Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Exbfing: Extended Breastfeeding

Nursing in a wrap

Well, this is post number three and I find myself already wondering what on earth I might blog today.  Sadly, my dear squirrel hunting friend has returned to her normal, non-crittercidal self.  So I can't even share news of her misadventures.  (Yes, I did just create a new word.  I think its definition is self-evident.)  Now that I'm thinking of it, there might be a hint of lipstick on the end of the marshmallow gun this afternoon but I think I shall let sleeping squirrels lie.

I thought I would spend time blogging a little on each of the initials in my introduction.  I thought I'd talk a little about extended breastfeeding.   First of all, I had  a desire to breastfeed based on my tendency to do things that I consider easy and natural.  In this case, breastfeeding fit the bill.  All the research that says it's a good idea nutritionally and immunologically and for bonding just helped to turn my desire into a conviction.  

 Like many convictions I realize each of us is accountable for what she is personally convicted to do and that it doesn't apply necessarily universally.  I say that because I know that every woman has a story and a reason behind the decisions she makes for herself and her children.  I don't want anyone to feel that I am judging formula feeding or pumping moms.  I know that breastfeeding is an emotionally charged word.  

Many people that I know are aware of all the good benefits available with breastfeeding and I've yet to meet anyone who has been nasty to me about my choice.  But I have encountered many who are squeamish about breastfeeding after a few months and especially after the first year.  

The truth is that children world-wide tend to self wean between the ages of 2 to 4.  And it is perfectly natural and beneficial.  The WHO recommends breast feeding for at least 2 years.  According to something I've read, the immune properties of breast milk are actually higher during the second year.  

So despite disparaging remarks about breastfeeding children who can speak and walk, I've made my own decision to continue.  I find it a rewarding experience to know I'm helping with her nutrition, her immune system, and her comfort.  She shows her appreciation for milk.  In addition, Hannah is allergic to cow's milk so it is fantastic to not have to find a substitute.  I know she's getting everything she needs from me.

Sometimes, because I know that many others are not used to the idea of a toddler nursing, I feel self-conscious.  I love the way my husband phrases it.  He says that full term nursing is not "extended" breast-feeding;  breast feeding for less than full term is abbreviated nursing.  It helps me feel better to remember that while I'm doing a "weird" thing I'm not doing a wrong thing, so I can continue to nurse proudly.   

When will I stop?  I'm not sure.  Breastfeeding is a relationship.  Right now we are both happy the way it is.  If that changes for either of us, then our relationship will adjust.  And just as a warning to those who might be shocked, I'm perfectly willing to nurse through any pregnancies and nurse a baby and a toddler at the same time.  Besides, the longer she nurses, the lower the chances of cancer are for both of us.  Even so, I think we'll stop before she goes to college.  

1 comment:

Marie said...

Ok, that makes MUCH more sense now. I thought that you had stopped BFing and that is what the EX was for not Extended! Thanks for clearing that up. Now, do the other two. :)