Gus and Jack are very close to being one year old. It's a huge milestone. They will have been on this earth for a whole year. We're planning a party. A low-key family get-together kind of party, but a party nonetheless.
Also, I should wean them, right?
Isn't 12 months the magical cut off? Isn't that when my babies transition from babies to independent kids who don't need to nurse anymore? I mean, they will be completely different when they're 365 days old instead of 364 days, right?
In my opinion, the term "extended breast feeding" is as silly as the questions I posed above. If I breastfeed beyond a year, well, that's only natural.
Below is part of a comment I posted in response to another mama's questions on The Leaky B@@b's Facebook page.
"I tend to think "extended breastfeeding" is a misnomer. I prefer "natural duration breastfeeding". Most cultures go way beyond one year... who decided that babies in Western countries don't need nursed after 12 months? (Probably formula/baby food companies, but I digress.) The average world-wide age of weaning is between 2-7 years old. The WHO recommends a minimum of two years, and beyond as long as it's mutually desired by mom and baby.
There is the emotional aspect of it, yes. Nursing is such a handy tool to have. It fixes everything! Fall down and get hurt? Nurse! Temper tantrum from not being able to do a new skill? Nurse. Overtired and overstimulated from a crazy holiday? Nurse! Nursing gives the baby/toddler a secure place from which to figure out the world. Often nursing is a way to "touch base" and realize mommy's still here, all is well. Why take away such a valuable coping tool before the child is ready?
Another great thing about natural duration nursing is that you can be sure your LO is getting vitamins and minerals even when they're going through a picky eating stage. It may not be their ONLY source of nutrition, but your body makes milk especially for YOUR baby, so it's an excellent source of nutrition. Breastmilk most definitely does retain all of it's amazing nutritional benefits after a year.
Finally, there's the immunological aspect of natural duration nursing. When your toddler is two, and venturing out into the world more and more, maybe to preschool, maybe to playdates, she/he gets exposed to way more germs and viruses. If you're still breastfeeding, you are still passing all your antibodies through the milk. Your toddler is protected at a very vulnerable time. "
I'm actually a little sad at the thought of not nursing my babies anymore, far down the road though that may be. But that's ok, because by the time they're completely weaned, Jack and Gus won't be babies anymore. I will let them decide when they're done nursing, naturally.
I won't "extend" anything, but I will nurse my sons for the duration of their need.