Monday, March 11, 2013

Nursing My 3-Year Old

If there is one thing that parenthood has taught me, its to take all my expectations and throw them out the window! Another, everyone has an opinion about how you're doing it wrong. Both of those are certainly true in regards to Gwen's and my nursing relationship as well.

I never thought I would be here, almost a month past celebrating my daughter's 3rd birthday, still nursing twice a day. I'm surprised, delighted, a little nursed-out, but still with the warmest of feelings towards this amazing journey that we've taken together.

I'm also finding myself slightly more wary to talk about this beautiful thing we share. That makes me sad. Something that is so normal, something with so many benefits (to mama and baby), should be celebrated, not stigmatized. Yet because my baby is 3, and not a baby anymore, I get judgement from many. "She's too old, you're stunting her independence."  "Its not nutritional anymore!"  "Its clearly only for you at this stage, let her grow up."

Thankfully, for every naysayer I've encountered, I've also found a supporter. Expected sources, like my family, who know that there is still some good nutrients in breastmilk, despite Gwen's age. Like my husband, who expressed how he hopes I'm still planning to let her self wean, since she gets so much comfort and joy from her nursing sessions. Like the doctor who said that nursing while I had a minor illness was a great way to pass on some antibodies to keep Gwen from getting it as well. Some expected sources as well, like the mother of one of Gwen's former classmates, who asked if we were still nursing, and told me what an awesome thing it was!

My 3-year old is a healthy, happy, thriving, very independent and spirited girl. We have an amazing bond, which is strengthened by this special thing we share. I'm making less milk now, and I know our days are numbered, but I'm going to try and enjoy every one that we have left. And I invite anyone to keep their mind open, and there judgement to themselves!

Just a note to say that I am a big supporter of breastfeeding, but also a big supporter of doing what is best for your individual family. If you were unable to or chose not to breastfeed, or chose to wean at an earlier age, please don't take the above as an indictment. I only ask that you extend the same non-judgement to me, as I do to you.

For more information about ages of weaning, what primate physiology tells us about weaning, and other breastfeeding statistics, check out these resources:


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