I'm getting so sick of those breastfeeding mothers, always trying to get something out of it for themselves. That's why they do it beyond three/six/nine months (or at all), right? The oxytocin high? The codependency addiction?
If I have any small denomination of currency every time I heard someone say that a mother who breastfeeds beyond *insert some arbitrary length of time* is only doing it for herself, I'd be a little better off than I am now (especially if you include all the people who say that they heard someone say it to someone else and they're relaying it to me as proof that it must be true).
I've got questions, and if you take the above stance, you ain't gonna like them. But sit tight and hear me out.
There are two problems with this ridiculous accusation. Firstly, extended breastfeeding isn't a symptom of a mother's deteriorating mental state, or some kind of codependency issue, it's the global norm. It's not even actually "extended", it's just breastfeeding. It's a mother and child suckling for as long as each feels comfortable doing so, and sometimes it isn't comfort but necessity that drives the decision to nurse to full term (that means when the child isn't interested in nursing anymore - and yes, that's often way after they've grown teeth and started to (my other favourite) *ask for it*)).
Secondly - and this is something that seems to have passed everyone by in the (non-) row about breastfeeding and appropriate weaning age - what IF the mother enjoys breastfeeding? WHAT IF she doesn't resent it, doesn't long for weaning-day to come, doesn't do it in private so that no one else knows about it (ie. doesn't do it 'modestly')? WHAT IF SHE LIKES IT?!
Well, what if indeed. What would be so up with a woman enjoying the fact that her child still gets comfort from nursing? What would be so crazy about a mother getting comfort from it, too? Why is the cultural consensus that if a woman (particularly a mother, for god's sake) gets something out of it, actually likes breastfeeding, then there must be something wrong with it and it should stop immediately before someone gets hurt? Why are we so determined that a mother must be a martyr in the breastfeeding relationship?
There are many reasons a mum might find it in her own interest to continue the nursing relationship to it's natural conclusion: easy nutrition, convenience, discipline, bonding, connection, reconnection after a long day apart (to name a few of the biggies).
Why are we, as a culture, creeped out by the idea of a woman wholeheartedly enjoying breastfeeding? We're uncomfortable at the suggestion that a woman might exercise such autonomy over her body that she breastfeeds beyond infancy and might actually LIKE DOING SO.
When asked, "who are you doing it for?" Why is it not okay to say, 'for me! It's all for me!' (accidentally paraphrasing the nanny from The Omen)? Why should a mother NOT be allowed to take something from that relationship? Why does the idea that one might not want to stop breastfeeding imply something illict or sexual?
Oh yeh, because that's what boobs are really for. The sooner they're over the breastfeeding thing, the sooner they can get back to their regular job of just, y'know, sitting still and looking pretty and perhaps making a few men a lot of money. Silly me.
Originally published at www.attachmentfeminism.com