So I’ve been thinking about extended breastfeeding.
I think about a lot of things, about earthquakes and cat poop and grass stains and strawberries dipped in chocolate. So you might as well just pop the state of my boobs on the list, right? There is no rhyme or reason to what floats around in my brain.
So I’ve been thinking about extended breastfeeding. And I’ve been thinking about it an awful lot. And since I’ve been thinking about it, I’ve been reading about it. An awful, awful lot.
The truth is that before I became a mother, I was so consumed with the beginning of the breastfeeding relationship that I never really thought about the end. But I’ve fought three rounds of mastitis and I guarantee that anybody who has ever lain in bed shivering with fever after having lanced their own nipple duct with a needle has thought about, has even looked forward to, the big wean.
Now, I powered through the mastitis. I powered through the plugged ducts, the blisters, and the tenderness. My daughter, Charlotte, is fourteen months old and thus far, I have powered through eleven milk teeth and tiny fingernails pinching my neck and the occasional filthy toddler foot shoved into my mouth. Because I believe that continuing to nurse my daughter is the best choice for my family.
Also, I love breastfeeding. I am practically a breastfeeding addict.
So now I wonder where we go from here. I know people who never put their baby to their breast and I know people who have school-age children (up to age nine) who still nurse. But for the very first time, I am beginning to wonder when Charlotte and I will decide to wean.
It really brings up quite a few questions. What memories may my daughter one day have of suckling and am I comfortable with her remembering our breastfeeding relationship? Am I or am I not willing to nurse her beyond her third birthday? What sort of social stigma may she face if she nurses at older ages? Do I want to breastfeed through subsequent pregnancies? Will she ultimately determine when to wean or will I gently guide her towards weaning? At what age does nursing in public become more difficult or socially awkward? How long will my family and my husband’s family support our decision to continue nursing our child?
Most of all, though, I wonder this: is there ever an end to the benefits of breastfeeding a child?
So tell me this: what do you think about extended breastfeeding?