Nursing Benefits

This made me smile:

Former Surgeon General, Dr. Antonia Novello, proclaimed: "It's the lucky baby, I feel, who continues to nurse until he's two.

From the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies should ideally be breastfed exclusively for the first six months, then nursed for at least the full year and then as long as mutually desired. The World Health Organization advises the same thing.

I share that to not make anyone feel bad if they cannot breastfeed, but to encourage those that want to breastfeed and may not be receiving the support that they would like. I am thankful that I have only ever received positive comments about nursing, from friends and family and strangers. I've appreciated every word of support about nursing, from the man I sat next to on the plan when I flew alone with my second baby and was nervous about nursing in public, to the party host that showed me a quiet spot to nurse my easily distracted little one and told me how wonderful she thought it was that I was breastfeeding. But I know many, many mothers do not receive that kind of encouragement and often they are openly discouraged from nursing as their child gets older. So there are some quotes from world and national sources saying NURSE YOUR BABY. It's good for them, it's good for you, it's good for the world, it's good for their brains, it's good for everyone. And not just in the first few weeks, though those first weeks are an enormous blessing and benefit to your baby. (Every drop counts, as they kept reiterating in the NICU! Every single drop of breastmilk counts.) But nursing your baby a full six months is fantastic, nursing your baby a year is amazing, and you should feel comfortable nursing your baby "as long as mutually desired by mother and child." Don't let others make you feel uncomfortable about nursing, you are the parent and you know best. 🙂

I do think it's important to remember that sometimes the baby or mother does NOT find nursing mutually desirable. With one of our babies he flat out refused to nurse after 8 months and I continued to pump a couple more months but then he began to refuse even bottles of pumped milk. He would scream, cry, flip out of my arms, shove me away, eventually he even bit me when I was attempting to shove my nipple into his mouth. (I don't blame him, I'm sure he felt assaulted!) I know there were extenuating circumstances in that case and it broke my heart but I couldn't force him to nurse. In another case I needed to wean because I was just not physically or emotionally up to nursing anymore, as I was fighting the first trimester sickness with our next baby and it was so painful to nurse still. Thankfully that time our "baby" was 19 months but it was very much against his will that we weaned him. When the baby arrived and my milk supply was well established I let our toddler nurse again and he was so grateful! It was adorable, and he's happily still nursing now. I hadn't planned to tandem nurse a two year old and a crawling seven month old, but some of the sweetest moments of mothering for me have been seeing them smile at each other and hold hands as they nurse together.

I did not ever think I would nurse a child this long, but sometimes it takes just hearing about the benefits or talking with another mom that's nursing a toddler to make you consider your options. I hope everyone will only ever receive positive feedback about nursing but as a nursing mom, I know comments from others can influence your comfort with nursing when you're just starting out. If this is something you want, then go for it! The benefits are amazing.

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