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Extended Breastfeeding Myth #1

on | in Motherhood | by | with 85 Comments

One night Daniel and I were having dinner with our crunchiest of crunchy friends. My friend Cindy, who is still nursing her 19 month old son was talking about a recent comment someone made to her.

How long are you going to breastfeed that boy? Till he’s in high school? Are you going to go on dates with him so he can nurse???

Right when she finished her husband, Dr. Jim Bob, chimed in, “Well, if he dates Katie you can both go to the movies with them and they can nurse instead of buy popcorn. It’s cheaper that way!!!”*

Hysterical laughter erupted from all around the table. Surrounded by friends that know and trust our choices it can be fun to joke about the misconceptions that surround our parenting style. Did I say fun? I meant necessary. We all needed a laugh. Because sometimes it’s not funny . . . like when another mother launches a visceral attack because she’s just learned I don’t vaccinate.

I have a pretty thick skin. Usually, I’m not bothered when people question my choices. When I engage people with different parenting styles who know how to communicate with respect I learn a lot. By bringing in a new perspective they help me think through the issues at a deeper level.

Earth Mama Angel Baby - Angel Baby

Top 3 Extended Breastfeeding Myths

This week I got an email from one of my real-life friends. It brings up three common myths believed about extended breastfeeding. I’m only going to cover one myth per post, but here’s a preview of all three.

What are your psychological reasons for continuing to nurse Katie? I’m asking because we were discussing this topic last week in my women’s group and a couple of my friends shared some stories about their friends who did extended breastfeeding. One of their daughters showed signs of homosexuality at an early age and did grow up to in fact become a lesbian. The other grew up to have much resentment for her mother because she actually thought it was strange and embarrassing that she breastfed her for so long.The third had separation anxiety issues until he was an age where that should not have been happening anymore. It was an absolute challenge to be able to leave her with anyone for a date night or even when he began school. It put a strain on that couple’s marriage.

For the record, my friend is a fantastic mom. She’s a very open and frank person and doesn’t mind asking tough questions. I’m not attacking her views. I don’t even know that they are her views. All I know is that some mom’s she knows brought up some objections to extended breastfeeding and she asked me about them. And I don’t mind trying to answer, so here we go . . .

Myth #1: Extended Breastfeeding Causes Homosexuality

Fact: Nursing is not sexual. It has nothing to do with sexuality. Nursing will not cause a child to become sexually active at an earlier age or homosexual.

The REAL Sexual Danger

I am more concerned about the effects of oversexualized advertising (which has almost become soft-porn in the U.S.) on my child’s perception of sexuality than whether or not they breastfeed into the preschool years.

Looking back I’m actually surprised I haven’t gotten the sexuality question before. I think it must be because Katie is a girl. My friends that nurse their sons into toddlerhood often get told they are “making them gay”. At first I dismissed this perception as something only believed by a small group of paranoid people. People that maybe also thought extended breastfeeding could turn children into smurfs or toadstools. Not so. Sadly, because of the strong association Americans place between breasts and sex a lot of people have come to believe that extended breastfeeding will mess children up sexually.

I would really, really like to have a study to put right here that clearly says extended breastfeeding does not cause an increase in sexual promiscuity/homosexuality/whatever. There isn’t one. As my blogger friend Melodie said, “Can you imagine a longitudinal study just to see if children who were breastfed beyond age 2 became homosexual? Who would fund that???”

We Need a Global Perspective

What I can tell you is that the American tendency to wean early is the exception, not the rule. The worldwide average for weaning is somewhere between 2-4 years of age. If you think about how uncommon extended breastfeeding is in the U.S. and some other westernized nations, consider how old children must be breastfeeding in other parts of the world to drive the average up that high.

Still think mothers that practice extended breastfeeding are weirdos?

  • The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding well into and beyond the second year old life. This is a conservative organization which is saying two years is the minimum we should breastfeed for, NOT the maximum!
  • The American Academy of Family Physicians (yet another very conservative organization) states that weaning a child before two years of age leads to an increase in illness.¹

Although I couldn’t find any studies to prove this either, my perception is that the U.S. has one of the highest population percentages that identify as homosexuals and one of the lowest populations of extended breastfeeding mothers. If extended breastfeeding is an influencing factor wouldn’t we have one of the lowest homosexual populations on earth?

Here’s what I really think is going on: Sex sells everything from Herbal Essence shampoo to cars to Axe deodorant in this country. It’s big business, and the idea that breasts are for nurturing and food just doesn’t fit with that. In fact, if you can banish that idea from the minds of consumers you can sell more stuff like infant formula and specialty “early” foods.

It has led to a ridiculous sort of paranoia where many consider breastfeeding a form of sexual abuse, like in this sad case:

Two children were taken away from their parents after a photo of a 12-month-old baby with his lips on his mother’s nipple was developed at a local drug store and then reported to authorities by the shop’s clerk. No experts were consulted, no evaluations were made, the children were simply whisked away and the parents charged with the second-degree felony of “sexual performance of a minor.”

Can you believe this happened in Dallas?

Being Different is Painful

I may have thick skin, but honestly it sometimes hurts to be different. Part of the reason I decided to write this post is to remind myself that as far as the global population goes I am actually in good company.

Before you click away I really want to know: Do you think our cultural perception of breastfeeding is healthy? What makes YOU uncomfortable?

*For the record, I’m not expecting to breastfeed Katie when she’s five. Maybe four, but honestly I sense she’ll probably self-wean between her third and fourth year. I’m trying to keep an open mind, though.

Related Posts:

Extended Breastfeeding Myth #2: Your Kids Will Resent You For Making Them Weird

Myth #3: Extended Breastfeeding Will Make Your Child Uber-Clingy

Extended Breastfeeding Myth #4: Breastfeeding BOYS Past Nine Months Will Increase Their Sexual Awareness

Resources

Extraordinary Breastfeeding¹

A Natural Age of Weaning by Katherine Dettwyler, PhD,Department of Anthropology,Texas A&M University

Sustained Breastfeeding by Kate Mortensen Grad Dip (Counselling), IBCLC, NMAA Counsellor

Dr. Sears on Extended Breastfeeding

Are there health benefits in nursing past one year of age?

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85 Responses to Extended Breastfeeding Myth #1

  1. Heather says:

    I’ll be the first to admit what makes me uncomfortable: breastfeeding photos. While preparing for today’s post I collected modest photos of women breastfeeding around the world. It made me uncomfortable, which is weird because I see half naked women every time I walk by Victoria’s Secret in the mall and THAT doesn’t make me uncomfortable. I think it’s wrong but I don’t have the same gut reaction to it. How sad that even though I now make intellectual ascent to breasts as more than just sexual objects the biases I formed while growing up in this culture are deeply ingrained.

