Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Breastfeeding Beyond

My little shadow imitating me by breastfeeding her baby.

At my daughter's 15 month well-child check up, the nurse went through her list of questions.

Does she drink whole milk?
I offer her milk every day, but she refuses it.
Do you give her vitamins?
She shoots me a slightly panicked sideways look.
But she is still breastfeeding.
A sigh of relief.

The interesting thing to me was that whether or not I still breastfed was not on her list of questions. At 12 months it was--and I was supposed to know how many times a day and for how long. Um, however much she needs to. Up to 12 months, we're supposed to give babies either breastmilk or formula. And then the cow's milk can replace those two things after that.

I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that they didn't ask. Here's a look at the breastfeeding numbers in America according to the CDC:

76.9% of mothers try to breastfeed
47.2% are still breastfeeding when the baby is six months
25.5% are still breastfeeding at one year

They don't even have a number for those who breastfeed beyond 12 months. Though the WHO recommends breastfeeding until age two, the American Academy of Pediatrics only recommends it till 12 months. And after that American moms are on their own to decide. No one asks if you do because they assume you don't. Until you breastfeed your toddler in a public place.

I did not plan on breastfeeding my daughter for so long. I weaned my first at just over one year old. And I've considered weaning my second. The real difference may have something to do with personality and definitely has something to do with the seasons. Number one turned one at the beginning of summer and was healthy for the couple of weeks I worked on weaning her. Number two turned one at the beginning of winter and has come down with an ear infection or cold or something every time I start to wean.

But since she refuses to drink cow's milk, my continued breastfeeding reassured her nurse and doctor. And her petite size might make it so fewer people look twice at a child that age breastfeeding (just at the fact that you're breastfeeding in public). Until she sits up and signs and says, "all done."

"We all know that our breastfeeding 'number' is a concrete way to compete with one another. A mother's score is reduced if she mixes in formula, relies too heavily on a breast-milk pump, or actually breast-feeds for too long (at which point she starts to seem like a crazed hippie)." - Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman

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