breastfeeding my 3 ½ month old I feel more at peace with where I am and what I am doing. Initially I thought would only breastfeed for the first 6 months. But now thanks to encouragement from my husband, my doctor, my lactation consultant and this podcast I am enjoying breastfeeding so much that I feel like I would love to go at least 2 years or more if my son wants it. 

A bit more on my story. My husband and I struggled with infertility for 18 years. Most of our friends have already raised kids and are sending them to college, while we remained childless.  The pandemic put a lot things in perspective for us. We met another couple in their 50s who had just started their family and they referred us to their fertility clinic. It took a year to find the right egg donor and we were finally able to start IVF last February. We got pregnant on the first try and then the madness began. In spite of the fact that I am super healthy (more so than many women 20 years my junior) I was constantly told about all the problems I was going to have and all my risk factors. My pregnancy was great though and I had very few issues. I had mild Gestational Diabetes which I managed by diet and exercise. (By the way how crazy is it that they diagnosis that by making you drink an obscene amount of sugar. Then tell you that you have GD and “don’t eat sugar because it’s so bad for your baby”. I mean, what!? Why make me drink that disgusting drink?  Sorry, I digress.)

My doctor was super chill about my pregnancy until about 27 or 28 weeks when she started dropping terms like “C-section” and “fetal demise”. I couldn’t understand why she was suddenly pushing a C-section, and using what I called “scare tactics” when everything was going so well and we still had a whole trimester to go. I knew I wanted to breastfeed right away and I knew that a c-section would interfere with that. In the end my son was transverse and we did have to do a c-section. She shared later that prior to me the oldest patients she’d had were 47 and 48 and both those pregnancies “ended” at 28 weeks. I don’t know what “ended” means but given her previous use of  “fetal demise” numerous times, I can only assume that the outcomes were the worst imaginable. I share that because I realized that medical professionals do endure their own trauma when they lose a patient. Something that I had not really considered. The c-section did inhibit my breast feeding, partly because I was still pretty drugged when the hospital lactation consultant came in and I was literally falling asleep while she was talking to me. I struggled to get my son latched which was painful because he and I couldn’t figure it out and they basically told me force him onto my breast. And of course they broke out the formula so he “wouldn’t starve”. Fortunately my OB strongly encouraged me to not give up as she is big on breastfeeding as the best thing for mom (lower risk of breast cancer) and baby (the perfect food.) I finally called in a private lactation consultant after her encouragement. 

The consultant was great and confirmed that there was a very slight tongue tie but she wasn’t pushy about it which was nice. Our pediatrician agreed that it was nothing to worry about.

The one thing the LC mentioned was that my age might diminish my supply due to hormones. But I can’t actually find any research online to support that. In fact, some articles suggested that it’s pretty common in some cultures for women of advanced age to breast feed their grandchildren.  I’m hoping you guys will consider a podcast about breastfeeding in your 40’s, 50’s and beyond. 

I’m now back to work and pumping during the day while I work (and bingeing your podcast). I work from home so I’m able to breastfeed here and there when I take breaks. We still supplement with formula but I would say my son is getting at least 25% of his diet from me. Not as much as I wanted but I don’t feel guilty about it thanks to you wonderful ladies.

The longer I have gone on this journey the more older moms and breastfeeding moms I have met. I have been singing the praises of the Badass breastfeeding podcast to everyone.  I have a much younger cousin who just had a baby and I told if you do nothing else listen to this podcast and hire an IBCLC. 

I would listen during late night feedings. Now we have started safe bed sharing with our boy so momma can actually sleep at night. So much easier when he can just snuggle in for a feed. We also no longer supplement with bottles at night so hubby isn’t on bottle warming duty throughout the night.  While I don’t expect we’ll be exclusively breastfeeding we definitely have cut formula feeds way down and our boy is still thriving. 

I have gained the knowledge and confidence to make decisions for our baby and have more informed conversations with our pediatrician. Example: saying a flat out no to her instructions to start cereals at 4 months. I just said “no we are waiting until 6 mos.” Weirdly she instantly agreed saying, “good that’s best anyway.” What!! Why tell us 4 months then?! Sheesh! Anyways thank you guys for the solid researched based info.