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.