Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Hot topic...

I've got a lot on my mind, it seems. And I hope you don't mind but I need to get a bit of this out.

Breastfeeding. The other night I stumbled upon a blog post bagging out the Character Rose from 'the slap' for breastfeeding her 4 year old son. She used the words disgusting and 'all types of wrong' and other such terms to describe what she saw. The post has sparked a lot of conversation.

I have just finished breastfeeding my bub at the age of 22 months.  I have to admit that I was already starting to feel a bit uncomfortable and over it. I personally would not feed my baby after the age of 2 years. I admit that seeing someone else feed a four year old child would probably make me a bit uneasy, but that's my problem right? Not the problem of the women who is feeding her child.

Only Western cultures frown upon such practise, and world wide, statistically the average age to stop breastfeeding is 4 years old.

We have to remember that we are being groomed by the media to believe certain things about the world we live in, and the sexualisation of women and their bodies sells products. So the media will have us believe that a women's purpose is to be sexy and gorgeous and that our mammaries exist solely to be  looked at by men. I posted this link on my fb page a few weeks ago, it's worth checking out.

Now I believe that everyone is entitled to an opinion. But the sooner we realise that we have 'learned behaviour' and that our opinions might not be as much our own as we originally thought, we will surely be empowered by this.

Becoming a mum is hard enough as it is. We need to stop bagging out women for the decisions they make and start supporting one-another. Whether it's the decision to not breastfeed at all, or to whip em out on the train whenever needed, or whatever!

What do you think?


  1. Thankyou. So true. Women need to start supporting each other in our decisions and stop cutting each other down for sure. It is learned behaviour. I breast fed The Munchkin till she was 4, night only by then so it was not out in the open. It was our choice, and right for us.
    I want to hug you right now! You are an awesome lady xx

  2. I totally agree! Each to their own I say (and I to need to remind myself of this sometimes)I am an avid supporter of breastfeeding (and hate to say I think maybe sometimes I was a little one track minded especially when talking to other mums who chose not to at all, but as you say this is totally my problem not theirs. I breastfeed my first little boy till 22 months and my second till about 18mths. I remember a time with my first sitting on a bench at the shopping centre to give him a quick top up before we got in the car to make the hour trip home and leaving in tears after receiving horrible looks and stares (mainly from older women!)

    People need to just mind their own business and mums need to support one another no matter what choices we make for our family :)

  3. Totally agree... how many four years olds do you know that still have a bottle? I have known a few in my time.... theres a lot less stigma about that.. but bottle feed a new born and you get frowned apon. How can it be the "best thing" for your new born but "disgusting" for a four year old.. and totally agree with your comment about the sexulization of womens bodies to sell products.. its a scary world we live in when everything is promoted using sex. Great post. :)

  4. I am not a mother yet, but I totally agree with you. I think so much of this is about personal choice. Just as much as choosing to stay at home as a mother or to pursue a career and motherhood is a personal choice. We spend so much time judging each other, it is a crying shame.

  5. Tough one, Bec. Usually I would keep my mouth shut but today I'm risking it and saying what I really think. Before white people came to this country, Aboriginal mothers breastfed their children until at least 5 years of age. This pattern is consistent across all 'primitive', indigenous cultures across the world. If you travel amongst these cultures, you will notice that even though almost every woman is carrying a baby in a sling, you never hear the sound of a baby crying. Yes, it is only in white, western cultures that these strange attitudes about breastfeeding exist. And look where it's gotten us. I believe that many of the social problems we have in our society stem from the trauma of early weaning or denial of the breast.
    Now I'll go out on a limb and sound all judgmental. Yes, I do judge mothers according to how they raise their children, because I and all the rest of society have to deal with the consequences. Personally, I think that if a woman is able to breastfeed without some physical or medical problem preventing her from doing so, she absolutely should do so until the child weans itself. This usually happens naturally around 5 or so years old. If you're not prepared to do this, or if public opinion is more important to you than your child's health, well then, you are not ready to have children. I know how hard that is in our restrictive culture, but that's your choice. Be a puppet to society's whims or be a decent parent.
    In case you're wondering, no I haven't given birth myself, but I have spent a decent part of my life caring for the children of mothers who did give birth before working out that they weren't able to be a responsible parent. It's a heartbreaking job, caring for and helping to heal a neglected or damaged child, and it's all the effort I've made in this work that I feel gives me the right to judge.

  6. I absolutely agree. Parenting is a tough enough gig without getting everyone elses two cents. I would have loved to have breastfed my eldest two girls (who ended up being 14 months apart) but we just couldn't get it figured out the first time round (she would grind my nipple rather than suck) and after 6 weeks of my crying in the lead up to every feed and her screaming all the way through I quit at my husbands suggestion I didn't "have to" feed. My second didn't like to be touched so breastfeeding didn't work (she has aspergers and from the time she was born hated being held and touched). So now I had "failed" twice and my mum was still breastfeeding my youngest brother who was 3 at the time. She made me feel like I wasn't a real woman if I couldn't breastfeed and it absolutely killed me. When I found out I was having twins everyone turned the other way and said "why would you breastfeed twins" telling me it would be too hard and I was making my life harder than it needed to be and at that point I hadn't even had them! After being pressured to have a cesarian, pressured to have an epidural, pressure to deliver on my back and pressure to not breastfeed...I delivered my twins vaginally, without drugs and they latched on and fed less than 20 minutes after birth. Breastfeeding them was a joy (no pain like the first time and snuggly babies unlike the second time) and it just worked. When they self weaned (they would actually start giggling when I would get my boobs out for a feed and would refuse) at one I was devastated. But I didn't miss the comments, the staring and pointing and whispering and one freak following me to the change rooms and watching me feed. And no it wasn't a man.

