Sunday, March 8, 2015

Let's all Just Be a Little More Supportive

I recently found myself in a heated discussion with some of my extended family members (both men and women) about breastfeeding past 1 year. Someone mentioned that a friend of ours was still breastfeeding their 18-month and I said Oh, that's nice. I wish I was still breastfeeding, to which was met a chorus of Oh my gosh, that's gross! and If their old enough to ask for it, they shouldn't be breastfeeding! and Really, you would be doing that? I really just wanted to kick everyone out my house, but we were having such a good time up until that point, so I decided to use the opportunity to try to educate them. When I pointed out that up until very recently, many of our female ancestors breastfed their children for 2,3,4 years and that in many countries, is is the norm, there was an overwhelming That's disgusting! My sister-in-law was the only one who had the decency not to say anything rude. My husband on the other hand, was voicing his opinion loud and clear about how gross he thought it was.  Bad move, honey.

I eventually told everyone that it's really none of their business when a mother decides to stop breastfeeding and since its not affecting them they shouldn't even really be concerned about it. The conversation ended but  I was pretty upset for the rest of the day. When my husband and I talked about it later,he didn't understand why I was so upset. So I asked him how he thought it makes me feel that if I was still breastfeeding our son that he would think I was 'gross and disgusting'.  Because there are days that I really wish that I was still breastfeeding our son. He's a very well-fed child with a varied and extremely nutritional diet, but I always wonder if he's missing out on something extra that I can't provide him with anymore. We eventually worked it out, but its frustrating to think that this conversation even had to happen!  Less than 100 years ago, or if we lived in a country that is more supportive of breastfeeding, this wouldn't have even been an issue! I'm sick of explaining to people that breastfeeding (babies and toddlers) is not gross and that is a completely natural thing that has occurred for hundreds of thousands of years -- and it's how humanity got to where we are today.

For the record, and as my husband pointed out, I once said that I thought breastfeeding a toddler was weird. However, that was when I was a young and ignorant 25 year old, uneducated in the ways of motherhood- way before I became a mother and learned about breastfeeding, the relationship is creates between mother and baby, and the nutritional and immunological values breastmilk has. And I feel just awful that I judged mothers who were just doing what they thought was best.

The point is, is that we all need to just stop judging each other. Part of the reason Kathryn and I started this blog is that we wanted to share the different experiences we have with motherhood. There is not one right way to parent and for every handful of similar experiences we have, there are a handful of things that people just do differently. Sure, you are entitled to your opinion, but if someone else's actions aren't harming you or someone else, what is the point?  Some women can't breastfeed or don't want to. Others want to do it as long as they can. Some women don't care who sees them breastfeeding and others are more modest about it. At the end of the day, we're all just ladies try to feed our babies. So carry on sisters - do what you think is best for you and your babies. Let's stop judging each other and start being more supportive.  If everyone was just a little less judgmental we'd all save ourselves a lot of stress and probably be a little more happier at the end of the day.