My littlest guy Otto is now 19 months old and still breastfeeding like a boss. There are definitely days I feel like weaning, but that feeling usually passes once I've had some alone time to the tune of a hot shower or some sleep. In fact, there's a lot to love about nursing past the one-year mark. Check out 10 reasons I'm glad the breastaurant is still open for business.
1. He's a Pro. It can take a lot of work to get the hang of nursing in the beginning. Simply getting a latch right in those early days and weeks is often a multiple-step process taking several attempts each time. My little man presented the additional curveball of a very subtle posterior tongue tie; I was wary of any procedure involving a scalpel but getting the tie clipped (more traumatic for me than him, I assure you) totally did the trick; you'd never know, by the way he nurses now, that we faced any struggles at the outset.
Even without complications, though, breastfeeding tiny babies is a big job for moms, involving long feeds, different holds, and many hours sitting relatively (uncomfortably) still. Toddlers? No assistance necessary. Mine jumps on the boob throughout the day with a latch like an insta-vacuum seal, all while handing me books and somehow simultaneously climbing up the arm of the couch until he's literally nursing upside down. Five minutes later and he pops back off to play. No biggie.
2. My Milk Is Not the Main Course. Between Otto's tongue tie (which, once fixed, was no longer an issue) and chronic under-supply on my part, I had to pay pretty close attention to his weight gain at the outset. In addition to nursing, I pumped multiple times a day for an entire year, and also supplemented with donor milk from some amazing, generous mamas who had milk supply to spare. Thanks to all this, Otto drank only breast milk for his first six months of life. But introducing solids when the time came was a huge relief. Now that he's eating three real meals a day, there's NO stress around how much milk he is or isn't getting. It's nice to just let nursing be a part of our daily routine and my milk be a nourishing supplement. And I love being free from the pump and from the every two hour feed schedules and everything else it took to raise a breastfed baby. It was all totally worth it, but there's no way I was gonna quit nursing at the one year mark, right when I could finally coast.
And at night, my little whirlwind of energy curls up in my lap, gazes up at me and nurses. Little baby style. And I love that.
3. Germs? We Got This! Passive immunity is a beautiful thing. Otto has only been sick twice (knock on wood,) and both times it's been a breeze. Our whole family caught some kind of winter cold and Otto fared best. Why? Breast milk, baby. Studies show that babies benefit from the immune-boosting powers of mama milk for as long as they continue breastfeeding. I'm still careful about washing our hands after hanging in public spaces and not sitting right next to the snot-covered kid at Story Time, but knowing Otto gets my antibodies really helps put my mind at ease.
4. I Still Get to Eat for Two. Pregnancy noms have nothing on a nursing mom's appetite. I am (still) so hungry. And I like food. So that's fun. Who am I to argue if my friends want to offer me the last piece of (insert delicious food here), insisting, "You're breastfeeding!"? I also like that, after growing him in my belly for nine months, Otto is still physically connected to me in this way; my healthy food choices directly translate to quality milk for him.
5. It's Cozy. Daytime feeds may be refreshingly quick and easy, but first thing in the morning, we take our time with a nice long, cozy feed. And at night, my little whirlwind of energy curls up in my lap, gazes up at me and nurses. Little baby style. I love that.
6. It's the Ultimate Band-Aid.Toddlerhood is full of bumps and bruises, but even putting a tooth through his lip (according to the pediatrician this happens all the time, but holy blood-flow, Batman) ain't nothin' when I'm there to hold him, nurse him and kiss his little forehead 'til he feels better. Which, with a boob close by, he does in no time.
7. Milk Boobs = Body Image Friendly. At 19 months postpartum, my body has mostly returned to normal. Well, normal-ish. You know what I mean. (Sorry abs, you're history.) I'm not feeling all weird and stretched and mushy in that immediate-postpartum way. Honestly, I wasn't all that concerned with the postpartum body weirdness when it was happening because NEW BABY FRONT AND CENTER but it's kiiiiinda awesome to be rocking my regular jeans and also, at the same time, these, er, more voluptuous baby-feeding knockers.
8. And for Some More Meaningful Benefits... My own chances for a whole host of nasty illnesses, from breast and ovarian cancer to osteoporosis, diabetes, hypertension and heart attack are reduced by extended breastfeeding. With two kids counting on me to care for them, I count that as a serious plus.
9. I Still Have an Excuse to Sit Down While My Husband Washes the Dishes. Sorry honey, baby to feed over here.
10. This is My Last Nursling. We *might* adopt a third child, eventually. It's something we've talked about. But I am pretty positive we won't be making any more kids the old fashioned way. This means Otto is my last nursing baby. And sooner or later he will be weaned; I know I'll look back and treasure this memory, and the breastfeeding relationship we've had.