  2. Melanie Buck says:

    Great Blog. I am practicing don’t offer, dont’ refuse to my 23 month old son. I always knew I would nurse, I assumed weaning would happen naturally and easily around the age of one. Ha, who was that girl? As you know, I tried weaning recently. It did not go well. I loved that my doctor said “you just have to do what it best for your family”. I share this because for me it was simple and empowering advice.
    I agree, people do judge differently when you are nursing a boy. I have gay friends, and I asked “that question”. They were all formula fed.
    ~post script And yes… I have had that dream that I have had to meet him in his college dorm after finals. My doctor promises that has never happened in real life.

    • Mae says:

      Very interesting that they were formula fed, gives my comment below some more substance. Great comment
      .-= Mae´s last blog ..Meal Plan Monday =-.

    • Nicole Roth says:

      Melanie- A good book about weaning is called “How Weaning Happens.” I found it to be very insightful.
      Blessings,
      Nicole

    • Heather says:

      Thanks for sharing, Melanie. I think don’t offer / don’t refuse is a great policy. I often do defer Katie but she is a bit older and able to understand delayed gratification to a degree.

  3. Heather, this is a great post! To be honest, I used to be very uncomfortable with woman breastfeeding past 1 year of age. I thought it was gross. Now that I have a baby of my own, my mindset has changed. I plan to BF until my daughter is two. My husband and I have decided to keep a secret though. I really don’t want to deal with any of the negative comments from friends and family.

    I’m uncomfortable with BFing in front of other people and I don’t like it when woman openly BF in public. When my daughter was born, I made the midwives leave the room so they wouldn’t see my breasts when I first nursed my daughter. They thought I was weird (especially sense they had seen my other girl parts), but I just didn’t feel comfortable with it.
    .-= Tiffany@ The Coconut Mama´s last blog ..COCONUT BABY’S FAVORITE FOOD: BRAIN FOOD =-.

    • Heather says:

      Hi Tiffany, I appreciate your thoughts on this subject. It appears there are more opinions from real food/ natural childbirth moms than I realized. And umm, those brownies on your blog look DELICIOUS! My husbands cleanse ends on Sunday and we may just have to try them!

  4. dianthe says:

    i’m currently tandem nursing my 27 month old daughter and my 3 month old son and the only thing that makes me uncomfortable is my son using my nipple as a teething ring! i don’t mind seeing women nursing, whether it be a baby or a toddler, and i’m not uncomfortable seeing women nurse in public – in the beginning, i was uncomfortable with both but it’s become such a part of my ‘norm’ that it doesn’t phase me at all anymore – i don’t have any problems telling people that i’m still nursing my 2 year old – it is what it is – i have promised that she will be weaned before she starts kindergarten and that’s good enough for me!
    .-= dianthe´s last blog ..and i guess that’s why they call it the blues =-.

    • Heather says:

      Hi Dianthe, thanks for stopping by! I’m curious . . . did you ever have any discomfort nursing your toddler while pregnant? If so, did it get better after your son was born? My first trimester was pretty rough and it has been steadily getting better since then. Before I became pregnant nursing was NEVER uncomfortable and I’m hoping to get back to that.

  5. kate says:

    LOVE this post. I cannot believe those children were taken away from their parents. What is this country coming to that we DO NOT HAVE THE HUMAN RIGHT to feed our children? All other issues aside, I have the RIGHT darn it!!
    I do not really understand the whole “extended breastfeeding will turn your son gay” argument…..wouldn’t extended time at the breast more likely make him really like breasts?? Studies show that homosexuality stems from daddy issues……absent, overbearing, etc. Why do people not speak up to absent, work-a-holic fathers that THEIR actions and decisions might affect sexuality?? Because they don’t want to offend or make them feel bad? When that is precisely what they are doing to mothers who are just trying to do what’s best for their child??
    The whole thing is just very sad to me. Just another thing to add to the “America is so twisted” column…..
    .-= kate´s last blog ..Ignoring "To-Do’s" =-.

  6. vanessa says:

    This is a great post Heather! Thank you.
    As far as my views on extended breastfeeding go, I believe in whatever makes mommy and child comfortable. Although, sometimes what makes them comfortable does not make other people comfortable and therefore I believe that respecting other people’s feelings are important as well. I accept extended breastfeeding, but I am not comfortable hearing too much about it or seeing it. People say “it’s natural” right? Yes, it is, but so is urinating. Do we allow or feel comfortable seeing someone urinate in public? No we do not. The same goes with breastfeeding. It should be done in private. I would not want my son, or husband for that matter, to be in a public place and see a mother breastfeeding her child. Maybe that’s just me being too conservative.
    I agree that in our society today with all the “soft porn” commercials and what not on TV, it makes it difficult for me to even allow the television to be on while my kids are awake. If it is on, it is only on PBS.
    Breastfeeding indeed is not sexual, but a woman’s breast IS a sexual part of the body and when a man sees it I doubt there are very many who do not think so.
    As far as any advantages to extended breastfeeding, I can only go by my own experiences with my children and after raising a daughter and son, who in my opinion, are perfect in every way I can say that it is not necessary. Maybe if I lived in a country where I did not have other resources for feeding my children like we have here in America, then of course I would continue.

    • Mae says:

      Mae Updated this comment:
      You say breastfeeding isn’t sexual, but by some of your comments imply that it is. I am NOT one of those women who will just pull out her boob at the park and say deal with it, I actually just did a post about modesty that you can check out here: http://maeannetteburke.blogspot.com/2010/05/raising-modest-woman-starting-out.html
      .-= Mae´s last blog ..Meal Plan Monday =-.

      • Heather says:

        Whoa! Let’s slow down a bit. I think it’s only natural for Vanessa to prefer it be a private affair.To some degree I agree. I am all for public affection between couples, but when couples start mauling each other in public it grosses me out. I would say it’s a case of moderation.

        I try not to make a public display of nursing my toddler. I can often defer her request to nurse until we are somewhere discreet. When I’m at the mall shopping for clothes (which is once in a million years) I prefer to nurse her in a dressing room rather than a bench in the middle of a thoroughfare. BUT, when she’s sick or injured or otherwise in need of comfort I put her needs above the comfort level of people who are not used to breastfeeding. I still try to be discreet about it, though.

        I can imagine that for moms that wean around one year it would be easy to overlook how impractical it would be to keep extended nursing a completely private affair. Toddlers hate the stuffiness of nursing covers and don’t want to be home all the time, but as part of their normal rhythms throughout the day they may want to nurse. Like public displays of affection, I think there’s a balance between doing what’s natural and making a scene. My two cents.

        • vanessa says:

          thanks heather. i just read the first sentence of that comment and couldn’t go on. in no way does my voice ever even sound the way she described it either and i’m sure you know that. i’m also glad that you understood what i was trying to say and not twisting my words or intentions around.

