The Battle for the Benefits of Extended Breastfeeding

by Sarah Healthy Pregnancy, Baby & ChildComments: 189

are you mom enoughWhy is it that mothers have to constantly battle for their right to breastfeed in public, particularly breastfeeding of toddlers, without being made to feel ashamed?

In the most recent violation of breastfeeding rights, Facebook pulled photos of breastfeeding Moms off the page of Kristi Kemp and locked her out of her account. Facebook has since apologized for its actions and reinstated Ms. Kemp’s page.

Ms. Kemp maintains a Facebook page called “Breastfeeding/Mama Talk” where she helps others overcome the stigma of breastfeeding in public.  She herself stopped breastfeeding after only 3 months because she felt embarrassed.

Ms. Kemp explains:

“When I started the page, women kept coming to me saying how embarrassed they were, how ashamed they were to breastfeed in public,  and I realized it was a bigger issue than what I even imagined.”

Indeed, women seem to have to constantly battle to breastfeed in public.

Who could forget the 2006 incident where Emily Gillette made national headlines for being booted off a Delta flight because she refused to cover up while breastfeeding her one year old daughter?

Breastfeeding can be challenging enough for a new Mom learning the ropes without the disapproval and finger wagging of a misinformed, squirmy public.

While breastfeeding tiny infants in public seems to be fairly well accepted, the older a child gets, the less tolerant the public becomes should a woman choose to continue nursing.

The Battle for Public Acceptance of Extended Breastfeeding

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of a child’s life and then continuing at least until the child’s first birthday with mother and child maintaining the breastfeeding relationship beyond this point as long as mutually desired.

I personally chose to breastfeed my 3 children well beyond their first birthday, breastfeeding my first two children until about 24 months.  My third child self weaned a few months before she turned 4 years old.

I am well aware of the stigma attached to mothers who breastfeed toddlers!  More than once I received dirty looks from people while breastfeeding my children in a restaurant or other public place.

One lady went so far as to suggest that I should move to the bathroom to breastfeed.   Mmmm.  I don’t think so!   “Would you like to eat in the bathroom?”  I asked testily.

Nursing my children in the bathroom was something I always refused to do, no matter how uncomfortable the folks around me might get.   I also refused to use a cover-up when I nursed my children, as it was my experience that this would quickly overheat the child making for an extremely uncomfortable and sometimes sweaty situation.  Granted, I live in hot, humid Florida.  Covers might be nice for extra warmth in other areas of the world.

I also found cover-ups such a hassle too.  What if you forgot to put it back in the diaper bag or left it in the car when you went into the restaurant?

After a few early mishaps, I simply ditched using one altogether.

Even the YMCA, committed to improving the health of families and children, proved to be an unfriendly environment when I was nursing my babies, particularly as they got older.  There was absolutely nowhere comfortable to nurse there.   Hard, wooden benches with no wall behind them were the only choice in the locker room, so I opted for the benches in the busy and noisy hallway where I could at least lean against a wall while nursing before placing my child in the nursery for a few minutes while I attended a yoga class.

I lobbied on multiple occasions for a comfortable recliner to be placed in the YMCA locker room to give nursing mothers like me a relaxing and quiet place to breastfeed, but was repeatedly shot down by management.

No doubt, if a mother wishes to nurse her child beyond the first few months when her baby is small, she will need to prepare herself mentally for the likely disapproval of a misinformed public that still is not at all accepting of the many benefits of extending the breastfeeding relationship well past a child’s first birthday.

Why Bother to Nurse Beyond the First Year?

About three-quarters of mothers in 2009 chose to initiate breastfeeding after the birth of their baby. Unfortunately, many stop in the ensuing weeks and months for a variety of reasons.  By 6 months postpartum, 47% of mothers are still breastfeeding (only 15% of these exclusively as recommended by the AAP) and by 12 months, this figure drops to 25%.

Statistics for the number of women who breastfeed beyond one year in the Western world are nearly non-existent because many mothers are not willing to even admit to extended breastfeeding!

Nursing to age four as proudly demonstrated by supermodel Jamie Lynne Grumet in the controversial Time magazine cover above from May 21, 2012 is extremely rare.  According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), however, breastfeeding at that age shouldn’t be rare as there are significant benefits to both Mom and child for continuing breastfeeding well into toddlerhood.

Not only do Mom’s chances of breast cancer continue to diminish the longer she breastfeeds, but the benefits of providing breastmilk to a child who can easily eat and drink other foods instead are threefold:

  1. Continued immune protection
  2. Better social adjustment
  3. Sustainable food source in times of emergency

In fact, the AAFP states that “it has been estimated that a natural weaning age for humans is between two and seven yearsand that despite the public’s perception to the contrary, there is absolutely “no evidence that extended breastfeeding is harmful to mother or child.”

Indeed, breastmilk evolves with the child, continuing to provide what Nature deems most beneficial for that age.

A study published in the journal Pediatrics in 2005 found that the expressed breastmilk of 34 women who were nursing children older than one year had “significantly increased fat and energy contents, compared with milk expressed by women who have been lactating for shorter periods. During prolonged lactation, the fat energy contribution of breast milk to the infant diet might be significant.”

What Did You Do?

What do you think about extended breastfeeding?  Did choose to practice it yourself or would you given the opportunity?  If you did practice extended breastfeeding, how long did you nurse your child?

My hope is that by the time my daughter and future daughters-in-law are nursing my grandchildren, there will be a graceful and comfortable acceptance of this natural and healthy practice – and comfortable recliners in the locker rooms of YMCAs and other community facilities around the country to prove it!


Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

Sources:  Fat and Energy Contents of Expressed Human Breast Milk in Prolonged Lactation

Breastfeeding Older Children: How Weird or Normal Is It?

