Musings of a Toddler-Nursing Mother: The Society, Opinions, and Politics of Breastfeeding and How it Affects Moms

By: Leane Pupo

I have three children and decided breastfeeding was the best choice for my family. I know that there are many reasons women will choose not to breastfeed, or how long they will. I do highly recommend giving it a try and I know that science has backed up the benefits of gymnurstics_designbreastfeeding time and time again. After all, it is the natural choice.

What I am more interested now is how different my 3 breastfeeding experiences have been. My oldest son was born in 2006 and I remember reading to breastfeed until your child is at least 6 months. At the 6 months mark, I stopped. He never complained. It was as if “out of sight, out of mind.”

My second was born in 2010, and I remember reading that we should strive for a minimum of 1 year to get all the benefits of breastfeeding. So when his first birthday rolled around, he also stopped nursing. Like his older brother, it was as if he forgot what my breasts were.

Now I am nearing my daughter’s second birthday (July 19th) and I see no signs of her wanting to stop. After all, now the American Academy of Pediatrics is endorsing nursing until two years old if you can, and longer, if you both want to. In fact, there are a lot of countries that will wean at age 4. My middle child is 4.5years old and I cannot imagine still nursing him. Do I criticize others that do extended breastfeeding for preschoolers? Not my place or my style. However, I am starting to get worried about my own daughter and her boob addiction (I say this jokingly, of course).

We don’t nurse in public. It seems like there are too many judging eyes out and she is too busy exploring new places to care. She eats anything and everything when we go out. She is actually our best eater! She will try all foods and textures. She is also very independent and likes to feed herself and drinks from cups and straws. We also give her organic cow’s milk. So, why is she still hooked and is it OK?

The experts say that all children will wean… eventually. I am still comfortable nursing her and it doesn’t tie up my day. I work from home. She nurses in the morning and at night. Sometimes a mid-day snack. I know she is drinking. This is not a habit but a drink/food craving. It is not like my child needs this as comfort or a habit. She just gets thirsty and sometimes a bottle/cup is not enough.

So when is it enough? Do I cut her off? Do I endure the comments of “how long are you going to breastfeed?” or “will you stop when she’s in college”? Or do I trust the experts that she will eventually let it go? I am lucky to have a supportive husband and family, but even they even will comment on, “she’s getting big.”

Breastfeeding has always been a hot issue with many people questioning the “indecency” of it in public or how long is too long. The fact remains there is still a lack of support for breastfeeding mothers. To the point where nursing mothers begin doubting their choice and feel like, as more time passes, we need to be hidden and not let anyone know where are “still at it.” Women are getting kicked out of public places (even if federal and/or state laws allow public breastfeeding) when they nurse their children. The laws are screwy, and no surprise, the public is unknowledgeable. Ignorance makes everything harder.

I guess for now, I am a gymnurstics expert.

For additional information on breastfeeding laws by state: http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/breastfeeding-state-laws.aspx#Fed

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