According to BabyCenter, a resource for many many moms (and some dads) I have earned my Golden Boobs award. I have officially been breast feeding for over one year now. I keep imagining giant gold boob shaped metal things on my chest. Do you know how heavy that would be? They are ridiculously big and heavy enough as it is, thank you. It’s a pretty silly image.
But the more I thought about it, the more I was offended. What’s Gold mean? That you made it to the finish line. You can stop now- you were the best of anyone. This seems to imply that if your baby is 12 months you should switch to cows milk and cut off the breast milk. We all know the wonderful benefits of breastfeeding- both to mom and baby. We know that as long as they nurse they are getting mom’s immunities. They are getting wonderful nutrition, bonding time and security. Plus, it still takes calories from mom, and who couldn’t use that? The WHO suggests that mothers breastfeed till at least 2 years old, not just 1.
I’m not saying that you are a bad person if you need to stop breastfeeding now. Not at all. I’m just saying that we shouldn’t mark 12 months as a finish line- as if that baby should be weaned onto nothing but solids by now. I know my baby isn’t ready. Nutritionally speaking she just isn’t ready. I’d estimate that she’s still getting half her calories from me, at least. Maybe more. So, should I take my gold award, say I’ve had enough after a year, and take away half of my daughter’s calories? God no. I’m just finally getting into the groove of this whole nursing thing. I finally figured out how to work these nursing bras one handed. Hell, I’m still figuring out how to get good fitting ones.
I may cut her off someday. But I would never dream of cutting her off before she’s transitioned to almost all solid foods. She still needs the milk. I could give her cows milk of course. But why? Breast milk still has all the benefits it did when she was 3 months. Free, transfers immunities to baby, you have it wherever you go and always the right temperature. And humans are meant to drink human milk, not cows. Cows milk probably won’t hurt her, no allergies run in the family. But it does not have the same nutritional content that my milk has.
As if golden boobs weren’t silly enough, Baby Center is simply feeding into our anti mother culture. While on the surface they appear to be supporting mothers and breastfeeding, they are confirming the stereotype that baby’s should only be breastfed through a year. But a year is a MINIMUM. If we were in school that would be C work at best. Why are they giving out “gold” medals to mom’s when we’ve only reached C level work? Why do we as a culture have such a problem with “extended” breastfeeding? I just don’t understand. It is healthy and natural and the best for baby, we are told over and over again. Until they hit 1. Then it’s gross and we can go ahead and stop now.
But why is this topic even in the public forum? There is absolutely no damage that can be done if you continue to breastfeed your child well past a year. If mom and child are happy and comfortable with the arrangement, why is it any one else’s business?
Public services and forums like Baby Center should encourage and support women who want to breastfeed, and never imply that it is time to stop. Stopping is a personal, family decision and no one else should be able to weigh in on it. We need to change the focus from “do you breastfeed?” “are you STILL breastfeeding?” “Is that kid ever going to stop nursing?” to “How can I help you?” “do you have questions about breast feeding?” and “Can I bring over dinner?”
On that note, look for a future post on my breastfeeding tips. Seeing as I’ve been at it a year now, I feel at least a little qualified to write a post with my tips.