    Every choice seems to be questioned...from choosing a cesarian to co sleeping (or not) to how you put them to bed. I thought we were judged harshly enough before...but now we homeschool our daughters former school friends parents find us a challenge to their way of life. That's when it clicked. Most people weren't judging as such (yes there are people that do that) but they felt our decision to do something different to them was in some way saying their decisions were wrong and ours was right. It's a defence mechanism in a lot of cases. Very few people seem to be able to say "Hey, you have to do things your way as at the end of the day it is you that has to live with your decisions. For us this is what is working...doesn't mean I think you should be like us...". Hopefully my ramblings make sense.

  7. I personally don't know anybody whose child has 'naturally weaned' at 5 years of age - my daughter weaned herself at 10.5 months and there was nothing I could do about it. I hope to make it to 12 months with my son - he's 8 month at the moment.

    My mum didn't breastfeed me - in fact she found the whole idea of it 'disgusting' - I have absolutely no problem with her making her own choices - BF wasn't for her. She's an awesome Mum and I don't feel that I missed out on anything at all by being bottlefed. So in essence, I agree with your post - as long as you love your child and do your best, it's the right thing for you.

  8. Yes, every baby is different. I have personally known of children who naturally weaned themselves before one year of age, it's just the statistical average is 3 - 7 years.
    Project girl, you have demonstrated most excellent reasons for not breastfeeding. If there's a physical or medical obstacle, that is a real reason for deciding not to breastfeed. Getting sick of people staring, or the inconvenience, is not a real reason. I really feel for you having a baby who doesn't like to be touched, that must be so hard. It's terrible and tragic that you and many other women who are unable to breastfeed have such feelings as guilt, or 'not being a real woman', just as terrible and tragic as it is that mothers are made to feel bad about 'extended' breastfeeding or feeding in public. Either way, as long as women use society's standards to define what a 'real woman' is, we're all stuffed. The medical realities of breastfeeding and related issues have remained constant throughout history - there have always been women, and even babies, that are unable to breastfeed. It's only the social definitions of womanhood and motherhood that have changed over time.
    No, I don't think that just loving your child and doing your best makes it right. There are plenty of mothers out there right now who love their babies, and are doing their best, but their best means that the babies are crawling around in piles of discarded syringes and wasting away from malnutrition. I think we do have to decide a point at which a mother's choices are unacceptable.

  9. Without a doubt - I will absolutely choose the childs saftey over a mothers right to make her own decisions. That is a different kettle of fish though Lady Demelza. By the time I stopped BF Zavian I was feeling completely smothered. She would grab at my boobs and yank them out of my shirt by the nipple in the middle of the supermarket. She had a chipped tooth so I often had cuts around my nipple that wouldn't have the chance to heal before the next feed. I felt trapped by the fact that I couldn't be away from her for more than a few hours without planning and effort. I was so proud of the fact that I made it to nearly 2 years. I absolutely feel that if you can breast feed, you should. I certainly don't agree with flimsy reasoning not too. But knowing how I felt at the end of my time feeeding Zavian, and not knowing how other women are feeling when they are going through hard times with feeding, I absolutely wont judge. Walk a mile in someone else's shoes?? A mothers mental health is just as good a reason to not bf as mastitis. We need to maintain a united front, so that women who are having problems with issues such as breastfeeding, know that they can get support and make better decisions without judgement.

  10. Hot topic, Yes! I dont know much, I'm just a 42 year old mum of 3, who has absolutely NO qualifications in anything except my own lifes experiences! All I can say is the only person it should matter to is YOU - the mother!

    I beat myself up with baby No 1 because I couldnt get the breastfeeding thing right and supplemented with a bottle at 5 months. Baby No 2 weaned his self off the breast at 18 months and Baby No 3 I chose to wean at 12 months because I was so god damn sleep deprived I was heading for divorce! (you get the picture) My children are happy, healthy, well adjusted kids! I must have done something right because they still love me!
    Well done all of you I can "feel" the passion in all your comments, I agree, us girls need to band together and support each other more - sending out lots of loving vibes.
    Dee x
    Great post Bec :-)

  11. Dee, you say that the ONLY person it should matter to is the mother, but is not the baby also a person, to whom the issue matters? It sounds like you made choices based on what was best for both of you at the time, not just purely on what 'mattered' to you, and that you care very much about what matters to your children.

  12. By the way, the author of the original blog post was criticising Rose's character for failing to discipline her child, and more specifically for rewarding violent behaviour with the comfort of breastfeeding, not because the child was four years old. Read carefully, the author is fully in support of 'fullterm' breastfeeding - I am so stoked about that, I have finally found a better word to use than 'extended breastfeeding', which I never liked - and in support of public feeding. In her further comments, the author herself is mystified as to why her comments were construed as anti-BF.