Posts Tagged ‘breastfeeding recommendations’

Are You Still Nursing?

Friday, May 23rd, 2014


“Are you still nursing?”

Are You Still Nursing?This question was a point of pride with my first baby, since nursing was a struggle. It was a question asked in solidarity: Are you still with us? Are you still hanging in there? Do you need support? The tone was hopeful; the smiles, adoring.

But now, it’s hard when people ask, “Are you STILL nursing?” Because now that word, in all caps even as it hangs in the air between us, means, “She’s too old,” “You’re babying her,” “She doesn’t need it anymore.”

Walking is not an indication of readiness to wean. Either is the development of speech, or the emergence of teeth. Do you know what is an indication? When mother and child are ready to move on. And they do, every single one of them. Because do you know any adults who have to nurse to sleep? Me either.

I never made it this far with my first two babies. I am so proud to be nursing still. But sometimes it’s hard, despite research and recommendations by the AAP and the WHO saying nursing is best well beyond 6 weeks or 6 months. It’s hard when a once-supportive family now disapproves, your husband asks when you’re “going to quit” like it’s a bad habit you can’t kick, and your baby is big and strong enough to do somersaults that twist your nipples around like Silly Putty.

I think we have discovered in our society that biggest isn’t always best. Mass-produced food isn’t the best. Mass-conceptualized education isn’t the best. Giant corporations aren’t the best. That’s because as people, we have a limited scope of knowing and understanding, and when something gets beyond the scope of what we can do well, we either have to fake quality or scale back in order to achieve it. In many of these areas, we’ve chosen to fake it, and now we are feeling the consequences of that decision.

Health care in this country is feeling that edge. Women have realized it, and that’s why many are shifting back to providers who use evidence-based practices when it comes to things like childbirth and infant care. We want someone to come in and really look, really listen, and then respond to us as individuals, not numbers on a bell curve.

That’s why there is no one age, one factor, one indicator of when someone should stop nursing, and there should never be one. We are still nursing because our baby needs to. When they don’t need to anymore, they won’t, and that will be that.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and still-nursing mother of three girls who lives and writes in Queensbury, New York.