This post is not a debate of breastfeeding versus formula feeding, or when a child should or should not be weaned. I am sharing my experience with you all as an extended nursing mama. Please keep comments respectful and kind. Thank you.
Breastfeeding past one year old, two years old, three years old...
It really isn't talked about much, is it?
Just like nursing in public, it is also often seen as a taboo topic of discussion.
But I have found that when I do talk about it, quite a few mamas come out and say, "Hey, me too!" or... "I am still nursing my two year old..." or... "I wish my son/daughter had breastfed past a year." or..."I nursed my now 18 year old until he was 3."
So many mamas out there silently nursing their one, two, three year olds... But we never talk about it. And because we do not talk about it, I do not think we realize just how normal and common extended breastfeeding really is.
But today I am talking about it.
I think that when some people think of extended breastfeeding, they are probably imagining something like this scene from the movie, Grown Ups...
But the reality of toddler nursing is a little different than the Hollywood produced image above. My daughter turned two in February... and she is still breastfeeding.
Can she ask for breast milk? Yes.
Does that mean I should wean her? Not necessarily.
Are there days I wish that she was weaned? Yes.
Are there times when just the thought of nursing her for the last time breaks my heart and makes me sad? Yes.
But this is just the next leg in our breastfeeding journey.
I shared with you all a couple of years ago how our start with nursing was not easy and was filled with tears, frustration, and hurdles that I was not sure that we would overcome.
For those first few months, each week we continued with nursing was a triumph.
And at that time, I just prayed we would make it to one year.
That was my goal.
One year came and passed.
And then her second birthday came.
There wasn't a momentous decision for us to nurse past infancy. It just kind of happened... naturally and without much thought or consideration.
But I had thought for sure that near or shortly after her second birthday, she would eventually wean herself.
But here we are at 4 months past birthday #2, and we are still at about 3 feedings per day.
Of course, breast milk is more of a supplement now to her daily toddler buffet of food.
Her favorites of apples, strawberries, grapes, yogurt, and pizza have taken center stage in her culinary world.
But as she tells me, mommy's milk is still her favorite thing to drink. ;)
Looking back on that first month with her, I would have never imagined in a million years that we would still be nursing at two years!
I am proud of how far we have come with this, but I know our nursing days are numbered.
She will either choose to wean soon, or I will choose to start weaning her.
These will be the last warm summer days that I will ever lay with her and nurse her to sleep.
My body's role in providing nourishment for her for over 3 years now will no longer be.
I look forward to my body being "mine" again.
But it is bittersweet.
Weaning my last baby will not be easy for me.
I will miss the smell of her hair as she lays her head beneath my chin to nurse.
I will long for the days when nursing her would bring instant calm & comfort when she is upset or scared.
Giving up that closeness, that part of our relationship that is exclusively ours and no one else's will break my heart a little.
If you are a mama who is nursing past one year or if you are planning on trying extended nursing down the road, I gathered up some great resources to share with you all...
- I just love Dr. Sears advice for how to handle the criticism that inevitably comes with Extended Nursing.
- Need a giggle? Be sure to check out these 8 Things Not To Say To An Extended Breastfeeding Mom from Mommyish.com.
- Looking for the facts and nothing but the facts? Breastfeeding Past Infancy: Fact Sheet from kellymom.com.
- I also love this article by Bonnie Rochman for Time, Extended Breast-Feeding: Is It More Common than We Think?. She echoes so many of my own sentiments on the topic.
- Are you a mama just starting out with breastfeeding? Be sure to check out my post on What I Learned the Second Time Around about breastfeeding.
Have you nursed a little one past one year old? Please feel to share your thoughts, feelings, and especially your words of wisdom in the comments below.
**Please note- We are all entitled to our own thoughts & opinions on this and any subject. But this blog is my space, my home. Disrespectful & critical comments will not be tolerated & will be deleted promptly. Thank you.