          • vanessa says:

            also, just to add a little bit to that. i don’t mind at all if a mother breastfeeds with a cover. i also used to go into a dressing room or restroom if i was in public just so that i wouldn’t make anyone feel uncomfortable, including myself. i wouldn’t want anyone walking by looking at my breast while i was nursing my child. and yes, when i have seen it being done in public i have caught many men trying their hardest to catch a glimpse. this is what i mean by men who see it as a sexual thing rather than a beautiful and natural thing. it’s sad that there are perverts out there like that, but like i said, the breast is considered a sexual body part and i suppose some men just can’t help but to only see it that way.

          • Mae says:

            I’m sorry I overreacted to your comment.
            .-= Mae´s last blog ..Meal Plan Monday =-.

  7. When Ava was just a couple weeks old I was out in pulic with my mother-in-law and feeling a little nervous about nursing her with people walking all around. My MIL pointed out that if people can walk around dressed the way they are with it all “hanging out” then I could nurse in a discreet way. I hadn’t thought about it like that. I am all for whatever you as a family feel is best, I do take issue with people forcing there ideas on others. Just because I choose to nurse Ava at 13 months shoulnd’t mean anyone else has to be made uncomfortable by it. I try not to nurse her in public and I don’t really talk about it to friends who I know aren’t of that belief.

    I want to nurse Ava as long as she wants to and I can…I also am being sensative to making sure it doesn’t make my husband uncomfortable. He married me and not a baby that I can never leave or more then a couple hours so I want to be sensative to that and remember that my marriage comes first and as long as our child training and way of parenting doesn’t conflict with that then its fine. That is our agreement and has worked so far for us. I haven’t left Ava overnight yet (except for births) but plan to this fall but don’t want to have to wean her first so we shall see!

    I love reading all the comments and peoples thoughts on this!
    .-= Hannah Tallo´s last blog ..To my baby girl! =-.

    • Heather says:

      Hannah, I agree with you that the husband’s feelings are of utmost importance on this issue. Daniel did not think I would “make it” to a year when Katie was born. He was definitely NOT cool with the idea of me nursing a three-year old, either. We took a “wait and see” approach and I am so glad that he decided that the benefits outweigh the inconveniences and fully supports me.

      Children need the security of parents that are in harmony with one another MORE than breastfeeding even with ALL its fabulous benefits.

  8. Mae says:

    Very interested to see what other myths you cover!
    When Cindy adressed this on her blog, this is what I had to say:

    “…lets just take a look at society today.
    There are more and more openly gay, and decided gay than ever before. Not to say this isn’t an age old sexual preference [I doubt it would be mentioned so often in the bible if it was unheard of] but there is a clearer presence in our society.
    Now look at how many woman breastfeed, period- regardless of time. The numbers have dramatically decreased since the invention of formula. LLL and several others have proven this again and again.
    If you graph it out, to me it would seem more logical to link NOT breastfeeding to an increase in homosexuality.”

    This is a study that I think could actually be done. Take the number of breastfeeding women compared to gay men and women, it wouldn’t have to be a life long study, I don’t think, and I think it would produce some surprising results.

    Mae
    .-= Mae´s last blog ..Meal Plan Monday =-.

  9. Penny says:

    I’m a big fan of everyone choosing to do what’s right for them. Most of my friends have young children and are breastfeeding (with the exception of the moms that had uberdifficulty brestfeeding and had to switch to bottle.) To me, I see peeps breastfeeding in public, being “crunchy”/not-crunchy, etc. People are just too quick to cause a ruckus, I think. We have the gift of free will, so let’s celebrate it instead of tearing each other down!

    Speaking to your first point re homosexuality/breastfeeding, I think that *may* be a Texas thing. Anyone who would be so bold as to suggest such a link in Chicago (where I live) would be immediately labelled a bigot/ignorant – because there’s nothing wrong with being gay. It’s not a preference – you can’t be “made” gay. You’re born that way, and to me, the obsession with such is just an extension of the general U.S. obsession with sex.

    I grew up in a large/unusual family and received many ignorant/hurtful comments myself, so I hear where you’re coming from. Kudos to you to learning and listening – using what begins as an ignorant comment and turning it into something you can learn from, rather than a source of pain.

  10. Pocket.Buddha says:

    What makes me uncomfortable is the social systems, pressures, and taboos that make women think that breastfeeding is something they need to hide, lie about, or avoid in public.

    Whenever I hear women talking about their own anxiety about nursing in public, or worse, women telling other women if or how they should go about nursing in public my heart breaks.

    I am not suggesting that we go all amazonian and walk around bare breasted, or even that a women should not use a nursing cover or blanket, or go to a private place to nurse if that is what SHE would like to. I am simply pointing out a sexism in our society so ingrained that we marginalize ourselves without thought or question.

    As women we should celebrate the power and beauty that nature (or God, or whoever you believe in) gave us, and as wives and mothers we should not be sheilding our children and husbands from seeing other women breastfeed, but rather pray that that image becomes the norm.

    I want my son to witness mothers breastfeeding their babies. I want him to know that a woman’s body, while certainly attractive, beautiful, and at times sexual, is also functional, powerful, and life giving. I want him to know and understand what breastfeeding is all about and be comfortable with it so that if he has his own children one day he can be loving and supportive of their mother, instead of embarrassed of her and jealous of his own children’s needs being met. I am hoping that by seeing breastfeeding openly as the norm, he will find his wife attractive as a mother as well as a sexual being.

    And if it turns out that my son is gay, I will know that it’s because that’s just who he is, and that how long I breastfeed him has nothing to do with it. I would hope that if he and his future husband have children they will be blessed with a fairy boob mother to supply their child with breast milk. ;)

    • Heather says:

      “I want my son to witness mothers breastfeeding their babies. I want him to know that a woman’s body, while certainly attractive, beautiful, and at times sexual, is also functional, powerful, and life giving. I want him to know and understand what breastfeeding is all about and be comfortable with it so that if he has his own children one day he can be loving and supportive of their mother . . .” — So well said. This one quote could be a post all on its own. Thank you ; – )

    • vanessa says:

      i love this entire post. very well written.

  11. Whittney says:

    I think it is so bizarre that breastfeeding for any length of time is such a hot issue. I personally don’t make a big deal of anything about it. I nursed Avery modestly (never with a cover though) in public when needed and nursed her until I felt that both of us were mature and ready to end the relationship. I view my breasts as both food and sexual. God created them to be both. The issue in my opinion is that people can’t wrap their mind around that fact…..that breasts serve both purposes, at the same time.

    I could go on and on, but I have to clean my house. So, I’ll leave it at that. :) As always, I loved your post Heather.