Picture Credit

Comments (189)

  • Kate

    After caving to pressure from well meaning relatives and introducing formula to my son at just 10 weeks, I was determined to breastfeed my daughter exclusively. It definitely was a case of ‘be careful what you wish for,’ as at 2.5, she was still feeding up to a dozen times a day, and at 3.5 she still nurses herself to sleep. I am incensed at suggestions to feed a baby in a bathroom and thankfully was never asked. I would never feed my child in the bathroom, much less a filthy public toilet. I also never used a cover-up, as neither child would nurse underneath one. I imagine it would be dark, hot and isolating. I frankly don’t get the furore over public breastfeeding. Breasts were meant for feeding babies. If you are so sensitive as to be offended by a mother feeding her child as nature intended, then you can easily look away. The baby’s head covers the breast, so nothing is exposed anyway. That being said, I haven’t felt comfortable feeding my daughter in public since she was approaching two, though I continue to feed her in front of my husband and son, and even my parents-in-law on occasion. She does stick her hand down my top in public if she’s very tired or fussy, so others have asked if she’s still breastfeeding. Most have a relative or friend who has breastfed well past the current norm, and are supportive. “Extended” breastfeeding definitely has been beneficial, as my daughter never gets sick, and others frequently comment on how happy, confident and active she is.

    November 10th, 2015 8:32 am Reply
    • Kate

      Also, for those struggling with milk production, fenugreek capsules and co-sleeping do wonders!

      November 10th, 2015 9:06 am Reply
  • Rachel

    I breastfed my first baby with very little success, I had a breast reduction at 18 years old which made my milk production very low. I was able to nurse her for three months with some supplementing but after a few months she just wouldn’t nurse. It was heartbreaking for me. My second child is almost ten months old and still nursing! I’m so proud after struggling so much the first time.

    For nursing in public I have found using a baby carrier to be the best way to “cover up”. I use the Ergo Baby and my daughter comfortably nurses whenever, wherever we go.

    May 21st, 2015 9:10 pm Reply
  • Lisa in TX

    I would like to add that my milk production was improved so much with the last baby, that I was able to pump and nurse in tandem during the morning feeding. Once I had a small supply saved up for emergencies (in case I had to be at the hospital with #5), I began feeding the extra milk to #5. I can’t say we noticed any major difference, but I felt like he was getting some healthy nutrition.

    November 2nd, 2013 4:07 am Reply
  • Lisa in TX

    My last child was the only one to nurse beyond one year. 1)Weaned himself at 9 months because I had terrible milk production. 2) Thought I was going to have to go to work. Pumping was not successful, so weaned at four months. When I didn’t have to go back, she wouldn’t nurse. I was so sad. 3&4) Tragically, these were both miscarriages. 5) Was born at 28 weeks and suffered a severe brain bleed. Bought a $400 pump which worked fairly well, but was a major source of stress. I’m crying just remembering. We were told that he would never be able to eat by mouth, but he eventually did, although he had to use a bottle. We avoided having to get a G-tube put in for 13 months. I was able to pump enough milk for him to get it for the first 6 months. 6) After missing out on breast feeding 3 babies in a row, I was ready to nurse as long as possible, but he only went 18 months. Don’t take your ability to nurse for granted. It isn’t just a right, it is a gift.

    November 2nd, 2013 3:59 am Reply
  • Pingback: How to Breastfeed in Public | Breastfeeding in Public Blog

  • Kat

    I currently nurse my 19 month old daughter whenever she asks. Up until a couple months ago I nursed wherever and whenever she needed it – in restaurants, on planes (multiple times), at the park, in the car, etc. I would usually cover up with a scarf. It made me feel more comfortable (and stylish :)). Now I usually wait until we get home or I’ll nurse her in the back seat of the car. She is very verbal and very attached to nursing, which has resulted in some funny instances, like her shouting “Nurse! Boobies!” while waiting on line at Macy’s. Slightly embarrassing but more funny than anything. I love breastfeeding and plan on continuing for as long as my darling girl wants!

    April 16th, 2013 8:23 pm Reply
  • Lynn

    40 years agoI breast fed my child until 2 yrs old, the first year essentially was breast milk only with a bit of fruit and then vegis introduced and the 2nd year transitioned slowly into food and milk. I read a book back then that correlated the life span of animals in the wild and the length of access in mother’s milk. In an ideal world a human animal would breast feed only mother’s milk 2 yrs. and transition with milk and food 1 yr. I decided I would try it but with a 2yr timeframe. Most pediatricians of the time would have thought I was crazy. I worked with a leading edge pediatrician and a chiropractor who had a degree in nutrition.

    April 16th, 2013 1:53 pm Reply
  • Jacqui

    The more people who breastfeed toddlers in public, the more normal it will become. I am currently breastfeeding my 2 year old. I feed in public if he demands and it’s usually because he’s very tired or needs milk because we’re out and he didn’t want to eat the food I packed. I don’t bother with a cover – it says ‘I’m breastfeeding’ and looks weird with a toddler. I just discreetly feed and he’s pretty quick. Mostly looks like I’m just cuddling him. He’s happier with mommy milk and I’m satisfied that he’s gotten something good – particularly if we’re away from home without access to the fridge. I liked reading all the extended breastfeeding comments. I’ve been tossing up whether to make him wean. From this blog I’m thinking to just let him wean in his time.

    April 15th, 2013 2:08 pm Reply
  • Maria

    I have two boys, 4 and 7 now. I breastfed them until they naturally weaned at 28 months and 32 months. When they were around 18 months the frequency they were nursing had been reduced to morning, nap time and night. We slept together. This pattern was constant until the day they told me: “I don’t want your milk any more”.
    From my experience I can say that extended breastfeeding is natural. Children will nurse while they need it. When they are ready to stop they will let you now and both mother and child will be ready to take this step.
    Thank you Sarah for your wonderrful blog.

    April 13th, 2013 11:51 pm Reply
  • juliya

    I am a young mother of 2 babys, 12 months apart. And noooo punlic feeding here. I think its extremely inconsiderate of mothers to not cover themselves. Ill feed in some public places but i always cover. And if a child is old enough to talk….and say lets go feed….no way. My youngest is almost 9 months and half way weaned. Ye, maybe. Bit too early, but I chose to go this route for a few reasons. But about feedong uncovered…would you show yourself if ur not feeding? No. Then why show? Awkward. Sorry ladies…it doesnt make sense to me why you wojldnt cover

    April 13th, 2013 2:23 am Reply
  • Natasha

    I’ve nursed both my two children for 8 years combined. I was never nursed myself and have suffered with many health problems. My asthma started at age 2 and I’ve been on serious med’s for 39 years. I knew the benefits of extended breastfeeding, but never knew I’d still be nursing my 5 year old. It is not something you plan, or can project into the future. It is a process that unfolds between the mother and child. My daughter is nearing the end of our nursing relationship and I feel blessed that I was able to give her this special gift for so long.

