Tuesday, February 16, 2010

You what?!?

For those of you who know me, my post Bittersweet Goodbye was no shock to you. However, I'm guessing there are quite a few of you who sat at your computers with your mouths wide open, shaking your head back and forth, all while mumbling, "Two years, 8 months, and 8 days!?! But, but, but, that is almost 3 years! 3 years! That is way too long to nurse a child!". Yep go ahead and admit it, you were shocked, grossed out, disgusted, etc. Nothing will phase me as I think I've heard it all in my almost 3 years of nursing. Besides, I used to sit right where you all sit. I once staunchly declared that I would only nurse until a year and anything after that was too old. I eat my words ladies and gentlemen. I also judged others who nursed past two years in the same way that I have been judged (huh interesting biblical aspect there, isn't it?).

I can't even begin to tell you how many times people asked me when I was going to wean. Starting pretty much right after she was born. Some told me I should stop when she could ask for it. For Zoelle that was at 9 months, which in my opinion was too young to wean. Around a year old was when I started really getting the looks or people asking me if I was almost done. When I got pregnant, people assumed that surely I would quit nursing because it wasn't safe to nurse while pregnant (not true people, it is more than safe to nurse through a healthy pregnancy). Then shortly before I had Meridian, many told me I must stop or else Zoelle would never wean, or the new baby wouldn't get enough food, or that she was just plain ole' too old to still be nursing.

What exactly is extended breast feeding and why do it? Kellymom has some awesome information about what it exactly is and why do it, but being that most of you won't click on that link, I thought I would summarize here so you can see it for yourself.

*Nursing toddlers benefit NUTRITIONALLY
*Nursing toddlers are SICK LESS OFTEN
*Nursing toddlers have FEWER ALLERGIES
*Nursing toddlers are SMART
*Nursing toddlers are WELL ADJUSTED SOCIALLY
*Nursing a toddler is NORMAL
*MOTHERS also benefit from nursing past infancy

If you didn't do extended breastfeeding or didn't breastfeed at all, please don't be offended by that information. It's just that: information that you can take or leave. If you want to know specifics, please read the information given.

Not only all of that but The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that "Breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child... Increased duration of breastfeeding confers significant health and developmental benefits for the child and the mother... There is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychologic or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer." (AAP 2005)

For me I simply did it for Zoelle. She is smart, very smart. She was also more than capable of following her own instincts and gradually weaning when she felt emotionally and physically ready. Did I love it the whole time? No way! I wanted to quit many times, but she just wasn't ready so I followed her lead. In case your wondering, I'll do the same for Meridian (although I have my doubts that we will make it much past one year). So there you have it. I did it for her and I have provided you with the information to do with as you please.

Want to learn more? Please see these great resources!

There's No Such Thing As Extended Breastfeeding

A Natural Age of Weaning

Continuing Breastfeeding Beyone The First Year

Breastfeeding Guide & Tips

What are the benefits of breastfeeding my toddler?

Already nursing a toddler and need some extended support? Check out Breastfeeding Beyond Infancy it has many wonderful articles to encourage and support you in your extended breastfeeding journey.


  1. I've never understood why others feel the right/need to comment on another's personal choices, particularly regarding their children. Kudos to you for doing exactly what you felt was right and sticking to it :)

    P.S. I came here from Callista's and just *love* your blog design!

  2. Aww...thanks Michelle about my blog design! :)

    I too have never understood why other's feel the need to state their beliefs or choices when it isn't their child. At the same time, I know I have been guilty of doing it myself. Thus, I am working on being less judging, and not pushing my beliefs on others. Rather, I give the information, and then people can do with it as they please!

    Thanks for stopping by! :)

  3. I agree, I dont think people should judge. Honestly its your own right and if that is what works for you then that is what you should do.

  4. Ditto what the others said about judging. When people found out I was pregnant(at 12 weeks, mind you), I had people ask me if I would breastfeed. I said yes. Their next question: for how long? Interesting. Maybe it's because they know you're my sister! :) As I look at it, I don't ask them about the meal that THEY will be eating eighteen months from now. Nor do I ask them WHAT they eat everyday, and judge them based on that.

