11. What would you say to a new mother to help normalize sustained breastfeeding for her and possibly help her envision that for herself and her family? How would your message change for a mother who is coming up on a year of breastfeeding?
I would say to moms with kids of all ages – do what is working for you and your child. Don’t worry about breastfeeding a three year old. Take it day by day. I never planned to be nursing a three year old. My goal was two years. But, two years came and went and breastfeeding was a great way for my daughter and I to reconnect and handle all those big kid emotions (and mommy meltdowns) that start happening in the toddler years.
Breastfeeding is normal and natural. Trust your instincts. If both mother and child are happy, then don’t listen to outsiders.
I always encourage mothers to first of all surround themselves with other breastfeeding mothers even prior to giving birth. I myself was encouraged to attend La Leche League meetings by my birth education teacher and it was amazing. It really helps you set your expectations. When our expectations are compared to formula fed infants it can be overwhelming, when in reality it is much different. Breastfeeding in the beginning can be both easy and really hard. I remind new mothers that as the baby grows, the relationship evolves too, so don’t feel trapped by it but rather liberated by it. My message would be the same to mothers of toddlers: be around other mothers who breastfeed their toddlers, follow your heart, and remember it is a relationship.
Nursing past infancy is part of a healthy, loving relationship. As my friend Lauren of Hobo Mama wrote: “You breastfeed day by day, not a year’s leap at a time. Nursing [my son] today, at 3-years-old, is different from breastfeeding him at 2-years-old by only one day, one moment. He didn’t become a gangly toddler overnight, so I had plenty of gradual time to adjust my vision of what a nursling looks like, each day.”
Just do what feels natural for you and your child.