    April 12th, 2013 9:02 pm Reply
  • Rachel

    We don’t have any children yet, but I plan to breastfeed on demand even if it’s in public when we do because of the benefits. That and I learned a little trick from my older cousin who has two beautiful breast-fed girls. Rather than using a huge(!) nursing cover, she would feed over the top of her shirt and if SHE felt she needed to cover a bit more, she would use a wash cloth/ burp cloth over the top her breast so it didn’t impede the feeding or overheat the two of them. Super easy.

    Also, for all the nay-sayers out there, did you know that even in conservative Islam, totally covered women are allowed to expose their breasts while feeding their children? It’s acceptable because they are instructed breast feed until age two at least. So in a religion that a good chunk of the Western world considers oppressive to women allows for more breastfeeding freedom than the US. Seems odd to me.

    April 12th, 2013 1:37 pm Reply
  • Jackie

    Happy to see there are many Moms doing extended breastfeeding. My daughter will be 3 in 4 months and still nurses. At this point it’s mostly at home, when we’re out in public she’s usually too busy to want to nurse. Thankfully we’ve never had a bad situation when nursing in public.

    April 12th, 2013 11:12 am Reply
  • Crystal

    I’m currently breastfeeding my 15 month old. I stopped nursing my oldest at 15 months because I was young and made to feel ashamed (by my doctor and ex in-laws) of my decision to still nursing him. My goal with this little one is to make it until she’s at least two years old and we’ll see from there. I’ve already been told that my current goal of two years is “just crazy”.

    This is my fourth baby and the only one that flat out refused to let me cover her with a blanket from a few months old. I decided that it made more of a scene to use it then to go uncovered the day that I almost flashed someone because she ripped the cover off and unlatched to yell in protest. I position my shirt so that nothing shows because that is what we are comfortable with. Now that she’s obviously older I’m starting to get looks when I nurse in public. I don’t care. I will do what is right for us and as far as I’m concerned anyone who doesn’t like seeing it has the option to turn their head if they feel uncomfortable.

    My daughter has a corn intolerance and has very few safe solid foods at this point. I’m hoping that nursing longer might benefit her gut flora and help her heal. I’m not going to deny her nursing while we’re out in public to appease other people. Breastmilk is one of those few safe foods she has and I refuse to hide or justify my decision to nurse past one year to ignorant strangers.

    April 12th, 2013 10:49 am Reply
  • Adrienne Carmack, MD

    I breastfed my first daughter until 1 week before her 4th birthday. I did begin to feel awkward nursing her in public when she was 3 and I was pregnant with my 2nd child. I tandem nursed them both for 8 months, and then nursed my son until my 3rd child was around 3 months old, when he was around 27 months. I’m now only nursing my 3rd child, who turns 1 tomorrow!

    Breastfeeding is one of the most beneficial things we can do to begin to heal our society. I believe that breastfeeding in public is not only a right but also a service, to show people how beautiful and natural it really is. I loved breastfeeding in public, making eye contact and smiling at those who noticed, or looking lovingly in my baby’s eyes when I felt the stare of an uncomfortable stranger. Bravo to moms who are overcoming society’s obstacles to do what is natural, instinctual, and more supportive of life than most of the things people are engaging in in public!

    Adrienne Carmack, MD
    Physician & Birth Rights Advocate

    April 12th, 2013 10:38 am Reply
    • luisa

      Hi Adrienne, I just ran into your comment. I am BF my 14 month old baby and I hope I can continue for as long as he needs it, but also would like to get pregnant again. How was your experience practicing extended BF and being pregnant> I even thought you couldn’t get pregnant while BF.


      November 6th, 2014 3:37 pm Reply
  • Sarah

    I’ve been following this blog for quite a while, and this is my first comment. :-)

    I am single and do not have children yet. I have watched my Mom breast feed my 7 younger siblings all my life. But I had no idea you could breast for more than 2 years. That’s rather exciting!

    I had read Pottenger’s Cats, and I seem to recall that children who were breast fed had better developed jaws and faces. So it would seem that children not only benefit from the nutrition of extended breast feeding, but also their facial structures.

    As to breast feeding in public, right now I would very much be in favor of the cover till society gets used to the idea of public breast feeding. The idea is to win people over, not make them mad. I’ve been to Peru where women would “whip it out” right in public and even balance a baby while pushing the grocery cart. Because we just weren’t used to seeing it in public, it did make me and the American guys in my group feel a little awkward uncomfortable. But there are situations where we’ve had women breast feed during church service with a cover and nobody has had a problem with it.

    Those are my thoughts.

    April 12th, 2013 10:16 am Reply
  • Bailey Vazquez

    I love these articles! No one has come up to me to say anything about my nip, luckily. My dad gets a little ruddy about it, especially if I nurse “over the top” instead of pulling my shirt up. I also haven’t been using a cover since only a few months old; my daughter was born in April and it was way too hot in the summer to use a cover. Not to mention, she always has loved looking around! It took a while to really be comfortable in public, but now I couldn’t care less. Only place I’ll confine myself to another room for someone else’s sake is if I visit a school. Been going strong for 2 years, and my daughter’s starting to wean herself now. Only night weaned her against her will, because I’m 4 months pregnant and need to sleep. Otherwise, wouldn’t even have done that much!

    April 12th, 2013 10:15 am Reply
  • Lori

    Wish I had time to read all the comments as this was surely already addressed but want to throw in my two cents. I highly support breast feeding but don’t get why so many people feel they should force a very private activity on the general public. I doubt they are rude in any other aspect of their lives. You can nurse and be discreet too. So it’s a little inconvenient, so is waiting till a man is in a bathroom to pee instead of “whipping it out” as some say, on a public tree? You don’t want things forced on you please stop forcing things on me when with a little consideration we can both be accomodated. To say people are not sexually affected by a full breast is beyond naive. It’s a good and healthy thing, not a “hang-up”. But there is a time and place for everything. Peace and Love.

