With the coverage we have given breastfeeding in this blog, we couldn’t not comment on the recent TIME magazine cover showing a mother nursing her 3-year-old son. The headline: Are You Mom Enough?”. The photo and article have generated lots of discussion, pro and con, about long-term breastfeeding and the larger issue of attachment parenting – a “stay close” philosophy that also advocates bed-sharing with kids.
The cover got skewered on Saturday Night Live and was called a “shocking stroke of genius” by the Los Angeles Times. The mom, Jamie Grumet, told ABC News, “"The statement that I wanted to make was this is a normal option for your child and it should not be stigmatized. I'm never saying this is for everybody, but it should be something that's accepted."
Attachment parenting isn’t easy. True confession: I tried bed-sharing many years ago, but stopped when I read ahead in my copy of Dr. Sear’s The Baby Book to a section that, at least in my sleep-deprived state, seemed to be saying not to worry, my child would be out of our bed by age 7. AGE SEVEN? I love my kid, but she was back in the bassinet after that. (I’m glad I did, with what I know now about the risks for babies.) But I continued to breastfeed well past her first birthday.
As regular readers of this blog know, we’re big breastfeeding advocates here. Back in March, we asked readers to share their breastfeeding-in-public stories. This is a great time to share my favorites:
On the steps of The Supreme Court: Well, I briefly nursed my baby daughter on the steps of the Supreme Court in Washington, DC, until I was asked to move. It was not the nursing, it was just that no one is allowed to sit on the steps for any reason! I would have stayed awhile and nursed her twin sister too if I had been allowed. When there are hungry twins, you sit down wherever you can and nurse! My girls are now 16, and very healthy and bright, thanks in part to the sacrifices made to breastfeed them. — Melanie M.R.
At restaurants, on the train: I was sitting at a table outside the Earl of Sandwich at Disney World's Pleasure Island with a blanket over myself. A man sat next to me and started asking if I enjoyed breastfeeding and did it make me uncomfortable to do it outside. I just remember thinking to myself, "I'm only uncomfortable with complete strangers asking me if I enjoy it." Other places include while dining at OUTBACK restaurant with family, I refused to go out to the car. Oh, and on an AMTRAK train to Orlando, my son was only 2 weeks old and I felt like there were eyes on me all the time while I was breastfeeding. — BeckyN
During a parade and while dancing: I breastfed my toddler in a parade, and also while performing a contra dance on stage for a New York State celebration in Kingston (1975 or 1976). There was a photograph of the dance performance on the front page of a local newspaper. While the other dancers knew I was breastfeeding, one looking at the picture probably wouldn't have known. I got very adept at switching sides during a dance! — nleeguitar
Everywhere ... except this spot: Everywhere, discreetly, including at church, at work, in restaurants, but never in the bathroom. I don't eat in the bathroom, why should my kids? — Jane Von Bergen
In a car dealership and beyond: I have breastfed my three-month-old at my older children's schools, at McMenamin's in Mount Airy, at Frankford Hall in Fishtown, at the Toyota dealership in Ardmore. I discreetly breastfed my son when he is hungry, no matter where that might be. I always look for a discreet place, but I do not intentionally hide. I dind anti-breastfeeding-in-public conversations highly offensive and insensitive. What is the big deal? Babies have to eat. Is it our culture's sexualization of the female breast that causes some people to have such a visceral reaction to the image of child breastfeeding? Should mothers and breastfeeding babies be prisoners in their homes until the baby stops breastfeeding all together? Breastfeeding is a choice, a very healthy one, that mothers are encouraged to make. Furthermore, mothers are asked to sustain the breastfeeding relationship for as long as possible to help best protect baby's health. — kszumanski