Friday, February 20, 2009

Need to get it off my chest

Let me start by saying that I don't normally blog about topics such as this and do not claim to be an expert on any of this (but I have done a bit of research). My heart is just very heavy with all that is going on and the reality that faces the mothers and other people in Africa dealing with malaria.
There has been controversy lately on this video, in particular the part where Salma Hayek nurses a sick 7 day old African baby boy. I will admit that it was a bit shocking that she did that but I would say that has a lot to do with the stigma about nursing and the selfishness that is so widespread here in America. I will say though that as a nursing mother and a compassionate human being I think I would have done something similar in the circumstances. What surprises me though is how outraged so many people were about the cross nursing section of the video and how that also spawned much maliciousness toward Ms. Hayek and other mothers who continue to nurse their babies past the traditional 1 year max that has become so common. Seriously, people were just mean! One phychiatrist went as far as to say that her continued breastfeeding was SELFISH and bordered on SEXUAL CHILD ABUSE!!! What?! I knew that a lot of people didn't agree with it but to say that when the World Health Organization says they recommend breastfeeding until two years or more and even the American Academy of Pediatrics has said that infants should be breastfed until at least 12 months and then after that as long is as mutually desired.
This article goes over some frequently debated points against continuing to breastfeed, such as whether it will create an increased dependency in the child, that the benefits of the milk decrease after 6 to 12 months. As for the sexuality of breastfeeding/breasts, that is something that our culture has created and that is definitely not the way babies look at them. They see them as a source of food and comfort and if someone is worried about a baby older than 12 months seeing them in a sexual way - I think that the concern shouldn't be based on the breastfeeding but what we as a culture are teaching our young ones.
I have personally seen the benefits of breastfeeding firsthand with my daughter. She has been exposed to sick people many times without showing any sickness herself. She has beautiful soft skin and is a very bright energetic child! She also is very attached to PEOPLE, not things, but people... and she has increasingly become more and more independent as she grows. At this point I don't know how long I will continue to nurse but I do know that I choose the health and other benefits that it provides for my daughter over what people think and say based on what society has programmed into them. I wish that more people would stop, think and go look at the results of research for themselves instead of always trusting what mainstream is telling them.
Okay, I have to stop... I don't feel much better though, because I know that babies in Africa are going to keep dying unless things change - one of them being breastfeeding and also because I know that I am likely to be subject of people telling me that I should not be breastfeeding anymore in varying degrees and I will be left feeling torn about the decision I am making when I shouldn't be because I know in my heart AND in my head that it is the right decision for me.


  1. oh, bonnie. i was just with two different new moms this weekend. with two different parenting styles and two very different babies.

    one mom is very into the 'schedule' thing. if it's not 'time' for the baby to eat, there is no way that the baby could be hungry. if the baby has been held for a while (15 minutes or so), the baby needs to be put down so as not to become spoiled. this baby just has a sort of fussy, unsettled air.

    the other mom is very into feeding when baby is hungry - no matter when baby last ate. this baby was held most of the evening by a variety of people at the get-together. this baby is very contented.

    hmmm. you do what you want to do - what works for you and your little girl and your husband.

    my husband wasn't super comfortable with the whole nursing thing, though he was very supportive. i knew nursing was really good for my kiddos - though i didn't LOVE doing it, like some moms i know. i nursed each of my kids for about 7 months. BUT, they both got held and loved and snuggled by both my husband and i a LOT. that is what worked for us.

    like i said, you need to do what works for you.

    i guess, for me, once kids can walk up to their mom and ask to nurse with a full sentence - that is strange for me. but, i also know that there are lots of moms who nurse well past that point. if a close friend of mine ever nursed that long, i would just have a lot of curious questions. not judgemental, or mean, but just curious. just like i ask a lot of questions to my friends and sisters who have had natural births, as i had two c-sections. it's something i haven't experienced, and i am a curious person.

    on the 'cross-nursing' thing - i have a friend who does foster care, and when her first was just a few months old, she and her husband had a newborn foster-child for about two weeks. she nursed that little girl, right along with her little guy. and i guess you would call that cross-nursing because those two babies weren't the same color as each other . . . but that tiny foster baby got some good breast milk for her first two weeks of life . . .

    so, that is my long comment.
    have a good day, Bonnie. and keep enjoying being a mom to your lovely Evie.

  2. HI Bonnie,
    First of al I found your blog from a comment you made in PhD in Parenitng because I identified with what you said. Then I read this post of yours and couldn't agree with you more.
    The history of breastfeeding has a lot to teach us moms today. When a mother couldn't nurse her children back in the days before formula it wasn't at all seen as odd or wrong or abusive to find a wet nurse. It was the only choice a mom had to ensure the survival of her baby. Either that or she had to turn to goat or cow's milk. Formula of course was not an option. Now I am glad in our society toady we have the choice to use formula when needed but I do beleive it is a choice that is abused more often than not. If only 5% of moms truly can't produce sufficient milk then all the other ones are choosing to use formula, for whatever reasons, lack of info, lack of proper support, etc, they are still making a chouce.
    I hope you might consider visitng my bf'ing blog where I think you may feel quite at home.
    I love your blog. It is so nice to meet likeminded and other breastfeeding moms.
    Have a great day!