Breastfeeding. The biggest topic of discussion among my family and the most awkward conversation with my friends.
“When are you going to stop that?”
I hear it all the time as my 18-month-old tugs on my shirt. Here’s my rather long, but thought-out answer.
Some of you may or may not know, but the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends breastfeeding for at least a year and continued breastfeeding, with complementary foods, up to 2 years and beyond.
If a child can ask to nurse, there’s something wrong with doing so.
Interestingly enough, it’s deemed appropriate to hug and cuddle children, but nursing — something that is also an act of love and affection — is seen as inappropriate past a certain age.
The Nursing Mother’s Companion states:
Many toddlers are dependent on a bottle, pacifier, thumb, or blanket, and this is quite accepted, but a mother who is nursing a toddler may have to deal with veiled suggestions that her child is too old for it.
Why is this? Is it because our culture has made the female breast solely into a sexual object instead of its primary and original role as an organ that supplies nourishment?
Why I Choose To Breastfeed Past One Year
In my opinion, I’m a health-savvy, modern mom and it seems that my family and friends are a little old-fashioned. (Maybe even misinformed.) But it literally grieves me to hear well-meaning critics ask me, “You’re still nursing?”
YES! I am. And here’s just a few reasons why:
1. It offers a ton of health benefits to my baby
Breastfeeding has been proven to reduce the risks of sudden infant death syndrome, obesity, asthma, certain childhood cancers, diabetes and postneonatal death. BOOM!
2. It’s the easiest way to comfort my baby
There really is no easier way to comfort my sick or upset child than to simply breastfeed. Offering comfort is one of the most significant advantages of nursing a toddler — an aspect of the nursing that is seldom understood by those who haven’t done it.
3. I burn calories
You can burn 300–500 calories a day. So about that extra oreo cookie I just ate. Yeah, I feel zero remorse.
4. Formula is expensive
Beckham is way past the age of formula, but during those first 6 months of life, I can’t imagine having to buy it all the time. We saved thousands by nursing.
5. I love it, he loves it, we all love it
Point blank, my baby loves to nurse and is harming no one while he does it. Besides, I love it too, besides the fact that I’m a smother mother, nursing makes our bond that much stronger. The look of pure joy that kid has when it’s time to nurse, priceless.
6. It’s good for my health
Extended breastfeeding reduces the risk of uterine, ovarian and breast cancers. Breastfeeding women also have a lower incidence of osteoporosis later in life. Betcha didn’t know all that, did you?
7. It’s my secret weapon for toddler tantrums
Mothering a toddler is challenging enough — nursing makes life a little easier for all of us. There’s no easier way to calm a temper tantrum, or put a cranky child to sleep than by nursing.
Other effects of extended breastfeeding
Dr. William Sears, who wrote The Baby Book, states:
We have studied the long-term effects on thousands of children who had timely weanings and have observed that these children are more independent, gravitate to people more than things, are easier to discipline, experience less anger, radiate trust…[after] studying the long-term effects of long-term breastfeeding, the most secure… and happy children we have seen are those who have not been weaned before their time.
As long as its working
For all you nursing mothers out there embarrassed to talk about your extended nursing relationship, here’s this: Follow your heart, enjoy every minute of this time in your babies life, and know that you are doing what is best for your child as well as for yourself.
As for Beckham, he will continue to be my nursing toddler. And for me, I’ll continue being that mom who nurses my son in a time of crisis, all while raising him to be a decent human being.
Follow me on instagram: @thesmothermother