*********************************This post in no way makes judgment on any parenting choices or decisions. Just an explanation of what was needed for me and my breastfeeding relationships to thrive!**
When I was younger, I saw a woman who practiced full-term breastfeeding; her child was about 2. While it seems many people get squicked out and think "I could never breastfeed a child that old," I saw more. I saw how wonderful it was to the breastfeeding pair to have that available to help keep their connection during a busy event. The only thing I saw was the mother's embarrassment at her child's manner of request: lifting her shirt up, without warning.
This memory served to form some of my earliest thoughts on breastfeeding. I felt bad for her embarrassment, but could see how creating boundaries could help me and my future child enjoy a full term breastfeeding relationship, while honoring my needs at the same time. The World Health Organization calls for breastfeeding for at least 2 years or or more. Le Leche League calls for the relationship to continue for as long as they wish to. For my personal needs, I knew I needed to address my need for bodily autonomy from the very beginning, so I could be better able to meet my children's breastfeeding needs as long as possible.
From the start, we worked to teach methods of communicating that could be used anywhere and anytime. We would teach sign language; we used the sign for milk. My boys picked this up fairly quickly, L3 has other ideas. She hits my breast when she wants to nurse. I love that she is developing a clear sign for her needs, but it isn't one that I feel is respectful. So I do my best to gently take her hand (I usually kiss her fist,) request gentle touches and help her sign milk. When each of them started reaching in my shirt, I would do the same, but including mentioning that this was MY body and I would share, but needed to be asked rather than just being touched without permission.
The bonus lesson to teaching about person body space is also teaching my children that bodies are personal. Theirs as well. It is ours to use and share as we feel comfortable. I want to teach them it is ok to require respect of their space from outside sources.
As your child gets older, it is important for breastfeeding to be mutually agreeable. There are times we need to set respectful limits, so everyone has their needs met.
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