  12. Melodie says:

    I think everyone’s views on breastfeeding are different and I respect that, but just for the record, after I read Vanessa’s first comment about men viewing breasts as sexual, I asked my husband “When I am breastfeeding M do you see my breasts as sexual objects?” His quick response was “No way.” Now I know all men are different, but I’m happy to breastfeed in public and I think it needs to be done more often by more women in order to normalize and de-stigmatize breastfeeding. LIke anything else, at the end of the day you can’t control what people are going to think of you or whether or not they will sexualize you. Just being in public and being seen can cause some men to get aroused. Maybe you remind a strange man of an ex-girlfriend he’s pining for? Maybe you have the kind of hair he likes. WIll you ever know he went home to masturbate to the thought of your face? No. Should you stay at home for the rest of your life to avoid these unknown encounters? Of course not. I especially feel moms should try to breastfeed their toddlers in public.
    This is a fantastic post Heather. Like I recommended to you, I will recommend to your readers to find a copy of Ann Sinnot’s book “Breastfeeding Older Children.” It is probably the best book on breastfeeding toddlers and older children that I’ve ever read and definitely the most scientifically-based book/study of mothers and their children who were long term breastfed. Thanks for a great read! :)
    .-= Melodie´s last blog ..Have You Ever Wanted To Nurse Someone Else’s Baby? =-.

    • Heather says:

      Melodie, sometimes I wonder if men stare because they are just flat out curious. If I saw someone using a fork to comb their hair I would be thinking “that’s not what that’s for!!!” I wonder if in many cases they are not aroused but just confused, thinking “that’s not what those are for!!!”

  13. Sarah says:

    If breastfeeding in public disturbs you, please feel free to put a
    blanket over your head or go finish your meal in the restroom….; )

    I love this quote…I have nursed three kids in terms of years not months…and let me tell you..they do eventually wean, they do eventually sleep in their own bed, they do eventually potty train…and if you do these things in the right timing(as too what works for your child not some book) they are a smooth transition…..As far as nursing in public goes..I think the older the child gets the less they nurse anyway. However,..I was never embarrassed and nursed my children anywhere I wanted.. I did sometimes use a sling and that helped me at times when I wanted the privacy without having to leave where I was . I do think my confidence helped keep people at bay….if you look insecure or unsure that can be sensed either that or I was too busy with my kids to even notice anyone else’s reactions and my kids are big and they look a lot older than they really are so you can imagine.

    I must add that I would NEVER equate feeding my baby/child to urinating…that is ridiculous.. breastmilk is human food not human waste!

    Mom to a 19yo,16yo,and a 10yo all weaned of course..; )

  14. vanessa says:

    just to make it clear to everyone… i am not equating breastfeeding to urinating. i am equating the discomfort that others feel when seeing the 2 actions performed in public. just as heather mentioned how people who maul each other in public grosses her out and just how some people still feel uncomfortable seeing gay people show affection in public.

  15. Angela Campany says:

    I’m an extended breastfeeding “convert” so to speak… I was always totally offended when I saw women breastfeeding older children until I became pregnant myself and actually took the time to do my homework about breastfeeding in general. Offended or not, I couldn’t argue with the research. Now that I’m breastfeeding my own baby (8 weeks old), I can’t imagine ending this special bonding time at the 6 month or 1 year mark. Yes, it’s difficult, and I know when I talk about breastfeeding her past 1 or even 2 years, I definitely get some odd looks. (I’m in New England and folks are pretty set in their ways up here.) Bottom line, I’ve become one of those crunchy weirdos I used to roll my eyes at, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Knowing what others are thinking (having been on their side of the fence), I can’t even get that upset at them for the way they feel about it. Irritation is often fed by fear and fear by lack of knowledge and lack of exposure. Had I not done my due diligence and read up on breastfeeding, I’d still be in their camp.

    On another breastfeeding note, I’ve been asking other breastfeeding Moms about giving a bottle. She wants to eat pretty much every 2 hours like clockwork, and so far, I don’t want to leave her to do anything, even to go on a date with my husband. When is it ok to give her breastmilk in a bottle? I don’t want to cause the dreaded nipple confusion and mess up our breastfeeding. Also, I’m beginning to realize that I’m going to have to expand my nursing wardrobe… Do you have any tips/tricks/favorite places to shop for reasonably priced nursing clothes?

    • As far as giving a bottle goes – once your baby is 6-8 weeks old, you can start giving a bottle. Here are some tips: http://mommynewsblog.com/getting-your-breastfed-baby-to-take-a-bottle/

      For breastfeeding clothing – I have a shop, but I’m in the US – there are lots of places in the UK to get great clothes. I highly recommend Annee Matthew – her stuff is great (I carry it in my shop). Here is a link to stores in the UK that carry it: http://www.anneematthew.com/page.php?p=store%20locations

      — Judy
      .-= Judy @MommyNews Blog´s last blog ..CNN’s Toxic America =-.

    • Melanie Buck says:

      May I suggest waiting until your milk supply is well established and then introduce a bottle. Also, don’t be discouraged if the first few weeks of expressing or pumping milk do not go well. I would pump and pump and maybe get an ounce.

    • Mae says:

      For a while, I was so proud that Lily never took a bottle, but then when a time came when I HAD to leave her…I couldn’t. I was only gone an hour. She was about 5 months old then.
      With the next baby, we will definitely try to give a bottle after my milk supply is good and steady, just for the “just in case” scenarios.

      And as far as clothes go, when you find out, FILL ME IN! Haha. I am naturally…well endowed…and all the nursing clothes in the world don’t help me to be modest. I am bound to the cover forever, lol
      .-= Mae´s last blog ..Snapped back to reality =-.

    • Heather says:

      Angela – Thanks for your comment! Love to know that people are willing to change their minds on this issue when they get more informed ; – )

      On the subject of bottle feeding, I worked part-time from home when Katie was young and never found the need for one so the best thing I can recommend is to find out if you have a local La Leche League (http://www.llli.org/) chapter and ask them. I don’t want to spread a bunch of misinformation since I really don’t know what I’m talking about when it comes to this ; – )

      And finally, when it comes to clothes: As far as actual nursing clothes go I don’t wear very many. The styles are too limited and often unattractive. The exception would be I loved glamourmom nursing tanks. I have an extra-long torso so I loved their long ones. They go great under other clothes and I pretty much lived in them for the first year of Katie’s life. Other than that I think a lot of it depends on what you like. Nursing is pretty simple for moms that wear t-shirts. I like more fitted shirts so I choose extra-stretchy scoop neck ones that I can pull down easily.

  16. I nursed my son until he was nearly 4 years old. You can read about our journey here: http://mommynewsblog.com/gentle-weaning-one-moms-journey-through-breastfeeding/ and here: http://mommynewsblog.com/do-you-remember/

    I think a lot of the ignorance around extended breastfeeding is just that – ignorance. Our culture doesn’t teach us anything about breastfeeding – not a thing! I admit that prior to having my son, I thought it was “weird” when people were breastfeeding their toddlers. I had a very good friend who nursed her twins until they were three and I thought that was “a bit much” – but I was lucky – I had lots of good role models.

    I had my good friend who nursed twins until they were 3, and several other friends who nursed toddlers until they were two or there-abouts. So even though I initially thought they were weird, I knew it could be done. When my son was born, I knew I would nurse for a year. As time went on, I thought I would like to let him self-wean and I thought about nursing until he was two and became more and more comfortable with the idea as time went on. 1 year came and went and there was never a time when he didn’t seem like a baby to me. There was also never a time that I felt “forced weaning” was required.

