Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What "Extended Breastfeeding" Looks Like

Firstly, I do not agree with the term "extended breastfeeding", as if there's some magical time where breastfeeding goes from "normal" to somehow "unnormal". It does have a negative connotation the more you think about it. What's even more sad is that to many people, "extended" breastfeeding starts at 6 months, perhaps due to a misunderstanding about the "exclusive" recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics. To some, it is a year. To others, it means "walking & talking", after they have teeth, "if they can ask for it, they're too old for it". I regret thinking that way, misinformation, and lack of support with my first two children, whom I weaned around nine months.

My son Zane is 13 months old today. And this is what it looks like when he's nursing.

Here are some other videos of him nursing:

What "Extended Breastfeeding" Looks Like

Adventures In Nursing a One-Year-Old: Boobie Bongos

Adventures In Nursing a One-Year-Old: The Ham

The Le Leche League offers a variety of information about nursing beyond one year, one of my favorite articles being:

Breastfeeding Beyond a Year: exploring benefits, cultural influences, and more by Jen Davis.

One thing that strikes me when watching my videos is the fact that my son is still a baby. How could any one think that it is wrong to nurse a baby? And I am curious about how the next year will unfold for us. I can't wait to hear what words Zane will use when asking to nurse. I am anxious about the negative response when I "indiscreetly" nurse him in public.

Perhaps one of the most helpful resources I have found online about breastfeeding is, particularly the articles there about extended breastfeeding.

My husband has been supportive about my lactivism, but has expressed concern about still nursing when the child is, well, not a baby any more but ready to go to kindergarten. I have never imagined myself being a mother that nursed at that age, though I have nothing against it and support those that do so (admittedly, this was not always my belief, but in my entire life I have only actually seen 3 women breastfeeding besides myself, and they were all under 6 months old). I can find the words to express my thoughts about how my son is the only baby I have EVER seen nurse beyond the age of six months. On the rare occasion my older children (9 & 7) happen to get sick, I do express milk for them to drink (YAY BOOBIE MILK!). My goal at this point is at least 2 years, though I am planning on leaving the decision up to my son this time around.

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