Julie M., author of “Toddler Nursing – I Nurse My Toddler Because” lives in the Midwest with her husband and two daughters. She’s a registered nurse and enjoys writing about her journey of motherhood at Don’t Lick Your Sister.
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I recently came across Wendy Wisner’s wonderful blog. Wendy has a beautiful way of describing motherhood and I was moved when I came across her post I Nurse Him Because, in which she describes the reasons she nurses her toddler son. While the entire post was great, what really struck me was this statement: This is what feels right to us, and many more mothers and children than you might expect.
When I thought about that, I couldn’t help to think how true a statement that likely is. I, myself, have found out mothers I know personally had nursed their toddlers, but at the time, I had no idea. What’s most interesting to me is that I consider myself a breastfeeding advocate, someone who openly talks about breastfeeding and the normalization of nursing. When my children were under a year old I definitely spoke very openly about nursing. It was occurring quite frequently so the topic would naturally come up. I also talked openly about pumping at work, proudly placing my expressed milk in the public refrigerator. I nursed in public, sometimes with a cover but most of the time, without.
When my daughter was under two, I still talked about nursing her but much less often. Maybe that’s just because I was nursing less often? I’m not sure. I might say something about being glad she was still nursing because I was able to calm her down with my milk after having to give her a breathing treatment when she was wheezing. Or I would mention my anxiety about going out of town without my child and not nursing during that time, concerned about how she would do. Once she was over one year old I only nursed at home or at the homes of close family and friends. Never out in the true public but this was mostly because she was no longer nursing when we would be out during the day.
Now, my daughter is almost two and a half. And I rarely, if ever, talk about the fact that she’s still nursing. If it comes up in conversation or if someone asks I will, of course, still talk about it. But not much more than that. I did write about it on my blog in my post For the Last 5 Years but I didn’t even share that post on my personal Facebook page. It’s not at all that I’m ashamed of it. I guess it’s just not something our culture entirely accepts and I have no desire to feel judged for something that I feel is completely natural and normal.
However, the world can’t know it’s completely natural and normal if it’s not ever seen or discussed. So, this post is motivated by Wendy’s words about her reasons for nursing her toddler and my acknowledgment that nursing a toddler is happening more than you might think.
I nurse my toddler because…
- She asks. Each night, right before bed. She used to say “mil! mil!” and now it’s “I want mommy’s milk.” Sometimes I will ask her if she would like to just snuggle instead and she says “no, milky.”
- I can. I am so fortunate to still be able to nurse as I know very well that many women have struggles that don’t allow them to nurse to their goal. I surpassed any goals I may have had and I feel fortunate that I can still nurse.
- When she falls asleep while nursing she looks exactly the same today as she did on the day she was born.
- In the busy, loud and distracting world we live in I am able to slow down and connect with her in this way that only I can.
- She still likes to be held and snuggled a lot. I can’t help but think that if we didn’t have our extra snuggle time together at bedtime nursing she may want to be held even more during the day. She then might miss out on some of that independent play time where she can just be a wacky little toddler.
- It’s warm and cozy and makes us both happy.
- In a way, it makes me feel like I am stopping time, if only for a short moment each evening while we are together.
- I can ask her what it tastes like and she can respond with answers such as bana, pea soup, pancakes (sometimes blueberry flavored) or “just milky.” Whatever she answers, it makes me laugh and she, in turn, laughs too.
- I can remember a time when her tiny, little body was brand new and her arms, legs and fists were still curled up tightly and her whole body laid right at my rib cage. Now, her legs are long and stretched out alongside my legs and I can see just how much my body has nourished her body.
- When she gets sick (which has been often) sometimes my milk is the only thing she wants and I am able to hold her close and make her feel better.
- It’s so much easier today than it was in the beginning: There are no issues with latch or positioning. There are no middle of the night wake-ups. No pumping. I can even go out for an evening and not nurse and there’s no engorgement, no danger of losing my milk supply.
- It’s about her and me.
- There’s no way I’m going to look back on this time and think ‘I really wish I would have had less time nursing her, holding her, rocking her.” There’s no way I’m going to have any regrets.
- She’s not done yet. She’s not ready to be done so I’m not ready for her to be done. We’re just not done.
That is why I nurse my toddler. And it’s completely natural and normal.