    I remember when my son was 18 months old and my husband used to ask me when I was going to stop nursing. He didn’t want me to stop then, he just wanted to know when it would be. I always used to jokingly say “when he’s 3″ because I never dreamed I would be nursing THAT LONG!

    Then 3 came and went and he was still going strong. To be honest, I didn’t think he would ever wean! And again, there never seemed to be a time when weaning was “necessary”. I did start employing “gentle” weaning techniques and had a strict “don’t ask, don’t offer” policy.

    My son finally did self-wean just prior to his 4th birthday. I never dreamed we would nurse that long – but it never felt like it was “too long.”

    Our cutlture definitely sexualizes breasts – and I am very sad to say, that even now, 10 months after my son weaned, I feel “weird” when he grabs at my breasts and asks to nurse. Even after nursing him for so long, our culture has made me feel like this is a sexual act – when it is the furthest thing from that.

    The best thing that we can do is to educated. Teach our children about breastfeeding. Show them animals and humans nursing. Whenever my son and I go to the zoo we talk about the animals that are nursing and he pretends that his toys nurse from their mommies. The best way to make it accepted is to make it common. So nurse in public and even if you don’t nurse in public – let people know that you are a nursing mom. Education is the key!

    sorry for rambling…I think I will turn this into a blog post myself! Thanks for the inspiration.
    — Judy
    .-= Judy @MommyNews Blog´s last blog ..CNN’s Toxic America =-.

  17. Cristy says:

    I breastfed my daughter until she self-weaned just before her third birthday. In the 6 months leading up to that I had started to place some limitations on her breastfeeding because she wanted it 24/7 and it was starting to exhaust me and so I would delay her here and there until we got down to just a few feeds a day. From there I let her drop them when she was ready and that happened so much more quickly and easily than I had expected (given that she was so very focused on breastfeeding all the time until then). I think that she had just had her needs fully met and so was ready to move on…

    I didn’t get too many negative comments, but I know that it made a lot of people uncomfortable that I was still feeding her while she was two – especially because she is very tall and articulate for her age and many people thought that she was older still. My father kept (‘jokingly’) asking if I was going to be feeding her ‘on her wedding day’ and I decided not to even bother answering such a stupid question. Other people also made more subtle remarks like “How long do you think that she is going to keep breastfeeding for?” (the issue with these was more the tone of deep concern than anything else). To them I would simply say that she would do it for as long as she needed to, but that I expected her to self-wean in the next few years and that this would be very natural and healthy, since it would make her time at the breast fairly average when you looked at the global norm. That usually ended the conversation…

    I’ve never had anyone bring up the homosexuality thing, but my mother is gay and so I expect that people wouldn’t be quite so stupid as to raise homosexuality as some kind of defect to be avoided!

  18. Karen says:

    I am currently seeing a relationship counsellor about some problems my husband and I are having – (partly related to some post-traumatic stress disorder he suffers as a survivor of torture as a political prisoner in the 1980s). Anyhoo… she (the counsellor) has advised me to stop breastfeeding my three year old because: 1. it is “not appropriate”, developmentally, for that age and 2. it will cause him sexual problems later as he will seek sex as comfort and 3. I am probably doing it to soothe and comfort myself because of problems in my relationship. I was so shocked by these remarks (the counselling service is a very progressive, gay-friendly place) I didn’t really respond… but I am going to ask her what science her claims are based on. I have searched high and low and can’t find anything. Is this because it is just “common sense”?

    • Mae says:

      I would have to say yes.
      What people consider truth in this country astound me.
      I know NOTHING about you, so please forgive me for jumping in, but you should really pray about that decision before going ahead either way. I can totally see where number three would come into play however. I find myself from time to time using nursing my 11 month old as “an out” in arguments with my husband. But the other two, I find just plain silly ;]
      .-= Mae´s last blog ..Snapped back to reality =-.

    • Heather says:

      Karen, one of my favorite definitions of wisdom is “skill at living.” There are many people who are wise when it comes to healing relationships, growing spiritually, educating children and many other things that often weigh in on the breastfeeding issue, which is not their area of expertise. My husband and I have encountered this personally. At our church, which for us is a treasure-trove of wisdom and practical life skills, most of the pastors see co-sleeping with children as an interference into the marital relationship. I’m sure it is, or at least can be, in some situation . . . as can breastfeeding. But despite being a co-sleeping family my husband and I enjoy a very full, satisfying relationship and we are totally at peace with our life.

      I hope this doesn’t sound arrogant, but when I know someone is speaking outside of their sphere of expertise I have no problem politely declining to change my well-researched decision.

  19. Linda says:

    This post is amazing! And the comments are great! I just weaned my son on May 23rd. It was right before he turned 9 mths on the 27th. I made the decision to wean because it became so physically uncomfortable. I was getting sores from his teeth even when I took him off the breast to stop him from biting. It became more of a hassle & a battle, and I got to the point that I wasn’t enjoying nursing anymore. I haven’t regretted my decision since, only because I now enjoy feeding times with him. I love to bond and cuddle with him without being in pain.

    My inlaws are of the mindset that breastfeeding is NOT natural. They are not really in a sane mindset to begin with, and everything that my husband and I do is wrong in their eyes. Everytime we were at their house & I had to nurse, they wouldn’t talk or look at me. I was nursing THEIR grandson for HIS benefit, and yet, it was still wrong. My mother in law didn’t breastfeed her son (it is my husband’s step-mom) therefore, I didn’t expect much support from her to begin with.

    I find it very sad that America does not openly except breastfeeding. It is hard for people to except gay people (not me, my cousin is gay), but it seems to be something “of the norm” now. Yet breastfeeding has been an open thing for so many years, and it is not an excepted thing anymore. Even to the point of having to pass a law that places can’t discriminate or kick out or anything like that against a nursing mother. What in the heck is this world coming to?

    And as far as men seeing the breast as a sexual thing only….my husband never looked at my breast (as I was nursing) as a sexual object. In fact when his parents (more his Dad) would say that he (my husband) would never get them back and things like that, my husband would stand up for me and say that they (my breasts) are doing exactly what God made them for. Feeding and nurturing our children. :-)

  20. Pippi says:

    Wow — some of these comments are making my eyes pop out! Where I live (Vancouver, BC) nursing and nursing in public is so normal I’ve never heard anyone say anything negative about it — even if the nursling is over a year. No one bats an eye if it comes up that my 2.5 year old is still nursing. Most of my friends who have weaned earlier for whatever reason are envious that my daughter still nurses. Now, my friends who have used formula on the other hand have had some really nasty comments. They’ve had strangers come up to them and tell them that it’s horrible to give formula to their babies. It just goes to show people can be rude and hurtful no matter what their opinions are.

