Mama, let's normalize natural term nursing
By Chandler Williams Cartozzo, GUEST WRITER
While pregnant with my son, Joey, I made many plans.
Did I plan to still be breastfeeding as we approach Joey’s fourth birthday?
Did I expect to be discussing dinosaur decorations while nursing? No. If you’d told me four years ago, this is where we’d be, I wouldn’t have believed you.
Society has conditioned us to see natural term nursing as something “weird”.
And because of that conditioning, I, most likely would have been horrified. I, like most in our society, lacked proper education on the numerous physical, mental and emotional health benefits of breastfeeding.
Parents know their own children best and like every caregiver before me, I learned quickly what calmed my baby, what made him happy, what comforted him and more.
The “fix all” was often nursing.
As Joey grew and learned to walk, then run, then climb trees, he often tripped or fell. He was instantly reassured and calmed by nursing; then he’d get up with a smile and try again. I did more and more research.
I learned breastmilk changes and evolves over time to fit the exact needs of the child.
When our whole family fell ill with norovirus shortly before Joey’s second birthday, it was my breastmilk that sustained Joey and what helped him recover first of the three of us. Had he not had access to a superfood made just for him, it would have taken him much longer to recover.
The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding to at least two years.
So does the American Academy of Family Physicians but unfortunately our society still doesn’t recognize it as normal. It was perplexing to me that many people – even medical professionals – expected us to stop nursing when he turned one year old. If that first year of motherhood had taught me anything, it was to always trust myself and know my child.
We kept on nursing and ignored our culture’s push to wean at one, two, three...
The push is still happening now.
This year as World Breastfeeding Week approached, I felt uneasy as I contemplated how we’d celebrate this beautiful week of love. I was concerned with how our lovely photos of mother and child would be seen through the veil of such an undereducated culture in which we live.
The only way to normalize the importance of breastfeeding our children past infancy is to SHOW the world...
...This is what normal should be. We are amid a global pandemic and breastmilk is a scientifically proven superfood. Why would we not continue to give our children the very best nourishment as they grow? But pandemic or not, our culture should not expect mothers to stop meeting their child's needs just because it makes people uncomfortable.
Breastfeeding loses none of its value just because a child reaches an arbitrary age.
I hope to help normalize full term breastfeeding by sharing my experience and being a proponent for letting children decide when they are ready to wean.
As we celebrate World Breastfeeding Week this year and all the years to come, my hope is fewer women will feel the need to hide they are “still” nursing.
And instead embrace natural term feeding as the new norm.