Saturday, June 7, 2008

"For at least 12 months..."

"It is recommended that breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mutually desired." (The American Academy of Pediatrics' breastfeeding guidelines)

I've made it.

I've finished the "at least 12 months," and Mikko and I can now sail into "for as long as mutually desired."

Mikko had his first birthday, and he shows no signs of slowing down on the nummies front.

That puts me within somewhere around 16-17 percent of U.S. mothers. The breastfeeding rates start out fairly strong at about 70 percent, but then decline sharply as time and babyhood march on. Here is LLL's collection of tips for nursing for a year, many of which I've followed, which is, I guess, how I ended up in this sacred minority.

Mikko was a little exhausted and overwhelmed by his birthday party (we figured he would be, so it was mainly for us -- sorry, kiddo!), and he wanted to cuddle and nurse several times throughout the event. I had the first tinge of feeling awkward that I was now breastfeeding past the "acceptable" age. The clock had struck midnight, and my breasts had turned into pumpkins...

Before he was a year old, I figured that I could answer any naysayers with, "Well, the AAP says...." (I never needed to, but the "professional expert opinion" argument was there.) Because, even though only 17 percent of us follow through on this, I think it's now commonly accepted in America that women should breastfeed for a year -- most just aren't going to. It's in the same sense that I should lose weight, or clean out my closet, or write thank-you notes immediately after receiving a gift. I'm not going to do it, and I'm not necessarily going to feel guilty about it either, but I certainly wouldn't judge you if you were "better" than I ended up being and actually accomplished those tasks. Granted, I might have a twinge of envy or exasperation at your superiority, but I wouldn't express those thoughts.

That's how I imagine the 83 percent of mothers not breastfeeding at the year mark reacting to someone who is.

But, after a year -- well, now it's just weird. Now you're not just losing weight -- you're anorexic. You're not cleaning your closet -- you have OCD. And don't get me started on the thank-you notes.

I might be pleasantly surprised. Maybe people will enjoy seeing my great big toddler snuggling up for a snack.

It doesn't really matter, since I have no plans to stop. We "mutually desire" to continue.


Suzanne said...


With my older son, a medical emergency took nursing away at 7 weeks. My younger son had to abruptly wean due to another medical issue, but we got to 21 months.

Keep going, and Happy Birthday!

Lauren Wayne said...

I'm glad to hear your experiences, and I hope the medical issues were resolved. That must have been tough.

Thanks for the encouragement!

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