  21. […] is nursing a child over the age of 1 so “shocking” to so many people?? I was reading another blog post on extended weaning a few weeks ago and it got me thinking about it – and about my own feelings – and […]

  22. Sorry if this was asked/stated, you have many comments (WTG!).

    I am not sure if the study would be able to be correct (Bottle/breast = gay). Only because there would be nothing to compare it too. There is too many factors involved for it to remain as truth. 1) People are coming ‘out’ more, now, then lets say 20 years ago. 2) there are different rates in breastfeeding and population and 3) how much would mothers squabble if it was for or against either feeding method. What is missing in my thinking? Correct me please if you wish too.

    It would be interesting, if they could find a true statement in this, but that is because I don’t really care what sexual orientation my children are and ‘if’ it’s from breastfeeding, just as long as they are in a good relationship and are loved. That is all I can ask.

    PS: Why would mother nature create breastfeeding, then have that the cause for being attracted to the same sex… I wonder if she is trying to wipe out the human race LOL (sick humor).

  23. Amber says:

    I think all of you have problems of your own that you are trying to use breastfeeding as compensation. Some of you have gotten to the point where this sounds more like incest, rather than breastfeeding. Breastfeeding a toddler/young child? Bathing with your child? Letting your child share a bed with you and your spouse? All of your children are going to grow up with mental disturbances because of all of this rather then whatever it is that you are hoping will come about from it.
    These blogs are definitely ALL opinions and not facts. Just because you all are weirdos who think it’s ok to breastfeed your toddler does not mean that these questions that we normal people have are “myths”.
    Heather, you say that you sucked your thumb up to an embarrassing age, yet you are going to let your children be embarrassed when they find out that you had them sucking on your boob until they were 2, 3, 4 year sold? Why would you do that?
    Yes, breastfeeding is natural. I also breastfed my BABIES, but breastfeeding toddlers and young children is not. Maybe it is in third world countries where they have no money or other resources for food and drinks, but not here in America. Obviously, in those poor countries there is no difference in the emotional bond or closeness of children to their parents, nor is there any positive signs of intellectual or health benefits to it.
    How do you all even have normal relationships with your husbands? Breast milk always squirting out when you are trying to be intimate, a child in your bed or shower when you are trying to be intimate… very intrusive and unnecessary.

  24. Heather says:

    Amber – You said “These blogs are definitely ALL opinions and not facts. Just because you all are weirdos who think it’s ok to breastfeed your toddler does not mean that these questions that we normal people have are “myths”.”

    Here’s a FACT: According to the World Health Organization “Breastfeeding is an unequalled way of providing ideal food for the healthy growth and development of infants; it is also an integral part of the reproductive process with important implications for the health of mothers. A recent review of evidence has shown that, on a population basis, exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months is the optimal way of feeding infants. Thereafter infants should receive complementary foods with continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or BEYOND.”

    That’s right, the World Health Organization RECOMMENDS breastfeeding toddlers.

    You also said “How do you all even have normal relationships with your husbands? Breast milk always squirting out when you are trying to be intimate, a child in your bed or shower when you are trying to be intimate… very intrusive and unnecessary.”

    Since you have (I’m assuming) never breastfed a toddler I can understand why you’d be ignorant on the subject, but in fact squirting breastmilk is never an issue for me during intimacy. Toddlers fall into very predictable habits and the body adapts perfectly. No overproduction, no underproduction. I never mentioned showering, so I’m not exactly sure why you mention it. On the subject of the family bed, obviously we have a separate room for intimacy. Our family bed is where we SLEEP and it works quite nicely for us. I’m not saying it’s for everyone.

    Regarding your statement that “All of your children are going to grow up with mental disturbances because of all of this rather then whatever it is that you are hoping will come about from it” I just have to say: Really? ALL of our children are going to have mental disturbances. All?? You say that my post includes no facts. I say to you that your statement is completely unfounded and that in fact research (i.e. facts) indicate the opposite (Sources: Our Babies Ourselves). Extended breastfeeding is not for everyone, but claiming that it is harmful is just silly.

  25. Amber– Of course we all have problems, just like I’m sure you do. I’m going to try to write something here that will be helpful to you, and not meant to start a fight. We moms are a community and should always strive to support one another and spur us on to be better at motherhood.

    Your mention of incest makes me wonder: at what point exactly do you think breastfeeding becomes incest? 6 months, 12 months, 2 years? So, one day it’s natural and the next day it’s incest? I understand that it’s not the norm in the United States to breastfeed past the age of one, so it appears very strange to a lot of people, but that doesn’t make it incest. If it’s not incest in Denmark or Kenya, it’s not incest here. Even if they don’t have any other food. And really, those moms in third world countries that breastfeed have to eat something to be able to produce milk, so it’s not like the toddlers don’t have anything else.

    I don’t know ANYONE who has ever been mentally disturbed because their mom breastfed them past a certain age. One of my friends openly admitted that she breastfed till 4, another breastfed her girls till the age of 2, and they all are well-adjusted adults and have healthy, happy relationships with eachother.

    Part of the stigma of breastfeeding past the first birthday, here in the US, is that we have been TAUGHT, whether we realized it or not, that you should try to breastfeed at least until 6 months but not past a year. It’s been drilled into our brains, mine and yours included. Before having kids, I always said I would nurse my babies until age one. No more, no less. “When they’re old enough to ask for it, they’re too old to do it” is the most ridiculous thing I ever heard, and I will be the first to confess that I used to say it. As if I start feeding my son mashed bananas at 6 months and then at 10 months he starts asking for them, I should deny him. They finally figure out how to communicate what they need and then we decide that they can’t have it anymore? That’s dumb.

    When my firstborn was approaching her first birthday and was still doing really well with breastfeeding, I had a decision to make… was I going to let society decide that it was time to quit? Or would I let her continue a little longer because it was what I knew was good for her? I chose the latter, and she weaned 3 months before her 2nd birthday. She shows absolutely no signs of any kind of sexual/mental issues because of it. Same with my son, he’s 18 months and will probably go at least as long as she did. While I highly benefit from others’ ideas, experience and wisdom in the area of parenting, I’m not going to do something or stop doing something just because it’s what everybody else is doing/not doing.

    Saying that Mommypotamus’ blog is all opinions and no facts is absurd. If you read through her others, you will quickly discover that she is excellent at doing her research, thoroughly studying each subject and presenting facts.

    As far as intimacy with our husbands, the situation doesn’t suddenly change when the child turns one. Heather is right about the milk regulating and that not being an issue, but even if it were, it would have nothing to do with the fact that the child is no longer an infant, or even that the child sleeps in the same bed.

    You say that breastfeeding a baby is natural, but a toddler or older child is not. I looked up the definition for “natural” and here’s what I found:

    “existing in or in conformity with nature or the observable world” – this is why it appears unnatural in the United States, because that is our observable world… it most certainly is
    natural in other countries (not just 3rd world ones either) where it is in conformity with the norm.

    “free from artificiality” – breastmilk is about as un-artificial as it can get.

    “prompted by instinct” – as long as the child and mother are prompted by the instinct to breastfeed, it’s natural. Whether the child is 3 months or 3 years.

  26. Whittney says:

    I have nothing new to add Amber, because I agree with the above responses to your comment, but I would like to throw out a question for you. Do you know what you’re missing by not bathing with your children every once in a while? It is the highlight of my husbands day to take a shower with our son. Manly bonding time. And me taking a bubble bath with my daughter is a lovely treat where she mimics my every move (washing face, lathering hair,etc.)

    Disagreeing about the benefits of breastfeeding past infancy is one thing, but to throw around words like incest, weirdos and mental disturbances? Your world view is radical and bizarre.

    P.S. Now go take a bath with your kids!

  27. Josh says:

    Gays are born, not made. So why is this even an issue? You should be proud of your baby just the way they are, and breast milk will help them be healthy. Shame on mothers for trying to make their child into a heterosexual, that is cruel and against recommendations of the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Pediatric Association. Mothers who try to change their child’s sexual orientation need to stop blaming breast feeding, and realize nothing is wrong with their baby… it is the mother who is wrong and doesn’t deserve to have their wonderful child at all.

  28. […] the past year we have tackled breastfeeding myths, celebrated the birth stories of moms and babes around the world, posted controversial blogs and […]

  29. Jennifer says:

    It is hard being different but you are right thinking about it globally helps and thinking about it historically helps. I always thing of the bible verse, “I carried you nine months in my womb and nursed you for three years” (2 Macc. 7:27) :)~Jen

  30. Jamie says:

    I LOVE your blog. I am just starting to navigate it. I was breastfed until I was six. I knew that it wasn’t culturally accepted, but I am just realizing now, as a mother of two breastfeeding young children, how horrifying western views are of this. I’ve had people tell me that extended breastfeeding is “molestation” and that pictures of my children breastfeeding would be considered “pornographic” ….I thought it was a joke. So sad people are that uneducated about a normal time for a human to wean!

  31. Quick note: I’ve gotten some comments about the term “extended breastfeeding” because it seems to imply that moms are doing something above and beyond “normal breastfeeding.” If I’d written this post today I’d have said “full term breastfeeding.” Oh well, c’est la vie!!!

    • Leah says:

      The only problem I have with the term “full-term” breastfeeding is that it makes it sound like there’s an end point drawn in the sand somewhere and people who did it for a shorter amount of time (for whatever reason) didn’t reach the finish line. This may stem from my own issues over the difficulty I had breastfeeding and the fact that I wasn’t even able to nurse my baby for a full 2 months and never did it successfully or comfortably, but there you have it.

      • Heather says:

        Leah, I can certainly understand why you feel that way and I appreciate that you spoke up. I used to call it “extended-breastfeeding,” but that didn’t sit well with some moms who felt the term “extended” implied that it was beyond a certain point of “normalcy.” If you have any suggestions for a better term I’m definitely open. Big hugs to you, mama.

  32. Julie Whetstine via FB says:

    the fact that people STILL view it as sexual and think that children shouldn’t be exposed to it or they will become promiscuous just shocks me. my mom was still breastfeeding my siblings when i was in college and they were preschoolers and that was a wonderful lesson for me to see that i wanted that bond — that sweetness. i treasure my seven year breastfeeding stretch and wish i still had a “reason” to be forced to snuggle on the sofa and not do anything but enjoy my babies…

  33. Elizabeth Neblett Schneiderman via FB says:

    i think it is a mother’s choice and no mother should be judged for any choices that she makes for her children..period. (provided the child isn’t in harm’s way) nurturing and doing something that is good for the child (like full term breast feeding) is a wonderful thing and i think more mothers should adopt this practice. :)

  34. @Julie and Elizabeth – Thanks for chiming in! I know a lot of families FT breastfeed, but it is still sometimes hard to talk about in public settings, even for me :)

  35. Elizabeth Neblett Schneiderman via FB says:

    I can understand what you are saying…there are lots of stigmas out there that make us uncomfortable and it’s such a shame…but GOOD for you for doing this for your children! Bravo! :)

  36. prior to having a baby I never thought I would FT breastfeed but now it just seems normal! I know there are people who think I am a bit strange but the more it’s done and talked about the more “normal” it becomes .

  37. michelle says:

    I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this series of posts on extended breastfeeding. I am a first-time mom, and still nursing my 22 month old daughter. When I gave birth to her, I decided I would try breastfeeding for 6 months and go from there. 6 months turned into a year, a year into a year and a half, and now I am completely reconsidering my goal of nursing until 2 years old. I want to do it longer! I can not begin to explain how wonderful nursing has been for my daughter as well as myself. We have an incredibly close bond. She has NEVER had to be on antibiotics, and she has only had a few colds. She is UBER intelligent (both my husband and I hold graduate degrees and studied math in college, but I KNOW the breastmilk is increasing her I.Q. even more). Do I get some funny comments or looks sometimes about nursing an almost 2 year old? Of course. But I believe this would not be the case in almost any other country than the U.S.A. For some reason people here attack the most natural process in the world and make it out to be something “weird.” Well, I have a different opinion. I think it is fantastic. Breastfeeding is a wonderful journey, and I am proud to be part of it!

  38. […] don’t I know that I’ll make my child gay, or uber-clingy, overly aware of “sexuality” or maybe just plain embarrassed? […]

  39. THANK YOU for writing this post!!
    I am still nursing our son, he is 15 months. People ask me “How long are you going to breastfeed him for?” and I hear the judgement in their voices.
    I know we will continue as long as it is right for both of us. I was so happy to read what the age of the worldwide average is!! Thanks so much for posting that.
    It can be hard to be “different” than the norm. That’s why I am so grateful for the internet!! Support makes all the difference.

    Love, Taryn

  40. Charisa says:

    I think our cultural perceptions about breastfeeding are so wrong and misguided. I BF my son until he was 15 months old. In North American I always tried to cover up or feed him in private, but then moved to West Africa when he was nine months old. Let me tell you, BF is a very different thing in West Africa! Moms are so open about breastfeeding their children of any age (ie leave their breast hanging out the top of their shirt so their child -not just baby- can drink at their leisure), and so I adapted my ways a little. I was still pretty discreet, especially around North Americans, but it was so nice to BF in public knowing I wasn’t being judged! He stopped nursing at 15 months and I was so glad that he BF so long, especially when he was sick with malaria! Obviously, North America is different, so now with my second baby we’re back in Canada and I’m back to covering up when I nurse. And it’s annoying! I think it’s really too bad that BF in public can be considered taboo. I’m not flaunting my breasts! I’m nourishing my baby!!

