Friday, August 6, 2010

The Joys of Breastfeeding Past Infancy #17

The Joys of Breastfeeding Past Infancy series (formerly "the joys of breastfeeding toddlers") is normally hosted Fridays at Code Name: Mama. We are happy to feature it today on as part of our celebration of World Breastfeeding Week. Today's post was written by Dionna of Code Name: Mama; the video was edited by CodeNamePapa. Here is her breastfeeding guest post:

When the subject of nursing past infancy comes up, a common question we mothers who nurse past one year hear is “But why? What’s the point? What good does it really do?

If you asked my son, he would tell you quite simply that mama’s milk is love. (keep reading below the video for more)

Mama’s milk has been a large part of my son’s 32 months on this Earth. He has grown from a round-the-clock nursing infant to a frequently nursing toddler, and he’s on his way to being a pretty-darn-often breastfeeding preschooler. The fact that the calendar ticked over to reflect my son’s first or second birthdays; the fact that he grew teeth; the fact that he can “ask for it”; none of these things matter to my child who is still so dependent on me.

To my son, breastfeeding is just part of life. The comfort of my breast has evolved from the immediate pacification it offered when he was a small newborn, to the secure home base that he needed when he discovered his independence. Mama’s milk is our ever present connection. It is a source of love, laughter, and learning.

Breastfeeding: It's Elementary

Yes, it is a source of learning! Breastfeeding has been the foundation of many educational pursuits. From my personal journal, here are a few examples (by subject) of how breastfeeding has nourished my son’s brain as well as our relationship:
  • Anatomy (19 months): “One, two, two mama milk! TWO! Two mama milk!!”
  • Sociology (20 months): While we were eating at a restaurant one night, a nearby toddler fell out of her chair and landed on the floor. She wailed for at least five minutes, and Kieran became very concerned. As the little girl continued to wail, Kieran’s concern brimmed over. He said urgently, “mama milk! Mama milk!” I asked if he wanted mama’s milk and he pointed at the girl, lifted my shirt, and said, “baby mama milk, baby mama milk!” He wanted to give the hurt toddler some of his own mama’s milk to help her feel better. 
  • Physical Education (22 months): Dancing across the living room floor, I held and spun Kieran to a random rock & roll tune. Laughing, he implored, “mama milk dance!”
  • Geography (26 months): Kieran woke up from his nap, grinned at me, and said “party at mama milk!”
  • Psychology (28 months): on our noon drive home from a co-op class, Kieran was incredibly tired and crying inconsolably. I said “I know you’re sleepy honey, we’ll be home soon.” Kieran replied through his tears, “I not sleepy, I just need some mama milk!”
  • Law/Negotiation (29 months): Kieran has learned the fine art of negotiation. Whenever it is time to leave somewhere, I start giving him warnings: “two minutes until we have to go!” He usually comes back with “no mama, four minutes!” And then we compromise on three. Breastfeeding is no exception: when Kieran nurses and I am ready to get up and do something else, I’ll give him the standard “two minutes!” warning. To which he inevitably replies, “four! Four minutes of mama milk!” 
  • Physics (31 months): Kieran put our water bottle lid on my breast & sucked, then asked "why there no mama's milk coming out?!" 
Nursing Kieran at 27 months
Aside from the educational life lessons our children can learn at our breasts, nursing past infancy is simply beautiful. It is natural, it is nurturing, it is normal.

Less than 20% of mothers breastfeed past their child’s first year of life. That means less than one in five mothers will ever hear her child’s sweet voice coo “I love mama’s milk.” Less than one in five mothers will see her child run toward her with arms outstretched and a breathtaking smile of anticipation, intent on a snuggle at mama’s comforting breast.

I know that my son would love me without my breastmilk. I know that he would think that I was a soft place to land, a welcoming place to snuggle, a safe place to turn. But I also know, without a doubt, that mama’s milk has enriched that soft, comforting, sweet bond between us immeasurably.

Breastfeeding is the first building block of life. It is so simple. It is truly elementary.


Breastfeeding past infancy is full of laughter, joys, and heartbreaking tenderness. I am publishing a series of posts dedicated to the beauty of nursing past infancy in an effort to normalize this healthy and beneficial nursing relationship. But this isn’t just about me – I want to hear YOUR joys. If you are nursing a toddler, preschooler, or beyond (or have in the past), please contact me and tell me about your favorite moments. I will include them in the series and credit you, your site, or post it anonymously if you so desire.


A very lovely post and video!!

so cute and funny, I love it!! My 37 m.o. is getting philosophical about mama milk right now and really reasoning out how it will work when a new little bro or sis arrives any day now. So we've had some really touching conversations lately about it and it's clear how much mama milk still means to him. Thanks for your post!

This was fantastic! I love LOVE it! Your breastfeeding toddlers series melts my heart. Kieran's little "4 times! 2times! nines times! A??" was to dire for.

mammapie - in case it wasn't clear (because Tom didn't add text for that part), the question was "when/what time of day do you like to drink mama's milk?"
his answer cracked us up.
and the "A" - he noticed (after he said "none times!") that his "none" hand looks like the letter A in sign language ;)

This is an amazing post. Your "learning" part cracked me up. Since I homeschool my kids, I'm always finding way to label what they do as official learning (for compliance with the school board). I wonder how they'd react to something like that. (:

(My almost-eight-year-old got a kick out of it as well!)

As a devoted (and doting) Grandma to the above mentioned 32 month old little fellow, I must say that this journey of yours has been a delight to watch!!!
Now I am wondering if he will be following in his Mama's footsteps and entry into the Law Profession since he has the art of negotiation down pat at such a young age!!!!

Beautiful Dionna! I'm one of the over a hundred people sharing this one!

So great <3
One of my favourite moments in life ~ hearing my toddler say (just after nursing)... Mmmm it's my favourite... his smile & happiness at that moment is a forever cherished memory.

Breastfeeding really is nurturing in so many ways. In publicity campaigns there is a focus on the scientifically proven beneficial components of the milk itself, which are truly amazing and worth noting, but all the other benefits are just as powerful. Thanks for getting the word out.

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