On Extended Breastfeeding


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Jax is one year old now and I have no plans to wean her. This fact has garnered some interesting reactions from people close to me.

With all the commotion and excitement of Jacquelyn’s birthday party, the guest of honor was hard at play, much too busy for her afternoon nap or lunch.

After friends left, leaving only family to clean up after the festivities, Jax began to whine. I tried to put her in her high chair to eat but she was not having it. She rubbed her tired eyes and clung to me. I knew what she needed.

I excused myself to nurse her to sleep, leaving my husband to continue on solo as host. In the quiet comfort of my arms, my one year-old daughter greedily latched and got her fill in mere minutes. When she was asleep I returned to my family and was met with the question.

“When are you going to stop breastfeeding, she’s already a year old?”

The question was asked of me by my sister and while there was no malice or sarcasm in her voice, the slightest trace of disapproval curled her lip. The faint snarl quickly morphed in to an obvious frown upon hearing my answer.

“When she starts kindergarten.”

Honestly, there is no real truth in that response. I don’t imagine I will be nursing my child past her toddler years, but I have no specific date in mind as to when I will wean. Her daddy and I decided to let her decide.

Opinions like that of my sister have not been limited to my family. I’ve had friends, former breastfeeders themselves, tell me that they could not imagine nursing past 6 months, 9 months, 1 year.

In contrast to my own situation, every single one of those mamas had a reason why they stopped – one went back to work, another kept getting mastitis and decided enough was enough and the other’s baby lost interest after the family moved to a new home. Those reasons were situations which forced them to make a decision; I kinda believe that if their circumstances were different, they would have nursed their children beyond the time they stopped.

I share neither their opinions, nor their reasons to wean. My daughter entering her second year is not a valid reason for me to decide to deprive her of something she craves and needs – something that naturally brings her comfort and nourishment. I will not punish her because she turned one. And yes, it would be punishment – she would be traumatized if I weaned her now, and frankly, I would be too.

One friend said to me: “If they can ask for it, it’s time to stop.”

Well, Jax has been able to “ask” for it for months. When she is hungry or tired or needy, she lets me know exactly what she wants. She may not be able to verbalize her desire to nurse but she can definitely communicate it.

Breastfeeding my daughter has been a badge of honor for me since her birth. The day she arrived I wasn’t sure I could do it. Insecurity got the best of me and in my postpartum state I questioned if it was the right choice.

After a few weeks, Jax and I had the routine down pat. I looked forward to the intimate mother/child bond we created and strengthened with every feeding. My goal of exclusive breastfeeding extended from six months to a year and we are still growing strong. I am proud that Jax has never known the taste of formula and has only shown interest in a bottle if she sees another baby with one. The liquid gold that is breast milk has kept my sweet girl thriving – healthy, happy and remarkably advanced for her age.

I realize how very fortunate as a breastfeeding mama I am. Jax was a natural latcher; she showed me the way. Her natural ability gave me the confidence I needed to keep going. I never suffered from the common breastfeeding maladies that many mamas do – my nipples never cracked or bled, it never hurt. I never suffered a breast infection or clogged ducts. And because I have been afforded the opportunity to stay home with my child and nurse on demand, my milk supply has always been abundant. Like I said, I am lucky…and so very, very thankful.

I don’t judge other moms who weaned early or who never breastfed at all. As good mamas we all have decisions to make for the good of our children and families. I’d like to believe that I am not being judged by my choice to extend breastfeeding past a year. Unless my family is faced with catastrophic changes, Jax will likely nurse for many more months.

And I’m sure we will be done well before she starts kindergarten, my sweet baby is one smart cookie and knows exactly what she wants. I know she will discover her independence and it will prevail over my boobs far sooner than I would like.

When that time comes, I will feel like the one being punished.

14 thoughts on “On Extended Breastfeeding

  1. Good for you! My son turned one in June and I am still nursing him as well. I had decided, prior to that time, that I would stop when he turned one, but when the time came, I knew that neither of us were ready. Knowing that this is likely my last child, I just decided to wait until a better suited time. I mean, there was clearly no difference between my son the day that he was 11 months and the following day when he became 12 months, so… it just didn’t make sense. I breastfed my daughter until she was 18 months. I hope to wean my son about the same time unless he shows interest in doing so sooner. People even looked at me funny when I said I’d go until 1 year, but who cares… they’re my breasts, he’s my baby and we’ll collectively figure out the right time. I found with my daughter that the benefits of breastfeeding are so amazingly tremendous! Smart is definitely an understatement. I agree that each mom has to figure out the right time for her and her baby. God bless and good luck whenever you do decide to wean.

