Mar 19 2012
I don’t know what “Extended Breastfeeding” means.
Is it breastfeeding past the age of 3 months? 6 months? 2 or 5 years?
A lactation consultant friend of mine said, “‘extended’ is a culturally loaded term,” and I agree. Another IBCLC reminded me that the term “extended” does nothing to normalize breastfeeding past (whatever age…) it makes it seem extraordinary when (though it is awesome) it’s really just normal.
The world average for how long babies are breastfed is 4+. Yes, babies around the world breastfeed on average until they are more than four years old.
I’ve examined my feelings about that. Have you? How does it make you feel to see (or think of, since you probably aren’t likely to see it on the street) a woman breastfeeding a four-year-old? Or a 15-month-old for that matter?
I had a personal breastfeeding goal of two years and I can see it flying by easily. This doesn’t mean, however, that at her two-year birthday party I will give Babe a card that announces she will no longer be allowed to take comfort in her “milkies.”
It also doesn’t mean that we will make it to two years. A while back, Babe spent a couple days striking, but quickly decided she was into breastfeeding again. My daughter will breastfeed until she is ready to stop (or something unpredictable happens and we have to reassess.)
I am starting to feel like Rebecca, who said, “For now, my plan is to bf until she’s two. But lately, I just feel like I will let her decide when she’s ready to wean.”
Breastmilk continues to provide immunity for YEARS, not months. The magic of it all doesn’t stop when the baby turns six-months-old. The nutrition, either. Nor the OH SO IMPORTANT comfort!
Last week I was at my in-laws’ and I breastfed Babe and wondered to myself if it bothered them. They have never said anything negative about my breastfeeding (by contrast, my MIL has, more than once told me she admired my perseverance in those really hard first months). But Babe is more than a year old and for some people, watching a toddler breastfeed is weird.
If you leave a comment saying something to that effect, it’s probably going to annoy me/piss me off. But I understand that most people probably to feel uncomfortable when they see it.
Or, again, think of it, because you really really don’t see it. You rarely see a woman breastfeeding a newborn in public, let alone a toddler.
And the fact that we don’t see it is the real problem.
Super cool to see celebrities like Beyonce breastfeeding in a restaurant, but I wonder if she’ll do the same when Blue Ivy is three? Do you breastfeed your toddler in public?