    April 12th, 2013 9:17 am Reply
  • Danielle

    The people who say breastfeeding is disgusting because they associate it with porn or as something sexual – do you realize that you are outing yourselves as perverts? There is nothing sexual about breastfeeding and it is YOUR mind that went there…you’re projecting your own dysfunctional mindset on others, so shame on you.

    April 12th, 2013 8:57 am Reply
  • Stephanie Mordeen

    I am definitely a breast-feeding advocate! It never occurred to me to feed my babies any other way, and I continued for as long as they wanted, which was about 14 months for the first (who I did encourage weaning as I was pregnant again and concerned about having enough energy as the 1st pregnancy had been difficult..), and almost 3 years for the 2nd. This was about 25 years ago, and the only negativity I encountered was a few odd looks, some mildly disapproving comments from family members, and in-laws who couldn’t handle it from day one!
    I love to see pictures of breast-feeding mums with their babes, and the only concern I have about them on fb etc, is that unfortunately there are some people out there who might use such photos in unwholesome ways, ie;as sexual stimulation. Horrible to think of, but possible! I know that is not the intention of sites such as the one you spoke of, and the more out there it is, the more it will be tolerated, as it should be…

    April 12th, 2013 8:21 am Reply
  • shelly

    As a mother of 6, I have spent many months breastfeeding. My oldest, now 20, breastfed for a very short period of time – we had issues and I had no support. My daughter, now 18, breastfed until 5 months of age and then slowly weaned after introducing the bottle. My 15 year old son breastfed until 8 months of age and then slowly weaned after introducing the bottle. My 13 year old daughter breastfed until she was 27 months of age and weaned herself when the flavor changed due to pregnancy. By this time, I was confident as a mom and no longer too concerned with other’s opinions on how I should be parenting. 😎 My 10 year old son breastfed until he was 34 months old and then weaned himself. My youngest, who is adopted, breastfed from 10 – 16 months. While I did have milk for her, I didn’t have a full supply and had to use a supplemental system which I found very inconvenient especially for a mom of many on the go. I was always a discrete breastfeeder but I never left the room to breastfeed privately. I often found myself breastfeeding my babies in the front row of church – the service just happened to be during their morning snack time. 😎 I think too often breasts are viewed sexually via media and this is what has led to people being uncomfortable with the “exposure (though I have never exposed myself anywhere near that extreme).”

    April 12th, 2013 8:09 am Reply
  • Liz

    I nursed my first until she weaned herself early at 9 months :( No matter what I tried I couldn’t persuade her to continue.

    My second self weaned at 18 months which I felt better about. I would have been happy to continue for longer.

    To the posters suggesting covering up to be considerate… that is all well and good, but neither of my babes would feed with a cover on. They would either cry or pull it off!

    I am all for being considerate to others, but sometimes people have just got get over it. To compare the act of a baby feeding to someone urinating is a bit off. After all breasts were designed to nourish babies!!

    If my father who is VERY big on modesty has no problem with it, then neither do I.

    April 12th, 2013 6:09 am Reply
  • Mel Walmsley

    Sarah, This post has really got me thinking – about how to start again (RELACTATING). I have a 4yo son whom i breastfed until 15mo. He has a long list of multiple ‘true’ IgE mediated food allergies (Dairy, Egg, Nuts, Wheat, Corn, Soy), chronic constipation, confirmed ‘abnormal gut flora’ & was wondering if going back to breastmilk would be beneficial for him? I wouldn’t physically breastfeed him as such, but would want to express breastmilk for him to drink instead. Any ideas of how to do this, without resorting to pharmaceutical drugs to produce milk again? (It has been 2 1/2 years since i last breastfed my youngest child, who is now almost 3). Any wisdom or further links/reading would be gratefully appreciated. (For the record, we have tested him on raw cow’s, sheep & goats milk with no luck – only had to put a patch on his skin which caused an immediate reaction with hives, so he is truely allergic.) – Wellington, New Zealand

    April 12th, 2013 4:33 am Reply
  • Shelah

    As someone with zero children, I’m all for breastfeeding, and I’m all for breastfeeding beyond the typical time period to do it in. But I don’t understand why women get defensive for getting strange looks when they are nursing without a cover. If you walked into a public place with your husband and saw a woman with her boob hanging out, wouldn’t you be furious and tell her to cover up? Almost every time I’ve seen a baby nursing, he isn’t nursing 100% of the time- he stops, or falls asleep, or even when he is done, you have to remove him, then put your breast back in your shirt. So everyone saw your breast during that time. Its going to make people uncomfortable. I’m guess I’m wondering what you would say to that, and again, I’m only talking to women that breast feed with NO covering.

    April 12th, 2013 4:02 am Reply
    • Crystal

      I breastfeed with no cover because my daughter rips it off, unlatches leaving my breast in view, and then screams if I try to use one. On the other hand when I nurse without a cover you may know what I’m doing but you can’t actually see my breast. For us using a cover is more revealing and makes us both miserable and uncomfortable. When she’s done nursing no one gets a view either. This is all my choice and what my daughter and I feel comfortable with. You might also be interested to know that the only time I got a comment about how disgusting it was that I was breastfeeding in pulic was with my first baby when I had blanket over my shoulder and nothing showed but his feet. She was apparently offended at just the thought of me nursing.

      Regardless of how I choose to do it other mothers are different. Even if they choose to cover a little less the purpose is the same. They aren’t looking to flash anyone provacative cleavage, they just want to feed their baby. It’s offensive to have someone stare at you. Just because you aren’t used to seeing the view doesn’t make it socially acceptable to stare. If you saw someone that was had a huge tumor hanging off the side of their face what would you do? I grew up in a small town that did have a woman like I described. From seeing her often and being interested in such things I can tell you how that went. There were nasty rude people that would openly stare or ask her questions about it. Then there were the polite people that looked at her like she was any other human being and controlled their impulse to stare because it’s rude. The children were usually curious and coached by their parents about how to act. Those reactions are the same ones you get when breastfeeding in public. You can choose to be the rude one who stares or the polite one that doesn’t. You can be the parent that is horrified and drags their child away from the “awful” sight or the one who tells their child that it’s rude to stare and explains. None of that has anything to do with the person nursing it’s all about your own reaction to it.

      April 12th, 2013 11:14 am Reply
  • Kim

    I nursed my now 10 year old for 34 months. I loved doing it. Am proud to have done it. And the very best part….she is sick far less than her peers. Far. Less.

