If you would have asked me thirty months ago about my breastfeeding journey, I would have told you that of course I was going to breastfeed for my son’s first year.  Yet, I sit here today, nursing my now twenty-one and a half month old and can’t imagine having stopped this journey nine months ago.  I knew very little then about extended breastfeeding.  Most people in our society think of the mother and son who are satirized in the popular Adam Sandler movie when they think about extended breastfeeding.  Yet, there are countless reasons to continue to nurse your child into toddlerhood and beyond.  I have found though, that the stigma, the comments, and the looks get even worse the older the child gets, and this hurts my heart so very much for us breastfeeding mommas and for our society as a whole.

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Extended Breastfeeding, is it for everyone?

Earlier this summer, after trying every homeopathic and natural remedy I knew of, I finally unenthusiastically called to make an appointment to see my doctor.  The receptionist informed it was his half day and I would have to see another provider in his practice.  Another strike for that week and that sick spell, but I agreed.

I showed up with my son in tow expecting to see a professional and ethical doctor of western medicine.  What I did not expect was a lecture about my lifestyle and parenting choices.  The appointment started out as any other, vitals, symptoms, etc.  The doctor came in and did a quick exam.  He began going over my history and I informed him that I was breastfeeding and any treatment must be safe and conducive for that.  He stopped typing, looked up, eyebrows raised, and asked “And how old is he?”  I told him that my son was sixteen months. And let the judgmental stare and comments ensue.  He proceeded to tell me that I needed to stop soon and definitely by twenty-four months.  I, still with my nice pants on, let him know that we would be continuing as long as possible.  This was not the answer he wanted to hear and he pushed forward and went as far as to tell me that I really needed to stop at two years because anything after that was “just creepy,” and they only do it for comfort after that age, which just isn’t okay.  This momma’s nice pants had about all but disappeared at this point.  Breathe, I told myself and just do what you came here to do.  I just couldn’t let it go though, it ate away at me as I checked out, as I drove home, and hasn’t stopped since.

BusinessAnd again a few weeks ago, after a lovely dinner, our waitress felt the need to tell me my son was too old to be nursing as she smiled and cleared our table.  I found myself gritting through my smiling teeth, as I nicely told her that he wasn’t and he could nurse as long as he so chose to.

Flashback to a little over a year ago, my son was just over four months old and we were doing great.  He was healthy and happy, and breastfeeding was such a good part of lives. We had been so lucky in that department even with him being born a month early.  It wasn’t until school let out for the summer and I started attending a local Breastfeeding Cafe that my life really changed.

Before I became a regular at this Nappy Shoppe mom’s group, I always attempted to cover up in public when I breastfed my son, though we both hated it.  But, here, I found empowerment as a breastfeeding mother.  I no longer covered up in public or at all, ever.  I no longer apologized to those who saw.  I owned what it meant to be able to nourish my son anytime anywhere and was proud of the beauty and intimacy that can only come from a mother breastfeeding her child.

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My views also shifted.  I started to notice other breastfeeding mothers wherever we went.  I now felt a sacred and special bond with them that only we could share.  One year was no longer my cutoff for breastfeeding.  We would go as long as it was beneficial to both of us and made us both happy.  My goal was now at least two years but had no plans of stopping even then.  It would be up to my son when he was ready to stop. This journey is one that must end and only happens once in a child’s life.  It is a time that should be treasured and cherished, not shamed and rushed.  The day my son stops nursing will be one of the saddest days of my life.

Fast forward back to now, and this breastfeeding momma can’t help but feel sorry for people like the doctor I saw and the waitress that night.  Instead of choosing to see the beauty and the love, they, like so many in our society, chose to sexualize the act and judge and shame.  But this momma refuses to be shamed.  I  will continue to stand tall, son nursing, no matter his age, for all the world to see because I love him more than life itself and what better way to show him, and to teach him how to be true to himself and what he believes in.

 

We love to hear from you! What are your thoughts or experience on extended breastfeeding?

Be sure to join us in our social media accounts to be up to date with the progress of our project!

And… Don’t forget to share your brelfies using our HT #BreastfeedingWorld 

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Allyson Lux

Allyson Lux

I am a single mom to the most amazing little boy in the entire world. He is the light of my life! We also have the best two doggies who complete our little family! I am a high school teacher and a photographer, and am very passionate about breastfeeding, babywearing, attachment parenting, and raising my son in the most natural way possible!
Allyson Lux

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1 Comment on Our Extended Breastfeeding Journey

  1. JeremyGranger
    October 20, 2015 at 1:35 PM (2 years ago)

    As a traditional allopathic trained Pediatrician I feel a need to apologize on behalf of the profession for your experience.  You shouldn’t be made to feel strange, ashamed or foreign for your choice to breast feed your toddler. 

    I worry that moms who have had experiences like you did will no longer feel welcome in traditional clinic settings.  A hodge podge of stay at home parents dabbling in medicine (oils, plexus, thrive), chiropractors and internet groups are taking the place of doctors when parents feel judged for parenting decisions that have no risk to a baby.    I DO follow the standard CDC vaccine schedule, do not advocate for co-sleeping due to risk for suffocation under 6 months but DO support breastfeeding until mother and baby are ready to wean. We should be able to have open discussions with patients that are evidenced based without passing judgement for things that are culturally based.  

    For example there is some debate as to whether prolonged breast feeding leads to tooth decay but not in every situation.  Frequent overnight feeds, pacifying on the breast overnight and not cleaning the teeth afterward do seem to increase the risk. Just the simple fact of breast feeding a 16 month old does NOT lead to increased dental caries though.  Doctors sometimes remember patients that did have dental caries from a combination of factors that included prolonged feeding (breast or bottle really) but don’t realize the other factors that were at play and blame just the breast feeding act, which is an oversimplification and wrong.  Your doctors reason seemed to be just culturally based not medically based.  Over eager parents sometimes encourage breast feeding without caution for those other factors but don’t see the 2 years old with dental abscess and loss of all front teeth.  There is a middle ground for sure and discussion that can take place without shaming.  Sorry for the length.  Cheers.

    Reply

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