Because it didn't make sense to me to stop because the calendar hit an artificial milestone, whether that be 3 months, 6 months, or a year.
On a side note, when people say "it's more for the mom than the child" it really makes me feel a little stabby. Not only is it obvious that the person has no idea what they're talking about, it's so dismissive and demeaning of the mom and her mothering.
That or they suggest the mom is getting some sort of sexual fulfillment of it. Um, projecting much, random judgmental stranger? Yeah, there's nothing more sexual than a toddler comfort-nursing because they fell down and hurt their knee. Really gets my jollies off.
Or if they merely mean it in an emotional crutch sort of way. Yeah, I'm really going to force my child to suck on my body part because I can't cut the metaphorical umbilical cord. He or she would be doing perfectly fine knocking back a fruit juice juicebox or chocolate milk from a Dora sippy cup, but darn it, I just really feel like whipping my breast out and shoving it in their face to prove their dependency on me. Right. Gotcha.
A personal anecdote about nursing and miscarriage--I've had 3 births and 3 miscarriages. I nursed well into a pregnancy and completely through another pregnancy, both with successful births. All three miscarriages occurred when I was NOT nursing. For unknown reasons, I had bleeding up to 24 weeks of pregnancy (or until miscarrying) with each pregnancy. Nursing made me feel more secure--if I did miscarry, I still had my little nursing kiddo. I am not a medical person--this is just how it happened to me.
Because mothering my child knows no clock. I don't care how old he is, I know that I need to meet his needs emotionally. As long as he still feels that I can best meet his needs by snuggling while nursing, I have no issue stopping. With my oldest, we weaned (part him, part me) at about 13/14 months old and I highly regret it. It exacerbated outstanding health issues and made things a lot more complex. Once I let go of the societal notion that my child suddenly "grows up" at a certain birthday, I better met the needs of my boys. #2 self weaned at 3 years, 7 months, and #3 is still going (albeit dry nursing due to my pregnancy and my milk drying up) at 30 months old with no intentions to stop anytime soon.
I was a SAHM to my 2 1/2 year old until last week when I went back to teaching. Nursing him before and after work...and through the evening and night...is the best way to reconnect imaginable.
He had only ever nursed to sleep (unless he fell asleep in the car) for his entire life. DH is home with him now and says he just falls asleep around the same time I used to nurse him down. I was amazed (and yes, I believe him!). Lots of folks said I should wean to "prepare" him for the transition of being full-time with me to being with dad, but I didn't even think about it.
Thanks for the info about miscarriages and nursing not being connected in your cases.
It is mostly the emotional bond for us.I am breastfeeding my 19 month old mostly because it is a special bonding time for us. He is definitely not a morning person (just like his Mommy), but a 15-20 minute nursing session helps us both ease into the day with some wonderful cuddle time with the person that we both love most in this world. After he nurses he is ready to go for the day! And so am I - he wakes up around 6:00 a.m. and I really do need some time before I get moving in the morning. I just love cuddling my guy! A second/third nursing session before nap or bedtime really helps him relax and unwind - just like me. He can be pretty intense during the day, and it is so nice to snuggle with him as he is drifting off. It helps me to remember that he really loves and needs me, and makes it easier for me to chase him around constantly. I initially wanted to breastfeed for "at least 6 months" when he was first born, and I "probably wanted him weaned around 9-10 months". If you would have told me when he was born that I would be nursing him this long, I would have said that you were absolutely insane. Yet here we are. Breastfeedng is just a pleasant, soothing, wonderful time for both of us, and I love it! The health effects are just an added bonus (although it is SUPER nice he has never had an ear infection before)!
My almost-14-month old, like a PP's, seems to be physiologically straddling the line between toddler and baby, and nursing still contributes to his nutrition, not to mention emotional needs. There are days that his solid intake is, ahem, less than consistent or balanced, and it's reassuring to know that he's still getting breastmilk. He was ill with an extremely high fever last month and bf'ing got us through a scary time when it was the only thing he could take in and the ER wasn't able to place a line for IV hydration. Sometimes it settles him down and gets him to sleep when nothing else can. He gets a good long nursing session in after the days that he spends in daycare and he's in need of extra cuddles from mom. It's soothing to him after he falls and bumps himself or when he's having teething pain. It's still the most convenient way to feed him when we're traveling, especially on a plane! My seat will be the one that you DON'T hear screaming coming from.
At the same time, he's increasing his solids, and it's nice for my boobs to be "off duty" more often. I don't think I'll be too broken up when he weans, but I'm in no rush, either. It'll happen when it happens.
At one, both my children still needed breastfeeding very much and it would definitely seemed wrong to stop (they were basically just really starting to get into solids). At two, we just kept going, same at three. My older one breastfed till 4/4.5 with a slow weaning process. My younger one still enjoys it.
I would NEVER take away such an important source of comfort and nutrition for my children without their consent! I owe it to them to give them the most secure, loving, happy childhood that I can. After all, they did not choose to be brought into this life. My DS weaned at 5.5, DDs are still nursing. It doesn't matter how old they are, they can always nurse from me, even if they've been "weaned" for a long time.