    • That’s wonderful! I think my daughter will start weaning herself around 18 months. I just have that feeling. Sometimes I think she is starting now, she won’t want to nurse all day long. Just a few nights ago I tried to offer my breast and she kept pulling my shirt back up! And then we have days when she is stuck to me all day. I am glad that you commented. Thank you! I come from a family of non-breast feeders (so I’m the black sheep on this topic) and most of my friends either stopped early or never breast fed at all. So it’s nice to hear from a fellow extended BF’er! 🙂

  2. I breastfed my son until he weaned himself around age one, and my daughter until age two. That was 1984 and 1988. You are fortunate to be breastfeeding in a much more accepting society now. There was so little support then. My babies were advanced for their age, and their speech well developed. I credit breastfeeding for this. Rock on Mama. I loved the experience of breastfeeding. Remain strong, and do what you feel is best. If I had listened to others, I may not have breastfed at all! Even doctors discouraged me!
    P.s. at age 25, while busy learning child rearing skills for his own expected child, my son thanked me for the “gift” of being breastfed 🙂

    • Hi Brenda! Thanks for stopping by. I love the experience of nursing my daughter. She is so animated and intelligent, her pediatrician is so impressed every time he sees her. He tried to sell me on giving her whole cow’s milk now though, I laughed in his face! Why would I give her another animal’s milk when what I am producing is obviously good stuff! I hope my daughter will appreciate this “gift” I am giving her and will want to experience it with her babies someday too.

  3. Just like yours, my nurser was born with a natural latch. I also did not suffer from many breastfeeding woes. I did experience a tiny bit of overactive letdown and oversupply, but I never considered it a problem. We are 13-months in and it has been wonderful since day one, so much so that I feel incredibly blessed. He doesn’t say any words yet, but he communicates very well. He actually dive-bombs my boobs when he’s sitting on me if he’s hungry, lol.

    • Grace! That is so funny – dive bombing babies! I know the feeling. I also had an overactive letdown the first few months, I’d squirt her little face and see her look of alarm when she would first latch. The LC I worked with told me to be thankful I didn’t have the opposite problem! Thanks for stopping by today, I hope you will keep visiting Yay Baby! I’d love to her from you more. 🙂

  4. Thanks so much for writing this. My daughter will be 2 in December and I cannot tell you how much slack I get from friends and family and they ask “Are you still breastfeeding her?” and they say it to me with that tone in their voice that really says, ” I know you are still breastfeeding her and you are going to make her develop some sort of unhealthy attachment.”. Frankly, I feel the same way as you do. Wish you lived close by momma….we could sit and breastfeed together. LOL!

    • Jenna! Let’s be friends…seriously. I am in sweltering Phoenix, AZ. Where are you? I am always looking for fellow mama’s to be my bosom buddy. I only have one other friend who is continuing to breast feed past a year, the other’s think I am a little weird. 🙂 Let’s keep in touch. You can email me anytime at yaybabyblog@gmail.com. My name is Angel by the way. Nice to “meet” you. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. We are 8 days away from celebrating 18 months of breastfeeding. After pumping exclusively for 3 1/2 months and then losing my supply and having to formula feed my son I was determined to let her wean on her own. I frequently get the, “When are you going to wean her?” My answer is usually I’m not. She will wean herself when she is good and ready. I also get the “If they can ask for it they need to wean.” Well then she would have weaned at 3 months when she started crying ” a boob” when she wanted to nurse. My favorite comeback for someone that is being snotty about me still nursing her is ” Well she’ll wean sometime before high school.” I wish it was seen as normal not the way it is.

    • Hi Tasha! Welcome and thank you for stopping by. I once replied “I’ll wean her before I send her to her senior prom, but only because her date might think it’s weird if I tagged along with my boob out.” That response was met with an eye-roll, a chuckle and a “I’m being serious.” Whatever. I love breastfeeding and my babe loves nursing and my husband supports it so I tell my daughter “Suck on!”

  6. Love your post! Do what works best for your family! Be confident in that choice too. 🙂

    Hunter is 11 months, and still addicted to the boob (as my husband says). When people ask if I’m still nursing, my response is always “he’ll be nursing until he’s in University”.

    • Hi Stephanie! Thank you for stopping by. Letting my munchkin self wean is definitely what is best for all of us. It’s just so bizarre to me that some friends and even close family disapprove! My mom formula-fed me and my brothers, didn’t even try to nurse us. My nieces were also formula fed and one of my SIL’s tried unsuccessfully to nurse my two nephews – just didn’t work for them. I truly am the black sheep in my family for even breastfeeding at all, let alone doing it past a year. No matter what they think I will nurse my Jackaroo until she is good and ready to stop! Hugs to Hunter! I hope you come visit me here at Yay Baby! again.

  7. Thank you so much for writing this and sharing it. I had stopped breastfeeding 5 days ago, after a few comments and insinuations from friends and family. My son is 15 months old and still relys so heavily on the comfort and closeness. I am writing this whilst he suckles for the second time today. After reading your piece I realised that him starting nursery, my going back to work and, what other people thought, were not valid reasons for me stopping – the only thing that should stop us is, when he is ready, until then I’m still breastfeeding. I know how lucky I am to have this privelege, and I’m not going to assume I can just cut it out of our lives again…thank you so much!!

    • Hello Keely, I am so happy you took the time to comment here. And I’m honored you found a little inspiration from my own breast feeding experience! You should be proud of yourself for dismissing other’s ideas about what’s right and do what’s right for you and your precious child! I’m certainly proud of you! I know my family/friends think it’s weird and even…gross, that I am still nursing my daughter. But I can’t let their opinions weigh in on what I know is right for me and my sweet girl. It’s not their boobs she suckles from so why should they even care? Keep on going! Please keep in touch with me and visit my blog! You can email me anytime at yaybabyblog@gmail.com.

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