I think exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and extended breastfeeding in combination with food as long as the baby/child wants to nurse is one of the few parental no-brainers. In so many parenting decisions we weigh the benefits and the risks of two or more choices and never know for sure whether we decided correctly. With breastfeeding vs. formula (except for situations like adopted children, children of HIV+ mothers, children with mothers undergoing chemo, children without mothers) all the risks are on the formula said and all the benefits on the breastfeeding side.
My ex and I both breastfed all three of our kids (she used an SNS to feed Doran with my milk when I was at work). I breastfed for a total of 8+ years, which is pretty good considering I only gave birth to two out of my three kids. I pumped breast milk for a year with the oldest and youngest. I have funny stories about pumping on jury duty and other Adventures in Breastfeeding. Zara and I attended the 1999 La Leche League International Conference in Orlando, where she was not unusual in being a breastfeeding four-year-old (she referred to it as the "mommy milk conference").
I say that all by way of introduction. I read the following in this morning's New York Times, in the obituary for Edwina Froelich, one of the founders of La Leche League:
"We didn't have any information," said Mrs. Tompson, another of the original group of seven La Leche League founders. "There weren't any books out there, and women just didn't talk about these things. Only 18 percent of women in the U.S. left the hospital breast-feeding at that time."
The time was 1956. I was really struck by it because I was the second child in my family, born in 1955, and all of us were breastfed (birth years of 1954, 1955, 1957, 1959, 1953 and 1970). She didn't breastfeed like I did or like I would recommend. She had "relief bottles" of formula and only breastfed each of us for 6-9 months. But I give her huge credit for doing something so important at a time when few did.
Thank you, Mom!