The breastfeeding relationship can ebb and flow over the course of a natural duration. Natural duration, is commonly called extended breastfeeding, but it is not extended when it comes to the history of humanity across cultures. The natural duration of weaning is between ages 4 and 7. With all the breastfeeding controversy I wanted to share a particular report I read last year. I think it would be great to add some stories here and my breastfeeding inspiration to paint a vivid picture of the breastfeeding diorama.
A woman could not breastfeed. Her nipples were inverted and she did everything she could to try breastfeeding her daughter but it didn’t work. She used her love and passion for the “womanly art” to write a guide for mothers participating in WIC in her area about breastfeeding. I hope this woman is a Lactation Consultant or working in the birth/postpartum, maternal/child health field today. We need more people like her in the field!
I did a breastfeeding counselor training while pregnant with my first daughter. I was inspired by the disaster of Hurricane Katrina and the fact that babies were suffering because they didn’t have clean water for formula. I thought they could find out which women were lactating and make sure the babies were fed. Breastfeeding was something I’d never thought of before. 5 years later my two daughters are still breastfed. I know that I was able to keep this up through support and accurate information. I can understand how easy it is to not breastfeed or to not stick with it if you don’t have qualified support or accurate information, and sometimes it really is impossible. However breastfeeding is a powerful act and unfortunately I see so many times that people criticize women who breastfeed for an “extended” period of time, by saying they’re doing it for themselves.
I believe this is the farthest from the truth. I believe that mother’s who continue to breastfeed their children after whatever is thought of as reasonable in their inner circle, do so for the children. I literally think there are zero women out there who are clinging to their children and forcing them to breastfeed. I literally think there are zero moms who don’t look forward to having their bodies back. Yes, it is awesome to snuggle up and watch your children so closely while they nurse…but its not always so pretty. You may have to go through stages of biting, quick snacks, wrestling, twiddling, non-stop nursing marathons, and so on. Children learn more about empathy through these stages, when they are patiently corrected and shown the impact they have on mommies.
So without going through the whole list of benefits for the child, the parent and communities, let’s just say that no one is breastfeeding strictly for their own benefit. It’s a team effort.
UPDATE May 2017:
I stopped breastfeeding my kids about ages 6 and 4.5. I now have a new baby. One person I talked to about extended breastfeeding is Sophie Emma Rose. She dedicated herself to normalizing extended breastfeeding also known as child-led weaning. Check out her Youtube Channel here.
Consider donating to her son here: https://www.youcaring.com/sophieemmarose-819142
- IBCLC Day! (skiingmama.wordpress.com)
- There is a Long History of Breastfeeding Warriors (singlemomontherun.com)
- Real-Time Breastfeeding (yogicare.wordpress.com)
- Breastfeeding time again (feministphilosophers.wordpress.com)
- Attachment Parenting Beyond Breastfeeding, Babywearing, and Cosleeping (attachmentparenting.org)
- The Key to Breastfeeding Success (lifeloveandlivingwithboys.wordpress.com)