The Prejudice Against Extended Nursing

Extended nursing is when a mother breastfeeds her baby past one year of age. This is neither irregular nor unhealthy, although many mothers in America are hesitant to do it. Perhaps it is our modern, western ideology that marginalizes women who choose to breastfeed for an extended amount of time. Mothers nurse their children for an extended time in other countries and have done so for centuries.

It doesn’t even make since to call nursing past one year “extended”. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a mother breastfeed her child for at least one year. Note the operative phrase “at least”. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization recommends at least two years of breastfeeding! So why are women judged for nursing their toddlers? This notion that babies should be somehow trained to be independent and self-sufficient is a popular one in America. (ex: Cry It Out method)

While anyone with a modicum of education knows that breastfeeding is best for a baby, mothers are still treated like pariahs if it becomes known that they are still nursing their toddlers. These bigoted people are obviously ignorant to the fact that the bond between mother and nursling is incredibly strong and serious. Weaning can be psychologically devastating for both parties if it isn’t done at the right time. Also, children lose out on immunities if they are weaned early.

It really isn’t as strange as it sounds to the modern world: women have been doing this naturally since the dawn of the species. Perhaps it is something deeper than that. Why would people see this as a weird act if it has been scientifically proven to be advantageous to the child? No one is proposing that a woman breastfeeds until her children leave for college or anything. Maybe people are dealing with some subconscious psychosexual problems.

Let’s look at it from this standpoint: we live in a society obsessed with sex. That is what it boils down to; everyone wants instant, carnal pleasure in this country. Why else would breastfeeding mothers be made to feel uneasy or ashamed to nurse in public? This is what breasts are made for, for God’s sake. In spite of this fact, actual legislation had to be passed to protect mothers from being restricted in their breastfeeding. Laws actually had to be passed stating that a woman is free to breastfeed in any public place that she is allowed in. Why? Because people think of breasts as sexual, not functional.

Extended breastfeeding isn’t for everyone. It takes a lot of commitment and flexibility on behalf of the mother. Plus, you will probably have to deal with unsolicited comments made by friends, family, and even strangers. That’s a lot of adversity to contend with. Please don’t let this prejudice prevent you from making the right decision for you. Maybe you want to wean at six months, maybe at 24 months, the choice is yours to make!

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