    Also, we've made it a cultural norm to quit nursing before 1 year of age. But there have been so many "cultural norms" that we as a society have been dead wrong about.

  5. I agree Shannon. It's been tough at times to follow my own path, but I am proud of the choices I have made.

    Gen, you bring up such a great point on not asking others what they will eat or will be eating in the future. I've never looked at it that way. Also, I think the U.S. is the only culture around that feels so strongly about quitting nursing early. I don't think most people realize that the majority of other countries are all about extended breast feeding. We are not the norm. I had to laugh a bit at others asking possibly because we are sisters! :) They need to know (or should know) that you are not one to follow and will always choose your own path! ;)

  6. Way to go Vanessa for a heartfelt and educational entry... I myself also am in the same position of finding myself in the place of those I once judged, and am happy to have the chance to learn that lesson gently and with humility. God is kind.

    Josie and I are talking about how the baby will nurse when she comes, and I asked if she was ready to share... she told me, "Nurse together! Josie right, baby left!" And smiled. My heart was so moved. Children have so much to teach us about love and generosity.

  7. Actually, no...I'm not grossed out a bit. I think extended breastfeeding is a healthy thing and a wonderful gift.

    Thanks for sharing your experience - and all of those resources too!

  8. Mandy, isn't God kind to us? I have been in the same position as you and am so thankful that I have since learned from my mistakes. What a cutie Josie is. I look forward to hearing all about your tandem nursing journey.

    Stephanie, thanks for not being grossed out! :)

  9. Huh. I'm so happy to have stumbled upon this post (via SITS - happy saturday!) as I am breastfeeding a 9 month old, beginning to think about (dread?) weaning. I had planned to wean at one year and I already know he won't be ready and me, I go back and forth. At any rate, thanks for this timely and helpful information.

  10. Oh Tara, I'm glad I could give you the info! Hopefully you will make the decision that will be best for both you and your little guy! Thanks for stopping by! :)

  11. Good for you! I didn't make it quite as long as you. Somewhere around Jessie's second birthday I thought, to perhaps help us to get pregnant again (nearly a year later and it did not matter -- we may be giving up - I'm old LOL! Anyway I digress...) it might be time for Jessie to stop. I wasn't certain she was ready but decided to try. I told her that she drank it all and she said ok. THAT WAS IT! She was totally fine! I was crushed and really missed it... I thought I'd have a week or so to get myself ready for the "bittersweet goodbye" (Perfectly chosen words!) and she was done totally cold turkey!

    Blog hopping because my sweetie is away tonight. I've enjoyed my stop here. Thank you for an inviting blog!!
    Kathy over at Everyday Bliss

  12. Hi Kathy! :) What a sweet story with your Jessie. Although I can't imagine how hard. I had weeks, months even, to prepare for her to be done. I would think it would be so hard to just stop. ((hugs)) to you as that would hurt in so many ways. Yet in another way, you know she was completely ready. If she wasn't, she wouldn't have just stopped. You can be proud!

    I'm glad you stopped by and thank you for saying my blog is inviting, that is my hope! :)

  13. I used to be one of those women too. I silently judged women for practicing extended breastfeeding. Boy was I wrong! I've learned the err of my ways and am happy to say that I plan on allowing my 11-month old daughter to self-wean.

    Kristi, Live and Love...Out Loud

  14. Kristi-I sure hope I have learned the err of my ways. I'm sure I have lots of growing and stretching to do in the area of judging, but I am trying. Congrats on allowing your little girl to self-wean!

  15. Just found your blog through a comment you left on another blog-my son will be 3 in February and I'm still breastfeeding him about 2 times a day-sometimes more. I don't usually share this with people because I'm not sure what they will think/say. Thanks for the resources you provided and I'm looking forward to checking them out.

  16. Dawn-I hope I can be of help. It was really scary for me to originally open and up and share. But eventually, I didn't like feeling like I had to hide something that felt so completely normal for me. ((hugs)) as you complete this journey. Enjoy every minute of it (somedays I really miss that special quiet time we had).


Feel free to share any jewels or treasures in your comments to me. :)