Nursing your child right up to their preschool years may not be something most mothers would expect to do. But what if you choose to continue breastfeeding your toddler well over the one year mark? Read one mother’s story about her extended breastfeeding journey.
My daughter has just turned 3 and I am still breastfeeding her—no, not 3 months, 3 years old.
I get mixed reactions to this fact. Some pat me on the back and say well done, a few smile awkwardly, not quite sure what to do with the news, some end up staring at my chest and then there are those who shake an accusatory finger at me for the supposed harm I am causing my child.
But you know what, the negative comments just roll off my back because I know that what I am doing is neither wrong nor going to cause any long-term damage to my child’s development. On the contrary, I have read up a lot about the benefits of extended breastfeeding and understand that it is generally accepted in many cultures.
The looks of surprise and horror
There are people out there who just don’t understand and are not willing to listen. Here are just some of the reactions I’ve gotten:
They say: “You’re spoiling her!”
I say: How so? By listening to her needs, giving her a sense of security, and comforting her? No, I am just loving her.
They say: “After 6 months, breastmilk has no nutritional value.”
I say: That’s not true. I am not producing just plain water; my breastmilk still benefits my child’s immunity to a certain degree and she gets most of her nutrients from her daily meals, so I doubt I am doing any harm to my daughter’s health by giving her just a bit more sustenance with my breastmilk.
They say: “Do you breastfeed because you can’t afford formula milk?”
I say: I do not understand where this theory comes from and why modern society feels that breastfeeding is primitive and reserved only for those from developing countries or low-income households. It is the most natural thing a mother could do to bond with and nourish her child at the same time. I choose to breastfeed because I can afford to.
Judged by fellow mums
It saddens me to hear these comments, more so because a lot of them come from other mothers. I would have expected them of all people, to show more support and understanding.
I would like to remind all mums out there, motherhood is not a competition; we should respect each other’s parenting choices and understand that, despite those varying choices, one commonality remains: that we’re all just trying to do the best we can for our children.
Although I practice extended breastfeeding — my journey did not get off to a good start. In fact it was a pretty rocky one.
Read on to find out more about my early struggles to breastfeed my child.