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Stephanie Brandt Cornais

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What Nursing a Toddler Really Looks Like

Posted: 05/18/2012 5:02 pm

If we forget for a moment the absurdity of the question "Are You Mom Enough?"on the recent cover of TIME magazine and focus on the actual image, it is still total absurdity. (By the way, yes, I am mom enough. We all are. And us moms send you, TIME Magazine, a collaborative middle finger for even asking that.)

If the point of the article was to normalize breastfeeding and make it not so shocking by sharing images of women breastfeeding, then they should have picked a different picture, like this one:

2012-05-18-toddlerbreastfeeding1096.jpg

But we all know they weren't trying to normalize breastfeeding, they were trying to sell magazines. And as a business woman, I get that they are trying to stay in business. And I get that sex sells, in fact, I had a hard time finishing the article because I could not peel myself away from 50 Shades of Grey.

As a mom who nurses a 2.5 year old daughter, not once I have I hoisted her up in a chair and stood there nursing her with my hand on my hip, looking all sexy and hot. In defense of the cover model and her son, toddlers do like to do silly things and be playful while nursing and I do think TIME took advantage of her and twisted something that is beautiful into something that is shocking.

In response to her pose, which I felt did not represent what breastfeeding a toddler really looks like, I posted this picture of me and my daughter nursing on my blog's Facebook page. When I first saw the photo my husband had taken, I was in awe of how peaceful, happy and content my daughter looked. I had just gotten home from working and she immediately wanted to nurse upon seeing me. When we have been away from each other, nursing is a nice and easy way we can reconnect and deepen our bond with each other. I love that her eyes are closed and she is fully present, soaking up all all the sweetness and love the moment offered her. I love that her chubby little hand is cupping my breast. Nothing sexual in the slightest, it is a pure expression of contentment for her.

When I posted my picture on my blog's Facebook page, I was shocked by the reactions of people. 90% of the people commented in a way that I expected, especially since my blog is a natural lifestyle blog and people know I am still nursing my daughter. They thought it was beautiful. But 10% said some ridiculous things. Like that it was "gross" and "disgusting" and that my daughter "should be eating whole foods and learning her ABC's, not still breastfeeding" Seriously? Take a good hard look at the picture. If anyone thinks that picture is gross, something indeed is seriously wrong with them. If extended breastfeeding is not right for your family, that is cool with me, but don't say it's gross. And the comment about food and abc's just made me laugh. Are you for real? Nursing a toddler is mostly for comfort and to give them the equivalent of a immunologically powerful multi-vitamin. So of course, my daughter eats full meals and snacks of real food through out the day. And as for her ABC's, well, she knew them front and back at 18 months. So there.

When I asked Bettina Forbes and Danielle Rigg, the founders of Best For Babes Foundation, how they felt about the TIME magazine cover, they said:

The TIME cover has blown the lid off the sore subject of breastfeeding, starting a much-needed conversation about what is 'NORMAL' for human babies and revealing the grim truth about how millions of moms annually try to breastfeed and fail because they are Booby Trapped. It also is working to desensitize our breastfeeding squeamish society to breasts being used as a source of nourishment for our young., The fact is that human babies are anatomically built to nurse well into toddlerhood -- even early childhood. Even their one-size-fits-all 'button- noses' keep their shape to around the age of 5, permitting easy dining up against a breast. All parents deserve to make informed feeding and weaning decisions based on the evidence, and all moms should be applauded for any amount of time that they breastfeed. We aren't saying moms SHOULD breastfeed for 3-4 years, only that they SHOULDN'T be shamed for breastfeeding to what is considered a 'normal' age in cultures where breastfeeding is valued and celebrated.

I agree that although I do not like the cover photo TIME magazine chose, the magazine has at least started a national conversation about extended breastfeeding. I can only hope that despite the hoopla and negativity, mother's everywhere find the courage to follow their hearts and their instincts about what is right for their family, no matter their decision. That they look past the incredulously question that TIME magazine asks and the absurdity of the cover photo and that they know deep in their bellies, that they are in fact enough and that extended breastfeeding is normal.

 

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