I don´t know where time has gone, but it´s going fast!
Any breastfeeding mama can tell you that after your baby is 6 months, the number one question they get is... ¨Are you still nursing?¨ or ¨So when are you planning on weaning?¨ Although people were pushing the solid food introduction on me before Ivan was 6 months old, I was lucky enough not to get this question until right before my son was 1 yr. just about when he got his first tooth.
My dear mom (Who nursed me, a very demanding baby, past 1 year) was wondering what our plans were.
I´m glad it was my mom and not someone else who asked, because honestly, sometimes people make such a big deal about it, the funny thing is, most of the time they never breastfed and some don´t even have children. My response to her went something like this... ¨Well, Ivan does´t seem to be giving any signs of being ready to wean, he isn´t crazy about solids yet, I am going to wait until he is 18 months and see were we are at, because honestly, the thought hadn´t even crossed my mind.¨
If you read the post I wrote about my start in breastfeeding, than you know that the first few days were a struggle (Not to mention the first few months). I remember going into the WIC office for a scheduled checkup , the nurse asked me how nursing was going and if I was planning on nursing for 6 months, 1 year, or more. At that moment I was completely struggling with soreness and I thought,,,wow, 1 year seems like such a long time from now, when is it gonna stop hurting, If I can make it to 1 year I will be glad.
Well it is amazing how 18 months have come and gone. It is so true that the longer you breastfeed, the easier it gets.
Breastfeeding a toddler is VERY different from breastfeeding an infant !!! Here are some major differences (From my own first hand experience)
1. Breastmilk may not be the only source of your toddlers nutrition ( I say may not, because I personally know moms who don´t introduce solids until after 1 yr. and there toddlers are big and healthy, even though solids are not the main source of nutrition).
2. Toddlers don´t nurse as frequently or as long -or- Toddlers nurse more frequently just a shorter period of time.
3. Your Toddler can ask for it ... Ivan makes the sign for milk whenever he feels like nursing.
4. Toddlers are extremely acrobatic and seem to enjoy combining their love for moving and fidgeting with nursing :-) my personal favorite... NOT.
5. Nursing a Toddler can be great if he needs a chill-pill or a burst of energy.
These are just a few of the differences between nursing a toddler and an infant.
Most people think that If your baby can eat food and drink water, juice or any other animals milk, than there is no reason why your child should still be nursing, he is obviously only doing it for comfort.
Here are just a few benefits of extended nursing (Past 12 months)
Benefits for Baby include...
1. The Fat and Energy content in breast milk increases in milk from mothers who breastfeed for more than 1 year compared to mothers who breastfeed for less time.
2. Breastfed Toddlers are sick less often.
3.Breastfed Toddlers receive immunity boosting, vitamins and enzymes directly from their mom.
4. Breast milk adapts to suit your Toddlers nutritional needs, for example,
In the second year (12-23 months), 448 mL of breastmilk provides:
- 29% of energy requirements
- 43% of protein requirements
- 36% of calcium requirements
- 75% of vitamin A requirements
- 76% of folate requirements
- 94% of vitamin B12 requirements
- 60% of vitamin C requirements
5. If that wasn´t enough, The flavor of Breast milk changes with the mom´s diet... what a wonderful treat !!!
Benefits for mom include...
1. Extended nursing delays the return of fertility = no period for up to 1 year !!! Hallelujah !!!! My LMP was May 1, 2009 and Not including the 3 weeks of light bleeding after giving birth, my period was gone, gone, gone until January of 2011 :-) It was amazing !!!
2. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of ... Breast Cancer, Ovarian Cancer, Uterine Cancer, Endometrine Cancer, Osteoporosis, Rheumatoid Artharitis,,,, and it reduces the insulin requirements in diabetic woman.
3. Breastfeeding moms tend to loose weight faster. After 18 months I have to admit that I haven´t done any type of exercise other than walk everywhere... I have lost all of my baby weight and am below my pre pregnancy weight. It took about a year for my body to get back to normal.
4. Breastfeeding, for the most part, forces mom to take a few minutes to just sit down and relax...(I am guilty of multi-tasking while nursing and I am sure other moms are too :-) but sometimes you´ve got to just give in and close your eyes for a minute or two).
There are many benefits for mom and toddler, too many to write down. My opinions and thoughts about nursing have varied from time to time. I have had days when I would rather not be nursing.
My closing thoughts... God created every part of our body with a purpose, He gave us breasts for many reasons, one of them being to feed our babies. If He wanted us to stop when baby was 6 months or 1 year, than He would only give us enough milk to last for that long. That is the miracle of breastfeeding, He left it up to Mom and Baby to decide when to stop. Now whenever someone asks me why I still nurse, the only response I have for them is... Why would I deny my child of something that was given to me, just for him?
I know that when Ivan is 16 years old he won´t be asking me for the car keys with a side of breast milk :-) and I know that this will be over before I know it. For now, I am going to cherish it. This is the one time in his life that I have something that he really needs and only I can give him. What a special gift.