This week (August 1 – 7) is World Breastfeeding Week. The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) was founded in 1991 to “protect, promote and support breastfeeding”. Their day of promotion and celebration has since become a week-long event.
Jax will turn 18 months this Friday. We are still nursing, a year and a half into this journey. If you’d asked me before I had him if I thought I’d still be breastfeeding at this point, what would I have said? “I hope so!” I’m certainly glad I have the benefit of a lowered risk of breast cancer (my mother died of it when I was little), not to mention the nutritional gains for Jax.
I’m not here to tell you how great breastfeeding is (and extended breastfeeding.) More governments and organizations are beginning to realize the importance of promoting breastfeeding. And, I’m not here to say that more moms could be successful at breastfeeding given the proper resources, aide and patience (I recommend this book – I loved it!) Like vaccinations and circumcision, breastfeeding discussions can get everyone all hot and bothered. Let’s just leave it at: it isn’t always for everyone, but it is wonderful if you can! This post is just about my experiences.
How much does he nurse? It depends… On a normal day, he nurses: when he wakes, before his nap, in the afternoon/before nap if he has a 2nd one, before bed and a couple times overnight. He has a healthy appetite for solid foods and drinks water with meals. If he is teething or in a growth spurt, it’s anyone’s guess how much he’ll nurse! We are nursing a lot this week. Yes, it’s a big commitment, but one I don’t hesitate to make.
The question I get asked most often is, “How long will you nurse him? I’m not really sure the answer, but most likely, as long as he wants/needs to. I don’t see myself nursing a 4 year old. I think it’s unlikely he’d go that long without self-weaning.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has stated that “There is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychological or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer.”
Research done by Anthropologist Katherine Dettwyler, PhD states, “The natural age of weaning for human children is between 2.5 years and 7 years. (via Breastfeeding.org)
I definitely am aware that not everyone is comfortable around an older baby nursing, so I no longer do it in public if I can avoid it (though I always was discrete and covered up in the past.) He is good about waiting until home, and I can always take him out to the car if I need to. (There are exceptions – like our all-day outing in NYC. I can nurse in the baby carrier without anyone knowing.)
What are your thoughts on extended breastfeeding past the first year? The subject seems so taboo, but I’d love to hear others’ experiences.