|Old enough to ride a bike & still breastfeeding|
Though not necessarily the average here in North America, breastfeeding past two years of age is normal for humans. Despite what the knee-jerk naysayers will tell you, or the trolls commenting on articles like the Time Magazine cover from last year with the woman breastfeeding her three-&-a-half-year-old, the worldwide norm for weaning is between two & seven years old. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding until at least two years of age. There are countless studies showing that breastfeeding confers benefits on children's immune systems, cognitive development, & more.
But you might have heard all that. Maybe you've even been to a La Leche League Meeting. Maybe you're breastfeeding right now as you read this. So I'll just tell you my story, since that's more what Spokesmama is about.
With Linnaeus, I breastfed him when he was just a few minutes old, giving him a bit of help to wriggle his way up my belly to find my nipple. Though that was natural & things seemed to get off to a pretty good start, I was devastated to discover that he wasn't gaining weight properly in his first few weeks. I've already written fairly extensively about my difficulties with breastfeeding & low milk supply, so I'll spare you the exhaustive details.
Suffice it to say, Linnaeus was one of those babies who needed formula. We did get some donated milk from the BC Women's Milk bank, but nowhere near as much as he needed over the 10 months that we supplemented my own milk supply. Informal milk sharing wasn't really as big a thing as it is now back in 2010, so that didn't really cross my mind.
I wanted very much to breastfeed & was extremely frustrated that it just wasn't working despite fairly heroic measures. My goals in the first month were to get through each day. Then to make it to three months, then six.
Once we'd hit that six month mark & I'd done everything I could to increase my milk production, we settled into a routine of breastfeeding about six times throughout the day & adding in a couple of small bottles of formula each evening. After Linnaeus started solids, we gradually weaned him off the formula supplements so I was just breastfeeding him, on top of three squares a day, by ten months old.
Breastfeeding was a lovely bonding ritual, once we got past the stress of the early months & the brief phase of biting around when he got his first teeth. I nursed Linnaeus to nap & to bed at night--getting him to sleep was easy with the magic boob. He eventually grew out of this, though breastfeeding was still part of the bedtime ritual, he didn't fall asleep that way anymore by about 15 months old.
Breastfeeding also helped calm him if he was upset from a bump on the head or his vaccinations. It was also how we started our day--he'd wake up, I'd go get him from his crib & once he was talking, he'd ask for "noms". Once he'd had enough from one side, he'd say, "I want 'nother side noms'" & switch. When I was in school & he was at daycare one or two days a week, breastfeeding was how we reconnected when I picked him up.
Two years came & went. Linnaeus had gradually reduced how many times he was breastfeeding down to about once or twice a day. Somewhere along the way I stopped nursing him before bed & Papa took over all of the bedtime routine. Few people would have known I was still breastfeeding as he only wanted "noms" first thing in the morning, so unlike many of my friends, I wasn't nursing a toddler in public.
In December in 2012, when he was getting close to two & a half, Linnaeus started skipping days. Around Christmas, he didn't ask to nurse at all for three or four days & I thought we might be finished. It was a false alarm: he started up again every day or two, asking for "noms" when he'd wake up, run to our room & climb under the covers with me.
By mid January, I decided to give him a bit of a nudge to wean. I was getting very sore nipples because I was about six weeks pregnant with his little sister. I stopped offering to breastfeed & he really never asked & that was it. 29 months.
|Determined to get more photos breastfeeding this time.|
With Brontë, I want to get past two years again, but it's all up to wee girl herself to decide when we're done. Being the second--& I'm fairly sure last--child I'll have, there will be no pregnancy to make me want to wean her. Though Brontë began with the same rocky start to breastfeeding as her brother, she nurses a lot more frequently than he did at her age, so I predict I'll be nursing a walking, talking toddler for quite a while to come.
I wanted to share my breastfeeding story with you today to join up with some other bloggers & breastfeeding advocates that I know. The focus is on normal-term breastfeeding--aka, nursing beyond the point that they can walk up & ask for it. Please visit Hillary With Two Ls , Lilahbility , One Crazy Kid &
Apartment Baby to read more stories. If you've got a story about breastfeeding a toddler to share on your blog, share the link with us! If you're not a blogger, you're more than welcome to share in the comments below!
Follow Spokesmama here too: