Written as a submission for the April carnival of Breastfeeding, hosted by Blacktating.
When I set out to breastfeed my daughter, we planned on going up to one year, on the advice of my OB/GYN. In Belgium, breastfeeding beyond 3 months, when mothers take up work again, is already considered extended, going up to six months is really long. Beyond that... is straight out weird.
At that point I thought so too, but if breastfeeding up to a year would be good for my child, specifically considering I had gestational diabetes, why not offer her the best start imaginable.
|Detail "Let The Children Come To Me", Lucas Cranach|
Over those years I read a lot, learned a lot and came to the conclusion that our nursing relationship would continue until she decides to quit.
It also became clear that a lot of women end their breastfeeding relationship because they don't see breastfeeding beyond a certain point as appropriate, or because they don't know how to juggle breastfeeding and work, or they lack support to nurse beyond a certain point.
Every culture has established its own arbitrary age up to which which breastfeeding is considered 'normal' and everything beyond that is 'extended'. Resulting to such language only makes it clear that you are indeed doing something out of the ordinary, something that is not considered 'normal'.
If we seek to normalize breastfeeding, specifically beastfeeding beyond that arbitrary point in your child's life, we should avoid using terms as 'extended', 'long term' or 'prolonged'.
Calling it 'extended' breastfeeding is not supportive, it is not motivating, as it suggests going against the grain. It needlessly singles out women who have just lactated on beyond an arbitrary moment in time.
We, lactivists, bloggers who promote breastfeeding, nursing mothers, should refrain from using these terms. In an effort to normalize breastfeeding beyond infancy, or any breastfeeding at all, watch your language!
Read some of the other posts: