It wasn’t until I actually became a mother when I realized how breastfeeding is kinda looked down upon. It was a shock. Throughout pregnancy I kept hearing how breast was best and even the first few months of Bear’s life, that’s all I heard.
And then a funny thing happened – he turned 1. Then he turned 2. And as we’re more than halfway to his third birthday, the question still remains –
“You’re still breastfeeding?”
I think when people hear about extended breastfeeding, at least in the U.S., there are a few reactions, most of them not pleasant. Let’s face it – the thought of a mother breastfeeding her two-year-old does put people at unease. The thought of a child reaching up and grabbing a breast, signaling he wants some milk makes people question the mother. I know this because I used to be one of those people.
But when you actually become that mother that does it, well, it puts a lot of things in perspective.
You see, we’re all taught that while breast is best (according to our doulas, OBs, and other health care professionals), however, society teaches us to only do it for so long. Yet, there’s not a specific end time. And I wonder…why is that?
Why is extended breastfeeding so frowned upon?
It was never my intention to give Bear formula. I’m not anti-formula but I never had it in my head to give him some. Even when I struggled to nurse him, I kept on. I did a lot of research (kellymom is a great resource!), joined breastfeeding groups on Facebook, and connected with other moms for support. I didn’t force my breasts upon Bear and he took them like a champ.
So when I get the, ‘You’re still breastfeeding?’ question, well, my answer is, ‘Why not?’
And of course, I receive a plethora of idiotic answers –
“He’s too old!” (Says who?)
“He’s going to remember this when he’s older and be traumatized!” (Oh, you have a psychology degree? Please, tell me more.)
“It’s sexual!” (Uh, no, it’s not.)
“People might think it’s child abuse!” (I’m sure CPS has more important cases to worry about than my boobs.)
“Your breasts are going to sag!” (They already do. Nature and gravity does that to aging bodies.)
You get my point? People don’t care about the benefits of extended breastfeeding. They faux care that I’m doing it. Same people are not paying my bills, writing my books, or raising my child. But I should listen to them because…
Of course, my reasons for extended breastfeeding are pretty dope. For starters, Bear has only been sick twice and my boobies helped him nurse back to health. They provide comfort when he’s upset or scared and they’re still a good source of vitamins for the energetic Bear.
Not to mention the tons of money I’ve saved by not using formula.
Extended breastfeeding wasn’t a choice. The plan is for Bear to naturally wean himself off the breast. He recently weaned himself off pouches so I know he’s capable of doing so. And as I wait for him, I’m in no rush and neither is he. The goal was to breastfeed for at least a year and see what happens. We’re steadily approaching the third year now.
As time progresses, he doesn’t nurse very much. He mostly comfort nurses or need something before he takes a nap. It doesn’t happen always but it does occur. He doesn’t nurse around the clock like he was in infancy and we nurse about twice a day, sometimes three. (It sounds like a lot but trust, it really isn’t if you think about how many hours there are in a day.)
In conclusion, when you hear about a mother breastfeeding her 6+ month old and beyond child, cut her some slack. There are still many benefits to breastfeeding, including but not limited to, staving off child illnesses. And besides, if breast is best, why not encourage the mother to continue for as long as it benefits her and the child?
And there you have it.