Naima is now 38 months and still nursing. The weaning has not been quite successful and because we are going on a long-haul three-week trip this summer, I don't want to be without my magical defense against hunger, boo-boos etc. - and thus, active weaning is temporarily on hold. After the challenges we faced in our early breastfeeding relationship, I never realized that we would still be nursing beyond 2 years old!
In the early days, I remember walking about topless - to air out my sore nipples and allow Naima easy and frequent access to milk. I didn't think what my relations thought (I lived with my aunt and her family back then). As Mi'Ann of Babymama shared, breasts became like feet - purely functional and, in my case, visible to everyone at home.
And as we reach the toddler nursing stage, I'm again faced with new challenges, such as how to be nice when answering statements as - "she's still nursing?!" or "you still have milk?" accompanied with an arched eyebrow and incredulous voice. Comments such as these started when Naima turned two and I get them everywhere - from my relatives, officemates, strangers, etc. etc. And I find it strange that I have to hear these comments when I see 4, 5, 6 year olds still being bottle-fed!
I had long been planning to share my thoughts on this matter and found the perfect opportunity when Mec suggested the topic for this month's carnival - how breastfeeding has changed me as a woman. Let me start by saying that when I was single, I probably had the same reaction as the people around me. I probably would have encouraged nursing moms to use their breastfeeding cover or lactation rooms in the mall. But all these changed when I had Naima.
So has breastfeeding changed me as a woman? Yes, I say but I'd like to add that breastfeeding has changed me also as a person and has opened my mind to the choices made by each individual. I've learned that some moms may say that they want to breastfeed but do not truly believe in it while others really tried their best but failed at it. I'd like to think that I've learned to keep my mouth shut in front of formula feeding moms and be more circumspect in my comments.
As much as I hate people coming up to me with that "she's still nursing?!" statement, I know that formula feeding moms or mixed feeding moms also feel upset when they hear comments about exclusive breastfeeding, etc. I try to keep my comments to a minimum, unless I am posting in this blog or on my Facebook page or attending a breastfeeding event. I believe that if you are on my blog FB page or at the breastfeeding event, then you are interested in breastfeeding and would be open to comments.
Whether or not you are a breastfeeding mom, this statement applies to you: "please think before you comment": When you talk to a nursing mom, don't ask her if her milk is enough or why her baby at age xx is still nursing. When you talk to a non-breastfeeding mom, don't ask her why she didn't breastfeed or go on about how breastfed babies are better, healthier than formula fed babies.
A lot of breastfeeding advocates may disagree with me but I still believe that breastfeeding is a choice. Rather than disparaging her choice not to breastfeed, let us educate the woman in making the choice. Like me, she may most likely not have been educated about breastfeeding or exposed to the formula-feeding culture. Again, before you comment about that breastfeeding picture or that nursing toddler or that formula feeding mom, think before you open your mouth. And if you've got nothing nice to say, then don't say anything.
Happy International Women's Month, everyone!
Do check out the posts of other Milk Mama Diaries Carnival Participants: