{breastfeeding} Ignorance is not bliss.

I have been good. Really. I have.

No ranting, no attacking, no blood boiling posts written in haste.

I have applied the way more than 72 hours rule here and I feel like I can now reply to the whole TIME magazine cover photo and extended breastfeeding ridiculousness with somewhat of a level head.

But here is the thing...

I am not going to go on and on about the benefits of extended breastfeeding. You can read THIS or THIS for more on that.

I am not going to go on and on about why that particular photo of Jamie Lynn Grumet and her son was chosen for the most shock value on the cover of TIME. You can read Jamie's own words HERE.

I am not going to go on and on about what attachment parenting is and is not and if I or anyone else is MOM enough. {Psst, we all are and then some BTW!}

What I am going to do is provide some clarification on a few points. Points that have been made in some common and ignorant comments I have read on my own Facebook Page and on quite a few other blog posts and articles written on the topic since the TIME cover was revealed to the world.

Last week I posted this picture on my Natural Urban Mamas Facebook page. It is of my little L nursing and I captioned it,

"In case anyone was wondering... THIS is what a 3-year-old nursing USUALLY looks like!"

Common Ignorant Comment #1. "Get that kid a t-bone", "Why can't she drink out of a cup?", "2/3/4 year olds should be eating solid food and drinking out of a cup." And other variations on this theme.

Really people?? Do you really think that because a toddler or a child is nursing that THIS is their only source of nutrition? Wait! Maybe this is the case and this is really what people think! And perhaps this is why people are so weirded out by it. Because they have only ever seen infants nursing they just assume that if an older child is nursing, they are not actually eating other foods as well.

Okay, so let me clear this up then. Children who are nursing beyond a year are doing so IN ADDITION TO eating solid foods and drinking other liquids (water, juice and/or milk) from a sippy cup, regular cup or other implement for drinking. To be perfectly honest, I am not sure that I or most nursing moms could keep up with the nutritional demands of a busy, constantly moving and growing toddler. So YES, these babies are eating food, YES, they can drink out of a cup and NO, contrary to popular belief and a lot of comments, it really is not easier to pump some breast milk into a cup for them. It is far easier to let my daughter nurse for a few minutes, get what she needs (be that a drink of mama's milk, some comfort or just a check-in with mama) and then happily go on about her day.

Common Ignorant Comment #2: "You are doing this for your own needs, not those of your child."

This one I find interesting and I sent it out to the Twitterverse for more clarification from my peeps. Some of them agreed with the statement and others said things along these lines from @kimliving:

"I'm thinking those folks haven't watched my toddler insist on breastfeeding during those moments I'd rather not...

Here is the thing, I don't completely disagree with this statement. I do think that when the nay-sayers are spouting off this one they mean that as mothers, we are trying to extend the baby phase for our kids so that we can keep them 'little' longer. That we are avoiding the inevitable and not letting out babies grow up.

Is there an element of truth to this? Perhaps. L is my last baby. And while I love watching her grow and learn and discover new things about her world, I would be lying if I said I did not feel those tugs at my heart every time she seems to not NEED me as much anymore. That being said, I have to also say that breastfeeding her is not something that I NEED. It is something that SHE needs. She is the one who asks to nurse once or twice during the day, she is the one who crawls into my bed in the morning for our routine snuggle and nurse.

I DO NOT spend my days chasing her around saying, "Come on L, it is time to nurse now." QUITE the opposite actually, I will often deflect her requests to nurse because I simply do not want to, or because we are in a public place or I am not wearing the right kind of top or any number of other reasons I can find.

You see, I am ready for her to be done breastfeeding, but SHE is not. So continuing to nurse at this point is indeed her NEED and not mine.

But just so you know, I do happen to get a whole lot of benefits from her continuing to breastfeed, like a reduced risk of breast, ovarian and uterine cancer, protection against osteoporosis and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.  Not bad perks if you ask me. I'll take 'em!

Common SUPER Ignorant Comment #3: "You are psychologically, emotionally, and/or sexually abusing your child!" or "This is not normal."

I find this whole line of comments and opinions frustrating, laughable, disrespectful, mean AND SO WRONG!

There is plenty of research that shows that children who are FORCED into independence prematurely are the ones who suffer more both mentally and socially, NOT the kids whose needs are met in a warm and loving way like breastfeeding.

My children do not have an unhealthy attachment to me. They feel safe and confident to explore their worlds and know that there is always a comforting and safe place (ME) to come back to when they need to.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics,

“There is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychologic or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer.”

And also the American Academy of Family Physicians says that the natural age of weaning in humans has been estimated to be between 2 and 7 years, and that

“There is no evidence that extended breastfeeding is harmful to mother or child.”

These rather large bodies of medical experts can't be that far off base on something like this and I am pretty sure that they need sound research and studies to back up what they say in print.

As for the sexual abuse comments. I seriously don't even know where to start with these and I will fully admit that it was one particular comment that got me riled-up enough to write this post. This is what one young mom wrote to me... (Yes, I creeped on her FB profile to see just who would say this kind of thing. This is also a good reminder to you all to check your privacy settings!)

"After the age of 2 years old, I consider breastfeeding child abuse. All women know that when a child is suckling your nipple, you have what they call a "mini orgasms" in order to produce your milk. So after a certain age, regardless of stress, you are creating a orgasm with your child. Try going for a "bath" you will get the same destressed results."

Do you see the magnitude of the ignorance and lack of education about breastfeeding that we are up against here Mamas?

I can only assume that she was talking about the feeling of a milk 'let-down' and I don't know about you, but mine where FAR from orgasmic!! Physiologically, the same hormone (oxytocin) is involved in both a let-down and an orgasm, but that really is about as much as the two have in common.

All I can really say is that the over-sexualization of EVERYTHING in our North American society is so far gone, that I don't know if we can ever go back. We live in a world where it is more shocking for a mother to be shown breastfeeding her three-year old (in whatever position and on whatever piece of furniture required) than it is for a 4-year-old to dress up like a hooker and parade around a stage for money. Can someone please tell me how this makes sense?

In the end...

Breastfeeding, babywearing, co-sleeping, discipline, parenting, MOTHERING.

These are all highly personal decisions that we all have to make for ourselves and for our children. I just hope that we all have the strength and conviction to stand by what we decide and not let all the ignorance and sensationalism that surrounds us cloud our own judgement and confidence in ourselves.

Stay strong Mamas. Let the haters hate themselves into oblivion.  Be the example and the change you want to see. Show that to your children.  And stay on the path of LOVE.