Practising sustained breastfeeding
Dear Bonnie Fuller
Here I challenge a few of the myths you espoused in your post. My son is almost two years old. He is breastfed and will be until he naturally weans. You are therefore saying that;
- I am no more than a ‘milk machine’ for my son.
This is ridiculous, insulting, demeaning and degrading to all nursing mothers, regardless of whether they are feeding a newborn baby or a seven year old child. Why do you equate nursing mothers with machines? A milk machine, if one actually existed, would produce nothing but one variety of milk, only at carefully controlled times. A machine is an inert, lifeless, artificial object created and controlled by man. As lactating female mammals, we produce human milk tailored specifically for our own children. This milk is given freely, on demand, out of love, at intervals which last anywhere between a minute and a few days (depending on the child’s age), in response to signs our children give us and the hormones we feel, which indicate our child needs/wants feeding.
The nursing dyad is a beautiful symbiosis, a natural flowering, a dance of two soles, a coming together and moving apart of a mother and her child.
I am surprised that you equate this natural act with something as artificial as a machine, especially as you so proudly state that you breastfed your own four children? Are Mums only milk machines if you breastfeed past age two? Please explain your logic.
- I have ‘sacrifice[d] all other activities for years’ in order to breastfeed him
Sacrifice? What sacrifice? Feeding my child is no sacrifice, just as breathing or eating isn’t. It is simply part of everyday life. It is who I am. To sacrifice means to give up. I do not give anything up in feeding my child, quite the opposite. Instead I receive some of the most precious gifts any mother could ask for; knowledge my child is happy, secure, attached, healthy and thriving, in large part because of the milk I am giving him.
Have I given up all other activities in order to breastfeed? In short, not at all. I live a rich, fulfilled, happy and busy life, filled with many varied activities, some with my child, some without. Nursing fits perfectly into our lives, it provides a clear rhythm to our days. Our nursing moments are less and less now that Ewan is older. They are precious; calming moments we can relax and sit together in our busy lives, times to reconnect as the world races on around us. At those few times Ewan has been ill or upset, he nurses more, his body knowing nursing is his way through the illness or the hurt. Again, I give up nothing in offering him the breast in these times of crisis.
- I am simply practising ‘another form of extremism’ in nursing him past a year.
This depends how you define extreme. Is it extreme to practice an activity which throughout the whole of human history, until approximately the beginning of the last century, was regarded as completely normal? Which is still practised in many parts of the world today, as a matter of course? Which is actually practiced in the Western world far more than most people imagine, just closeted, hidden away, denied and kept secret, because it is a cultural taboo. Your choice of the word extreme is from a very narrow and therefore judgemental standpoint, that of the modern Western world.
Check out this blog Friday and Saturday of this week for the rest of my response
About Caroline Jane Cole
I am a full-time Mum to Ewan James, born in June 2010. When I get chance, I write on natural parenting issues, on topics including sustained breastfeeding, baby-wearing, bed-sharing, home-education and natural living, for parenting magazines and websites. I am an active member of La Leche League GB and a trained breastfeeding peer supporter. See my website; www.stoneageparenting.com.