Today, the twins turn 3. I never thought that I'd breastfeed for 3 years. Whenever I was asked how long I intend to breastfeed, I'd say "I don't know, but the average age worldwide is 3 years". I guess, that was the safe answer. But like anything that's challenging and important, I had to look at myself and really think about my personal motivation for extended breastfeeding . Because even if the first few months are the hardest, it also took some commitment to nurse the girls during their second year.
So in honor of Bree and Bea, here are the reasons to nurse your child beyond 2 years.
Nursing helps protect your children who are now more exposed to viruses as they go out more - For me, nursing the twins wasn't primarily about making sure they are not hungry, but more of my way of protecting them from the viruses they are exposed to at school and other public places. Also, with Ben starting big school, he is bound to bring home some viruses, too. By nursing the twins, I am doing my best to protect the girls from being infected with whatever he has. I'm not saying the girls don't get sick, but I am hopeful that they recover faster whenever they do.
Nursing helps calm down children who are still learning to regulate their emotions - the girls are still learning to be verbal, which means we have our share of tantrums when they are upset. Once they are cranky, I'd feed them and they quickly settle down, which makes it easier to take care of them especially during instances when I don't have anyone to help me.
Nursing makes travelling more convenient - Long bus and airplane rides with the twins have been rather quiet. Nursing has helped them sleep and not be irritated with the change in altitude. Lighter luggages with more room for shopping is another plus :)
The thought of extended nursing may be overwhelming, but there's merit to doing it. Take things a day at a time though, and remember that no matter how long you breastfeed, each day that you're able to do so is a victory!