Getting Real with Kira Hazledine
I’ve been talking a lot about boobs lately, all in preparation for World Breastfeeding Week! Time to challenge the ridiculous myths that gave me anxiety as a first-time mom and to bring breastfeeding to the modern age. Despite all the information out there, some people are still obsessed with nipples and boobs and what should be done with them. Well, let me hit you with a real doozy of a myth: babies don’t have to be weaned from breastmilk at age one.
A toddler attached to your boob! It’s like incest!
My eyes cannot roll harder into the back of my head. Get. Over. It.
The only reason any pediatrician would recommend weaning at one (aside from being an uneducated turd) is that the stomach of an infant is finally developed enough to be able to handle some real food. Yay for meal time! It’s an awesome milestone, but it doesn’t have to exclude breastfeeding.
*I’ll take this moment here to note that a woman is allowed to wean at any time she wants. Her body, her baby, her choice. I’m only just ranting about the myth that a mom CAN’T breastfeed beyond age one.*
In fact, the World Health Organization actually recommends that children should be breastfeed until at least two years old. Yep, this means that a walking, talking child should still be hanging off the boob.
The horror. And more eye rolling.
Why, though? Apparently, breastmilk has no nutrition value past age one, right?
Breastmilk doesn’t automatically turn to dust at your child’s first birthday. All those nutritional and health benefits are still there, despite a lot of nutrition being gained from foods. Antibodies in human milk actually increase as a child ages, including into toddler years. You can still pass immunities from mom to baby at any age. And there is no denying the comfort and security that is offered beyond age one.
I never thought I would be breastfeeding a two-year-old, but I’m so glad I made that choice. I tried to wean at age one, because that is what you’re supposed to do, right? But my child gave me every indication that she was not ready. She fought me every step of the way, and what would I have gained from forcing it? I’ve been thankful for breastfeeding so many times past age one, including when we made another international trip to England. My child, just shy of age two, stopped eating the entire two weeks we were there. Maybe it was the stress, or maybe she didn’t like the food, but she was nursing on demand like a newborn. My child did lose weight, because she existed only on chips and breastmilk for several days, but at least I knew she was getting some nutrition.
I did hit a point where I couldn’t handle my toddler breastfeeding like a newborn, so we cut back. But we still breastfeed at least twice a day, and it’s built into our routine so both myself and my child are happy.
America is one of the few countries that demands a child be weaned at age one. There is no medical rule declaring the necessity of weaning. The comfort of the mother and child should be the only concern, but we seem to truly struggle with that concept. If you are a nursing mother, you wean when you and baby are ready. If that’s three days, three months, or three years, so be it. Don’t let uneducated people push you around.
Happy World Breastfeeding Week!
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