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The Dark Side of Extended Breastfeeding (and the Bright Sides, too)

I'm just trying to keep it real, y'all. I choose to continue breastfeeding Little L because of the host of benefits to mom and child, and because neither of us is ready to wean yet. Still, it's not all roses and anyone who says it is, lies.

So what's not to love? This:

1) Mobile kids can now run up to you, yank up/down your top, and lay claim to a breast before you can utter a single syllable.

2) Verbal kids (like mine) will loudly yell for her "Nye nye!" as she's pulling down said top.  And yelling even louder when I'm not quick on the draw to undo my nursing top.

3) Nursing used to happen when I'd offer.  Now, I never offer but it happens anytime Little L wants it.  Which seemed to be every two hours, yesterday.

4) Fingers and toes in every possible space north of the boob.  Like, finger in the mouth, the eye, the nose, feet on the face, under the neck, on my chest.  And the pinching.  Ow, the pinching.

5) Unsolicited comments and the occasional silent look of judgment.  Usually when they come from family, I am willing to tolerate it.  From strangers? I want to give them a kick to the face.  

6) Teeth.  Usually Little L is awesome about not biting me, but sometimes when she's comfort nursing, you can feel just the slightest bit of pressure from her mouth full of teeth.  And it's not great.

7) Toddler nursing is sort of like an awkward teenage dance.  There's a lot of random movement and counter movement, and you sometimes end up in weird positions but you don't want to ruin the moment by correcting back to a proper position.  Case in point: Little L likes to nurse while I'm on my back, and she has climbed on top of me from the side, sort of like a water fountain.  She also likes to nurse while she's on her knees in a child's pose, and I'm lying sideways facing her, which brings me to point 8...

8) ... breastercise.  Like, my boobs are being stretched and kneaded and extended like I'm in boob yoga.  Because of my larger, and more mobile, nursling, I find that my poor boobs are pulled in all sorts of wayward directions sometimes.  And yet, somehow, she still manages to maintain a proper latch and score herself mouthfuls of mommy milk.  It's perplexing how that happens.

9) It's impossible to nurse on just one side anymore, because Little L dictates which boob she wants, and sometimes, she wants both of them in alternating fashion, for approximately 5 seconds each.  So lucky me, I get to sit (or lie down) with my chest hanging out, while she samples the two sides back and forth, back and forth.

10) I still have to wear nursing tops and bras.  This limits my "style" severely, and it wasn't like I had a lot to work with to begin with!

But, even with all of these unpleasantries, I would never ever trade it away for early weaning.  Little L benefits so much from my milk (she doesn't even have to drink cow's milk yet, lucky her), and from my antibodies and my connection to her.  Any cursory Google on the benefits of extended nursing would tell you that there are a host of positives to it, so I won't bother listing them at length.  However, for me, the best reasons for continuing the nursing relationship are these:

1) Easy bedtimes - no tears, she just nurses down quietly.
2) Easy comfort - every booboo and big feeling and frustration is quickly appeased by nursing
3) Easy feeding - no bottles, no sippies, just Mommy.  It's convenient and efficient.

What are your experiences with extended breastfeeding?  What pros and cons have you personally had with this practice?

Comments

The pros outweighed the cons for me too. I never had the two boob at once issue as I only ever nursed on one side per feeding, but I remember at 18 months hearing "hungry" from my munchkins when they wanted to nurse and not being able to wear a dress for a long time as very few were breastfeeding friendly!

Good for you doing what is best for you and your baby!

p.s. You may want to hide this post when she is older as it will probably mortify her to read it (and have her friends read it)! I'm sure she'll feel differently when she has babies as then you can laugh/compare nursing details ;)
asphodellium said…
I lol'd! Ashelyn says "neh neh" but unless they're Taiwanese, most people don't understand what she's asking for! Of course, yanking down the top does tend to clarify things. She's fast, but good thing I'm still faster ... we will have no boob-flashing here x)

I haven't encountered any intentionally offensive reactions, though one lady said something along the lines of, "I've heard that breastmilk 'goes bad' after the first year." Anyway I have thick skin; I don't really care :p neither do I feel particularly alone; seems like plenty of moms are breastfeeding their one-year-olds.

My one qualm is that Ashelyn still nurses so regularly that I wonder if it affects her appetite for food ..? I mean, I think she eats okay, but I have nothing with which to compare her.
mitzerella said…
right now it's like im shoving my breast onto Max's face. he's also nibbling for less than a minute and even shakes his head no when i offer. book..our bf days are over as of the 14th. however, it's day 4 and ive felt no engorgement..i think my body has responded without difficulty
I just realized I did not comment on this. I read from my email (usually while nursing ollie to sleep) then comment in my head for later. OK, so Ollie is the exact same here. The other day while trying to order fish in the store, Ollie is basically trying to swing from my boobs to nurse, IN THE DAMN STORE! There are no boundaries, just a toddler doing his thing. I pray we both are ready to wean soon...

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