    April 12th, 2013 1:04 am Reply
  • Melissa

    More power to the women who can breast feed for a prolonged period of time! I have one child and due to an extremely bad labour and then birth which resulted in an emergency c-section then major surgery for myself and a whole host of other things afterwards I was unable to breastfeed.. Despite a good recovery, nutrition, nurturing and pumping-pumping-pumping I made the decision with the support from my husband to move to formula..

    Breast feeding is totally natural, you feed your child when they are hungry and when they are ready or your body can no longer take feeding you wean.. No-one has the right to judge people or pass their opinion on when they think you should stop breast feeding your child or where you breast feed your child.. Breasts are there to serve a purpose and when feeding your child people should have the common sense to not misconstrue this as ‘flashing’ or being ‘sexual’.

    April 12th, 2013 12:38 am Reply
  • Brenda

    I breastfed my son until he was over 3 years. There were times, especially when he was 2, when I needed to breastfeed in public, and I never had anyone comment negatively. I did try to be discreet, so most people probably didn’t even notice what was going on.

    April 11th, 2013 11:46 pm Reply
  • Jen Ward via Facebook

    I hope that someday one if these puritans shouting “cover up” approach me and make that request in public because, thank god, the law is on my side. I do always carry a blanket so that they can cover their own heads.

    April 11th, 2013 11:40 pm Reply
  • Terry England via Facebook

    I totally agree that breast feeding is superior and most beneficial. But there’s a time to wean the child; usually about 2 years old. This should always be done discretely when in public. Showing the breast is indecent exposure. My wife always covered hers when in public.

    April 11th, 2013 11:39 pm Reply
  • Angelina Shuman via Facebook

    That’s what I did.^^ But, who cares if someone else does it different?

    April 11th, 2013 11:39 pm Reply
  • Caitlin Martin via Facebook

    Seriously, why is it a problem? (just using your logic)

    April 11th, 2013 11:39 pm Reply
  • Kathy ‘Schroedermeier’ Hackett via Facebook

    Men & boys are attracted to breasts. Please don’t put my husband and son in a very uncomfortable situation among other men. Seriously. Nurse your kid til they’re 50 for all I care. But, COVER UP.

    April 11th, 2013 11:38 pm Reply
  • Ashley Correlli via Facebook

    I’m totally for nursing. With or without a cover, extended nursing, public nursing… But I was kind of disappointed with this cover. Rather than her nursing her child.. They seem to be just posing for the camera. Does not look natural. This didn’t help raise awareness, all it did was stir people up and make nursing even more frowned upon.

    April 11th, 2013 11:37 pm Reply
  • Caitlin Martin via Facebook

    And what’s the problem with that? Do we really have to hide NATURAL things from our children just because some people find them as sex objects?

    April 11th, 2013 11:36 pm Reply
  • Caitlin Martin via Facebook

    And what’s the problem with that? Do we really have to hide NATURAL things from our children just because some people find them as sex objects?

    April 11th, 2013 11:36 pm Reply
  • Cathy Sink Nicolette via Facebook

    his age aside… the problem i have with this is the title “are you mom enough? ” It makes it sound like we are not good moms if we don’t nurse until 2 or can’t nurse at all.

    April 11th, 2013 11:36 pm Reply
  • Angelina Shuman via Facebook

    So, men are just horny beasts with no self-control?

    April 11th, 2013 11:35 pm Reply
  • Sara Elizabeth via Facebook

    OR! how bout just lift your shirt and keep yourself covered. My sister in law of 8 kids doesn’t use any cover and you would never know she is nursing. you just get good at it.

    April 11th, 2013 11:35 pm Reply
  • Sara Elizabeth via Facebook

    OR! how bout just lift your shirt and keep yourself covered. My sister in law of 8 kids doesn’t use any cover and you would never know she is nursing. you just get good at it.

    April 11th, 2013 11:35 pm Reply
  • Cheryl Allen Holden via Facebook

    Who knows I’m sure we will see this debate continue for some time yet.

    April 11th, 2013 11:35 pm Reply
  • Kathy ‘Schroedermeier’ Hackett via Facebook

    Our society pushes sex & everything that goes with it. Breast feeding involves breasts… Men & bits love breasts. Why make people uncomfortable? Breast feeding won’t get a different identity until our society changes it’s way if thinking. If we don’t want young girls exposing themselves, we shouldn’t either… Under any circumstances.

    April 11th, 2013 11:35 pm Reply
  • Susan Waite Blanchfield via Facebook

    How many of you women would have married your husband if you knew he had sucked your mother in-laws breast ti he was in the first grade?

    April 11th, 2013 11:35 pm Reply
    • Crystal

      Um, I would? That’s a very odd question. Extended nursing isn’t weird or gross on either end. And why would something my partner did at that age matter to a decision about marrying a full grown adult man that I loved anyway?

      April 12th, 2013 11:21 am Reply
  • Angelina Shuman via Facebook

    The cover was to sell the magazine. Plain and simple. But she should not be shamed for what she is wearing or the fact that she is feeding her toddler.

    April 11th, 2013 11:34 pm Reply
  • Melissa McDow Neece via Facebook

    On a natural health board I am a bit shocked at all the ignorance here. Its very discouraging. The human body was BIOLOGICALLY made to breastfeed until about age 7. Now at that age, you might only being breastfeeding once a day or every few days. This has been proven to be psychologically, emotionally, and physically healthy. Scientifically, there is nothing wrong with it whatsoever. SO if you are having a problem with it, then it is YOUR prejudices and YOUR thinking that is messed up and wrong, not the women who are actually doing what they are suppose to be doing. You need to research this, and rethink your thinking.
    There are also plenty of women who pump and give their amazing milk to cancer patients and other terminally ill loved ones, as it is proven to be highly beneficial. Just think how beneficial the over 400 amazing health components of breastmilk are to your 6 or 7 year old child (whose digestive system and immune system is still developing by the way).

    April 11th, 2013 11:34 pm Reply
  • AmyM

    I’m currently breastfeeding my almost 2 month old firstborn. Thanks for the article and the encouragement to keep it up. I was wondering if you would provide a source for the AAFP’s estimation of 2-7 yrs as natural weaning age. I may need the information later on to show my pediatrician. He is very open minded, and I think having the AAFP source will be helpful in any talks we have on the topic.

