Thursday, August 3, 2017

On Breastfeeding Past One Year

This week is World Breastfeeding Week, so I thought I would do a post about my experience breastfeeding a toddler.

A few generations ago, breastfeeding infants was seen as unnecessary, as formula companies pushed their products on mothers. American society has come a long way in it's education and acceptance of breastfeeding infants over the years, but there is myth that you should stop at 12 months because "they don't need it anymore". Breastfeeding toddlers is still seen as taboo and unnecessary in our culture, which is annoying because there are so many benefits, and it is completely biologically normal to continue breastfeeding past one year.


When I was breastfeeding Esther, I kept going after 12 months, just because we both still enjoyed it, and I didn't want to worry about buying toddler formula or cow's milk for her. I breastfeed her until she was 16 months old. At that point I was pregnant with Adele, and having a lot of morning sickness, so I weaned her. It was very simple to wean her as she was already used to bottles. I was a little sad at the end of the era, and there were times in the next few months when she got sick and I wished I was still nursing her. Overall I was happy with our breastfeeding experience and I'm glad I even made it past one year with the rocky start we had.

Adele is now 18 months and still breastfeeding a few times a day and sometimes at night. She has a very different personality than Esther, she loves milk milk, never gets distracted, and wants to nurse all the time. With her it has been a lesson for me in setting limits. In order to not get burnt out with nursing her I usually only allow her to nurse 3-4 times a day and try to distract her other times she asks. She learned early on that biting, scratching and pinching would not get her milk, and stopped those things quickly. We have also worked with her to be able to go to sleep with Leland rocking her, so that I can be out of the house at bedtime and nap time if I need to. Because of these limits nursing is usually enjoyable for both of us. I am now more aware of the health benefits of breastfeeding a toddler, which has made me want to nurse her for longer. I plan to try to get closer to the World Health Organization recommendation of two years.


Since Adele loves nursing so much she will often ask to nurse when we are out in public. This is also new for me because Esther would always be too distracted to want to nurse in public, so it never came up. Now I have had the experience of trying to get a giant toddler baby under a blanket to nurse while getting weird looks from everyone around me ha. I sometimes wish I lived in another country where nursing babies in public and nursing toddlers is more acceptable. But, alas, all we can do it try to change the culture we live in to be more informed and accepting of nursing past infancy. 




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