I recently read an article (recommended by one of my lovely readers – thank you), with the ridiculously inflammatory title, ‘Mum ‘addicted’ to breastfeeding her 14-month-old’. The article, published by The Mirror (yeah, that daft title makes sense now doesn’t it?), turned out to be about a woman ‘still’ breastfeeding her daughter at 14 months. She spoke of how much she loved the attachment of breastfeeding and how there is still a lot of people disturbed at the thought of breastfeeding toddlers in today’s society.
This story got me to thinking…am I addicted to breastfeeding?
Am I addicted to nourishing my child with tailor made food?
Am I addicted to holding him close when his body takes on the fuel to enable him to live?
Am I addicted to gazing in to his eyes whilst he eats?
Am I addicted to supplying him with antibodies specifically made in response to the germs in his system?
Am I addicted the bond we share?
Am I addicted to the FREE food I can give my child?
Am I addicted to the calories I burn whilst breastfeeding, which got me back in to shape after pregnancy? (Do you really need to ask this one?)
Am I addicted to giving my body additional protection against female cancers?
Well, YES, I think I am.
The WHO recommends that children be ‘breastfed until 2 years old AND BEYOND’. The biological norm is for a child to self-wean around the age of 4. Despite this, breastfeeding is still considered a taboo subject; it is still met with nervousness and judgement, sometimes aggression. And breastfeeding toddlers can often garner an even stronger, and more negative, response.
There is also very little support offered for extended breastfeeding. With statistics for breastfeeding being focussed upon the first 6 weeks in the UK, those who surpass the year are barely on the radar of health professionals. Though breastfeeding clubs still welcome mums feeding older children, they are, invariably, aimed at those at the beginning of their breastfeeding journey, and even the organisers seem surprised by those with Golden Boobies (from the affectionately known Breastfeeding Achievement Awards) and beyond.
There is a lot that needs to be done before society realigns itself with biology and nature and this is why a wave of advocates have taken to the internet (myself included). My aim isn’t to shame formula feeding parents (I am also an advocate of #SupportNotJudgement. So long as your child is fed, loved and happy, you are doing a wonderful job and you have my support and admiration), and it isn’t to berate those uncomfortable about breastfeeding. My aim is to educate those who are interested in learning more about breastfeeding, it is to make the sight of breastfeeding more common, and, therefore, less intimidating. My goal is to help people make their choice to breast or formula feed based on their personal circumstance and preference, and not their concern over treatment and judgement from others.
I hope you will join me in trying to make this natural act a ‘Normal’ one again. Thanks for reading 🙂
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