If breastfeeding is the second-best thing, love being first, you can give to your baby, why is it so controversial? The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests breastfeeding until the child reaches age two, but one should prepare themselves for the stares and judgement if breastfeeding past 12 months.
Being an African American woman, I especially felt the ridicule breastfeeding my son until he was almost two … 20 months to be exact. A lot of it came from family and friends but the question is why? They acted like I was Lysa Arryn off Game of Thrones. Like seriously? What is perverse about providing your child with liquid gold? Did you know that breastfeeding rates in the African American community are significantly lower than other racial groups? According to the CDC, there is a 16% disparity between black and white moms, and I’m sure the rate tanks if comparing black and white moms that breastfeed after 12 months. I wanted to say, get the hell off my back, I’m helping the stats!
The WHO recommends “After the first 6 months, to meet their evolving nutritional requirements, infants should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods while breastfeeding continues for up to 2 years of age or beyond.” According to the New York Times, “In many parts of the world, for instance, it’s perfectly normal for mothers to openly nurse a child who’s 2 or 3. And while it’s true that fewer than 16% of moms in the United States are still nursing at 18 months, longer nursing is more common in certain pockets of the country”. Pockets with highly educated moms to be more specific.
So let’s get into it!
Breast milk contains antibodies that help protect against viruses & bacteria, provides ideal nutrition, and studies have shown a direct correlation to intelligence and breast-fed babies. But if this is the case, why is breastfeeding after a certain infant age frowned upon? One is the mis-education and misconception of breastfeeding in many communities. There’s also blatant ignorance, but another factor could be breastfeeding in public. This was a point of contention in my marriage because public breastfeeding embarrassed my husband, but it empowered me. I was covered, yet proud to provide my child’s sustenance. However, I had to find a compromise. One of the compromises was finding a secluded location to nurse. Another was bringing a bottle and attempting that first, before just pulling the nipple out. And finally, it took nonjudgmental conversations between my husband and me.
I guess, I am writing to provide emotional support for breast feeding mamas. There are so many stats to support the logic behind breastfeeding to whatever age, but there’s not a lot of stats to support the emotion behind breastfeeding especially beyond 12 months. Simply because its hard to quantify an emotion. But I’m right here with you girl! As your support! Please, “F”orget the haters and keep breastfeeding your child, even if the haters are your own family!
A mom named Ama