I am currently an extended breastfeeder. That’s funny to me because I never thought I would be in this position. Why did I never think this? I guess it’s because the society that I live in is still pretty squeamish about breastfeeding, and extended breastfeeding, well, that’s a don’t ask don’t tell subject.
My first son was not breastfed. I wanted to nurse him, but will own up to the fact that I didn’t try hard enough. I was so determined to nurse my daughter. It was tough, tough, tough at first, but I knew the literature on the health benefits of breast milk. I was determined and my baby girl took to it like a fish takes to water.
We haven’t looked back. At 13 months old, she has really never taken a bottle. I know the ultimate comfort and bond to me that breastfeeding gives my baby girl. Even my son used his bottle as a comfort object until he was 20 months old. I didn’t force it away from him.
Currently, my baby girl nurses two or three times a day and before bed. Sometimes, I feel overwhelmed, sometimes I get tired of lifting my shirt for her. When we’re at home, it’s no problem, but I worry what other people think when they see her “assume the position” in my arms and tug at my shirt. So many people who have never breastfed or been around a breastfeeding mother think it’s disgusting. I even thought that at one time. The most common question I get now that my baby is one is, “When are you going to get her off the boob?”
I just say that I don’t know, because I don’t. She is pretty much leading this thing. I think since I am a stay at home mom and homemaker that it is much easier for me to keep going with nursing. Breastfeeding is a beautiful thing. How awesome is it that I can provide all the nutrition my baby needs her first six months plus comfort and additional nutrition later on? It is only this society that pushes breastfeeding newborns and weaning one-year-olds that makes me feel uncomfortable. There isn’t a switch in a baby’s brain that goes off at one year of age that makes the baby want to wean.
How long should breastfeeding go on? I think that is individual for each mother and baby. I’m willing to breastfeed until around age 2. In fact, the World Health Organization recommends a child receive breast milk up to age 2 or even longer! Do I hope she weans earlier? Sometimes, but I won’t force her. I do believe in baby led weaning. When she is old enough to understand that my breasts are a part of me and she can’t just have them whenever she wants, I think and hope it will be easier for her to self wean.
For the most part, I have loved this experience. I don’t want to judge other mothers and how long they choose to nurse their children. It’s a natural thing, and I think for the most part, baby will wean when the time is right.