Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Got (breast)Milk?

I apologize in advance, but I need to rant.  Deal.

So my son is officially over the one year mark that - according to North American societal norms and the baby food companies - indicates it's time to start weaning him from breastfeeding.  Well I'm not weaning yet.  That's right, I'm still nursing my 24 pound toddler 4 times a day.  DEAL.  (Sorry...I'm a little sensitive about this).

I was not prepared for the pressure (from family, strangers, the media, my own imagination) to STOP breastfeeding.  It seems like breastfeeding is strongly encouraged up to a point, but after that it's not really accepted by society.  You become "one of those" moms.  You know, the vegan ones with dreadlocks and hairy armpits who swear by 'the family bed' and breastfeed until their kids are 5 (please know that I'm not judging or making fun, it's just a stereo-type I'm trying to describe).

I hear:
"You're still breastfeeding?"
"Doesn't he have teeth?"
"It's time to stop when they can ask for it."
"If you breastfeed too long he'll remember it and be emotionally damaged."
"Doesn't he eat real food yet?"

F--- off!  You ignorant mother fu......(sigh).  Sorry.  Still a little touchy.

I'd like to clear a few things up: 
  • Yes,  he has teeth.  No, he doesn't bite me when he's nursing.  (But he bites everything else.)
  • I have clean hair, and hairless armpits, and I eat meat.
  • My son sleeps in his crib, mostly.
  • He will not remember feeding from my breast.
  • If he learns to ask for it without whining or crying, then frankly my life will get a lot easier.
  • He eats real food several times a day.
The truth is, I didn't expect that I would be continuing to breastfeed into the second year.  I didn't expect that my tiny baby would violently vomit for hours anytime I tried to give him a bottle of formula.  I didn't expect him to start having problems with eczema and ear infections.  And as he approached his first birthday, I didn't expect to learn that he was allergic to dairy (which, by the way, is in everything they make for babies).   Continuing to breastfeed is the best thing I can do to help him overcome these problems.

Consider the facts (and forgive me, as I don't mean to preach):
  • breastfed children benefit nutritionally
  • breastfeeding into the second and third years is healthy and NORMAL in most parts of the world
  • breastfed children get sick less often
  • they have fewer allergies
  • they develop normally psychologically, emotionally, and socially (some research indicates they are more well-adjusted) 
If you can't sustain breastfeeding or choose not to, then there's no harm done.  But if you can, then why not?  And what's with the pressure to wean kids to cow's milk anyway?  What's natural about that?  If babies still require nutrients they can only get from milk, why does society insist we use milk from cows?  Doesn't anyone else think this is a little odd?  Why do I even have to explain this to people??

Okay, I'm feeling a little better having gotten that off my chest (no pun intended).  I hope I didn't sound like a breastfeeding pamphlet, because I'm all for mom's having the choice.  Ultimately, I think we all do our best and want the same thing - happy, healthy babies, and sane moms. 

So kindly get off my case, m'kay?


  1. i came across your blog and i thought i'd comment --- GOOD FOR YOU! you are doing what is best for your son and for yourself --- don't worry about what others think and what society deems is "proper" as they are not in your position.

    so keep on breastfeeding that child of yours until you are both ready to stop :)

  2. My daughter is almost 2 about 24 pounds as well. I am still breastfeeding her and to get the "what?" comments from everyone. My daughter had severe food allergies and I had to get on an elimination diet for almost 18 months. She is now completely allergy free and her skin is awesome. I think it is totally due to the continued breastfeeding. I am so not the type to breastfeed a toddler, but hey she likes it and its not hurting anyone- except my sleep! She too nurses like a newborn!! Do what you are doing and forget about everyone else!

  3. Well said! My daughter is only 6 months old and I'm already hearing those very same comments regarding breastfeeding her and when I'll stop. I typically just quote that Health Canada recommends it until age 2 or beyond to try and get people off my case. However this past weekend I was told I'm "too by the book" and "that's what bottles are made for", my response was that this was the freshest milk she'll ever get. But really why does everyone think its ok to have an opinion on how you feed your kid?

    ps. Just found your blog and really like it so far.

  4. Thanks for the support ladies! It's good to know I'm not the only one.

  5. Hey there! I found your blog from mom blogs. It's really interesting!
    This post is great! My son is 16 month old now and we still breastfeed :) And I'm not planning on weaning him. Well, not until he stops feeding himself. I think, it's so natural for a baby to drink mother's milk, and they are going to stop on their own when the time comes.
    Good on you for feeding him breast milk!

    I leave you a link to my blog, please check it out too!