The twins turned 1 two weeks ago. We are now way past pregnancy and definitely into the realm of insanity. Every time I leave the house it's an endless barrage of questions, a few compliments, and also the many tactless remarks.
There is also now a new question I am getting quite often: "When are you going to stop breastfeeding the twins?" The consensus seems to be that because they celebrated their birthday, they should be cut off, or at least limited until it can be eliminated, and soon.
I do this a lot, so you shouldn't be surprised, but I'm calling bullshit again. The World Health Organization recommends "exclusive breastfeeding up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond", and the American Association of Pediatrics advises mothers to "continue breastfeeding beyond the age of one for as long as mutually desired by mother and child."
Breastfeeding a toddler can look very different than nursing a newborn. The twins nurse between 3 and 15 minutes now, whereas it used to take a half an hour. They eat table food with us, pretty much everything they can get their hands on they'll eat, so the total of their nutritional needs do not have to be met by me.
According to kellymom.com:
In the second year (12-23 months), 448 mL of breastmilk provides:
- 29% of energy requirements
- 43% of protein requirements
- 36% of calcium requirements
- 75% of vitamin A requirements
- 76% of folate requirements
- 94% of vitamin B12 requirements
- 60% of vitamin C requirements (– Dewey 2001)
- The American Academy of Family Physicians notes that children weaned before two years of age are at increased risk of illness (AAFP 2008).
- Breastfeeding toddlers between the ages of one and three have been found to have fewer illnesses, illnesses of shorter duration, and lower mortality rates (Mølbak 1994, van den Bogaard 1991, Gulick 1986).
- “Antibodies are abundant in human milk throughout lactation” (Nutrition During Lactation 1991; p. 134). In fact, some of the immune factors in breastmilk increase in concentration during the second year and also during the weaning process. (Lawrence & Lawrence 2011, Goldman 1983, Goldman & Goldblum 1983, Institute of Medicine 1991).
- Per the World Health Organization, “a modest increase in breastfeeding rates could prevent up to 10% of all deaths of children under five: Breastfeeding plays an essential and sometimes underestimated role in the treatment and prevention of childhood illness.” [emphasis added]
My twins will nurse for as long as it is mutually desired by the parties involved, not for as long as it is accepted in the minds of others. I am not sure where the cutoff of one year came from, but it seems a little odd to discontinue something that is working for everyone because of a birthday.
My favorite lactation consultant in the whole world has said that she told people (to make a point) that nursing her twins may keep them closer when they go on to college, and that is exactly what I may start saying if I keep getting asked. Basically, my babies, my boobies, my business. Different things work for different families. This is what is working for us.