This week is World Breastfeeding Week. I support breastfeeding, I have breastfed 5 children, 4 of them my own. The other child was a week old. His name was Benjamin and his family were Australian by birth but lived in South Africa, they had come home to have their first child. Unfortunately the mother was struggling with it all and was very exhausted. She basically collapsed on the floor of MCHN after a playgroup I was attending with my eldest daughter at 6mths of age. I offered to feed their child who was screaming while the mother talked to the nurse (who offered formula as her solution *sigh* ). I spoke to the father while I fed Benjamin, he contently fed and fell asleep which his father was very thankful for.
When I was pregnant, I didn't give much thought to how I would parent. We had little money and didn't really buy into the idea that babies need to cost a lot of money. My mother told me of how she managed without a pram and the like. I thought using cloth nappies and breastfeeding was normal, less wasteful and cheaper. I didn't consider I would have problems breastfeeding, it was was just how mothers fed their children. I don't remember seeing many babies being breastfeed as I was growing up but do remember when I was a teen I knew someone who was feeding her 5 year old. It was very normal and not something to freak out over. Even still when I had my daughter I thought I would feed her til she was 1, no less, no more. I weaned her 2 weeks before her 1st birthday because she was biting me and I couldn't handle the discomfort at the time. I was upset that she didn't feed til her first birthday. Thankfully when my second child started biting at 8mths I persevered and he self weaned at 18mths. My 3rd child self weaned at 21mths. My 4th child is still feeding at 22mths. I did wean him from day feeds because I found it challenging to feed him so much during the day and neither of us were happy. He continues to feed at night on demand, sometimes once, often many times during the night. I really want to feed him til he is 2. Breastfeeding is not so easy as they get older but it is still beneficial. It could be said I have had an easy time of breastfeeding but it wasn't without its challenges. Sore nipples and mastitis and lots of feeling touched out. Our culture barely tolerates breastfeeding so it is hard for women to keep feeding their babies til the recommended age of 2 and beyond. I know embarrassment is one of the reasons why women stop or don't attempt to feed. And other people's comments on it. When I was pregnant with our first my husband was shocked when at our 20w scan a researcher wanted to know if I was going to breastfeed ( I didn't think it was a choice as such) and he didn't want me to. Now he understands it but back then he had only known people to formula feed as he was (he was adopted but I wonder if he would have been breastfed otherwise). My mother in law was shocked my SIL was breastfeeding her 2 year old, saying it was illegal. My mother saying it's not right to feed past 2. It seems the world is against mothers nurturing their babies. As a society we are in such a hurry for our kids to grow up and be independent and never at their own pace.
I support breastfeeding. Not with any conditions.* Not "as long as it is done discreetly". Not "as long as the child is under 1" Not "as long as it doesn't upset anyone". Its not about others, its about nourishing and comforting a child. I wouldn't dare put any conditions on others especially childrens happiness and well being.