Extended breastfeeding came under fire last week when mom of two Denise Sumpter went on British television to discuss her decision to breastfeed her 6-year-old daughter until the child self-weans.
So what is the deal with extended breastfeeding? BuzzFeed Life talked to moms in the thick of it to find out.
Jasmine Banks, mom of three
Désirée Fawn, mom of one
Sara Moe, mom of three
Miranda Wicker, mom of two
"I didn't plan to be breastfeeding for this long, and to be honest, before I ever breastfed for the first time I thought it was sort of weird when moms breastfed older toddlers. Then my son went on a nursing strike at four and a half months old and a few months later, we switched him to formula. When Emma came along a few years later, my only plan was to take everything as it came and hopefully make it to six months, then six months turned into a year so I could get her through flu season. After a year we were still going strong and she was showing no signs of stopping and before I knew it, we'd passed the two-year milestone.
"A lot of people don't understand extended breastfeeding. At this point, it's less about nutrition for her and more about comfort and bonding. My boobs are her security blanket (along with her "baba," at least three baby dolls, some books, and two or three actual blankets...). Maybe it's weird to some people, and that's totally cool. Other people's habits, like clipping nails in public or heating fish in a shared microwave, are weird to me. She's healthy, fiercely independent, whip smart, and won't take my boobs with her to kindergarten. Probably."
Natasha Chiam, mom of two
Natalia Fabia, mom of one
Adrienne Jones, mom of four
"I nursed my youngest until right around his third birthday. I planned before he was born to nurse him as long as he wanted in a sort of vague way, with no real idea what that would look like. Then he turned out to be this outrageously high-needs baby (and eventually was diagnosed with multiple disabilities) and I'm so thankful we had BFing as a way to bond because otherwise, being close to him was very, very difficult. I won't go into all that detail but he screamed for his first few years and rarely slept and it was profoundly challenging, but at least I had that one thing that was working, you know? There was one thing I knew was right and good."
Titania Jordan, mom of one
"I totally did not plan to breastfeed my son for almost three and a half years. I thought he would self-wean way before that. Of course, toward the end, it was very sporadic and perhaps just to fall asleep for a nap or bed, but it was sweet and beautiful and completely unplanned.
"There were countless benefits to breastfeeding, but it certainly wasn't a breeze. I'm thankful I was able to get through the rocky phase [at the beginning], as I know it is hard for many who try, especially when you have to balance going back to work with pumping.
"I wish I had more confidence to nurse in public in those early months, instead of hiding in my car or a restaurant bathroom when my son would get hungry. I wish I wasn't ashamed in certain instances of nursing a child past the age of 1, and then 2, and then (eeps!) 3! It seems like so not a big deal now, but back then, I was a strange bird compared to my friends with children the same age."