The title is ridiculous, I know, but some people believe this.
Disclaimer(s): I’m about to talk about ‘extended’ breastfeeding (beyond one year). I know that this ‘debate’ is a sensitive one and I really do not want people to feel judged.
For me, it is not about what is ‘best’ but what is best for you, your child/ren and your situation.
I truly believe that there are countless ‘right’ ways to raise a child.
This post has been brought about because of the amount of ignorant and frankly hurtful comments that I have had regarding breastfeeding – both in real life and online and the comments I’ve read online on vlogs (all you have to do is youtube ‘breastfeeding toddler’ to get bombarded by hateful comments, trust me).
Anyway, I just want to empower mothers and hope that you learn even one thing from this post. Feel free to debate it and tell me what you think.
Breastfeeding your toddler can provide:
31% of his daily energy needs,
38% of protein requirements,
45% of Vitamin A requirements, and
95% of Vitamin C needs.
I nurse my 13.5 month old son.
I work on the ‘don’t offer, don’t refuse’ policy.
Why do I do it? There are so many reasons.
It is not just about the milk. I’m sure you are already aware that breastmilk is a living fluid. The exact composition of breast milk varies from day to day, depending on your food consumption and environment.
Breastmilk even changes during a feed. Initially foremilk is produced (the milk released at the beginning of a feed, is watery, low in fat and high in carbohydrates) and as the feed progresses creamier hindmilk is released which is filling. The breast can never be truly “emptied” since milk production is a continuous biological process.
“In addition to the appropriate amounts of carbohydrate, protein and fat, breast milk also provides vitamins, minerals, digestive enzymes and hormones – all of the things that a growing infant will require. Breast milk also contains antibodies and lymphocytes from the mother that help the baby resist infections. The immune function of breastmilk is individualized, as the mother, through her touching and taking care of the baby, comes into contact with pathogens that colonize the baby and consequently her body makes the appropriate antibodies and immune cells.”
Aside from the nutritional benefits (which I certainly don’t underestimate – I take comfort in the fact that he gets some of his nutrients from me) there are things that aren’t talked about as often.
Like how it is easy. Breastfeeding is convenient. There is no washing of bottles/sippy cups, carrying around milk or formula and worrying about temperature (if your tot is fussy).
It is an instant calmer. If Cameron bites his tongue or falls over or is sick it is like magic.
Not to mention the health benefits to me, the calories used which can help with weightloss and how it can help with allergies and speech development in children.
Nursing is a great way of touching base while Cameron busily explores his world. People have a misconception that breastfeeding for any length of time creates clingy and emotionally dependent kids. But many studies show that providing your little one with this loving and secure base actually helps him to become independent. Breastfeeding truly provides a sense of stability during a time of rapid growth and development.
It sucks that breastfeeding beyond a year is considered ‘extended’ breastfeeding in western society. It sucks that conditioning, generalisations and outdated information seems to be the driving factor in some mothers’ decision making.
It sucks that nursing a toddler is considered by some to be wrong, gross, perverted, abusive, sick or disgusting.
It sucks that breastfeeding in public is even something that is debated!
It must be said that a lot of these beliefs stem from the sexualisation of breasts in our culture.
“Bonding” is a big factor. It’s a kind of vague concept. Many mothers say it.. “breastfeeding creates such a beautiful bond, I love it” and what not. But what do we mean?
For me, it is all those little blissful moments. I think prior to breastfeeding I really didn’t understand the concept – it was so abstract.. But now I get it and it’s hard to figure out how to share it without offending someone. But hopefully you will understand where I am coming from.
Nursing a child is truly one of the most intimate things I’ve ever experienced. Not intimate in a sexual sesnse but intimate in that it is so innocent and sweet and unique to you and your nursling. It can really force you to slow down and revel in the simple beauty of it.
My first experiences with nursing can make me get emotional even now. How he would stare up at me and suckle furiously. How he would hold my finger and do little shifty eyes. I still marvel at it now and all the moments that we share because of breastfeeding.
I’m by no means saying that Mum’s who don’t breastfeed do not bond to their children or anything like that. I wasn’t breastfed and I think my Mum is amazing and you certainly don’t need nursing to establish a beautiful mother-child bond.
But it is multi-faceted and the relationship is different and unique.
The bond is all about the closeness. The little moments that are the norm in the flow of your day.
The snuffling to find the comfort. Those precious times that he falls asleep at the breast and he is so peaceful, content, flushed and full.
It is the anticipatory noises, the grunts while feeding and sighs that follow. & the way that he will smile up at me and that gaze that melt my heart and makes me feel like I’m the centre of his world in that moment. Those big blue eyes staring up at me while I share those moments.
Or how his body has grown and adapted to feeding positions. How he now tucks his legs in when he feeds laying down or how he can even stand and feed now.
& the magical times where he giggles while nursing. When I make a funny noise when he is poking at my face or when I play peek-a-boo. Those precious funny moments where he lets out his chuckle between sucks.
It’s all the heart warming, touching, can’t-believe-you-are-mine moments. It’s all those things and so much more that make me so eternally grateful that I relactated back when he was so young and got another year (and counting) of this magic.
It’s all those things that make me want to encourage other mothers to have this experience too, if they can and want to.
& it is all of those reasons why I wish that breastfeeding beyond one year was seen as normal and as the beautiful thing that it is.
P.S. If you want to know more info or where I got my info, just email me at email@example.com 🙂