(Disclaimer: My views on breastfeeding go hand-in-hand with my deep respect for parents of adopted children and those who are unable to breastfeed. In no way do my views seek to undermine how you feed and parent your children; there are many ways of raising babies with love. At the same time, I am an advocate for babies who have breastfeeding available to them and believe that mothers who are able to breastfeed become informed and empowered enough to do so.)
Anna is a toddler now (and a big toddler). She is healthy and happy and strong…and strong-willed and energetic and chatty. She is completely wonderful.
Anna still nurses. And nurses and nurses. She has never used a bottle and refused a pacifier (we tried, but I am grateful now that we failed). Yes, it is exhausting at times, and yes, sometimes I need a break–and then I take one. But nursing my toddler is wonderful, and I highly recommend it.
We’ve have always nursed whenever and wherever we want, discretely but not secretly. Most people don’t seem to notice, and those who do tend to give a warm smile. There may have been a few uncomfortable glances here and there, but I haven’t taken them to heart. I think that may start to change now. Nursing toddlers in public in America is an unusual sight.
From a worldwide perspective our society ranks incredibly low in breastfeeding initiation, duration of breastfeeding, and social acceptance of breastfeeding. Because of this, I understand and expect some discomfort when I venture out outside of my safe little world. At the same time, I know what I am doing is normal. I know that in order for our society to view breastfeeding (even toddlers and young children) as normal, it has to be seen. Breastfeeding babies, toddlers and young children is normal.
When we see things over again, we tend become desensitized and accept them. Although I nurse Anna for the simple sake of nursing her, I know that I am an activist of sorts–I am exposing people to something different and important. I am changing our society one breastfeeding toddler at a time.
I am happy, grateful and humbled that we still have our nursing relationship. I have maintained it largely because of instinct. It feels right and natural to me. It has flowed so easily through Anna’s life stages and kept our lives simple. My decision to continue nursing has been a logical decision as well; I maintain it to keep us connected, to give her comfort, to keep her immune system strong, and to help her face develop to its best potential.
I come from a long line of breastfeeding women. To my knowledge, every child in my parents’ families and their ancestors were breastfed. My sisters and I were exclusively breastfed, and I watched my youngest sister breastfeed on demand until she was well over a year. Given my wonderful exposure and deep sense that breastfeeding was normal, it was never a question how I would feed and nurture my own babies.
I am grateful for how easily breastfeeding came to me and my babies. I am grateful that I could stay home and nurse my babies all day long. I know many women who have tried and struggled, who have pumped at work, who have suffered bleeding nipples and blisters and thrush. But they have persisted, and all of them succeeded in a way that worked for them. I admire their persistence, and it emphasizes my belief that mothers are amazing and strong. Motherhood is filled with challenges, victories, and failures–and they all blend together to create a meaningful life.
The following are resources that I wish every mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, friend, doctor, and person would read and learn from–and that have the power to make our society would be a happier and healthier place. Knowledge is power, and educating oneself is the most powerful form of knowledge that exists.
A Natural Age of Weaning by Katherine Dettwyler, PhD; discusses proven health benefits of breastfeeding, IQ, and a discussion about natural weaning of mammals
An excellent article about the science of attachment.
How breastfeeding impacts facial development in children. This is absolutely remarkable to me–and I wish all parents were informed about the importance of breastfeeding in a child’s facial development. In addition, this information discusses bite problems and related issues and how, if left untreated, can create aesthetic and functional problems for children as they grow. Improper facial development is linked to learning problems, sinus and breathing problems, allergies, amongst other common ailments. If caught early, these problems can be helped.
The diet of breastfeeding mothers is critical in making superior milk, and this is an example of a diet that creates nutrient dense milk to make strong and healthy babies. It is very different from any diet suggested by American pediatricians and doctors, but based upon hundreds of years of traditional wisdom.
To see what ideal facial and oral structure looks like and how modernized foods impacted our health, beauty, and dental health, look here.
Take care, my friends.