11 extended breastfeeding stereotypes that just aren't true

11 extended breastfeeding stereotypes that just aren't true

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I never wanted to breastfeed. Maybe there are women who feel a deep pull towards dipping their nipples into a pencil sharpener every two to three hours – because let’s be honest, that’s what the early days feel like – but it wasn’t me.

Instead, I wanted to breastfeed because I believed it was best for my son. We were lucky. He successfully latched on in his first attempt, mere minutes after he exited my body, and my supply was bountiful.

I assumed I’d wean. First, at 3 months. Then 6, 9. As friends' tots self-weaned, we just kept going. And haven’t stopped. My son is now days away from his second birthday, and I’ve become the most reluctant breastfeeding mom of a toddler.

Before I became a mom myself I was a judgmental ass about breastfeeding. I didn’t understand one thing about how it worked. Sure, I knew it was healthy and natural. But I saw nursing beyond a year as really weird.

But my old judgmental ways have come back to bite me now. I'm open about breastfeeding on social media and in real life because I hope it will help other moms not feel so alone. This level of transparency has brought me support and new friendships. Along with scrutiny, shame, and stereotyping.

Here’s a compilation of some of the things people say about extended breastfeeding moms, and why they're all untrue:

  1. She’s lazy. Yes, weaning takes work. So does breastfeeding a toddler. I’ve had to develop acrobatic skills to adapt. Nursing often involves my son contorting into a pretzel-like position, usually with a foot in my face. It’s a physically exhausting endeavor.
  2. She’s selfish. People say I do this for me. Which part? Monitoring what I eat and drink to ensure it’s compatible? Perhaps they mean the times I’ve had bronchitis and was unable to take one of the medications recommended?
  3. She wants attention. Trust me, I don't want the type of attention that comes with this. I’ve received numerous penis photos from online "friends." Even a few choice videos. Lucky me.
  4. She’s no longer providing her child with nutritional benefits. Don’t even try me on this one. I had my milk analyzed in a lab.
  5. She’s a pervert. Breasts were intended for breastfeeding, hence the presence of milk ducts. Society has turned them into sexual objects. I find nothing sexual about the act of feeding my child. Making breastfeeding sexual is on you, not me.
  6. She’s crunchy. “Are you vegan?” someone once asked upon learning my son was “still” nursing. “I ate steak last night,” I replied. “Soy?” they asked. “Cow,” I answered. I had to end it there and declare that I wasn’t vegan, nor vegetarian. You can’t define breastfeeding moms, or narrow us down by character or personality traits.

All these points lead to an inevitable question: why don’t I stop breastfeeding? The thing is that I don't want to. I just want to stop being judged and insulted. Because what I do with my life – and my nipples – is nobody else's business.

  1. She’s nursing a 12-year-old. I think the term “extended breastfeeding” causes confusion. It’s technically nursing past infancy, or past age 1. My son is 2. Not 22. I generally refer to it as "toddler nursing."
  2. She’s shameless. I wish. I’m okay with the sides of my breast being exposed, but I still keep my nipple covered. I’ve also been known to cringe and turn beet red when my son asks for “boobies” instead of “milk" in public.
  3. She’s stunting her child’s social development. Insinuating that I’m purposely harming my child is inexcusable. And untrue. Breastfeeding, and the bond it creates, can help children feel secure and thus become more independent.
  4. She thinks less of moms who formula-feed. On the contrary, I wanted to be a mom who formula-fed. In fact, when I developed a horrid rash two days postpartum I secretly hoped the medicine needed to treat it would be incompatible with breastfeeding so I’d have a medical excuse to stop. I eventually learned to love breastfeeding, but know it’s not for everyone. And let’s not forget some moms physically can’t breastfeed, for many reasons. Just feed your babies, period.
  5. She’s a horrible mom. I heard this more than a few times. It usually gets tossed around when I’ve successfully explained away numbers 1-10 above.

All these points lead to an inevitable question: why don’t I stop breastfeeding? The thing is that I don't want to. Because what I do with my life – and my nipples – is nobody else's business.

Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.

Watch the video: REAL TALK: Weaning a Toddler from Breastfeeding (June 2022).

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