Nursing Volume Two
Hello there, blog-reader!
Nursing can be a truly controversial subject!
We learned that after publishing our last newsletter. For a touch up read it right here.
Some were offended by my recommendations on the duration of the nursing period; I wrote, that I generally recommend a nursing period of 9-12 months. Some were also provoked that I compared long-term nursing periods to “bad habits”! As my position may be easily misunderstood, I want to elaborate a little on my take on nursing in this newsletter.
However, before I do so, I wish to say that I deeply respect that this decision – like everything else when it comes to making choices in life- is a very personal choice, and is also individually based. The difficulty in addressing general topics is that the unique conditions for each individual, is not in focus. So, as in any other situation where a choice has to be made: deep down you know what is best for you and your family- and all ‘expert advice’ should always be filtered through your own wisdom, your heart and your fine-tuned intuition about the well-being of your own children.
Nursing is Beautiful.
Nursing is a natural and wondrous thing. Furthermore, I see it as a part of the incredible development that the child undergoes in the first year. So many things happen at such a speed and with such intensity, and in an amazing sequence. The first year brings forth so many huge developmental steps and they all lead to new skills for the child to master.
Each developmental step the child takes is also a step into evolving into a unique and independent individual; a standalone individual, who is able to connect to the surrounding world on its own.
The grown ups’ great task is to pay close attention to this physical, mental and psychological development, finding ways to encourage it, and not to hold it back.
Expanding the Circle of Safety
You are your child’s physical and emotional center. If you have a small child, you will see that the child will slowly explore the periphery, and eventually it will expand this circle of safety.
When a small child feels insecure, it will seek solace in its center; you. If something unexpected happens, like dropping a toy on the floor, sometimes it is enough for a small child just to look back at you. Often the child will seek your eyes to make sure, that everything is still all right. This is why your reaction is so important! When the child feels re-assured, it can proceed in exploring the world again.
Now, to how I see this process deeply connected to the nursing period.
On a biological level, nursing is a necessity for the first six months for the child to get vital nutrition, allowing the infant to grow and thereby survive. However, the child begins consuming other kinds of nutrition at the age of six months, some a little sooner. As the child’s need for independence grows, I feel that letting go of the breast as well becomes part of that process. Letting go of the breast connects to the gradually entrance into the outer world.
Letting go of the intimate and deep connection that is established and confirmed when nursing, is naturally difficult for most mothers. Anxiety often arises as the child moves further away, and we feel a deep instinct to protect our children from harm and from the cruelty if the world.
Therefore, it is also a question about putting trust in your child’s ability to ‘survive’. It is about allowing the small child to explore the periphery, yet all the while remaining a strong center for your child. As a Small Child Educator, I have experienced how it is almost impossible to comfort a two year old who is still being nursed if the mother is not there to offer her breast. Therefore to me, finishing nursing around 12 months is also about allowing a psychological transition-phase to happen, and therefore not about disregarding the importance of natural nursing.
I certainly believe that breastfeeding must be supported in all societies. It is the best option for both the mother and the child, if the mother is able to breastfeed. As well as the nutritional benefits, breastfeeding supports the unique and remarkable relationship between mother and child.
I wish to underscore that there is not only one right solution. There are many aspects to be considered, and I have presented one perspective here that mainly focuses on the child’s psychological development. However, as a mother, you will use your own intuition and wisdom about your child’s deeper needs to make the right choice for you.
Some mothers think creatively, and keep the breastmilk in the cooler. This way, they can add it into the little child’s food; this obviously means, that the child can still benefit from the milk, without feeling dependent of the breast for too long.
As always, feel free to comment right below.
We will answer all who participates. 🙂
– and Anna on the side.