Piglet’s 35 months now and still nursing. It’s a special time on the whole, but it does have its hairy moments.
I don’t love nursing when it involves sleep deprivation, as it inevitably does in my experience. I survive partly by resting in the afternoons during the children’s Quiet Time. The other part is accepting that this is a season in which Piglet, the only nursling left in our family now, still enjoys nursing. I accept that he needs it – or wants it, especially since his younger sibling is about to arrive.
It’s something he tells me, in his own way, and something my gut mama-instinct tells me too.
Actually, it’s been a personal experiment of sorts. I’ve asked every one of my children questions to test whether or not the function of human milk is solely to meet nutritional needs and whether, when a child is no longer a “baby”, he really has no further need of mother’s milk.
“Why do you still want milk?” I ask Piglet from time to time, “when you also like drinking cow’s milk and kefir?”
“Because I luuuuuurvve your milk,” is his somewhat bashful answer, “and because I luuuuuurvve you.”
What can I say? I could roll my eyes, or I could just say, “Awww….”. Or I could do both. (I do both, sometimes.)
To Piglet, juxtaposing my milk and cow’s milk, it’s obvious I am comparing apples with bananas. To him, Milk and Mama are inseparable entities. It’s been the same with my two former nurslings, Puppy and Lamb. Each of my 3 children have consistently torn Cartesian or Platonic dualism into shreds. My interpretation, at least.
Is it easy, nursing during pregnancy?
Piglet just wraps himself around my growing belly, in whatever posture suits him. Positioning is no longer a concern. He latches on by himself. I nurse him lying down, making it so much more restful for me. He stops when he’s content, but sometimes I tell him I need to quit earlier.
In some ways, it’s difficult nursing when pregnant. Boobs are tender and toddler teeth can feel pretty sharp. Occasionally it can feel excruciatingly painful.
I am also probably one of those mothers whose morning sickness is exacerbated by the hormones produced by nursing. All our 3 children were nursed through subsequent pregnancies and I have felt relentless nauseated, all day, for a longer duration than many women would be. At 36 weeks, I still experience nausea from time to time.
So why do I still do it?
Despite its challenges, exclusive and extended nursing has paid off enormously in our family’s circumstances. We’ve saved a ton on formula and enjoyed the health benefits of kids not having had to see a doctor for years (home nutrition, regular exercise and a lesser amount of exposure to other sick kids also having a major part to play).
Tandem nursing (along with children being close together in age and homeschooling together in their early years) has also helped create a strong sibling bond. When two children nurse at the same time, they sometimes gaze at each other. The older one sometimes strokes the baby and gives him loving pats.
Tandem nursing has also helped taken the edge off the crazy toddler days. As I watch my nurslings together, I get the feeling the older child feels he or she is still important to me even though a new baby has arrived. When needs are met most of the time, there aren’t many reasons to act up. Defiance shows itself on occasion, of course, but that is another story.
With our new addition arriving in 4 weeks, I’m hoping we’ll reap the advantages of tandem nursing once again.
I don’t think extended nursing has made the kids overly dependent on me – but that assumes there is a particular standard to avoid. I’ve never viewed them as being clingy in a negative sense. When they are young, especially in their toddler years, they just need security in a big, scary world full of unknowns.
On the contrary, I’m happy with how independent each of our children has grown to be. I feel some of it has to do with the security they’ve received from self-led weaning.
Of course, notwithstanding my seven-and-a-half years of exclusive breastfeeding and tandem nursing, I feel the overall well-being of children as they grow also depends on the entirety of child care and parenting in general, not on breastfeeding alone. To attribute everything to breastfeeding would be highly simplistic.
My nursing foibles are driven partly by my belief in the benefits of breastfeeding and partly by the peculiar needs of our family. Not by “Are You Mom Enough?” or similar ridiculous ideas. Nursing is simply one expression of the bond I feel with my children and a nurturing act that satisfies the maternal instinct within me, not a point that has to be proved.
I also feel that from a historical perspective, extended nursing is something generations of women have done and I’m simply another one who’s hopped on the same bandwagon.
Sure, it’s become somewhat of a road-less-traveled these days, a little rocky around some bends, but it’s been one amazing ride.
I’m a little late, but there’s another post up at MakChic that was inspired by my unexciting bouts of morning sickness. Feel free to drop by and have a read! Managing Morning Sickness: 10 Natural Remedies.
And thanks for visiting! I’d love for you to join me with a cuppa and poke around! If you enjoyed reading, you may wish to follow Mama Hear Me Roar on Facebook or subscribe by email for updates.