Christ it’s all going down today. This morning a mother went onto This morning on itv to talk about why she still breastfeeds her 6 year old.
To me this woman is selfless and brave. She knew that people wouldn’t understand but thought her point was important enough to put herself in the firing line. The breastfeeding support forums have been buzzing today with anger and upset at the comments (DON’T READ THE COMMENTS! )(sorry it’s just a thing we say to try to stop troll-feeding) that members of the public are making, but for some people even close friends too.
We’re back to that classic issue of the anonymity and removed nature of the Internet comment section. The concept that you can say basically anything you like with no repercussion. But it goes deeper than that. It seems that most adults in the UK feel at best uncomfortable with the concept of breastfeeding a six year old. At worst they think it’s “disgusting” and “perverted” and “akin to child abuse”. There is something very inherently wrong with this societal view. In most issues, I’m a fence sitter nature but there are some things I just can’t understand.
The benefits of extended breastfeeding are well documented. Anyone who says there is no benefit to the child at this age may want to do some research on the subject. I’ve talked before about the sexualisation of breasts (in fact my Samsung Mobile Phone will not automatically let me type the word breast and tries to auto correct to the hilarious “beast” or the factual “breastfeeding”) in the western world particularly. Some people say that the only benefit is to the mother. Whilst many mothers enjoy natural term feeding that’s not to say it’s easy. From latch issues from brand new babyhood all the way through to each new tooth, babies touching and fiddling and scratching and pinching and doing gymnastics and waking every 90 mins, mums feeling “touched out” (fed up of being attached to the child all the time)…. I stand by my word when I say that mother is selfless to do that for six years.
But how do we change opinion? The Daily Mirror were running a poll for their (no doubt open minded, liberal and well read) readers to find out what % of then thought it was right to feed a 6 year old. When I received a link to it and voted, over 87% said that it wasn’t right. How do we tackle this?
I for one absolutely refuse to apologise or hide breastfeeding. I feed in public wherever we need to. I talk about breastfeeding in normal everyday conversations with friends, family and colleagues because it is normal and the more we normalise the more we enable others to build their confidence to realise it’s normal and do the same.