Breastfeeding was not something I’d ever given much thought to before I became a mama last September. Even when I was pregnant, I remember telling people I wasn’t sure how long I planned on to nurse, but I vividly remember something along the lines of “maybe until around the holidays, so I can drink wine again?” coming out of my idiotic mouth. I was clueless.
Fast forward 14-months and my son has turned into a rambunctious, curious toddler, who happens to still be nursing. We’re both happy, healthy, and rarely sick, with a bond from nursing that can’t be beat. He is basically a human garbage disposal, who also eats grown up food all day, everyday, but I feel lucky that our journey has brought us this far.
The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding until the age of 2, so technically we are still within “the norm,” but I can’t help but feel some judgement every time someone finds out he is still breastfed. The older he gets, the more the judgement drives me crazy, so fellow still breastfeeding mamas, here are a few awesome breastfeeding tidbits as a reminder of why we’re still doing this:
It boosts baby’s immune system.
Babies who are breastfed have strong immune systems. With so many germs everywhere and my son exploring the world by putting anything he can in his mouth (toys, tape measures, even a flip flop once…), we need all the help we can get.
It gets better with time.
My pediatrician described it best, and as a serious wino I can relate: breast milk is like wine… it gets better with time. The nutrients in breast milk continue to change as your baby grows, based on what they need after 12-months and includes protein, calcium, fat, and vitamin A.
It helps prevent cancer.
Moms who breastfeed have a lower risk of getting breast cancer, in addition to ovarian & endometrial cancer.
It’s none of your business.
This one is the best. So what if my kid is still breastfed? We all make decisions that are best for our children at the time, and just because that decision may be different than the one you would have made doesn’t make it wrong.
I know our bond will continue to grow in other ways once our nursing journey is over, but it still makes me sad to think about, because we’ve had a hell of a run. When I look back on all of the sleepless nights when he was a newborn, nursing him in his rocker with bloodshot eyes, I tear up. And right now I love that no matter how hectic our day gets playing with trucks and tools, I’ll always get a few minutes to hold him close, in the quiet, while he nurses. Watching him grow into his own little person is incredible, but it’s impossible to not look forward to the snuggles that I’m guaranteed with nursing.
No, I have no concrete plan for when or how he’s going to get weaned, and you know what? I’m okay with that. Is he going to be going to kindergarten still nursing? No. Is he going to be 2 and still nursing? Probably not. He’s already cut back substantially, so I know the end is near and I like it better this way, because when he’s done I’ll know that I did my best to fulfill his needs.
The way I look at it, the older our babies get, the more they will be able to use their newfound words to tell us what they need, and their newfound emotions to let us know if they’re feeling overwhelmed or scared. But for a fleeting moment in their lives we have the awesome responsibility to be all of those things for them while they’re figuring out this great big world.