Friday, November 4, 2011

Challenges and Rewards of Extended Breastfeeding

"Welcome to the Milk Mama Diaries Carnival (November). For this month, participants share their experiences on extended breastfeeding.  This includes tips to moms with young babies, as well as barriers and myths which discourage extended nursing. Please scroll down to the end of this post and check out the other carnival participants."

If someone told me during Ben's early days that I will be breastfeeding him during his second year, I would not have believed it.  I had such a tough start that I was counting the days until I reach the 6 month mark.

But time flies by so fast, before I knew it Ben turned 6 months, then I found myself planning for his first birthday.  And now, as he is about to turn two, I feel so blessed to be able to nurse him for as long as I have.  Allow me to share my views and experiences with nursing a toddler

The Challenges
When Ben turned 1, there were quite a number of people who were asking me when I'll be weaning him.  I get questions like "Doesn't it hurt?" or "Aren't you spoiling him?".  Then there's the "Woah, You still have milk" and "He's big enough already and doesn't need breastmilk" comments.   Sometimes, it is quite tempting to just ignore them but whenever I can, I try to see these instances as opportunities to show that it (1) it doesn't really hurt for the most part, (2) toddlers who are now mobile and more exposed to the outside world need all the protection they can get and (3) a breastfed child is not more clingy or dependent.  It was a challenge to discipline Ben not to bite when he first started teething but thankfully we got the hang of it.   As for the importance of breastmilk to a toddler, I had come to believe that by nursing Ben for as long as I have, I'm able to give antibodies that help him stay healthy. A single drop of breastmilk has a lot of germ-fighting cells in it and this is actually my main motivation for extended breastfeeding.  As for breastfed babies being extra clingy, this is a little tricky.  I guess I would have to say that during Ben's first few weeks at toddler school, I asked myself  whether our breastfeeding would be factor in his ability to adjust and trust other adults without me around. It didn't happen instantly but Ben did eventually became comfortable being at school without me around. From my observation of his class, each child conquers separation anxiety differently and breastfeeding doesn't make your toddler less confident or independent.
My secret weapon to get Ben to nap when on the road .. nursing ,... hehe (shhhhh ....)
The Rewards
The greatest reward for me when it comes to nursing Ben is his few sick days.  A healthy baby = A happy mommy = A happy home.  And if he does get sick, it's one of my weapons to make sure his stomach isn't empty despite his lack of appetite. Of course, there's the convenience of being able to feed your child anytime anywhere.  It makes traveling so much easier.  There's less stuff to put in the luggage and more ammunition to keep your child from being overstimulated with the excitement of new surroundings.  With Ben,  I know that when I nurse him a nap is just around the corner, or at the very least he gets to settle down and not be cranky.  And of course, there's the joy and fun of nursing a toddler who is able to express himself.  How do you say no to your child who tells you loud and clear that he wants "mum-mum" ? How do you not laugh when your child decides to nurse while reading a book or wearing his shades?  Don't get me wrong, I do intend to have a plan of action for that when the time comes that we are ready to wean (looking forward to it, too!) but maybe I'll stick with it for a little while longer.

How about you guys? What are your thoughts on toddler breastfeeding?

Please do visit the entries of my fellow mommy-bloggers below :)

J and the Three Boys - No more "de-de"
Life of a Babywearing and Breastfeeding Mommy - Still breastfeeding after 2 years
Got To Believe - Breastfeeding Room Story
Homeschooling Mommy - Yes, I've Got Milk


  1. Nats! That was my sleep "weapon" din!! LOL!

  2. And I second the motion! :D Nursing is a fool-proof way of making my cranky and sleepy tot fall asleep instantly.

    This is a very good post, Nats. I like it. :)

  3. haha madaya daw tayo my hubby said dahil siya kailangan mag song and dance number to make the kids fall asleep or quiet down :)

  4. Quite honestly I had never put much thought into toddler breastfeeding, or feeding past the age of 2 up until this carnival. Not many of the moms in my circle breastfeed past a year, so I am learning a lot and there is a lot to think about. Thank you! :)

  5. I totally agree! Nursing is a sure way to make D fall into deep slumber! There are times that she just wants to cuddle, and that makes me feel so good! And how fun it is when they start pulling our shirts up to find what's hidden! My daughter even screams when I show them to her!

  6. thanks everyone for your comments! :) I will surely miss the "powers" of nursing when the time comes to wean. Sending you all loads of mommy power and prayers of good health for your families. Enjoy the long weekend ahead, ladies!

  7. it's great how you turned the criticisms into opportunities to inform them about the benefits of toddler nursing!! great job nats!!

  8. I love that more and more LATCHers are Milk Mama bloggers (or vice versa) :)

    Anyhoo, it's true what you said about toddlers needing the protection only we can provide... my firstborn had acute gastro once, so severe that he had to stay in the hospital for several days... I was soooo worried about what he'd eat because he couldn't keep anything down... but all the doctors just encouraged me to keep breastfeeding and that was such a relief for me (Kasi i was scared na parang adults, pag may gastro probs, avoid muna ang dairy and milk is dairy).

  9. whoaaaaaaaaa.. i am so so so encouraged! my mish is now 9 mos and still breastfeeding, thank God! i wonder how long we would go, 1 , 2, or 3 or 4 perhaps(Lord willing), i am so excited. i can relate with these moms' breastfeeding tales and even emotional as i reminisce the first 3 months with mish- the bf challenges etc. and tears of joy as i continue to cuddle my baby during nursing. losta lotsa and lots of benefits in breastfeeding and extended breasfeeding at that! GO! GO! BREASTFEEDING MOMS!