On this last day of National Breastfeeding Month, I wanted to share this photo we had taken during a family photo shoot when Adelaide was 9 months old. I consider myself a breastfeeding advocate (and really I’m an education advocate–I believe every mother should have access to information and support for breastfeeding so that she is aware of the benefits and can get through the tough stages of breastfeeding if it’s what she chooses). I’ve written about breastfeeding several times on this blog–you can check out posts here and here and here and here.
This may come as a surprise to some, but at 25 months, Adelaide is still nursing. She doesn’t nurse in public–there’s really no need for it at this point. She nurses in the morning when she first wakes up. I bring her into bed with me and it’s the way we start each day. I also nurse her before she goes to bed. The nightly routine is nurse, brush teeth, read books, bed. Sometimes, these nursing sessions are short, like she could totally take it or leave it. Sometimes, they are longer, as if this time with me is the moment she’s been waiting for all her life. I’m comfortable with our breastfeeding relationship right now. I thought I might try to wean her at two years old, but she seems to SLOWLY be weaning herself. Some mornings I ask her if she wants Mommy’s milk or milk in a cup. She almost always chooses Mommy’s milk, but she has chosen milk in her cat cup or milk in her Elmo cup on a couple of occasions. I know it is just a matter of time before those five-minute nursing sessions become two minutes and then nothing at all. Until then, we will continue to do what feels right for both of us.
I don’t talk about the fact that I’m still breastfeeding very often. I guess it just doesn’t come up in conversation. However, I’m not embarrassed of it. I’m proud that we’ve had such a long nursing relationship. My pre-pregnant self wouldn’t have understood why we’ve continued so long (see my point about being an education advocate above). I thought that when a kid was old enough to ask for it, they were old enough to wean. After educating myself about the benefits of breastfeeding and learning that the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding until at least two years of age, my attitude has changed. I used to feel shy when I saw a nursing woman in public. I didn’t judge her for not covering herself, but I just thought I would never be that way.
A lot of modesty goes out the door in childbirth and for me, in motherhood. I did use a cover when Adelaide was young, and I do love my nursing tops that give lots of coverage, but I’m not embarrassed to nurse in public. When my baby was crying and needed to eat, I didn’t hesitate to “whip it out.” My hope is that one day breastfeeding in public will be common place–that women will never be asked to cover up or leave a public place.
In celebration of the month, our photographer Tammy Bradshaw, has an exhibit up at Cloth, a new natural baby story on East Passyunk. I think the show may be coming down this weekend, but it got some nice coverage in the local media. (Save yourself a rise in blood pressure by not reading the comments.)
Also, earlier this month there was a lovely campaign going on over at Mama By the Bay. Suzanne Barston, Jamie Lynne Grumet and Mama By the Bay’s Kim Simon launched the “I Support You” project. Check it out. It’s about supporting both nursing mothers and formula-feeding mothers. It’s about ending the mommy wars and supporting each other without judgement.
So, my final words as Breastfeeding Awareness Month comes to a close is for people to keep talking about it. Keep educating others. Keep breastfeeding in public and nursing beyond the publicly-accepted one year mark. Help to normalize breast feeding and “extended” breastfeeding. Keep supporting each other.