So I promised myself I would back off the whole Time Magazine/Breastfeeding/Are You Mom Enough? debacle last May. The article and cover threw the internets into a mom feeding frenzy. I am not a fan of mommy wars or anything that pits moms against moms. For the most part I try and live a very “to each his own” kind of attitude when it comes to others people’s parenting choices. Yes, I have to admit that sometimes, if I see a mom being a little negligent or putting more or less effort into something than I do, my judgy radar may ding a few times. But generally speaking, as long as you aren’t hurting your child in any way (or my children for that matter) I’m going to let you parent the way you choose.
When I first heard about the Time Magazine controversial cover story back in May, I bit my lip and chose NOT to contribute to the discussion. It was my way of saying that the discussion was, quite frankly, stupid. Now, I know what you’re wondering: why change my mind now, almost three months later?
Because of this video from one of my favorite websites, Everyday Health. I adore this site and it is one of my go-to websites for health-related articles and news. I was surprised to see that in their web show “Around The Clock” (which I had never seen before) they were asking a very silly question: How Old Is Too Old To Breastfeed? I thought that we all knew the answer to that; after all its something most OBGYN’s tell us when we’re pregnant right? It’s a medically sound question that has one answer.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants are breastfed exclusively for 6 months, and receive no milk substitutes till 12 months, and that mothers continue to breastfeed after that for as long as they enjoy it. The World Health Organization recommends that infants nurse, here and worldwide, for a minimum of two years.
Though that may be the official medical answer, the truth is this: we all choose whether or not to breastfeed and for how long, for thousands of different reasons. We choose when and why to stop for a thousand more. The answer will never be the same from one family and household to the next.
Knowing that, I had to wonder what my favorite healthy living website would add to that, so I watched this video expecting a panel of pediatricians, nutritionists and even child psychologists… but no.
The show was hosted by former Miss America Ali Landry and had a panel of women that included Playboy playmate and mom, Kendra Wilkinson. There was no mention of medical reasons for breastfeeding longer or what the WHO or AAP have to say on the matter. Only knit-picking about women who breastfeed past a certain age (though they never gave a specific age where it became “wrong” in their eyes).
This drives me crazy. We need to STOP making moms feel bad or weird for the choices they make. I chose to breastfeed both my kids until around 14-15 months, and I only stopped because that’s when they both weaned themselves. I can’t tell you how long I would’ve continued if they hadn’t, because I don’t really know.
I have friends who breastfed for much longer, and friends who never breastfed at all. If I had a friend who breastfed until her child was 3 or 4, I wouldn’t judge her. Heck, I wouldn’t CARE. Our culture has put so much emphasis on being overly concerned with other people’s business that it’s become embarrassing.
Women like the ones in this video who just add to that stigma are the ones who should be embarrassed, not the moms breastfeeding their children past a year. Just think: Kendra, a Playboy playmate who is most well known for being one of Hugh Heffner’s longtime girlfriends, is uncomfortable with this? A woman whose entire career and lifestyle is based upon the idea that women should be able to do what they want with their bodies free of judgment? Shame on YOU Kendra.
To Sum Up: Breastfeed or don’t breastfeed for however long or short a period of time you want. If you have any questions, ask a pediatrician or a lactation consultant. Not Miss America or a Playboy Playmate.
Ok, I’ve said my piece and I’m sure everyone will have a cent or two to add in the comments.