Why am I constantly nursing Anna?

Since I am not posting on Facebook anymore, I feel brave enough to write about the things I really want to write about because I know hardly anyone will read it.  I am not editing much or trying to create a masterpiece that I could sell off to a magazine. Nope, just writing what I feel like writing about today.  It feels good to do that.

And those of you who read this (I would love to know who you are, so drop me a comment while you’re here)  probably already know and like me and I don’t have to worry about offending you.  I hope.

***

Anna will be 17 months in two weeks.

I nurse her more times each day than I can count.  I do it all the time, anywhere, whether there is milk in my breast or not.  I think her diet consists of 95% breastmilk and 5% food.

Anna also sleeps with me, nurses to sleep if she wants to, has her cries answered immediately (and usually soothed by nursing), does not use a pacifier, has never had a bottle, has not been spoon-fed, and spent almost her entire first six months on my body in a baby carrier.

What I am doing is pretty unusual in our culture, and I think some people are starting to wonder if Anna will ever stop nursing, will ever sleep on her own, or will know how to do anything on her own.  I can confidently assure these people that she will.  And I will tell you why:

This is the way babies have been raised since the beginning of humanity.

This concept has been coined The Continuum Concept by researcher, Jean Leidloff.

The following is quoted from Shirley’s Wellness Cafe.

“According to Jean Liedloff, the continuum concept is the idea that in order to achieve optimal physical, mental and emotional development, human beings — especially babies — require the kind of experience to which our species adapted during the long process of our evolution. For an infant, these include such experiences as…

  • constant physical contact with his mother (or another familiar caregiver as needed) from birth;
  • sleeping in his parents’ bed, in constant physical contact, until he leaves of his own volition (often about two years);
  • breastfeeding “on cue” — nursing in response to his own body’s signals;
  • being constantly carried in arms or otherwise in contact with someone, usually his mother, and allowed to observe (or nurse, or sleep) while the person carrying him goes about his or her business — until the infant begins creeping, then crawling on his own impulse, usually at six to eight months;
  • having caregivers immediately respond to his signals (squirming, crying, etc.), without judgment, displeasure, or invalidation of his needs, yet showing no undue concern nor making him the constant center of attention;
  • sensing (and fulfilling) his elders’ expectations that he is innately social and cooperative and has strong self-preservation instincts, and that he is welcome and worthy.

In contrast, a baby subjected to modern Western childbirth and child-care practices often experiences…

  • traumatic separation from his mother at birth due to medical intervention and placement in maternity wards, in physical isolation except for the sound of other crying newborns, with the majority of male babies further traumatized by medically unnecessary circumcision surgery;
  • at home, sleeping alone and isolated, often after “crying himself to sleep”;
  • scheduled feeding, with his natural nursing impulses often ignored or “pacified”;
  • being excluded and separated from normal adult activities, relegated for hours on end to a nursery, crib or playpen where he is inadequately stimulated by toys and other inanimate objects;
  • caregivers often ignoring, discouraging, belittling or even punishing him when he cries or otherwise signals his needs; or else responding with excessive concern and anxiety, making him the center of attention;
  • sensing (and conforming to) his caregivers’ expectations that he is incapable of self-preservation, is innately antisocial, and cannot learn correct behavior without strict controls, threats and a variety of manipulative “parenting techniques” that undermine his exquisitely evolved learning process.

Evolution has not prepared the human infant for this kind of experience. He cannot comprehend why his desperate cries for the fulfillment of his innate expectations go unanswered, and he develops a sense of wrongness and shame about himself and his desires. If, however, his continuum expectations are fulfilled — precisely at first, with more variation possible as he matures — he will exhibit a natural state of self-assuredness, well-being and joy.”

I believe in this with my whole heart, and that is your answer.  That’s why I am constantly nursing Anna.

5 thoughts on “Why am I constantly nursing Anna?

  1. Hi Lisa,
    I am still here and glad that you are still blogging! You always make me think and that is one of the many things I like about you. I have been close to shutting down the FB account too…particularly in the past when I was going through the pain of being childless for so many years. I always thought, I can’t REALLY say how I feel on FB so what’s the point? Now I find it the most convenient way to share pics of Lily with everyone. 🙂 I respect and understand your decision to leave completely, though.

    I hope to be checking in on your blog and Mia’s blog regularly. I like to hear all the ideas on both!

  2. Just stumbled across your blog. Great post! And good for you!

    Our mothering instincts have kept our species ALIVE for tens of thousands of years. Don’t doubt it for a second.

    And the truth is, there are so many closet breastfeeders of nursing toddlers in this country — just like heaps more families co-sleep than feel comfortable publicly talking about it.

    In the parenting communities I have been a part of, toddlers seem to wean sometime between 2 and 4, with 2 being somewhat more mother-led. My son weaned recently just before his third birthday, and I did introduce the process (I’m 7 months pregnant).

  3. I’m so happy you’re not on Facebook, although I will miss your posts, but now you’ll have more time to say what you really want, like this great piece on breastfeeding. I love that you are doing this for Anna, she is a lucky girl. Sometime soon it won’t feel like you’re doing it all the time, I promise!

  4. This post is full of so much truth, Lisa. I am constantly confused by why the continuum concept doesn’t come naturally to more people. I am thankful to know you and feel so supported when I read your words.

    Esther turned two last week and still nurses countless times in the day as well. If we are out, she seems to get distracted and will forget, but if its a quiet day at home (as most are!), she nurses, A LOT. She is also still sleeping with me and nursing throughout the night, and I am thoroughly happy with this arrangement.

    In regards to quitting FB…….CONGRATULATIONS! I have been on the verge of quitting on a number of occasions and haven’t quite gotten to that point yet, but I think it is a wise choice. I am happy to be in your real life! When can we get together?

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