Tuesday, December 2, 2008

To Wean....or not?

I believe in child led weaning. I know no one is still going to be nursing when they are in college. When they don't need the milk, they'll wean. I believe in this. I believe that babies have a very big need for suckling and for their mommies. Despite this, I feel a need to wean.

I know all the benefits of breastfeeding. They do not end suddenly at one year of age, the common age women stop breastfeeding.

The health benefits alone are reason enough to keep breastfeeding:

When Millicent was sick with the stomach virus she couldn't keep anything down, but she nursed a LOT. She sustained herself on mommy's milk and it never made her throw up.

It also helped to keep her from getting as sick as other people in our family because those immunities kicked in and fought the virus.

The social aspect is just as important:

When she is feeling cranky a little mommy's milk calms her down.

When she is feeling TWO, mommy's milk helps to center her.

It heals hurts.

It puts her to sleep within minutes, at rest time and bed time.

She reconnects with me.

I get to hold and love on her for just a few minutes while she nurses.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, nursing is about so much more than just the milk. But don't get me wrong, the milk is supremely important. Do not be fooled that formula is as healthy and good for your baby as breast milk. There is no comparison.

All that being said, knowing how important nursing is to (me and) Millicent, I want to wean. Why?

Not because we both have stopped enjoying our times together (which now are usually only twice a day). Not because it has become burdensome or tiring. Not because the benefits are gone for her or I. (I'm not even going into all the benefits for me, but do know that there are many.) Not because of any of those reasons.

Because, and ONLY because, society says that nursing a three year old is wrong and gross. I'm already a closet nurser...I wont nurse her in public or around anyone else, and I don't usually tell people that I'm still nursing.

Oh, I'm proud of the fact that I am still nursing. But society tells me it's wrong. So I'm proud, in my own home.

So I want to wean because society thinks it's wrong. And that's WRONG. That is just plain wrong.


Kim said...

Don't I know it, Michelle! You remember Yeva nursed until 3 years and 9 months old. When I was pregnant with Ziva and there was no more milk, she lost interest. But, before she stopped, I was exactly the same as you - ONLY nursed in my own home or around my other friends who were still nursing 3, 4 and 5 year olds! So, just wanted to say, I feel ya!

Bob said...

They seem to stop naturally around 5 or so it has been my experience. It took me some time (not much) to stop being a closet nurser of the children 3 and over. It was more societies comments I read from others that led me to a be a closet nurser for a while....took on the role for a bit...got tired of it. Take it out of your head. Nurse when they want---when you want and take a book. Don't look around wondering who is watching and what they are thinking. Concentrate on what you are offering. What peace of mind you are giving to said child. The love, kindness compassion. The teaching you are sharing with the people watching you. The change you want to be in the world...
I hope you continue to nurse.

Yara said...

oh sweetie!
I feel your pain
I am SO sad Lorelei stopped nursing (if my milk had not dried up during pregnancy; she'd have kept going I'm sure)
Don't let society lead you..... what does society know? they get most things wrong anyway!
: (
pray and do as God leads you
not as society would tell you to do.
By this point, society already thinks we are freaks for nursing so long, anyway... what's another year or 2?

Holly said...

I agree with what Yara said. I had a son still nursing at 3. the only reason I encouraged weaning with him, was that it seemed like the right time to do it. keep praying and seeking as to what you should do.

But I wouldn't wean, because of what society thinks. It's none of their business.

Ces said...

Hi! I rarely post and never comment, but I actually signed up for a google account to express how strongly I feel that you should nurse as long as you and your daughter want to in spite of societal pressures. I'm assuming that you are concerned because of fear of others' reactions toward your daughter if they find out, but I urge you not to give them control over your mothering instincts! I had the same fears with my oldest who closet nursed until she was 6 (at which point, nursing her gave me the creeps and after hiding from her in the bathroom for ten minutes, I realized I had reached my end of the nursing journey with her. :)! She weaned with understanding). I nursed two other children until they were 3 or 4 and am happily nursing my youngest at 11 months. I tandem nursed, nursed while pregnant, donated milk,etc. It is what a mother's body is designed to do and it is what children need until their bodies, minds and souls mature enough to move beyond the nursing experience. My advice to you is to be practical and choose your daughter's social circle to include tolerant moms and kids. After I found a group of women (mostly homeschoolers) that were also "closet nursing," playdates were easier as was being comfortable with ourselves. The practical side is that it's really hard to nurse a toddler in public, so get comfortable with the back seat of your car and using a sling in the mall bathroom, but relax at home and around real friends and enjoy it. It is so worth it! All the benefits you state are so true. It's your bonding time with your child and not to sound over dramatic, but you can't get this time back! I truly urge you to follow your instincts and buck society.
In peace,

Michelle said...

I got many responses on this post. I want to thank everyone for telling me to keep on doing what I know is right.

Why am I letting others make me feel bad...for pete's sake, I homebirth (without a midwife), I homeschool, and I'm completely submissive in a counterculture world.

I'm going to keep nursing...and I'm going to nurse in public the next time Millicent asks.

Again, thank you for all the wonderful comments. MANY MANY women commented on how they are nursing 3 and 4 year olds...

Michelle said...

Celestia, I just read your comment. I somehow overlooked it.

Thank you.

Yes, as I was showering the other day I was fervently praying for other REAL life like minded moms to spend time with. I have friends, but I am the ONLY woman I know who breastfeeds. I want more around me.

I know there are homeschoolers who are still breastfeeding so next time they are having a moms night out or play day, I'm going. Thanks for that.