Monday, September 08, 2008

Extended breastfeeding

It's been a long time since I even mentioned breastfeeding Seth on my blog and when I was in Vegas my aunt had asked me if I was still nursing him. No, no we are all done but I never mentioned here how long we went because frankly I didn't want to hear about it. Not that everyone frowns upon extended breastfeeding but some do. Maybe I should talk about it so that those few who secretly keep nursing their toddlers won't feel so alone. There is no shame in it after all. Not only does the AAP recommend breastfeeding for at least one year but the WHO recommends 2 years. Sadly most women barely make it to the 6 month mark before throwing in the towel.

I feel like I have had an easy time with breastfeeding... The more I think about that statement I realize that it isn't quite true. I had an easy time once the breastfeeding relationship was fully established though. The beginning, with each baby, was difficult. I've dealt with cracked bleeding nipples, clogged ducts, thrush, engorgement, etc. The beginning can be so rough especially when you are so hormonal and sleep deprived. I think everyone knows the benefits of nursing, right? Maybe not. Here are a few- Human milk for a human baby for starts, it boosts their immune system, it's always ready and the right temperature, helps with bonding, moms loss more weight nursing, also lowers moms breast cancer risks, and they also seem to be less picky eaters. The immunity boost is so important I think. I really love the idea that the germs your baby pick up you can also get and then you create an antibody in your milk to help them with it. Kissing your baby cheek is all it takes. A mama's kiss can make it all better. :)

So, how long did I nurse Seth? Until July of this year which means he was 2 and a half. I was the one who was ready to be done nursing, not him. He asked for milk for a while when we cuddled up to go to sleep. He didn't nurse all that much just at bed time and sometimes for a nap. But he loved his "nilk". I just really wanted to be done. I have been pregnant or nursing for most of the last 10 years. I had a big break between Simon nursing until he was 2 and becoming pregnant with Seth but I was ready for my body back. I think an extended breastfeeding relationship only works if both the mom and child are ok with it. It's so easy to get there though. You start off with that little infant with the goal of nursing them for a year and before you know it they are nursing a lot, it's so easy, and they aren't ready to quit just yet. Age 2 comes along quickly and they still seem so baby like.

I don't know how it works for all families but that's what worked for us. He slept snuggled up with his mama and nursed as a baby. When he got older I moved him to a bed in his brothers room. He doesn't get milk to help him sleep but he still wants his mama to sleep with him and slowly but surely he'll be ok with sleeping by himself too.

Now you have it. The full picture. I am a crunchy granola kind of girl. How about you? Did you nurse for a long time or even tandem nurse?


Amy Y said...

I wish I'd known you when I was trying to nurse my boys... I only made it to about 3 weeks with both... I wanted to nurse so badly and we just couldn't seem to get it together. I probably gave up too soon but it seemed like no matter how much I nursed, they were always hungry. Since they were so big (both over 9 lbs), I decided my body wasn't producing enough for them and when I'd try supplementing with formula, they finally seemed satiated so eventually I gave up altogether. But it was awful and I felt like a failure. And then Gavin turned out to have major tummy issues with formula ... that probably wouldn't have happened on breast milk.
Anyway, I love that you're crunchy and that you were able to do it for so long!!

Scylla said...

Yay for long term nursing!

I don't think the Otter man is planning on giving up the boob anytime soon.

Ria said...

Ooohhh! I love you and your crunchy, granola, home birthing, breastfeeding ways. Very odd that you posted this here today. I have just decided to start weaning from the pump. It has been a hard decision for me. I breastfed my girls way longer than this. Turns out though, that its not as easy to pump as it is to breastfeed. Who knew? LOL! Your post makes me feel normal for not wanting to quit. There is something very magical about doing what, as women, our bodies naturally should do (even if it is for a machine, in my case). I love seeing a full box of milk heading off to see my surro babe. However, I do need to be done. It is time to be done. Thank you for this wonderful post.

Allison said...

We are long term nursers with each child nursing longer than her sister.
My youngest is 28 months and is still going strong, if she's anything like her older sister it will be a few more years of nursing.

I just stumbled across your blog and will have to spend some time reading through your posts.

ellen said...

Amy- It's hard to know they are getting enough and sometimes you do just nurse all day long. Your boys are growing up healthy and strong because you have made the best choices for them that you could.

Scylla- Yay, for Otter.

Ria- How long were you going to express milk for them? It's awesome that you're doing that, you know.

Allison- Welcome. Have a look around. I too will have to go have a look more at your blog. It looks like you participate in LLL. Me too!

country mouse said...

Yea for you. I think WAY too many people frown on breastfeeding in general and it really saddens me. I nursed both of mine. My eldest for a bit more than a year, and my younger for about 7 months and would have been happy to have done it longer, but for whatever reason they both decided when they wanted to be done :c( I do think breastfeeding is the very best thing you can do for your child(ren), and good for you for being able to continue nursing your son for as long as you did!!