April 2, 2007

Boston Globe: Toddler Breastfeeders In "Closet," Not "Cult"

So moms who continue to breastfeed their kids are not "earth mother stereotypes"; they just teach at Wellesley.

They're "not a cult," says Dr. Ruth Lawrence, who chairs the AAP's breastfeeding section and wrote their "nurse for a year, at least" recommendation. But they do seem to cluster together discreetly, if not exactly in secret. [All the kids at the 5-year-old's weaning party had bellied up to the bra for several years themselves.]

The one dad in the article seems fine with it, though why he'd feel the need to ask the Best Buy guy's opinion on the matter is a little unclear:

Rest says she was very private about nursing because she sensed that even her husband, Dan Balter, was a little squeamish. If that's true, Balter says, he's over it now. Last week, when they were at a computer store, Rest disappeared to a corner to discreetly nurse 2 1/2-year-old Joachim. Balter didn't think twice about dragging the salesman over so they could ask her opinion. "He didn't bat an eyelash, and neither did I," Balter says.

The only issue, really, about breastfeeding toddlers is that some people get freaked out by it, "because the breast has become so highly sexualized."

Which is awkward, since this is usually where we put the picture of that earth mother whose name, I'm pretty sure, means "mountains where the milk is as plentiful as snow" in Tibetan.

umas_bosomas.jpg
Supply and Demand [boston.com via dt reader sara]

5 Comments

Great article IMO- and encouraging for my wife. Our son is only 9mo.s but she still gets little "how long are you planning on nursing comments" from my 1970's Mom (and others) who did not nurse, and fed us only foods that were thoroughly frozen, dried, processed or synthetic, heheh. He's never gotten sick yet though, so it (the nursing)would seem to be working as advertised. Plus as the article said, as a working Mom, it's a nice morning and evening bonding time for them.

"5-year-old's weaning party" - scariest phrase in the english language.
And before I get mau-mau'ed, I was breast fed, but thankfully my Mom didn't have to visit me in my first grade classroom to do it.

Nary a nuturer on staff at wellesley when i was there... oh i see, she's just a _visiting_ professor. the tenured ones would never stand for such soft-heartedness.

I nursed my daughter for about 18 months, until I had to leave her for an extended period of time to go overseas. My sister (who weaned her two daughters at 6 weeks and 11 months, respectively) kept asking whether I'd weaned, even a whole month after I'd departed. One of my personal fears was that dear daughter would continue to associate me with breastfeeding, and want to resume as soon as she saw me again. Thankfully that didn't play out when I saw her again six weeks later. While my supply hadn't completely gone, it was well on its way. The only time she expressed a desire to nurse, it was when she was cold after her bath (nursing always warmed her up after bathtime). The desire was fleeting, and at 20 months, I am relieved (but also a little saddened) that she is fully weaned.

I still wonder if it hadn't been for such circumstances, how long it would have taken to wean her. She was one of those kids who needed to nurse to sleep at night (not for naps at daycare though). I shared that concern with a friend, who confided that her "dirty little secret" was that she nursed her son to sleep until the age of 3.

I have found in my extended family that nursing when the child is 3+ years-old is really a ritual that's more for the mom and not for the kid. The premise that the child will stop when the child WANTS to stop is always suggested, but that is really invalid when the child doesn't know that he/she has a choice. You can't choose to stop if you don't know that stopping is not an option.

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