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7 Responses To People Who Question Extended Breastfeeding

Daja February 27, 2017
Extended Breastfeeding

(adapted from this original photo)

By Daja, contributing writer

Unsolicited Advice and Opinions About Extended Breastfeeding

It never fails. When you become a mother you open yourself up to the unsolicited advice and opinions of others. These cover a wide array of topics from what to eat while pregnant, where and how to give birth, and even what to name your baby.

Perhaps nothing invites the input of others like your toddler reaching up his chubby little arms, being cradled in your arms and then him reaching down your shirt for boobies. You may be only too happy to oblige, after all, you know how good it is for him and you know how healthy and happy he is. You have a great bond with your child and, hey, it’s even helping you to space your children! But, then comes the comments….

And you may be taken aback. You may be left at a loss for words. You may feel angry or indignant. You may be embarrassed. You may have an expletive or two at the tip of your tongue. But, with a little forethought, you can be ready with an apt reply for every situation.

I’ve arranged these responses in order according to their level of snark: Snarky (for those people who kind of need to be put in their place), Truthful (a neutral response that works in a variety of contexts) and Open (for those situations where someone is genuinely interested in dialogue and learning). You decide which works for you.

How long are you going to let him keep breastfeeding?

Snarky: I figure when he goes to college, I can just pump and mail it to him.

Truthful: That’s none of your business.

Open: Actually most primates don’t start weaning their young until the grow their molars. For a human that is between 14 and 28 months. (source) We’ve decided to watch for the baby’s cues as to when he is ready to stop. It’s called baby-led-weaning.

I heard that breastmilk isn’t even that nutritious after a year anyway.

Snarky: You’re probably right. I should get the baby some milk from a cow who has been lactating for a year, then the milk pasteurized and homogenized, and it’s been on the grocery shelf for 3 weeks. That’s more nutritious, I’m sure.

Truthful: That’s none of your business.

Open: Actually, breastmilk changes significantly over time as my body responds to my baby’s growth and needs. My breastmilk is not the same now as it was in the beginning. It’s not even the same as it will be next week. Whatever my baby needs, my body is capable of producing. Isn’t that wonderful? (source)

Extended Breastfeeding

I think once a baby is old enough to ask for it, they don’t need it anymore.

Snarky: I had laryngitis once and couldn’t ask for food using words. I’m mighty glad I didn’t starve.

Truthful: That’s none of your business.

Open: Actually, my baby has been asking for it since the first moments of life outside the womb. She just didn’t use words yet, but she was definitely an effective communicator from the beginning. Now that she is learning to articulate her needs, I want to be sure that I respond and model for her how the people who love her should respond to her needs. That’s a lesson she’ll need her whole life. When we communicate our needs, those that love us that have the ability to meet our needs, should respond in love and generosity.

Aren’t you worried that he’ll remember breastfeeding when he gets older?

Snarky: You know, you’re right. I better pick up a Playboy today so he can have an objectified and overly sexualized memory of breasts from the beginning.

Truthful: That’s none of your business.

Open: The purpose of breasts is to nourish babies. I hope my children always know the purpose of breasts are not primarily to entertain sexual partners, but to love and nourish their young.

Aren’t you worried that you’re spoiling her?

Snarky: Of all the things that keep up at night, that comes right after worrying about the plot holes in The Matrix.

Truthful: That’s none of your business.

Open: I don’t think it’s possible to spoil a person with love.

If you don’t wean him soon, it’ll be too late.

Snarky: Holy nursing bras, Batman! I’m going to be nursing forever!

Truthful: That’s none of your business.

Open: No worries, the worldwide average for weaning is between 4-5. (source) Babies stop when they are ready–physically, socially, and emotionally.

Doesn’t it bother your husband/partner to have to share?

Snarky: Oh, I didn’t realize my body was no longer my own. I better call him and see if it’s OK for me to feed his child.

Truthful: That’s really none of your business.

Open: My husband knows that breastfeeding is the best thing for all of us. It’s keeping the baby healthy, lowering my risk of breast cancer, ecologically spacing our children and so much more. (source) Plus, he’s not a selfish man. He wants what is best for all of us.

When people question you about extended breastfeeding

The truth is, mama, that the opinions of others don’t matter. If you are happy with your breastfeeding relationship, if your child is happy with the breastfeeding relationship–well that’s all that matters! If you choose to answer questions from strangers and friends, that is up to you. If you prefer to keep your thoughts and feelings to yourself, again, that is your choice. You owe them nothing.

If you were my friend or neighbor I’d pour you a cup of tea, listen to you vent, and tell you: Hang in there mama! You’re doing very important work.

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Daja is the happy wife of Gana and the mother of nine amazing children. She's bookish and easily distracted and has too many ideas and not enough time. She writes about family life, preparedness, natural health, liturgical living over at The Provision Room, your source of abundant home-centered living!
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8 Comments

  1. I would be tempted to use the snarky answers but I would always use the open answers. I think for the most part people are just curious (but ‘that’s non of your business’ is also a really good answer)

    Reply

  2. Such an insightful post. Love your snarky replies, peppering humour into this very important topic. Thanks for sharing your ideas.

    Reply

  3. These are great responses! I nursed each of my kids to 14 mo, 12 mo, 3 years, and 4 years respectively and don’t regret it for a second!

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  4. Thanks for giving me and others a different perspective. Really how you raise your children is no ones business. I’d be tempted to ask what bills in your house they are paying to give suck unsolicited advise!

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  5. Haha! Some of these snarky answers are great! We had some of these questions while nursing our last child, but trusting what I’m doing is best for my child makes all those comments worth it! 😉

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  6. Had to laugh at a couple of those snarky answers! 😉

    Reply

  7. I LOVE THIS!!! I am an extended breastfeeding mom and I have heard a lot of those questions. I love these answers! The snarky ones are awesome and I really love the truth and open ones.

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  8. Your open answers are wonderful. (Love them all.) Yep, extended breast feeder right here. Those were wonderful years. I’m not sorry to add: extended breast feeding is also lovely emotionally for some mamas (me). I loved the close time with my babies, when I could rest and bond with them, and they could bond and be nourished.

    Reply

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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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