Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Let the Weaning Questions Begin

My nursling, Josias, is almost 2 years old. I no longer pump at work, so during workdays he does not get breastmilk while at daycare. When we are together mornings, nights and weekends, however, he is an ardent breastfeeder. 

Josias has reached the point of being able to talk about breastfeeding. For instance, though he may have just finished a 45 minute wake-up nursing session in bed, once out of bed, he may begin to scream MILKY!!  If not offered said milk instantaneously, his wails begin to sound as if he hasn't been fed for days. He has also begun to take intermittent breaks while nursing, engaging the "boobies" in conversation. He will frequently say "Hi boobies!" while waving enthusiastically. This morning as he was nursing, Josias smeared a piece of food on my breast. He then noisily unlatched himself, pointed and said, "Booby dirty!" Yes, thank you.

None of this bothers me.  I usually love it and sometimes find it rather amusing. Yet, as Josias has more and more words and we continue to breastfeed in public, something someone once said to me comes to mind: "If he's old enough to ask for it, he's too old." While I think this is utter nonsense, I may not be in the majority. 

Because I breastfeed in public and in front of other people frequently, I have always received questions about breastfeeding, including how long I intend to breastfeed. I never felt the questions were malicious, and I view the inquiries as an opportunity to share information about the benefits and joys of breastfeeding.

I don't have a goal, in terms of years or months, for how long Josias and I will breastfeed. We had a pretty rocky start, which included the need to supplement with formula for the first month. So, when I'm feeling a bit put upon by what sometimes feels like the relentless need for milky, I try to invoke the gratitude I feel for having this intense and special relationship with my son.

My goal is that we will breastfeed until Josias feels he is ready to stop. As Josias gets bigger, I hope that I will continue to feel comfortable breastfeeding in public. I anticipate receiving more questions about how long he will breastfeed, and I also hope that I can stay positive in my responses and use the opportunity to spread the good news about breastfeeding.

Until what age did you breastfeed in public?  How did you handle questions about weaning?

Photo credit: Author


I feel the same way, that being public about nursing my toddler is a good way to share information. I have a set of online beauty/fashion friends that is separate from my mom friends and they especially are curious about how long I plan to nurse my toddler. He is 16 months but looks a lot older. No one has ever said anything to me in public although I have definitely noticed some looks - Curious ones, not negative, just taken aback. But then I am really open. I pull out my whole boob for my son in the shopping cart, for instance - It's the only way I can browse the racks at my own speed without protest! I'm sure it looks very silly, or maybe it just looks like I am leaning in for a cuddle as I shop. I am definitely very confident though and maybe that comes across and shuts down any potential critics? Who knows.

Sometimes I wish that someone would say something to me - I hear so many stories and I would just love to go off. But I'm lucky to live in Oregon where people are pretty open-minded and there is lots of crunchiness going on. (Although breastfeeding shouldn't even BE a crunchy thing, but that's another issue.) I do see LOTS of covers when people BF here though, and I like to show other moms/potential moms that you don't HAVE to use a cover if you don't want to. :)

I feel like as my son gets older, he breastfeeds MORE, not less. When we introduced solids there was a marked drop in nursing for several months but now boom! He nurses every two hours AT LEAST, although in shorter bursts (which is actually way more annoying). I am curious when he will self-wean. I don't have a specific end point in mind - in fact I'd love to make it to two, which I'm sure we will - but right now I can't even imagine what weaning would look like.

Janine, thanks for sharing and way to go, Mama! I had the same experience, a few months after we started solids there was a sharp decline in breastfeeding, but at about 17 months his demand shot up again and has stayed there.

My daughter will be 3 in March. We still nurse, but nursing in public pretty much ended shortly after 2. She's just too busy or distracted when we're out and about that she doesn't even think about it. At this point she really only nurses at nap-time and bed-time.

I live in a part of upstate NY that's very natural minded (there are even communes of artists here which are pretty cool) so breastfeeding in public, babies and toddlers, is a routine thing. Because of that I really don't get asked about nursing very often. Friends will ask me for resources and information, but I've never been asked about weaning, maliciously or curiously.

I went back to work when my LO was just over a year old and didn't pump for him. I found that around the same time he became very particular about where we nursed and would refuse if we weren't in the right chair. This preference seemed to result in a ceasation of public breastfeeding, though I would have continued if he'd been willing. He finally completely weaned at 23 months when I was pregnant with our 2nd and my supply was dropping.

@ Jaclyn, that's great! Where are you from in upstate NY? I'm from Ithaca.

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