The Truths About Breastfeeding after One Year

mindy stavish
Image via Mindi Stavish

My son is 2 1/2 and still breastfeeding. There are days when I'm utterly exhausted and ready for him to wean. Then there are other moments when I know I am doing the right thing. He is likely my last baby, so I want to savor this time.

Breastfeeding beyond a year in the United States, unfortunately, is not common. Lucky for me, I am part of a very active local Facebook group called the Badass Breastfeeders of Southern Maryland. The group is made up of supportive moms, and many of them now have little toddler nursers. I asked them to share their truths about extended breastfeeding.

Truths About Breastfeeding a Toddler
Image via Alithza Martinez

“Gymnursetics is real.”

-Alithza Martinez

Truths About Breastfeeding a 1 Year Old
Image via Shannon Heany Crush

“Nineteen months — that's how long I spent nursing my last baby. Through challenges and triumphs, I only wanted to nurse for three months, then six months, and then a year. Then when it was over, there I was sobbing uncontrollably the last time my baby latched.

“No one ever tells you how that weaning period feels. The emotional sadness you feel when it all ends. He unlatched, looked me in the eyes and sighed while saying ‘All done.' That was the last time he ever latched.”

-Shannon Heany Crush

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Image via Amber Enrriques

“My son is almost 19 months old. Breastfeeding was hard at first. Really hard. My other two children didn't make it past four months. With a family who calls my son a ‘titty baby' because he is clingy and fussy, I have very family little support.

“My husband isn't very supportive either, but through a move across country, sickness, surgery, and two kids in school, I am still breastfeeding.

“Going past a year was new to me. My son is so very demanding and always pinching, too many touched out days for me, but our bond is so strong. I love our time together. I dread our weaning days and am hoping that isn't anytime soon.”

-Amber Enrriques

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Image via Annie Stauffer

“This is the last photo I have of my daughter nursing. She weaned September 2014 at 20 months old. I was roughly 7-months pregnant with her little brother.

“My goal had been to nurse until she was 2, as that is what the World Health Organization recommends. We didn't quite make it, but we nursed until she was ready to wean. Some days it was hard, but mostly, it was an amazing bond that I will never forget.”

-Annie Stauffer

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Image via Gwyenne Buttrill

“Fifteen months and going strong! Truth is that it's difficult eating enough to keep yourself satisfied while providing enough for your baby. Truth is that it's not easy, in any sense, nursing a toddler. Truth is that I get a huge sense of pride and accomplishment out of knowing that I have nourished her and that she will quit when she's ready.”

-Gwyenne Buttrill

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Image via Amanda Mastran

“My truths about nursing past a year:

  1. “Nursing a toddler doesn't feel any different than nursing a baby. I'll admit, before I had my daughter, the idea of nursing past a year or two weirded me out. But nursing my 2-year-old feels just as natural and normal as it did when she was a newborn.
  2. “Extended nursing in no way limits a child's independence. Or at least, if it does, thank goodness! If my fiercely independent and strong-willed daughter were any more so, I'm not sure I'd survive it!
  3. “Sometimes I love our nursing relationship; sometimes I don't love it. In fact, if I'm being honest, sometimes I resent it. I resent that some days I'm so touched out from nursing that the last thing I want to do when my daughter finally crawls down from my lap is to get down on the floor and play blocks, or cars, or dress up. Although I love how strong our nursing bond is, I sometimes worry that other parts of our relationship might suffer for it.
  4. “The hardest part of nursing a toddler is other people. You would think by now I would be immune to the opinions of other people, but actually, it's the opposite. With the perceptions about extended nursing in our country being what they are, the older my daughter gets, the more self-conscious I feel about nursing. I very rarely nurse in public anymore, and I sometimes cringe when my husband (who cares not at all what other people think) tells people we're still nursing.
  5. “Not everyone who nurses past a year plans on self-weaning. I never planned to nurse until my daughter self-weaned. From the beginning, my goal was to nurse for as long as both she AND I wanted to. And now that she's over 2, I sometimes feel like I'm caught in a limbo between the early weaning crowd and the full-term nursers.
  6. “I am absolutely certain I would not still be nursing without the support of other nursing moms!”

-Amanda Mastran

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The Truths About Breastfeeding after One Year

Mindi is a working mom with three boys ages 4, 2, and an infant (born June 2013). She spent her first 8 years of her career in Speech-Language Pathology at a Children's Hospital. She currently works with adults and children in home health. The real fun for her happens when she is at home with her boys, chasing them around and pretending to be a super hero. She blogs about life as a working mom at Simply Stavish. Her weekly feature, Words in the Sand, teaches parents how to grow their child's s ... More

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3 comments

  1. Profile photo of Catherine Catherine says:

    There have been studies showing health benefits of breastfeeding extend to age 5.

  2. Profile photo of Shontee Shontee says:

    I feel that breastfeeding so late is unnecessary. By this age most of the health benefits have already been received and a bond has already been created. Continuing at this point is more for the comfort of the mother and could possibly affect the child’s social growth being dependent on breastfeeding. It’s up to each family to decide when to wean, but continuing for too long can potentially be detrimental to social and emotional growth.

    • Profile photo of Christina Christina says:

      The World Health Organization recommends Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or BEYOND.
      The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that “Breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child… Increased duration of breastfeeding confers significant health and developmental benefits for the child and the mother… There is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychologic or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer.” (AAP 2012, AAP 2005)

      Why would these two recommend this if it would be detrimental socially or of no benefit to child (and mother)? Please get your science and facts straight before discouraging others from doing something natural and beneficial to mom and child.

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