I knew I wanted to breastfeed for at least a year when I was pregnant with Jet. I tried my best not to be too stuck on that idea in case something came up where I was no longer able to breastfeed that long. Thankfully, Jet latched well and I did not have major issues breastfeeding. The only thing I did not plan or prepare for was the judgment.
The stares, the looks, and the direct comments made to me about breastfeeding my son was bizarre to me. As a first-time mom, I was initially reserved about breastfeeding. I would go to another room to feed my son. Typing that sentence alone is crazy to me now looking back. As each month went by I got more comfortable with it. First, I would feed my son in front of my immediate family only, then I would breastfeed in front of my other female family members, then it moved to any male in the comfort of a home. Public breastfeeding was SCARY.
I will admit, I was afraid of breastfeeding in public. There were times where I had to and I would go to the best hidden area in a store I could find and plop myself on the floor, hide behind my stroller and would feed my child. Even with all that, I would still use a blanket to cover my breast and his face! Try eating with a blanket over your face, not only is it not enjoyable, it doesn’t make sense especially when it isn’t necessary.
There was one liberating moment. Jet was around 8 months old (yes it took that long) and I was out at the Farmer’s Market with PJ and his family. I ran out of pumped breastmilk and Jet was hungry. I finally had the confidence to just do it (well really, I had no choice my child was hungry!). I went to a dining/sitting area right in the middle of all the food trucks, I sat all alone with my child, took out my breast with no blanket on top of me and fed my child. Two ladies gave me a look of confusion, two younger guys looked but it did not phase them which I appreciated. I did not pay mind to anyone else. I was nervous throughout the feeding but I did it and nothing horrible occurred, the world went on.
(I know there are women who experience horrible things while breastfeeding in public. It is not okay, and it is okay to stand up for yourself and to stand up for another while witnessing these occurrences)
That moment showed me that there was no reason for me to feel uncomfortable. There is this sexualization of breast which makes women (me at least) find the need to cover up when feeding a child because it may not be “appropriate.” Sorry everyone, I believe my breast were made to feed not to turn you on.
With that said, I made it to a year and I was ecstatic! I was so thankful that I could feed my son the absolute best for an entire year and I was now stepping into the world of extended breastfeeding.
The nutritional benefits of breastmilk do not just stop on your child’s first birthday. It does not work that way, that thought does not make any logical sense to me. Yes, we hear a lot that it is recommended to breastfeed for a year but that does not mean you must stop there. There are some moms who want to stop on the first birthday and that is completely okay. You gave your child the best for an entire year, that is amazing! I know how tough it is. What bothers me is the judgment passed when a mother chooses to continue breastfeeding beyond a year. We must stop the judgment whether a mother decides never to breastfeed or a mother decides to breastfeed a toddler.
I am not even bothered by the individual people who pass judgment because they are just conditioned to respond, react, or think that way. The conditioning itself bothers me. Why is it in our society that we give negative stares to mothers who have breast out to feed a child. Is that not one of the most natural things you can witness? Yet, it bothers many.
I have no idea where or why this teaching started but it surrounds me all the time. I am tired of it. Yes, I am still breastfeeding, yes he has teeth, yes sometimes he bites, and no it is not weird to me. I do not have an issue with it so why do you? (Not you, the “they’s” that do : ) I am proud to say my son is 18 months old, he is still is breastfeeding, and I don’t have a set age in mind to stop. We will stop once one of us do not want to anymore. I have an amazing, bright, beautiful soul of a child who is healthy and most importantly, HAPPY.
This is not geared towards people who are genuinely curious by the way. I have many family members who ask me questions because it is not something they have experienced and are curious. Curiosity is great, more people should be curious instead of judgmental. I can talk to anyone who is curious about how breastfeeding a baby or toddler feels like any day. I have a hard time tolerating the judgment for the healthy choices I make for my child and me.
The movement of normalizing breastfeeding must continue. I think one way to help the next generation is to breastfeed in public without a blanket if you are comfortable doing so, and to breastfeed as long as you want. Do not allow society, or me for that matter, to dictate how long you breastfeed and how you do it. If you feel good covering yourself that is okay, but for the ones that think it is a hassle to cover up let’s be confident enough to just feed our babies in front of whomever.
Imagine if you were a child and you remember breastfeeding whether that is from your mother or watching someone feed their child in the mall. Those memories would make a difference. It will slowly but surely become normal the more people are exposed to it. I do not think a breast should be covered up by guilt, or nerves. If a woman wants to cover up it should be because they really want to, not because of the pressure of society to cover up. I want to raise a boy who either remembers breastfeeding by his own experience or by watching any future siblings feed that way. I want to raise a boy who appreciates the female body and mind for all it does. I want him to appreciate the natural.
What is the big deal with extended breastfeeding? There is none.
When am I going to stop breastfeeding him already? When we no longer want to.