And now, the myths.
“If you nurse past a year, you’ll never be able to wean!” Um, really? Except for those rare and bizarre urban-legend stories about 6-year-olds coming into the ER on their mothers’ breasts, we don’t hear about school-aged children nursing, do we?
I heard from a trustworthy lactation consultant that most children will self-wean between the ages of 2 years and 3 years. Makes sense. At some point — I’m rooting (so to speak) for this summer — my son will be ready to move on. And if he’s not? Well, I’ll nudge him the same I would with any other milestone.
“That’s gross! He’s going to have sexual problems!” Aye aye aye. Again, really?! From breastfeeding? Those pseudo-Freudian ideas are steeped in misunderstanding at best. My children, as far as I can tell, don’t even have a clue breasts have anything to do with sex. That’s the point: They’ve seen my breasts for their original purpose. I’m confident — perhaps with a little Freudian influence myself — that if we don’t treat breasts as sexual objects, my children won’t see them that way until it’s time, and then privately.
Now, there are some downsides to toddler nursing. For one, I’m just tired. I had a nice hiatus between children, but I’ve spent some SEVEN AND A HALF years of my adult life nursing. The famine in Egypt was shorter than that.
I’m relishing every minute with my baby, but don’t think I don’t fantasize about shopping for colorful, lacy bras without extra clips on the straps.
It also will be nice to not be blushing when my toddler says, in mixed company, “My name is Elijah, and I’m 2. Can I have Mommy’s milkies?”
Read here the World Health Organization’s position on breastfeeding, which advocates for exclusive breast milk through 6 months and for mothers to nurse up to age 2 years old and after as mutually desired by mother and baby: http://www.who.int/topics/breastfeeding/en/.
Goshen News columnist Stephanie Price is a wife, mother, teacher, childbirth educator, doula, midwife’s assistant and student nurse pursuing a minor in complementary health from Elkhart. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, 269-641-7249 or on Facebook at the page “Whole Family Column by Steph Price.”