I wasn’t captured on the cover of a magazine with my nipple in his mouth, but I did choose to breastfeed my son until he was three and a half years old. Despite not reaching international attention, I have to admit my simple act of feeding my child did turn a few heads.
As I watched the outcry of opinions and heated debates on TV (and in the lunch room at work) after that Time magazine cover last May with a woman nursing her three year old hit headlines, I too was still nursing my three year old. The World Health Organisation and health authorities across the globe all acknowledge the benefits of breastfeeding not just for the child, but for the mother too. It’s recommended to breastfeed up until “two years and beyond”. BEYOND. Not “beyond a little tiny bit but not too long!”... just “beyond”.
I hadn’t planned to breastfeed my son until he was three and a half; I just never planned a specific date at which I would stop. I figured I would know when the time came. Nursing was going so well that I couldn’t think of a valid reason to stop. So it became my choice and his, to go “beyond”. But in doing so, I became painfully aware that there remains a portion of our society that feels women should breastfeed their children with restrictions, only in private and only for a certain period of time.
I made the right choice for me and my son, yet I often found myself trying to justify it. Although I wasn’t going to let anyone influence my decision to continue breastfeeding, I still felt nervous about how I was being perceived. In a society that claims to support breastfeeding, but apparently - with strings attached. Wouldn’t it be nice if someday women felt so supported that they could breastfeed where, when and for however long they wanted - without judgement? What can you do to help breastfeeding women feel supported?
If you or someone you know is looking for breastfeeding support, you can contact La Leche League (1-800-La Leche /1-800-525-3243).
Our Guest Blogger for today is Sarah Alexis. She is a HealthLink BC dietitian and mother of two. Sarah is passionate about supporting women in all aspects of life. Here, she shares her experiences of nursing her son into toddlerhood.
It Takes Two to Make a Thing Go Right