#1. The magical one year cut off. According to some people, a clock strikes midnight on the day your child turns one, and instantly breastmilk can no longer benefit them. I've heard some form of this idea from lots of sources, including my pediatrician's office. The truth is, not only does nursing your child past one not turn them into a pumpkin, it has a whole lot of impressive benefits. I was pretty sure I wanted to nurse Finn past one, but I didn't know for sure until we got there. I remember clearly nursing him after his birthday party, thinking how I couldn't imagine quitting at that point. He was still very much a baby, even as his toddler side began to show, and he was still getting a lot of nutrition from our four nursing sessions per day. I'd say that his food intake was beginning to account for around 50% of his calories around that point, with milk making up the rest.
#2. Nursing a toddler is not a full-time job in the way that nursing an infant is. Nursing in the morning and at night doesn't require me to wear nursing bras, easy access clothing, or be available 24/7 for my child the way that nursing an infant does. If nursing a newborn is running a marathon, then nursing a toddler is taking a leisurely stroll in a park. There are no latch issues, no engorgement, no pumping (HALLELUJAH), and no worrying about supply. I nurse Finn between one and three times a day, depending on our schedule, which is clearly pretty flexible. Most of my hours of our days together are spent chasing an energetic toddler. I absolutely cherish the quiet minutes we spend nursing.
|speaking of flexible|
#3. You can make your own rules. I hope my thoughts on this don't offend anyone, but I'm not comfortable with my toddler coming up to me in public (or really ever), pulling down my shirt and helping himself. (Maybe you are, and if that's your thing, great!) The thought of this happening really turned me off from the idea of nursing past one, and I know I'm not alone. So I set boundaries. In his infant days, I nursed Finn around the clock, whenever and wherever. Once he was about six months old and we had more of a schedule, at home we only ever nursed in the rocker in his room or in our bedroom. I still nursed on demand, but we did it there. I think this helped Finn learn that there is a time and a place for nursing. I can count on one hand the number of times that Finn has asked to nurse outside of our normal routine in the past few months, and they were all times when he was sick, teething, or just not himself for one reason or another. Nursing a toddler does not have to mean the milk bar is open wherever and whenever, unless you want it to be. I personally think teaching Finn to respect me is just as important as him getting what he needs.
#4. Did I mention no pumping? I've said it before: boobs are smart. I slowly cut back on pumping at work and stopped altogether when Finn was 13 months old. My body has somehow adjusted itself now to allow for me to nurse Finn between one and three times a day without any problem. This was another thing I was worried about before I got here, but I know I'm not alone in the experience of it all just working itself out.
I'm not quite sure when our nursing journey will end, but I do know that I won't be writing about World Breastfeeding Week next August as a nursing mom. I'll be a little sad when it's all said and done, but I am so proud of how far Finn and I have come since our first unsure days of learning how all of this works together. I hope I've been able to show a picture of how awesome, or at least normal, nursing past the age of one can be.
Boobs, still awesome after all this time :)