I’m NAK as I type this article. For those who don’t know what NAK is, it’s an acronym for nursing at the keyboard. As of this moment, the child I’m nursing is 2 years 7 months and 10 days old. My other two girls stopped nursing somewhere between 13- 18 months because of birth control I was using at the time so this is my first experience with a more extended nursing relationship. It’s been very interesting to say the least. I’ve been faced with – and forced to deal with- my own thoughts, feelings and attitudes toward extended nursing as well as other people and their thoughts and opinions on the subject.
I read comments after watching a few extended nursing videos and I saw comments ranging from people who think it’s great to those that feel it’s abusive and perverted. One person said it’s nasty and should be illegal.
When I hear comments like this, I feel sorry for our culture knowing that as “civilized” as we are supposed to be, too many of us are still very ignorant when it comes to breastfeeding. In so many parts of the world it’s very common for a toddler to nurse.
In my own family, I know there are adverse opinions about what I’m choosing to do but most of them will keep it to themselves. The ones that will say something ignorant are at times forced to become more educated on the subject (by me) once I get over the initial shock of their sometimes outlandish comments. Here’s a video called “Ignorance Meets Knowledge”.
I think extended breastfeeding is wonderful and beautiful. I believe it takes a special woman to nourish and nurture her child beyond infancy- especially in America where ignorance regarding breastfeeding prevails. I look at my toddler now as she’s riding around the house with her toy car. When she notices me looking at her, she smiles very sweetly at me and moves on. How could I deny her what’s best for her? I just couldn’t. Since I last wrote about our nursing relationship, she’s had one more cold so this child is more than 2 1/2 and she’s had 2 colds in her life. No fevers or anything else- nothing. Research supports the fact that nursing toddlers further protects and nourishes them, but more than that, I know this to be true from my own experience. Even my older two who didn’t nurse as long don’t tend to get sick very often.
I’ve not always enjoyed nursing my toddler. When they’re infants, they sit still and nurse and most of the time, fall asleep. It’s very different with toddlers. Imagine this, she comes to my lap and straddles me, pulls out my breast and begins nursing. The fact that she’s able to just come up and whip it out herself as if I’m not even there takes some getting used to. Then, she (while still nursing) gets on her knees while on my lap. Next thing I know she’s standing. So, her butt is up in the air and she’s nursing and I’m feeling like we’re a circus act and people will start to clap any minute. Then, there’s the times where she’s nursing on one breast and she’s playing with the other breast. I mean she’s playing with the nipple, squeezing the breast and everything while nursing on the other.
For a while that drove me nuts as I’d remove her hands and she’d eventually find her way back to doing it again. I had to realize (with my husbands help- he’s very supportive of extended nursing) that either I was going to end our nursing relationship because of these “issues” or I’d work through them with her so that I could continue to provide her with “liquid gold”. Of course I decided on the latter. We worked through it and even though she still does it sometimes, it doesn’t bother me. Now she does even more. I didn’t even realize all that she does until a friend asked me what she does while nursing. Now since she’s talking, she talks to them sometimes, lol! She tells them, “I love you breast” and, “Look at you breast”. As I thought about her talking to them my thoughts are that every breastfed baby and toddler loves breasts! Why wouldn’t they? The milk is sweet and has provided all they need perfectly (since it’s designed for them) and it comes right from Mommy. If infants could speak, I’m sure they’d share the same sentiment. I’d even say that non-verbally, they do say they love the breast. So, I told my friend that she sometimes talks to them and plays with the other. Some of my favorite things she does include her hugging me and patting my waist or arms as she nurses. Sometimes she looks up at me and smiles and even laughs a little as she’s nursing. There are other times when as she’s nursing, she reaches up with her hand and lovingly rubs my cheek. It’s very sweet and it’s our time and I’ve resolved to enjoy it because I know it won’t last forever. I only wish I was able to experience this with my other two girls when they were well into toddler hood.
I’m finding that there are many people who have and are nursing their children well into and beyond toddler hood. Some are in hiding because of what our society thinks and others aren’t. These are the ones you may spot nursing in public. I applaud them as I’m one of them at times. I’m not sure how long my daughter will want to nurse but it doesn’t matter. I’m in it for the long haul.