    April 11th, 2013 11:33 pm Reply
  • Angelina Shuman via Facebook

    She should be frumpy and frazzled wearing sweats?

    April 11th, 2013 11:33 pm Reply
  • Sara Elizabeth via Facebook

    no all men look at breasts as sexual. all cultures.

    April 11th, 2013 11:33 pm Reply
    • michele f

      no I’m sure if they are used to seeing their moms and grandmas running around topless all their lives it might be different.

      April 13th, 2013 7:49 pm Reply
  • Angelina Shuman via Facebook

    How’s that?

    April 11th, 2013 11:32 pm Reply
  • Sara Elizabeth via Facebook

    i am serious. I have 3 boys and a girl and I know for sure that at 6 they A) did not need breastmilk anymore being fed a nourishing diet and B) knew breasts were more than just nourishment. I know kids all develop different but 6? 8? Seriously. why is this even a topic.

    April 11th, 2013 11:32 pm Reply
  • Sara Elizabeth via Facebook

    i am serious. I have 3 boys and a girl and I know for sure that at 6 they A) did not need breastmilk anymore being fed a nourishing diet and B) knew breasts were more than just nourishment. I know kids all develop different but 6? 8? Seriously. why is this even a topic.

    April 11th, 2013 11:32 pm Reply
  • Susan Waite Blanchfield via Facebook

    I think when you start posing for mag. covers like that, it takes on an element of smut.

    April 11th, 2013 11:31 pm Reply
  • Caitlin Martin via Facebook

    You enjoy eating under the covers?

    April 11th, 2013 11:31 pm Reply
  • Heather McLin Pilmanis via Facebook

    Kathy it’s only b/c we’ve (society) has told us we should be uncomfortable but we can change that by normalizing breast feeding.

    April 11th, 2013 11:31 pm Reply
  • Nicole Belsky Moore via Facebook

    *Raises hand* Never used a cover and proud of it. Don’t like it, don’t look…it’s America.

    April 11th, 2013 11:30 pm Reply
  • Sara Elizabeth via Facebook

    Melissa, did your child recognize your breasts as more than nourishment at 2? probably not. at 6? I bet so.

    April 11th, 2013 11:30 pm Reply
  • Mishalyn Sheley-Lucas via Facebook

    I’m all for breastfeeding, i have both my children and will my next one. But when a child is old enough to crawl up to you, that child is old enough for a cup. I also don’t breastfeed in public because i think its a personal bond between you and your child and people around are a big distraction. not only that but because it makes others uncomfortable and why fight with others when it’s not that hard to get up and go feed somewhere else, it does not have to be the bathroom but you also don’t have to do it in front of everyone either.

    April 11th, 2013 11:30 pm Reply
  • Angela Wichman via Facebook

    15 years ago when I had my oldest I never thought twice about nursing her where ever i was. I never gave it a second thought. I must have driven people crazy but no one every said anything to me.

    April 11th, 2013 11:30 pm Reply
  • Stephanie Swanson Cantwell via Facebook

    Uh to most men~YES! Are you kidding me?

    April 11th, 2013 11:30 pm Reply
  • Susan Waite Blanchfield via Facebook

    I did too. But I was discreet. You would have had to looked pretty close to know.

    April 11th, 2013 11:30 pm Reply
  • Angelina Shuman via Facebook

    When allowing a child to wean on its own, they rarely will continue past 4 years old. Obviously a 14 year old will not still be breastfeeding. It’s about facts.

    April 11th, 2013 11:29 pm Reply
  • Kathy ‘Schroedermeier’ Hackett via Facebook

    Completely different when doctors see breasts. I can promise you if a guy see’s a lady’s boob hanging out for the world to see, he’ll be uncomfortable. And it will put him in a situation of him not knowing what go do with his eyes. Argue with me if you want… But it’s truth.

    April 11th, 2013 11:29 pm Reply
  • Caitlin Martin via Facebook

    Also we have made the breasts linked to sex, their only purpose is to feed the offspring, just look at other countries.

    April 11th, 2013 11:28 pm Reply
  • Stephanie Swanson Cantwell via Facebook

    I agree Kathy!!!!!

    April 11th, 2013 11:28 pm Reply
  • Melissa McDow Neece via Facebook

    my child was having full blown conversations at age 2. is that too old? you need to rethink your thinking.

    April 11th, 2013 11:28 pm Reply
  • Angelina Shuman via Facebook

    Yes, let’s be hyperbolic. Come on.

    April 11th, 2013 11:27 pm Reply
  • Caitlin Martin via Facebook

    no, not it is not. It is natural. Get over it.

    April 11th, 2013 11:27 pm Reply
  • Stephanie Swanson Cantwell via Facebook

    Well said Sara Elizabeth!!

    April 11th, 2013 11:26 pm Reply
  • Melissa McDow Neece via Facebook

    So when your doctor sees your breasts he just thinks about sex?

    April 11th, 2013 11:26 pm Reply
  • Heather McLin Pilmanis via Facebook

    I’m surprised at how many here have such a “mainstream” view about breast feeding.

    It is possible to discretely BF without using a cover.

    April 11th, 2013 11:26 pm Reply
  • Jaclyn Borrelli via Facebook

    “Even two”? Actually, the WHO recommends UNTIL age two. Don’t be so judgemental people. Everyone wants to parent everyone else’s kids and not their own.

    April 11th, 2013 11:26 pm Reply
  • Caroline Parra via Facebook

    It says this child is 3 years old but he seriously looks older than that like 6 or 7. I think the pose is strange and what mother in real life is going to pose like this?! I think the pic is not a good portrayal of bf’g. Like it over sensationalizing it.

    April 11th, 2013 11:26 pm Reply
  • Angelina Shuman via Facebook

    Yes, let’s all wear tents, because that’s not obvious.

    April 11th, 2013 11:25 pm Reply
  • Susan Waite Blanchfield via Facebook

    I breastfed 4 children, all for at least 16 months. But I have to tell you, that magazine cover is a real turnoff. I can see how it would discourage a young Mother.

    April 11th, 2013 11:25 pm Reply
  • Angelina Shuman via Facebook

    Or, he can turn his head.

