Of course, being a type A personality—as you all know I am—I love to plan everything and am very goal-oriented. When I was pregnant, I made a goal to breastfeed for one year. I figured I would breastfeed for one year, “have my body back” for at least one year, then give it away to another fetus in my belly, then breastfeed some more. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends at least one year (though the World Health Organization recommends at least two). It seemed very logical to me and I figured that once she was able to drink cows milk that there was no reason to do it anyway.
Boy, was I wrong.
Approaching her first birthday, I very quickly decided that I was no where near ready to stop. I’m very happy to have met another goal, but that doesn’t mean it ends here. I know many IRL friends and family read my blog and I’m sure all of you are starting to think I’m crazy (ha! Like you didn’t already?). When I was pregnant I remember specifically saying “Once they can ask for it, it’s time to stop.” So I know exactly what you’re thinking.
Why would you want to breastfeed a toddler? Let me break it down for you.
1. I have worked my ass off for this. Pardon the language, but there’s really no polite way to say that and still keep the meaning it needs. Breastfeeding in the beginning sucks. I know that everyone wants to pretend that it’s all butterflies and bubbles and it’s so natural of course they’ll just pop out and latch on, but really it’s hard work. I had cracked nipples, we battled thrush for over the first month of her life, and she had reflux so bad (nothing to do with the breastfeeding, just a reflux-y baby) that she ate at least every hour for the first six months. If we’ve worked so hard to get where we are, why would we suddenly stop just because we’ve hit the age limit?
2. I don’t know what I’d do without it. I know, I know, one day I’m going to have to learn how to parent sans boob. Does it have to be right now? No. When I did Peanut’s hair today, I fed her so she’d stay still. When she was really grouchy yesterday, I fed her on the couch for a full half hour (which we haven’t done in some time). Every night when she goes to bed I feed her to sleep. I don’t know how to parent without breastfeeding and I don’t feel the need to learn just yet.
3. I don’t care about your comfort. This post is so delicate and polite, don’t you think? I realize that breastfeeding a toddler gives some people the hee-bee-gee-bees, but I don’t care. I feel that every time that I nurse Peanut in public, I’m giving some more people the experience of seeing breastfeeding in a positive light. Look over there at that mommy and her beautiful little girl. They’re so happy. I want to be a happy mommy with a happy little girl when I’m older. I can affect other little girls in a way they won’t even remember when they become mothers, but showing them breastfeeding positively will help them get that never-ending determination to breastfeed that I had.
4. Oh, the benefits. It is the most well-rounded nutrition that she will ever experience. It continues to give her antibodies that protect her against illness and when she does get sick, it will be for less time and less severe. Breastfeeding longer helps prevent allergies and asthma (something I am personally plagued with). The longer I breastfeed, the higher her IQ is likely to be. I am meeting her emotional needs which helps her to be well adjusted. Giving her emotional security fosters independence because she feels safe to be independent. Breastfeeding longer will give me a decreased risk of reproductive cancers, osteoporosis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
There are many reasons I will continue breastfeeding Peanut, but the most important one is I love her and it’s what works for us.