If you’ve ever started a sentence stating that you’re all for breastfeeding, but then followed this sentiment with several conditions, I would like to argue that you’re everything but “all” for breastfeeding. I’d even say you’re for breastfeeding as long as it fits in with your personal beliefs.
And why is that an issue?
Breastfeeding is still incredibly controversial although boobs are actual milk machines biologically created to feed babies, it seems a huge amount of people have something negative to say about how, where or even how long breastfeeding continues.
When I was expecting my first child I had this vision of exclusively breastfeeding for 3-6 months followed by formula. That was the max and why would anyone go on any longer? Was it even nutritional after this point? I really had no clue.
My baby arrived and life threw me a curveball. This little baby girl of mine spent 3 months refusing to latch. She just wouldn’t, completely unaffected by the amount of support we had, no one could help her latch. I ended up breastfeeding my little girl via a bottle of expressed milk and determinedly continued past the 6 month mark. As proud as I was, I was also heartbroken and the loss I felt put everything on its end.
During my second pregnancy I became an all knowing breastfeeding specialist and I decided I was going to make it work. Thanks to hours of research, and an understanding of my inverted nipples, nipple shields and pumps I spent 6 hard months establishing breastfeeding.
Those 6 months are somewhat of a blur but we did it. Finally we mastered breastfeeding and it felt amazing. My determination mixed with a child who didn’t have a tie equaled a breastfeeding relationship I had desperately wanted with my first. The following 6 months flew in- everyone offered me praise and reassuring words. I felt like a queen for those 6 months. Breastfeeding didn’t hurt as much and my milkmakers instantly offered my son nutrition, comfort, pain relief and relaxation. Breasts are seriously amazing!
“Ewww, he is to old for that now. He has teeth”
Then my son turned a year old. He wasn’t ready to stop. I wasn’t ready to stop. We had just mastered this thing. But he was 1?
Suddenly I received snide remarks and disgusted grimaces. Ewww, he is to old for that now. He has teeth and he can chew his own food. And so it continued.
As my son reached his second birthday I found myself hiding that we were breastfeeding. It started to become our little secret. I was ashamed that I was doing for my son what he needed, what was recommended by all major agencies and what was biologically correct. I only fed in the bedroom and even pretended we had weaned. I was even more ashamed that I was ashamed.
I was a member of many of the breastfeeding groups on social media and this is part of what kept me going- I knew so many felt the same way and being able to speak to other mothers really made such a huge difference in my life.
I was a cheerleader and a supporter in these groups. I thought we all were- in some ways the breastfeeding community almost felt like a family that had your back- I was one of many. This changed when my son turned 3.
Now the compliments where replaced with abuse. I was disgusting and sick. I wasn’t a fit mother. I started avoiding social media. There was only one page that focused on breastfeeding children past 1 and here we came together attempting to hold each other up.
“Self weaning isn’t hard. It’s bittersweet but not hard.”
The support made me feel confident at the same time as the negativity somehow made me stronger and more willing to fight for my son, for my body and my maternal rights. I followed my son’s lead and was not going to be shamed for it.
I continued to feed him regularly for another year until he started to self wean.
Self weaning isn’t hard. It’s bittersweet but not hard. It’s not for everyone but it was for us. My son choose when he was ready to move on and I jumped onboard the weaning train somewhat excited but also sad that my boy was growing up.
Most of us are though, aren’t we? We want to see them grow and become independent but as they do we mourn the stage that has passed.
But back to my original point and something I truly want to speak out about. You cannot be a breastfeeding supporter and a supporter of women’s right to breastfeed freely, when you follow this sentiment with a “but”.
In fact that makes you NO better than those who compare breastfeeding out and about with urinating in public, or those who say that it’s sick to breastfeed- full stop.
If you’re a supporter of breastfeeding women you’re a supporter of the right to breastfeed as it suits mother and baby, where it suits us and however long it suits us.
“There is no in between here.”
There is no in between here. It’s ok to say, “I’m happy to breastfeed for a year”. It’s not ok to state that “breastfeeding after a years is disgusting.”
Support doesn’t come with a “but”-
So do you, and do you proud but don’t diminish someone else’s journey just because it traveled down a different road to yours.
And with that I want to wish you a happy breastfeeding week ❤️