Reasons why my 4-year-old nurses — according to him:
1). “It’s delicious.”
Obviously, breast milk tastes good. I’ve heard some adults who breastfed until school age say they have no memories of actually breastfeeding, but they’ll never forget the sweet taste.
At more than 3 years old, MaiTai weaned briefly in the last trimester of my last pregnancy. I really thought he was done. Then my milk returned in full force after baby Julep’s birth and so did his remembrance of the sweet, sugary goodness.
Of course he wanted to test it out, see if it had changed.
I think by now we can all agree exclusive breastfeeding is the optimal method of infant feeding. Our society is slowly but surely becoming more accepting (even approving) of breastfeeding (the concept of it, if anything).
But, here’s the thing.
I notice many of us still seem a tad obsessed with HOW LONG a woman and child should breastfeed.
Okay, so you get it, you get it. Breastfeeding is healthy, it’s both normal and best, and breastfeeding in public is perfectly appropriate.
But do you pause when the breastfeeding involves a child older than you’d expect? Do you question whether it’s still good or still appropriate? Do you already firmly believe it’s not? Have you ever uttered the phrase “I support breastfeeding, but…” and concluded with an opinion about upper age limits?
If you could give only five pieces of breastfeeding advice to a new mother, what would you say? Here’s what I’d tell her.
We really want to share our breastfeeding moments.
Nursing our children is incredibly important to us. We’re proud, grateful, sometimes hesitant, always brave. See how quickly we all LEAPED at a chance to share some of our most treasured breastfeeding moments?
That moment when our babies gave us the big ol’ doe eyes, thanking us from somewhere deep in their souls for nourishing them? We couldn’t ignore it. And we’re so happy about it, we want others to notice too.
An innocently cute brelfie (breastfeeding selfie) trend like this should go viral and incite mad passion — even the World Health Organization said so in a UN briefing for this year’s World Breastfeeding Week.
We’ve been patient. So very patient. But we’re starting to get antsy in our nursing gliders and uncomfortable under the paisley tent-covers. It takes this degree of overwhelming social media with Tree of Life brelfies to normalize breastfeeding by tomorrow, when it really should have happened yesterday.
Is circumcision the ‘Voldemort’ in a conversation about early breastfeeding difficulties? Though it’s a studied certainty that infant circumcision can have ruinous effects upon breastfeeding, it seems only the rare or high-profile breastfeeding expert dares to mention this risk by name, much less maintain an official protocol for assistance if challenges arise.
I have a lot of trust these days.
Mothers in our culture are told she should wean her older child when she’s pregnant (“or else you’ll miscarry!”); that the older one will take all the important nutrients away from the new baby if they tandem nurse; that the older kid should be eating “real” food so nursing is no longer a “need” (as if breastfeeding is alone defined by its nutritional profile); that the older child will never wean on his own.
I was forced to confront the truth-to-myth ratio in these things I really had no idea about. I wondered if I’m doing things right, I consulted with my intuition (and my children because they’re wiser than we give them credit for — and, I’ll admit, online forums and a Tarot deck more than once).
I realized tandem nursing just happens however it does, despite any careful planning or controlling I may have preferred. On a deeper, more trusting level, I know this is happening as its meant to.
I know my almost four-year-old MaiTai isn’t going to bogart all the milk that my newly four-month-old Julep needs. I know it’s okay for me to nurse my older kid in public. I know I’m not the first or last mother to tandem nurse children aged several years apart.
But the logistics of it all… the logistics! There’s no map for this.
This weekend I attended The Global Big Latch On as a mother, a resource person, and an advocate.
So what’s the point of women and their nurslings congregating to breastfeed together at 10:30 a.m. for sixty seconds? (Most of the kids were latched long before and after, of course). First, GBLO wanted to set a new world record for the most children simultaneously latched to breastfeed, and for the most moms simultaneously breastfeeding.
This popular World Breastfeeding Week event also spreads awareness of all the different ways mothers breastfeed (nursing newborns, infants and toddlers, older kids, tandem nursing, adoptive nursing, wet nursing, with various apparatus like nipple shields or SNS, restricted diet nursing, supplementing, and exclusively pumping mothers were counted for the latch, too).
It intends to encourage support networks for families within their communities during the breastfeeding years and beyond.