    April 11th, 2013 11:25 pm Reply
  • Sara Elizabeth via Facebook

    so would 8th grade be ok then too? sheesh.

    April 11th, 2013 11:25 pm Reply
  • Angelina Shuman via Facebook


    April 11th, 2013 11:25 pm Reply
  • Angelina Shuman via Facebook

    He’s not in first grade, and even so, who cares?

    April 11th, 2013 11:24 pm Reply
  • Kathy ‘Schroedermeier’ Hackett via Facebook

    Wearing gloves? That’s just silly, Angelina. We wouldn’t let our daughters expose their breasts in public, so why should we? Like I said, I’m pro nursing… But seriously cover it up please.

    April 11th, 2013 11:24 pm Reply
    • Liz

      I see more of women’s breasts at my local pool than I have ever seen while a woman is nursing.

      A lot of babies simiply refuse to feed with a cover over their head… who can blame them, I would hate to eat like that.

      April 12th, 2013 6:14 am Reply
    • Rachel

      Please say you’d say the same thing to all those women wearing little triangles of stretchy fabric they pass off a swim suit.

      April 12th, 2013 1:23 pm Reply
  • Karen Marie via Facebook

    Three years old is way too old. Even two.

    April 11th, 2013 11:22 pm Reply
  • Ellen Hatch via Facebook

    Isn’t this child very old to be breast feeding? I mean…what’s the cut-off age? Fifteen, twenty, twenty-five. forty five?

    April 11th, 2013 11:22 pm Reply
  • Angelina Shuman via Facebook

    I can think of other body parts that are sexy and sexual. Hands for example. Normal everyday hands. You can give someone a handjob and it becomes a part of a sexual act. Should we all wear gloves?
    Just because breasts “can” be used sexually, doesn’t mean they are to be hidden away.
    And the WHO and AAP recommend 2+years of breastfeeding for optimal health. AND the world average is 6 or 7 years old or something like that. How is it in a society where it’s ok to use sex to sell everything under the sun, it is also frowning on FEEDING CHILDREN THE WAY OUR BODIES WERE INTENDED TO?

    April 11th, 2013 11:21 pm Reply
    • Millie

      You’re so right. I’m still breastfeeding my 14 month-old, though we’re down to one feeding in the morning so nursing in public isn’t really an issue for me anymore. But it was until about a month ago, and I was never comfortable using a nursing cover–my daughter got too hot, and it was such a hassle, when she was a newborn, to try to adjust her latch under there! I was very self-conscious nursing in public at first, but soon realized that, because I wore stretchy-necked tank tops with necklines I could pull down under cardigans, normally people just thought I was cradling my baby, and didn’t even know she was feeding! However, I’m very small-breasted, even when engorged with milk, which might make discretion easier. I definitely think women SHOULD be allowed to have their breasts show when nursing in public if that’s what they need to do to feed their child. We see men’s chests and nipples all the time at beaches or in hot weather, and, I’m sorry, but as a heterosexual woman, I find them sexual! But they’re not expected to cover up, and their nipples aren’t responsible for nourishing a growing child!

      April 12th, 2013 8:30 am Reply
  • Melissa McDow Neece via Facebook

    He’s actually just 3 years old. But it is perfectly fine to be breastfeeding at age 6 and 7. If you don’t think so, I’m sorry but you need to rethink your thinking. There are too many Full Term Breastfeeding bigots out there.

    April 11th, 2013 11:20 pm Reply
  • Melissa McDow Neece via Facebook

    He’s actually just 3 years old. But it is perfectly fine to be breastfeeding at age 6 and 7. If you don’t think so, I’m sorry but you need to rethink your thinking. There are too many Full Term Breastfeeding bigots out there.

    April 11th, 2013 11:20 pm Reply
  • Ashley

    I nursed my first for 16 months. I planned on nursing until 2-or longer but she was done. She asked for a cup and didn’t want breast anymore :( I was heartbroken but respected her wishes.. She has always been and still is very independent. Now nursing my second who is 10 months old. She is a mommy’s girl- so I’m hoping she will want to nurse for a while :)

    April 11th, 2013 11:20 pm Reply
  • Jaime Bower via Facebook

    women are objectified and sexualized and then wrapped up in a blanket of puritanical judgement to the point that people have a hard time seeing us as mothers in a natural way.

    April 11th, 2013 11:19 pm Reply
  • Stacy Murtland Thomas via Facebook

    There is nothing GROSS about this – what IS gross is how many people feed themselves and their families pure toxic crap disguised as food and complain about how often they have to go to the doctor for this or that while they continue to tell women who breastfeed that it’s gross. Just because you don’t personally want to do what the majority of the world does doesn’t make you right. Breast milk is the healthiest thing to feed to any child and world wide most children nurse till they are about 5 or so.

    April 11th, 2013 11:18 pm Reply
  • Kathy ‘Schroedermeier’ Hackett via Facebook

    I’m all for nursing. However, this cover is way overboard. Plus, breast feeding IS linked to sex because it involves the breast. Men enjoy breasts… So when my husbands eyes are able to see this… COVER IT UP.

    April 11th, 2013 11:17 pm Reply
  • Sara Elizabeth via Facebook

    i nursed my children by the way till about 2 .

    April 11th, 2013 11:17 pm Reply
  • Sara Elizabeth via Facebook

    well honestly how long do you let a child do this…when they are engaging in full blown conversation about soccer practice is not ok!

    April 11th, 2013 11:17 pm Reply
  • Paul Hardiman via Facebook

    Are human breasts intrinsically erotic? Probably not.

    April 11th, 2013 11:17 pm Reply
  • Stephanie Pruett Amuso via Facebook

    All this picture/post does is stir up contraversy among your readers. So much fighting and mean words among moms. I could care less how long someone wants to breastfeed their child! We all have different opinions about it, so let’s not fall into the trap of tearing each other down :(

    April 11th, 2013 11:16 pm Reply
  • James N Mersedeh Ruiz via Facebook

    I’m a HUGE advocate of breast feeding, but these people are being zealots. There’s no need to pose with your child like that. And there are TONs of ways to feed your child discreetly (without something extreme like feeding in a public restroom) thanks to nursing covers, so we don’t need to see the rest of your chest.

