Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"I really need to nurse, Mama!"

Marguerite Gerard, The Breastfeeding Mother

While rocking my daughter this afternoon before her nap she hit me with, "I really need to nurse, Mama!"  It struck me as funny considering most people don't even consider nursing into toddlerhood, when a child can express themselves so clearly!  Yes, I am still nursing my 2 year old.  Nursing a two year old is so different from nursing a baby! She no longer nestles comfortably in my arms but rather lays across my lap or beside me in bed. She is not still for long but it is nice that I can now tell her how to adjust her latch when it gets uncomfortable.

Nursing while pregnant has created some changes to our nursing relationship, mostly the tenderness I have been experiencing and also the decrease in milk production.  But I am so glad to still have those special moments of closeness with her.  She is so very independent now and our occasional nursing times together are special.  Some days she is distracted and forgets to nurse all day and others she "needs" to nurse quite a few times.  I am thankful to be able to comfort her in this way and knowing that my milk is still a source of excellent nutrition is a plus. 

When I first found out I was pregnant with baby number two, I made a list of things to do to get Audrey ready for this next phase of life.  At the top of the list was weaning and potty training.  I have since put that list aside.  I no longer have the desire to wean.  Who knows what her nursing will look like 4 months from now, that is if she is even still interested in nursing.  Children change so quickly!  I just want to go with the flow and offer her what she needs from me at each stage of life. I don't want to miss out on something special just because it isn't a cultural norm.

I don't know any other moms who have nursed their children well into the third year of life (I am certain they are out there!).  I know extended breastfeeding is not for everyone, but I wish our culture would embrace breastfeeding as an important part of childhood.  I think the nursing relationship between mother and child should not be limited to a given period of time but rather allowed to persist as long as mother and baby are benefiting.  Not everyone has success with breastfeeding and not everyone's lifestyle would allow for extended breastfeeding, but for those who are able it can be such a blessing!  It saddens me to see how convenience oriented our society has become.  Aren't our children worth going the extra mile and giving them access to such a perfect food for as long as they would like it?

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