    Thanks for your post, Heather! I discovered your blog a month or two ago, and it’s been so helpful. I’m working on adjusting our diet to be more along the lines of WAPF, thanks to the info I found on your site. :)

  41. Rachel says:

    I just discovered your FB page/website…love it! So glad there’s SO many people out there like me…breastfeeding a 16 month old, no vaccinations, no medications, eating real food, visit the chiropractor, etc. I really don’t personally know anyone who does this (none of my friends or family). I always get asked the question “Are you STILL nursing him?!” and they want to know why I don’t let him have juice or candy or cake or Puffs, or any other usual junk most people feed their kids. And you should’ve heard the reactions I got when I told people I was doing a homebirth!
    I knew I wanted to BF, but everyone else I know only did it for 3-6 months, so I said I’d at least try it for a year and see how it goes. They told me once I went back to work, I would stop producing milk, so I’d have no choice but to stop, then just give him formula. No baby of mine would get canned formula in him! Well, guess what…I went back full time for a few months and no problems with milk supply at all, and I’m now a stay at home mom and still nursing! I can’t seem to stop and why should I if he wants to nurse? He’s still a baby who needs his mommy. People are so critical of extended nursing and nursing in public. I personally feel uncomfortable nursing in public, but I don’t have a problem with women who do it. Recently, on two seperate occasions, women were asked by security to leave the local mall because they were breastfeeding their babies. These women were completly covered up, but were still asked to leave as they were “offending” other shoppers and performing a lewd act in public. Needless to say, this made the news here and the mall won’t back down on their actions and said breastfeeding should be done in the privacy of your own home.
    I really wish the US was like the majority of the world…open to nursing in public and as long as you want to. Even my husband knows breasts are for feeding babies and are not a sexual object, as most men see them. He’s totally with me on this thing, and even defended me when his mother questioned why I’d want to BF for so long and once when she told me that there must be something wrong or missing from my breastmilk because he eats so much. This was when he was four months old and nursing constantly and she never breastfed, so she has no idea!
    Anyway, thanks for the great site!
    Rachel

  42. I love your blog. I just found it this morning. I was a tandem nurser when my girls were little and had the support of my La Leche League friends and co-leaders. But it is so nice to get the word out to others through personal experiences. Both my children turned out fine and beautiful, thank you. And even if they were gay, I would accept and cherish them and can think of some situations with boys that would not have arisen had they been lesbian. LOL they are now 20 and 18 and gorgeous as the goddess who nourished them through their entire early years until they weaned naturally.

  43. reb says:

    i think how militant some mothers are about BFing makes me uncomfortable…i mean to the point of making other mothers feel like they’ve failed their children entirely because they didn’t breastfeed, weren’t able to, or weren’t able to as long as is recommended. while i think breastfeeding is SO VERY IMPORTANT and should be fought for, i don’t think it’s a tool that should be used to cause shame for mothers who haven’t done it for whatever reason. but then, mommies are so very good at making each other feel inadequate.

    an interesting thought….i have a degree in art history and, as such, have seen quite a few paintings with a subject matter of “maria lactans” or mary nursing Jesus. it brought to mind the fact that humankind as a whole used to HAVE to be breastfed into their toddler years as there was no formula and it was the easiest and best way to feed a hungry baby. though i know being gay was very taboo prior to more recent times, i would think there would be at least some kind of sign that there were higher numbers of homosexuals around back then if breastfeeding into toddlerhood does in fact make children homosexual.

  44. Erin says:

    I know this is an old post, but I noticed it on your page and just had to read it. I’ve breastfed all four of my children [including twins] past the age of 30 months, stopping only when pregnant because they seemed to be ready to wean then. I’ve never once had any adverse reactions from people who have noticed me breastfeeding in public. Also, I think that for children, an early awareness of breasts [because of being breastfed] is a positive rather than negative influence.

  45. Jacqueline says:

    I just dicovered your blog not long ago and I love it! I just wrote about the same thing on my blog not too long ago. As much as I like to believe I have a thick skin it still irritates me and makes me feel self conscious when people talk about wierdos that breast feed past 12 months. My daughter is 13 months and shows no deisre at all to wean. I love that she’s getting all her vitamins through breast milk since her toddler diet is so crazy and I have two boobs that make perfectly good milk, why wouldn’t I give her natures perfect food? I’m pretty adamant about everyone making the best decision for their family and keeping all their good advice to themselves. I don’t tell people they are terrible mothers for formula feeding or not nursing past 12 months, us extended breastfeeders deserve the same respect. =)

  46. Sheila says:

    Jut thought I would add my two cents. I would tell anyone who has a problem with me breastfeeding my children for an extended time to [edited by Mommypotamus :)]. My 2 boys were nursed for 3 winters each. Neither of them went through the terrible twos, and they have grown into strong, independent and loving children who are not in the least bit clingy. And the whole sexuality argument is assanine. You can now buy thong bikinis and miniskirts for girls who I would still consider toddlers, and people are worried about the effect of extended breastfeeding on sexuality? Guess its easier than blaming the fact that you cannot go anywhere in this society without being bombarded by fake images of half naked bodies.

    Whew! Nice to get that off my chest! Seriousley, though, extended breastfeeding is the best. Even in colonial england they kept the kids with the wet nurse for at least 3 years.

  47. Dan says:

    One thing that I think extended breastfeeding may cause is oral fixations such as sucking fingers, smoking, chewing fingernails, etc. I use to suck my fingers when I was a child and now I am a smoker. I think that there is probably a positive correlation between late breastfeeding, and future oral fixation issues. Just a thought.

  48. Hi Heather!
    Just wanted to let you know that I wrote a blog post about breastfeeding today and I added an excerpt from this post. I also linked to this post. Thanks again for writing it!

    Love, Taryn

    P.S. You can see the blog post here:
    http://woolymossroots.blogspot.com/2012/05/breastfeeding-for-how-long.html

  49. Faye Hughes says:

    Can I ask does anyone have opinions or facts about extended breastfeeding and homosexuality?

    The reason I ask is firstly I’m still bf my 23 month old boy and a few nights ago I had a thought.

    This makes sense to me: Extended Breastfeeding means that your boy is less likely to turn out gay! it was only a thought but makes alot of sense to me. Think about it men are wired up differently than us women eh! they naturally need sex whereas women work emotionally so the breastfeeding a girl doesn’t apply. If a boy gets used to the comfort of breasts then when he’s older he’ll be wanting a wife not a boyfriend. Makes sense to me lol!

  50. Nicole says:

    I love the way you research your posts! Bfing is such a controversial topic, I am quite amused by. I delivered my first born in Germany and bfing there is supported. Every store has a nursing room and they don’t gasp when you do it in public. I do have to say that sex is less of a deal in Europe. They have free porn on tv late at night and the ads are soft porn (according to US standards) and still sex is NOT an issue.

    I must commend you on bfing for so long! My babies didn’t want anything to do with it much after 13 mo–as much as I wanted to keep it up! So kudos to you and congrats again on the new bean!

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