This post is part of the Breastfeeding Blog Hop hosted by Life With Levi and co-hosted by The Slacker Mom and Diary of a Devil Dog Wife. This week’s topic is Dumb Breastfeeding Comments. Scroll down to see more posts or even better, link up and join the fun!
When I read the topic this week, my first thought was that no one has ever said anything dumb to me about breastfeeding. And then I realized that yes, they have. Most recently I heard it this weekend from my own mother, but I’ve heard it from others too.
Starting from the second they find out that I’m breastfeeding (or was planning to, way back when I was pregnant), everyone has something to say about it. Most of the time it is a story about how someone else they know is breastfeeding. Usually it is positive. Sometimes it is a story about how they or someone close to them tried so hard to breastfeed but it didn’t work out. Sometimes it’s negative (or even a horror story). Sometimes it is a justification.
I love hearing the positive stories. I don’t even really mind the negative or horror stories. But there is one comment I am hearing more and more frequently. The longer I nurse The Gnome, the more I hear, “You aren’t going to nurse him until he’s 4 or 5, are you? I know/used to work with/am related to/whatever someone who was still breastfeeding their child when they were 4! Or 5, even! Can you imagine? There must be something wrong with her! You won’t do that, will you?”
Here is a perfect example of someone who says that breastfeeding is great as long as it is only done for (fill in the blank). And the time limit on breastfeeding is different depending on who is talking about it. I’ve heard 6 weeks to 2 years, and everything in between.
This is a dumb comment to make to a breastfeeding woman for a few reasons. First and foremost, it is none of your business, even if you are the child’s grandparent and especially if you’re a stranger. Second, (at least for me) the breastfeeding mother probably has no clue how long she is going to breastfeed for. Dagmar Bleasdale over at Dagmar’s Momsense certainly didn’t plan on nursing for almost 5 years. Amy Gates at Crunchy Domestic Goddess didn’t plan on nursing her 4 year old either.
I don’t think people realize just how dumb this is when they say it to me. What are my options in this situation? Defend something that I haven’t experienced and don’t know whether or not I ever will? I know what they’re looking for when they say it – they want me to agree with them that it is terrible and something is obviously wrong with that mother. If another breastfeeding woman agrees with them, they must be right.
Well, I won’t agree. I may not have nursed a 4-year-old, but I have nursed an almost toddler. And I can assure you that it is not easy. It is certainly not always enjoyable. I get kicked in the face, scratched, pinched, bitten. My son turns into a little yogi and does the downward facing dog. I can no longer nurse him in public because he can’t stay latched for more than 15 seconds at a time because he is too interested in whatever else is going on around him. So, a mom who can make it through nursing a toddler has nothing wrong with her. In my book, she’s a saint.
I just came across this from Jenny Thomas (Dr. Jen). I love that she gives out shirts to her patients and their moms when they make it to one year breastfeeding and she continues to support them for as long as they decide to nurse after that. I’ve linked to this post about the breastfeeding culture in Mongolia before but if you haven’t read it, you should!
My original breastfeeding goal was 6 months. The Gnome is now 10 1/2 months old. Our current goal is 1 year. But that isn’t an expiration date for our nursing experience. I will re-evaluate our nursing relationship at that time and go from there. Ideally, I would like The Gnome to determine when he is done nursing. But no matter what happens, we will end our nursing relationship when we decide it is time, not when society decides it is time.
I will not agree with someone when they make a dumb, uninformed comment about another breastfeeding woman. I will speak up in defense of that woman, even if she is not around. Will you? If you enjoy reading about The Gnome, like us on Facebook and follow us on twitter! While you’re at it… check out our Networked Blogs box in the right sidebar and consider joining through Google Friend Connect, will ya?