Friday, January 15, 2016

Yup, I'm STILL Breastfeeding

A post caught my attention in my Facebook feed earlier this week: an article from RoleReboot on "extended breastfeeding" shared by KellyMom: Stop Shaming Moms Who Choose To Breastfeed Their Babies Past A Certain Age. It was originally published nearly a year ago, but it is particularly relevant to me now, with a nursling who's coming up on two & a half.

Breastfeeding is such a HUGE thing in our culture & it seems like everyone has an opinion on it, men, women, whether they have children or not. I have to admit, living in East Van & travelling in the circles I do, I haven't really ever encountered any negative comments about breastfeeding in public or the age of the child I was nursing. I feel like it's only a matter of time until I get something, however, as Bronte is still adamant that she needs "noms" during the day, whether we're out or at home.

Breastfeeding is also really complicated personally. It does mean I'm tied to my child, responsible for an aspect of her care that no one else in the world can do. Being wanted & needed is nice... to a point. Nursing her down at night or for naps is easy, in a way, but it can also be really annoying to have to be physically attached to her at those times. I threaten to wean her all the time when she keeps scratches me or closes her teeth as she unlatches.

So why do I still do it?

The other side of the coin is that I got this far because I was so invested in breastfeeding from the get go. I don't want to give up on something I fought so hard to make work (all the latch problems & supply issues in the early days). I like the cuddles that I have with her while she nurses. It feels like a magic power to be able to comfort her so quickly & easily after a vaccination or injury.

Then there's the health benefits to both of us: I worry just a bit less about her diet because I know she's getting some nutrition from breastfeeding. I'd guess she still drinks around 12 ounces of my milk a day. In that milk there are also antibodies to whatever viruses that I'm fighting which help her immune system. For me, every month more that I breastfeed means a lower risk of breast cancer, diabetes, heart disease & rheumatoid arthritis.

Emotionally, Bronte still needs to breastfeed. She wouldn't be doing it at least six times a day if she didn't. Of course, it needs to be a balance--some days the scale swings over too far to her side & I get frustrated, needing more space--so I do actively try to distract her or put her off when she wants to nurse & I don't.

The last reason I breastfeed, or at least the reason I do it in public, without any cover, wherever we happen to be, is for other people. I want other moms of breastfeeding toddlers to see me so maybe they'll feel just a little more comfortable next time they do it. I want children to see that breastfeeding is no big deal & this is what breasts are primarily for. I want everybody else to see me breastfeeding a nearly two-&-a-half-year-old child who can walk up & ask in a grammatically perfect sentence, "Mama, can I have some noms, please?" because we need to normalize this.

If you haven't yet, head over to RoleReboot & read the article: Stop Shaming Moms Who Choose To Breastfeed Their Babies Past A Certain Age. I'd love to hear what you think &/or your experiences breastfeeding past a year or two in the comments.

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  1. As a nurse who worked with HIV positive women/children, I learned the value of breastfeeding far exceeded nourishment, long before I had my son. These women are devastated to learn breastfeeding is not an option. The risk in Canada is too great. It is gut wrenching to be with them and help them bind their breasts or bottle-feed the infant who is rooting for his mother's breast. I gave away the nursing cover I received immediately. It seemed unnecessary, unnatural and too claustrophobic for me. I birthed at home and nursed my son outside openly on our porch (which is on a busy bike path) before he was a day old. My son is now 4.5 yo. I fought to nurse him when he was 3.5 yo through a mammogram and nursed him before I had breast surgery. The doctors were not supportive. However, my son and I decided our breastfeeding journey was not over. I told my doula I needed a doula to navigate the surgery while breastfeeding. He says he won't need "milky time" when he's 5. I'm not sure what will happen this summer. I don't care if one more flight attendant asks me how old my nursing child is and no I don't want a blanket but thanks! I wear the scar on my breast proudly as a mom and an advocate for myself. Thank you for sharing your story. Others may need to hear that their is no standard/normal - there is only what is right for you and your family. Nurse on!


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