I love breastfeeding my little one. Why?
Why not? Nature, nurture, closeness, comfort, nutrition, freedom, love. I wouldn’t change at all the path I have chosen of breastfeeding her until she weans herself.
It seems irrelevant, but for those who have an image in their head: I am not middle class, I am not middle aged and I am not financially well off. I have tattoos, a smattering of piercings, a smattering of education. Mostly, breastfeeding is for me an awe-inspiring and joyful experience. In its totality I am without words to describe it. I could never have understood what it means prior to the event. As a longer term breastfeeding mother (‘extended breastfeeder’ – ugh!), I am probably supposed to always be bowled over by its beauty. Yet there are times when I am not. In the early hours, when my daughter suckles me ‘dry’ (just a feeling, not actually possible) and will not let me even move my arm from its now rigid over-head position! I have experienced sometimes long and always broken nights for three years and then some; due to many factors. Breastfeeding has at times during these nights been a seemingly never ending chore; at others, and usually, a Godsend – the only way through a long dark stretch. Whatever the situation, breastfeeding has become a central peg in who we are as mother and child, and in how we conduct our lives. a blessing, a tool, a simple instinct.
The lack of peers doing this means that truly empathetic listeners are simply not there. To ‘detox’ the difficulties of any situation can be so helpful in just carrying on. Which I will do. In joy and a degree of loneliness, until my little one chooses to stop. Long may it continue! And yes, I do breastfeed in public; it is natural, ok, normal, healthy, important.
It is not always easy. If a child misbehaves, however, you do not put them up for adoption. If sometimes breastfeeding is not a bed of roses, it doesn’t mean it is time for us to give up. There are many authorities on ‘the natural age for a child to wean’ (see Miranda Dettwyler or Gabrielle Palmer, for example) – and the worldwide norm is four years of age. Yes, four.
Is ‘still’ breastfeeding my three year old daughter selfish of me? Let’s see. I have not had an evening off or out since her birth. I have already mentioned the sleepless nights (granted, not caused by nocturnal feeding, but it comes into play, energy-wise, as a solution to the wakefulness). I have confidence issues about the pummelled appearance of my small breasts. No, it is not selfish. My little one chooses breast milk. I have learnt in these three years that she usually knows exactly what she needs. I trust her. She’ll know when to stop, and she’ll let me know. In the meantime, she is healthy, confident, independent and beautiful. Considering the whole picture, breastfeeding my daughter is, without a doubt, the single most important and rewarding achievement of both our lives so far.