Monday, March 7, 2011

What’s the Problem with Toddler Nursing?

This weekend at music class, my toddler was not quite himself. He was probably tired. Right in the middle of music class, he requested to nurse, which he NEVER does. I tried to distract him but he insisted, so I left the circle and faced a corner and sat and nursed him. He looked very drowsy and nursed all throughout a song with chimes and into the next song with some jingle bells. I turned and leaned against the wall so I was more comfortable. Plus, I didn’t want to make it look like I felt I was doing something horrible that needed to be hidden from view! Eventually he was done nursing and wanted to join the song.

During the two closing songs he asked to nurse again, so I backed up out of the circle and leaned up against the wall to nurse my out-of-sorts kid. I felt a little self conscious because I’d never seen anyone breastfeed in the class before, plus there were several dads there, but hey, this is Fairfield County CT, land of overachievers, and nursing is an “in” thing to do. I have actually gotten the sense over the past year that in this health-conscious, even slightly crunchy community, nursing an older baby- and even a toddler- is something people admire.

At the end of the class, the teacher, who I love, came over and said, “I think it’s so great that you’re nursing him. It’s so good for them. They get everything they need.”
I said something awkward like, “Well, it’s just easy! Although today I’m not wearing my proper clothes for it.” (I’d had to struggle with my regular bra and two layers of shirts.)
“Oh, but you were discreet,” she said, which made me realize that I sounded apologetic, which I didn’t mean to do, but I did feel a little awkward about broaching the non-nursing precedent that had been set in my 9 months or so of attending these classes. I was so happy that she took the time to make sure I knew she approved of my actions; I needed that boost. In the past two days I’ve gotten a couple negative comments about nursing, and her approval has buoyed me when I felt down.

And, on the way out the door of music class, I saw- for the first time ever!- another mom leaning against the wall nursing her baby. I truly think my nursing Q was part of why she decided to nurse her baby there instead of going to her car, and I feel good about that.

The negative comments I’ve gotten about nursing an almost 2 year old are from people who I see regularly and who are involved in Q’s life, so I don’t want to name them. I do feel they are greatly misinformed in their thinking that nursing prevents Q from “growing up,” and I believe it’s right to keep nursing him as long as he wants, but it does hurt my feelings. I don’t want people to think negatively of anything I do, especially the way I parent. It also frustrates me that people would think negatively of such a loving, caring thing as breastfeeding. I try to educate people about how nursing a toddler is normal and beneficial, but ultimately I have to accept that I can’t always have everyone’s approval if I’m doing something that’s outside the mainstream.

I’m glad I nursed in music class on Saturday; if I hadn’t, I would not have received the positive comment from my teacher that balanced out the negative feedback I received over the following 48 hours.

Here's a fact sheet on nursing a toddler and why it's so awesome.


seekingmother said...

Doing what is best for your child will always set a good example. Keep following your instincts as they have served Q well.

Tell those that criticize to take a closer look at their comments. Providing nurturance and sustanance through breast feeding does not hinder a child from growing. I think it is quite the opposite. They grow up with a senese of being loved and tended to and this in turn allows them to be more focused and grounded in themselves.

I love your blog and hope to see more posts in this new year. You are endlessly informative and entertaining.

MarathonMom said...

I think that's great that you can keep up enough of a supply to go that long. Personally I made it 1 year and then ~10 months back in the day. Yay for you! While we are also Pro-BF here in the south - 1 year is the "golden rule". You would get more than your fair share of comments after a year.

Julie said...

I admire you for doing it for this long. I hope I didn't offend the other night by offering Q "distraction food"!

Keva @Mamachickx4 said...

I'm still nursing my 16th month old and I get afew remarks and stares...but I don't let it bother me one bit. Keep up the good work mama.