8 Extended Breastfeeding Stereotypes That Just Aren’t True

Before I had children of my own, I was a judgemental jerk regarding breastfeeding. I had zero understanding of how it operated. Well, I was aware that it was natural and healthy. But I found nursing after a year to be incredibly strange. I’ve never wanted to nurse. Because, let’s face it, that’s how the early days seem, maybe some ladies have a strong want to drop their nipples into a pencil sharpener every two to three hours, but that wasn’t the case for me.

Instead, I wanted to breastfeed because I believed it was best for my son. We were lucky. He successfully latched on in his first attempt, mere minutes after he exited my body, and my supply was bountiful. I assumed I’d wean. First, at 3 months. Then 6, 9. As friends’ tots self-weaned, we just kept going. And haven’t stopped. My son is now days away from his second birthday, and I’ve become the most reluctant breastfeeding mom of a toddler. My old judgmental ways have come back to bite me now. I’m open about breastfeeding on social media and in real life because I hope it will help other moms not feel so alone. This level of transparency has brought me support and new friendships. Along with scrutiny, shame, and stereotyping.

Here’s a compilation of some of the things people say about extended breastfeeding moms, and why they’re all untrue:

  1. She’s selfish. People say I do this for me. Which part? Monitoring what I eat and drink to ensure it’s compatible? Perhaps they mean the times I’ve had bronchitis and was unable to take one of the medications recommended?
  2. She’s lazy. Yes, weaning takes work. So does breastfeeding a toddler. I’ve had to develop acrobatic skills to adapt. Nursing often involves my son contorting into a pretzel-like position, usually with a foot in my face. It’s a physically exhausting endeavor.
  3. She wants attention. Trust me, I don’t want the type of attention that comes with this. I’ve received numerous penis photos from online “friends.” Even a few choice videos. Lucky me.
  4. She’s no longer providing her child with nutritional benefits. Don’t even try me on this one. I had my milk analyzed in a lab.
  5. She’s a pervert. Breasts were intended for breastfeeding, hence the presence of milk ducts. Society has turned them into sexual objects. I find nothing sexual about the act of feeding my child. Making breastfeeding sexual is on you, not me.
  6. She’s crunchy. “Are you vegan?” someone once asked upon learning my son was “still” nursing. “I ate steak last night,” I replied. “Soy?” they asked. “Cow,” I answered. I had to end it there and declare that I wasn’t vegan, nor vegetarian. You can’t define breastfeeding moms, or narrow us down by character or personality traits.
  7. She’s nursing a 12-year-old. I think the term “extended breastfeeding” causes confusion. It’s technically nursing past infancy, or past age 1. My son is 2. Not 22. I generally refer to it as “toddler nursing.”
  8. She’s shameless. I wish. I’m okay with the sides of my breast being exposed, but I still keep my nipple covered. I’ve also been known to cringe and turn beet red when my son asks for “boobies” instead of “milk” in public.

All these points lead to an inevitable question: why don’t I stop breastfeeding? The thing is that I don’t want to. I just want to stop being judged and insulted. Because what I do with my life and my nipples is nobody else’s business.

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