Nursing Beyond a Year

29 Jun

Nursing my third baby has posed several challenges I never faced while nursing the first two.  Within the first few weeks, he developed symptoms of colic, where he would cry for several hours straight, for days on end.  It was exhausting, until we discovered he was actually experiencing an aversion to dairy.  Once I cut it out of my diet completely, his symptoms disappeared.

He has not nursed for comfort as much as the girls did.  If he’s hungry or thirsty, he nurses, if he’s not, he won’t.

He has continuously bit, whereas the girls went through a phase when they started getting their first teeth, but it ended as quickly as it began.  With my third, I have to be vigilant about recognizing when he’s done.  If I let my guard down and don’t pull him off right when he’s decided he’s done, he can surprise me with a painful chomp down.

He went through the “typical” nursing strike at eight months, but then had another right around his first birthday.  I started to panic that maybe he was trying to wean himself.  I became painfully engorged, but fortunately it was short-lived.  (I’m so thankful I have learned the art of self- or hand- expression this time around, because my pump broke amid my most recent engorgement mini crisis!)

Despite these challenges, I continue to want to breastfeed my baby, who is quickly becoming a toddler.  I’ve heard all sorts of comments about women choosing to breastfeed beyond a year.  Some people think it’s “gross”, that once a child can “ask” for it the child is “too old,” and I have even heard people say they believe that after a year the milk has no further nutritional value, as though breast milk has a shelf life which expires at some arbitrary date.

La Leche League International recommends continuing the breastfeeding relationship for as long as is mutually satisfactory.  The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for the first two years.

I want to continue nursing beyond a year.  My first daughter weaned herself on her 2nd birthday.  I weaned my second daughter halfway through my third pregnancy (my daughter was about 28 months).  I know that breast milk is healthy.  I know that breastfeeding my children will help increase their IQ.  I know that breastfeeding creates a strong bond between a me and my children.  I know that breastfeeding will reduce my risk of getting several different types of cancer.  I know that breastfeeding will reduce the likelihood of my children developing allergies.  Breastfeeding doesn’t cost me a thing.  It’s convenient and my breast milk contains no added chemicals.  For these reasons and more, I am choosing to breastfeed beyond a year!

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2 Responses to “Nursing Beyond a Year”

  1. Lori June 29, 2011 at 7:54 pm #

    I just want to add too, that nursing comes in REALLY handy when you have a sick baby. We all succumbed to an awful stomach virus last week. The baby wouldn’t eat or drink ANYTHING, but he would nurse! If he hadn’t been nursing, we very well may have ended up at at ER with a dehydrated baby!

  2. Lisa June 30, 2011 at 1:01 pm #

    Lori:

    I nursed my daughter until 8 months–and regretted not going longer. Practically the moment we stopped, she began having ear infections.

    I nursed my son until 13 months. Now 5, he’s never had ear infections. I can’t prove there’s a correlation but I am glad I stuck with it longer with him.

    I cannot believe that in 2011, any woman would tell another that she’s breastfeeding “too long.” To my mind, feminism is all about allowing, even encouraging, choices. Want to nurse until he’s 3? Fine. Stay at home with your children instead of rejoining the corporate world? Great. The best gift you can give any mother is your support–particularly when she chooses something so universally beneficial as nursing her child.

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