Extended Breastfeeding – Do Not Ask Me Why I Ain’t Stopping Yet
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“Until when are you planning to breastfeed Skye?”
“Don’t you feel the need to wean Skye? She’s a baby no more.”
“It’s best to stop breastfeeding your daughter, she’s so big already.”
Those questions, and a lot more, are being thrown to me by family members and random strangers when they see me nursing my almost-three-year-old sweet pea. Although I always have my readied answer summarized in an eight-word sentence – “I’ll nurse her as long as she wants” – I still feel the need to write about our (extended) breastfeeding journey.
I’ve held this child and nursed her every single day since she was born. Our first year of breastfeeding journey is nowhere near easy. I’ve been through all unimaginable painful experiences (engorgement, plugged ducts, mastitis, cluster feedings, etc). I have been bitten countless of times that I sometimes wonder my nipples are still attached to my breasts. I managed to learn and overcome all misconceptions that go along with it. Our nursing relationship has never been easy but it becomes effortless and less exhausting; it also becomes more rewarding overtime. So why do I have to stop now? In two years, Skye has gotten bigger and heavier but that doesn’t change the fact that she is still my baby girl and I will take advantage of her longing for my bosom no matter how long it takes.
Extended breastfeeding has brought a lot of advantages to our family. Aside from the countless benefits for me and my baby, both physically and mentally, its financial reward is really my favorite.
A baby can consume two cans of formula milk in a month = Php 3,000 (one can of 1.8kgs costs Php 1,500+). There are 12 months in a year. Skye is 32 months now. Since we’ve been breastfeeding from Day 1, we’ve saved more or less Php 96,000! We have yet to add those we save from hospitalization, frequent check-ups, vitamins, etc.
Other advantages are:
- Skye has strong immune system. Thanks be to God for providing me enough supply for our extended breastfeeding. And although there are those who say my milk is no longer nutritious (paso na daw), I will keep on feeding my child. Because I know my milk will never cease its nutritive value, rather it continuously change to meet my baby’s needs.
- I will continue breastfeeding because it makes me healthier. Study shows that mothers who breastfeed for more than a year are less likely to have breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancer. I’m covered.
- Skye can identify pictures of animals at 11 months, colors at 17 months, and letters at 21 months. She was potty trained at 18 months and can count 1-10 at 22 months – that boost in her brain development I partly attribute to breastfeeding.
- I won’t stop just yet because nursing her is easier and more convenient, especially since we love being on the roads. Imagine if we have to bring all the paraphernalia in making milk every time we travel or climb a mountain. Hassle, yeah?
- Extended breastfeeding is my chance, as a mother, to sit down and calm down. I am not ready to give that up yet.
You see, we are extending our breastfeeding journey because I want to lengthen the connection and reconnection that I get whenever I nurse Skye. I love the evenings and idle moments we spend together, just snuggling while nursing. My invigorated ability to provide comfort and security to our child as she learns the cosmos, and our developed sixth sense of communication that gives me the power to soothe her within seconds of a scrape are advantages which we fail to enjoy if we decided to do otherwise.
Extended breastfeeding has tightened our bond so well that we can easily understand each other without the need for words. I will continue to nourish that bond as long as she needs. I know that we’re establishing positive communication this early stage, and I am hoping that someday, my daughter will always want to tell me everything without reservations, to connect with me whenever there’s a need to – because she knows I will be around, just like when she wants to “dede” anytime, anywhere, even with strangers around.
I will nurse Skye as long as she wants. I trust her enough and I trust my motherly heart. Our breastfeeding journey will end exactly when it should for us and not when people think we must.
We all have our own rights to do whatever we think and feel is best for our family. I acknowledge the fact that there will be those who will question us, look down on us, and doubt us. I want you to know that your thoughts and unsolicited advice are less important than my child’s needs and comfort. Let us not impose our ways of nourishing our children to be recognized above anyone else or to prove a point. Let’s just support one another. What works for our family, may not work for yours, but that does not mean it is wrong.
As a breastfeeding counselor and advocate, I don’t want you to feel pressure to join me in this journey, same thing that I don’t want you to pressure me to give up this path that we embraced. We should not feel afraid or ashamed with our choices on how we nourish our children, and extended breastfeeding is an option I am proudly taking.
UPDATE: Skye is already 4 years old now, turning 5 in less than 6 months and still nursing. No signs of weaning yet. 🙂
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