5 reasons why…..I full-term breastfeed
I never thought I would be feeding a 5 year old. Feeding a child was normal to me, since my youngest brother was weaned at close to 4 years old, but my first breastfeeding journey came to a standstill at 6 months in, and was over for good at 7 months. Right now, with my youngest being 7 months old, I can’t quite believe it. But that’s what happened due to a lack of support locally. Thankfully support has generally improved in the almost-12 years since.
Here are my reasons (now I know what a nursing strike is) for letting my children wean at full-term, whenever that may be or them.
1) Because it’s more than just nutrition
Don’t get me wrong, the nutrition side is brilliant, especially if they’re going through a phase of not eating much in the way of solids, or their food choices have looked a bit questionable of late, seeing how nutritionally dense breastmilk is. What’s great is the added bonus of nursing being a comfort to them – think tumbles, scrapes, big emotions – milk solves pretty much everything! Nursing provides a compelling reason to walk away, an opportunity to collect thoughts or retreat from the world, a chance to allow themselves to be the little people they are – for that handful of moments – instead of trying to prove they’re big enough/strong enough/old enough. In short, it strengthens a secure attachment. That may sound like being clingy to the outsider, but meeting their needs promotes independence, as they know that in their most vulnerable moments you will be there for them.
2) Because even though I don’t love breastfeeding, it’s worth it a million times over when they are ill
Breastmilk obviously has tons of antibodies and immune-system-building properties, which are a benefit at any age, but when they eventually succumb to an illness it still helps out further. For one, it’s already helped in fighting off some of the illness. Breastfed children have decreased incidences of illness and lower mortality rates. My third child is prone to upper respiratory infections, which are more commonplace in babies fed formula, so I’m glad he has extra protection. Then, for all the negotiating, fobbing them off, pleading and feigning sleep when I’m touched out, when they are ill it is an absolute lifesaver. There’s nothing quite like a milky snuggle to settle a baby/child who is under the weather. With sickness bugs, it’s been the difference between staying hydrated and a hospital admission.
3) Because it normalises breastfeeding
My eldest was breastfed until she was 6 months old. Seeing her younger brothers feeding until term is just what having a baby and children looks like. For the boys, it’s the same, breastmilk is just what babies and young children have. For every person who sees my older boys feed (which is few and far between – they usually have milk when they wake up, and the odd extra feed if they’re upset/extra tired) it shows that it’s just a normal part of raising children. I don’t see a reason to prematurely wean.
4) Because it gives me added protection
It’s been scientifically proven that those who breastfeed are less likely to have breast cancer. There’s also a reduced risk of ovarian cancer and endometrial cancer. The benefits are cumulative, meaning the benefits increase with the more you nurse for.
5) Because my children won’t…..bloody…..wean
Even if I wanted to, they aren’t ready yet. Feeding through one pregnancy? Check (L and X). Feeding through two pregnancies? Check (L). Carrying on feeding at 3.5 and 5.5 after me being away for 5 days? Checkmate. They’re never going to wean are they?!
My older two nurslings, once I arrived home after 5 days away