Saturday, August 18, 2007

Confessions of an Extended Breastfeeder

I recently read a wonderful article in Glow magazine about the struggles, sweetness, and successes or extended breastfeeding. I tried to find a copy of this article on the net to link for you but to no avail. If you can find a way to get your hands on this article, do it. It is entitled "Confessions of an Extended Breastfeeder" by Johanna Braden. Her experiences so mirrored mine that I felt I may be reading my own story. She explains how she didn't think she would breastfeed at all, struggled in the beginning, and then thought maybe she's stay with it til six months. Six months came and went and one day she realized her son was a year and she still hadn't weaned him. She started but he got sick and her doctor recommended she continue to nurse him until he had healed. Weeks turned to months and months to years and now she is still nursing her three year old son.

I have always been a bit judgmental of extended breastfeeders. Even now with Little Lady looking as if she'll still be breastfeeding beyond a year... I still struggle with feelings of disgust and disdain for mothers nursing toddlers. But this is changing. I don't think it should be done in public....but to nurse them at night or in the comfort of your home. Allowing them to decide when they are ready to take that step to something else. Nurturing them through nursing and enabling them to make the transition themselves without force so that they gain self confidence in the subtle message mom gives them "You can handle change yourself when you are ready." I am slowly starting to see some wisdom in this. This doesn't mean I don't plan on continuing weaning Little Lady...although for now I am content with nursing her to sleep at night and getting a few extra seconds of sleep while she drinks in the wee hours of daylight. Twice a day is no trouble so for now we will leave it at that. I can't quite believe I am saying this though.

Thank you to Johanna for opening my eyes to the life of an extended breastfeeder and for allowing me to see something wonderful in her world.


Rayna said...

I was the same as you. Years before I got pregnant I did not think that I could breastfeed and only when I was pregnant did I actually think I could do it. It was difficult for the first 3 months - I hated it! Only my husband's encouragement helped me to continue. By 4 months I loved it so much that I continued - until he was 15 months old. :) There is something sweet and special about the wee morning hours as you said. When I quit, both of us were ready and I felt good about it.

Evan and Mel said...

I breastfeed Micah until she was 16 months old. When I decided I was done I didn't need to wean her. She was also ready to quit and it only took one day. It wasn't a stressful experience at all to stop. The only thing I miss is the closeness that came with the couple minutes of each feeding. Now at 2 I can't get her to come for a hug longer then 2 seconds.

Stephanie said...

I love the subtle gentleness of the "You can handle change when you're ready" message.

Our blue-eyed beauty is going to be one next month and she is slowly cutting back on daytime feedings, but I'm letting her take the lead (so far).

I am secretly hoping that she is one of those few babies who weans with ease (hopefully before she is 1.5).

Damselfly said...

As my boy approaches the one-year mark, I'm thinking about weaning. I don't think that continuing a morning and evening nursing session would be so bad.

BTW, I was so bad at positioning that every time my son nursed for the first three months, it was quite a struggle. Breastfeeding was super hard for me -- I'd put it right up there with getting through college! But then it got so easy, and now, it's probably going to be hard to wean him....