Reviving Motherhood

Learning on the Journey

How Long Should I Breastfeed? Part 2

3 Comments

Jenny Silliman, age 50

My Titus 2 mentors aren’t celebrities.  Most of them are moms in the trenches just like me, godly ladies who are farther down the mothering road than I am.  I’ve written before about my friend Jenny.  She’s a mom of 8 children, some of whom are nearly as old as I am.  When I got pregnant with Elizabeth she called me just to congratulate and encourage me.  What a surprise!  Until that point I had mainly thought of her as my mom’s friend, but that phone call changed my life and cemented our friendship.

Her advice particularly impacted my mothering style.  Before that I had some vague notions about mothering but I didn’t have a lot of concrete goals, especially for the infant stage.  Jenny talked to me about preparing for birth, nutrition, responding to and nurturing my baby, and breastfeeding.  Her advice to try to breastfeed for two years took me a little by surprise.  “Baby’s brain is growing so fast until age two,” she explained.  “And breast milk is the perfect brain food!”  Until then I hadn’t given much thought to how long I would nurse my babies.  A year?  Eighteen months?  I had no idea.  This made sense and gave me a goal to shoot for.

I have to admit that I was the odd girl out among my friends.  Most of them didn’t breastfeed at all, let alone for longer than a year.  And that was fine.  I certainly didn’t (and don’t) judge or criticize them for that, but I was definitely alone in the breastfeeding department.

All the same, I am so glad that I took my wise friend’s advice and aimed for that two-year mark!  I soon learned that many experts agree, breastfeeding past one year is fine for baby and may even confer great benefits.  I found it interesting that Jenny’s rule of thumb was being backed up by medical professionals.  (There are a plethora of studies that have discovered the many benefits of breastfeeding to both baby and mom.)

Personally, I can say that breastfeeding longer than average has benefited my children enormously, especially in the area of immunity.  Elizabeth caught her first virus just weeks after I weaned her.  Our one-time pediatrician (himself a father of eight) concurred that in his observation, it made all the difference in the strength of a small child’s immune system.

Breastfeeding until a certain age is certainly not an issue of right or wrong.  When you choose to wean is not something I’d criticize anyone for. I believe God leads each of us differently in our mothering, and the important thing is to be sensitive to Him, even in something as basic as how to feed our children.

I just share my Jenny story just to encourage you: If you have considered breastfeeding past age 1, it’s OK.  Go right ahead.  Not only will it not hurt anything (even the AAP explicitly states so) but it will probably be beneficial to your little one.  It’s fine to nurse for both nutrition and comfort.  In the Bible, Isaiah 66:10-13 makes reference to a mother nursing her child for comfort: “Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice greatly with her, all you who mourn over her.  For you will nurse and be satisfied at her comforting breasts; you will drink deeply and delight in her overflowing abundance.”  For this is what the LORD says: “I will extend peace to her like a river, and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream; you will nurse and be carried on her arm and dandled on her knees.  As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.”

It might cause a raised eyebrow or two, but remember that whether you are able to breastfeed for just a little while or whether you choose to go for longer than your friends, what’s important is that you are doing what you believe is best for your baby.  Nourish with confidence!

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3 thoughts on “How Long Should I Breastfeed? Part 2

  1. At first I aimed to breastfeed for two years and now sunnyboy is three years and still nursing. I am so pleased I did this for him 🙂

  2. I nursed all my others up until their first birthdays, but with this last one, I feel so much more comfortable waiting for his cues to signal that he is ready to wean. He seems to need it more, emotionally speaking, though we are already down to once a day and once in awhile not at all. It is true that the Lord imparts wisdom to mothers in every aspect of our decision-making. Especially when we desire to choose what it best and most beneficial for preparing them to serve and glorify Him. Thanks for sharing!

  3. There was a pediatrician in our Midwest area who would encourage moms of fall & winter babies, approaching the first birthday to go on and nurse thru the winter to stave off illness or have a faster recovery.

    A La Leche League friend would gently ask moms thinking of weaning if it would really make there lives any easier in the short and long runs….

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