Monday, March 12, 2012

PAIL monthly topic: Breastfeeding

I'm re-posting a previous post I wrote just before baby E's 1st birthday in response to PAIL's monthly topic (which, this month, is about breastfeeding).

I've been asked several times recently, as we approach baby E's 1st birthday, if we're going to start weaning. The short answer is no. We're not. The medium answer is, we're going to go as long "as is mutually desired" as the CDC and WHO recommend, though really because that's what I want to do.

The long answer is this: I plan to nurse for at least 6 more months, and we'll go as long after that as I/we still have milk, and baby E wants to. I think another year would be fabulous. I can't even imagine weaning my baby now. He's just as much a baby today as he will be 2 weeks from now, after his 1st birthday. It makes no sense to me to wean him, just because he's a year old. It's not like he simply is no longer a baby that day. Also, it's not like - as a pediatrician unfortunately told someone I know last year - the benefits of breastfeeding and breastmilk simply stop just because a child hits that 365 day mark in life. Such an ignorant remark to make. The immunological benefits continue. The bonding benefits continue. The health benefits to mom (hello decreased risk of breast cancer?!) continue.

Baby E loves to nurse. When I get home in the evenings, regardless of when he's last eaten, he almost always wants to nurse within my first half hour home. He follows me around the house, whining, til I figure out that's what he's asking for. He grabs my finger and walks to the kitchen with me while I fill up the SNS, and then reclaims my finger and walks with me to the couch. Whining and giggling while I get settled, ready to nurse him. So, of course we will continue.

And, you know what? I love nursing baby E. I love the closeness of it. I love the snuggling. I love the way he stops, and grins up at me with this funny, drooly smile, used only when we're nursing. I love the contended sighs he utters. The way he pats my chest and wiggles with joy when he's done. I love that sometimes he stops and growls at me and we have our own little growling conversation, just the two of us. I love this world that's just me and my baby E. So, of course we continue.

We fortunately still have milk donors who also recognize the benefits of so-called "extended breastfeeding" (which, really, I think is a silly term, but whatev') and are willing to continue to give us milk. So of course we will continue to accept this liquid gold and use it to keep our baby so very healthy.

I don't know for sure when we will stop nursing. I hope it's not for a long time. But, it will be whenever baby E is ready to stop. He has decided when he is ready to meet all of his other developmental milestones. He will decide when he is ready to meet this one as well. Until then, we continue to nurse. And I'm thrilled about it.

I know some mommas at this point are more than ready to stop. They want their bodies back, they're tired of having babies attached to them all this time. But, really, they have 9 months more than I've had of having a baby attached. I missed out on that initial closeness, so I'm going to take advantage of the closeness on this end of it as long as baby E wants.

Today's lesson - "extended breastfeeding" is actually the norm around the world. Stopping at a year really makes no sense, unless it is what both momma and baby want. Absolutely, there are valid reasons women have for weaning at this time, or earlier, but the errant belief that there are no longer any benefits to baby shouldn't be one of them.


Anonymous said...

We're also planning on continuing breastfeeding as long as possible :). I love the idea of nursing well into toddlerhood, and it also struck me as odd how Americans are appalled by older children nursing. It's so natural, how did we ever get to think that it's only for "babies"?

Anonymous said...

I so wish I had support in nursing our son! I'm so glad that you were and continue to be successful! So happy for Baby E too!!!

Coco said...

I absolutely agree. I don't know why our culture shudders at such a good, natural, and wholesome thing as nursing a baby. What else did I carry these sacks of flesh around my entire life for? LOL. Of course, mine aren't much use anyway... but it wasn't for lack of trying. I am so glad you've been able to nurse an adopted baby. My sister just adopted a 2 year old from Ethiopia, and she actually considered trying to start BFing. But it was too much work, and she's had a breast reduction. But the bond... I'm jealous of the bond.

AS said...

Oh, I love the visual of baby E's grin while feeding! Before I had Mira I aimed for six months of breastfeeding. For some reason I imagined breastfeeding as a trying thing I would do because it was the right thing to do. Now, as six months is nearing, I can't imagine wanting to stop.

SRB said...

Such a sweet post. I got such a smile on my face reading your special interaction with E while nursing, and thought to pay more attention the next time I nurse HGB. I know we have these moments too, I just forget to remember them sometimes.

I am starting to get "the question" too and he is only 10 months. I have no intention of stopping in the foreseeable future unless he wants to. I struggle with knowing what to say. Something that politely communicates "We'll stop when we are good and ready, so mind your own business. Thanks!"

Anonymous said...

What a sweet and thoughtful post - here from PAIL - nice to "meet" you!