It amazes me how many people are completely oblivious to the wonders and benefits of nursing an infant into toddlerhood. Sadly so many women are not supported either by their husbands, families or friends. On a high note, however, society is seemingly becoming more open to nursing babies, but into toddlerhood there is a chasm. Currently in society there are movements of women to encourage nursing in public, which I wholeheartedly support. A woman and child should never be made to feel bad for feeding a baby. There was a time in history not too far ago when formula did not exist and every mommy nursed anywhere they were! There are, however, some women who, in my personal opinion take it a bit far and it has become a “boobie” show rather than a feeding. It is very possible for a woman to nurse in public while also being discrete, that doesn’t mean she has to “cover up,” it simply means being discrete…and…women; you know what that means regardless of boob size. I’ve nursed in public with my son from infancy to 21 months and have never had an issue with anyone eyeballing us or asking us to cover or lock ourselves in a private room. Once the discrete obstacle is overcome there are no boundaries.
As a side note…before some moms get upset, I do understand that there are certain circumstances where nursing is either not possible for health reasons or it’s not practical for your particular lifestyle. That is a whole different group of articles, and I certainly don’t condemn anyone who doesn’t or cannot nurse, I just strongly encourage nursing because the benefits are so immense for both the mother and the child.
While I believe most women who continue to nurse their toddlers do so at home in the mornings upon waking and before bedtime, there are still times during the daytime hours when the nursing toddler needs or asks for the nourishment and comfort that only mommy can offer. “Bobba” the name we made up to refer to nursing, is very comforting to an upset or cranky child, or one who is not feeling well, ill or has a boo-boo. Mommy milk is designed especially for the child(ren) of that particular mother, and provides the nutrients that child(ren) needs at that particular moment in its life. The mommy milk grows with the child from infancy to toddlerhood (3-5 years of age) providing the child with tailored nutrition. It is the norm for children worldwide to nurse into toddlerhood. In fact, the WHO (World Health Organization) encourages nursing up to two (2) years old. “Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond.” http://www.who.int/topics/breastfeeding/en/ That doesn’t mean you have to stop at 2 years, it’s just a guide. Not only is it the best food for baby, but it is also FREE food. With the cost of formula, bottles, etc. that alone should be enough to persuade any mother to nurse their baby. As a holistic practitioner and herbalist I had come to some realizations about how I would handle childbirth and nursing. Thankfully I had the full support of my husband, mother and mother in law. I did have to educate some family and friends but they have been very welcoming of the knowledge and now understand how excellent mommy milk really is! As a first time mother I will tell you first hand that it was not easy getting started. It was painful for a couple weeks (thank God for Motherlove nipple cream). But I had so much support from my husband and my family that I was able to plug through. It is imperative for a new mother to have that support and love because her delicate psyche can be damaged to the point where her production is affected and nursing may not be successful or very difficult. The new mommy must have calm, rest and peace and be in a comfortable and loving environment. She should not be doing anything but caring for herself and newborn for the first 2 to 4 weeks. We had a natural childbirth in a birthing center so we had no medical interventions and it was like having our child at home. In a hospital setting it is very stressful. Not a warm environment typically. I am aware there are hospitals that are making great improvements for women to have a more home like birth and I applaud that, it is just not the norm. Sadly too many women and infants are subject to a very traumatic childbirth and that contributes to difficulty nursing and bonding with their baby. Ina May Gaskin is a very well known and respected midwife who has written some wonderful books to help women. I encourage reading her books. Through 21 months and counting of nursing my son I have gathered some wonderful memories and I continue to bond with my son in a way a mother cannot without it. It is a special time for us and it is cherished every day. On the very occasional times he has been sick with a small cold, sniffle, cough or fever, nursing has been wonderful for us in aiding speedy recovery. Nursing has also been a life saver during times of tummy upset, gas or nausea and vomiting. When a baby is not feeling well, they typically do not have much of an appetite but mommy milk is never turned down. Mixed with the cuddling, closeness and warmth, what else could be better in getting a little one to feel better?
A big concern for many women are the new baby teeth and biting issue. Quite frankly in my opinion that is a scare tactic invented by the formula companies and was blasted to scare women into quitting nursing when teeth started to appear. My son did try to nib a couple times and all I had to do was say ouch and no loudly and lovingly, and remove him from the breast…problem solved. He didn’t repeat it. They get it; they don’t want to hurt you. It is not a problem. Nursing is suckling, not biting.
Traveling or road tripping is great with a nursing child—no need for bottles, refrigeration, or extra baggage. We have flown twice so far and have had no issues at all nursing on board or in airports. (FYI: I recommend the BabyErgo carrier for traveling/nursing too.)
For those who need “facts,” here is a great guide from WHO, 10 facts: http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/breastfeeding/en/index.html.
In addition to all the benefits nursing provides the child, it also helps moms too. Hormones are released that make you happy and relaxed when you nurse. Nursing helps your body get back to your “normal” size quicker and it helps to guard your body from cancers. You can obtain all sorts of facts and support online from other nursing mommies (check out Holistic Moms Network), numerous Facebook mom or breast feeding groups, and meetup groups, etc. If you do not have the support of your family, get support from somewhere else, but please do not give up on nursing, it will help you and your little one for a lifetime.
Please do not hesitate to contact me on my Facebook page with any questions on this topic.
Information within these articles are not intended to replace medical services. The information provided is not a replacement for medical advice or care. If you require medical care and/or services or medications, please seek appropriate medical care. The author, contributors, publisher and their employees are not liable or held accountable for any damages arising from or in association with the application of any information contained in or referenced herein. Statements or recommendations herein may not have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, nor have they been evaluated to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.