    April 11th, 2013 11:15 pm Reply
  • Amanda Lucas via Facebook

    I wasnt shy! If my kids needed to eat I fed them. Didnt matter one teeny bit my location. I am a mother & I have a job to do. I did not care about some strangers’ personal comfort level. I never once got a complaint, either. :)

    April 11th, 2013 11:15 pm Reply
  • April Savage via Facebook

    What? BFing is natural and encouraged throughout a child’s life ! Where are you getting your opinion from?

    April 11th, 2013 11:15 pm Reply
  • Paul Hardiman via Facebook

    I imagine that the Dark Ages were quite accepting of nursing.

    April 11th, 2013 11:15 pm Reply
  • Amber Jensen via Facebook

    That is the problem. People thinking breast feeding is linked, in some way, to sex. That is what makes it in the Dark ages.

    April 11th, 2013 11:14 pm Reply
  • Sara Elizabeth via Facebook

    I am all for nursing but this picture was plain gross and I think completely a slap in the face for those of who support nursing wherever and whenever. we shouldn’t have to go to the opposite extreme to make a point….there is no need this child should be nursing anyway. Good grief he looks like he is in 1st grade!!!!!!!

    April 11th, 2013 11:13 pm Reply
  • Cara

    When I became pregnant with our oldest daughter, I knew I would breastfeed. After a wonderful natural birth and great latch on technique I thought we were good to go! After weeks of practice at home with an adequate coverup and all the recommended nursing attire, we were ready for our first night out as a family. I, of course nursed before we left home, but the moment we settled into our table, little Anna would only be consoled by the breast. Fearing the public’s reaction, I was shrouded from neck to waist. Within a few minutes the man sitting at the table less than 2 feet away began to discuss how “inappropriate” and “disgusting” it was for “people to be doing that”! I wish I would have had the courage to say the same about the sleeveless white tank top he was wearing on his obese body! Since then, I never miss a chance to encourage mothers breastfeeding in public that she is making the best choice for her family and that it’s worth it.

    April 11th, 2013 11:13 pm Reply
  • Jaclyn Borrelli via Facebook

    Facebook seems to have it out for natural birth and breast feeding support pages.

    April 11th, 2013 11:13 pm Reply
  • Stephanie Swanson Cantwell via Facebook

    That child is too old to be breast feeding!! That is bordering on porn!

    April 11th, 2013 11:11 pm Reply
  • karyn

    Okay, like another woman, I haven’t shared this often…maybe never. I nursed all three of my natural born children for a long time. Realize that my ‘baby’ is now 25. My first nursed over a year with some issues and supplemental bottles. The second nursed until she was almost six years old. It is easy now to see the benefits…she had a speech impediment at the time…after 5.5 yrs. we noticed one night at the dinner table that the issue was gone. we knew then that it was totally right that we nursed her that long. the third nursed until she was 3+. I never regret any of the time that I nursed my babies. they also slept with us while nursing and very young to make it easy on me. I did cover up in public…probably for my benefit rather than others’. It was a wonderful time in my life and I wouldn’t have given it up for anything…both for their benefit and mine. thanks for the great blog, Sarah
    I do think the commercial(don’t know for which product) where the woman is nursing her first trying desperately to cover up and looks harried…cut to nursing her second baby and she looks completely put together, the waiter comes and she nicely(sarcastically) tells him to get his eyes up to hers….is a really funny example.

    April 11th, 2013 8:34 pm Reply
  • Cheryl

    By mutual agreement, our daughter had her last breastfed on the morning of her 6th birthday. By that time, she only remembered to ask for the breast once or twice a week at most. I decided very early that weaning would be at her pace. I demand fed and until she was about 18 months old was unconcerned about where I fed her. However, once people started to make negative comments about how she was “too old” to still be breastfeeding I decided to be more circumspect about where I nursed her. I was concerned that the disapproval of others would impact her comfort with breastfeeding and cause her to wean earlier than she otherwise might have. I was also aware that I had no right to make others uncomfortable with our, at the time (20+ years ago), extremely unconventional attitude. The older she became the less people knew that she breastfed. Not because we were embarrassed. It was simply easier to avoid the conflict that her continued breastfeeding seemed to precipitate.

    April 11th, 2013 8:14 pm Reply
  • Elena

    I live in Brisbane, Australia. I breastfed my first baby 3 years. I weaned him then because I got pregnant and nursing became really painful for the nipples, but he was ready anyway. He was happy to cuddle them instead :) I don’t remember to have had negative comments from strangers, but I did have those from friends and family. I was always trying to emphasize that the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding until 2 years and beyond. But I don’t really care what people say. Now I’m happily nursing my 4 months old daugther :)

    April 11th, 2013 8:14 pm Reply
  • Jami

    Sarah, I love your blog and have followed you for a long time!! I am all for breast feeding for as long as possible but I do think women should cover up in public!!! It is only respectful!!! We don’t need to see all the boob but the nipple along with the stomach etc….. Cover up people!!!

    April 11th, 2013 7:47 pm Reply
  • TexasTess

    I have 6 children, and have happily breastfed everyone of them, and in public as often as necessary, and for as many months/years as worked for both baby and me.

    That said, there is a level of discretion that should be practiced by the nursing mother, no matter the age of her nursing baby. If you would not flash a nipple at a stranger on an average day, why do it when nursing? Yes, the benefits for the child outweigh the stigma of breast feeding. That still does not mean that you ought go to a public place, and flash your breast, just because your child is hungry. Breast feeding is not shameful, but should be done tastefully (no pun unintended!). Our breasts have a purpose, to feed our children. We should not be a spectacle for everyone else.

    With discretion ladies, please, but not with shame.

    Nurse on!!!

    April 11th, 2013 6:15 pm Reply
  • Chrissy

    I breast fed each if my three boys until they were well past two years old. It didn’t bother me and if it bothered anyone we knew, they didn’t say so. I always fed in public until they were over a year and a half and that was simply because by that time they didn’t fit on my lap very well,making nursing in public awkward and they only nursed when about to go down for a nap or to bed or when hurt. It didn’t happen much, as a result. They all sorta self-weaned because I waited until they were nursing exclusively at bedtime and then I told each that in two weeks Mama would run out of milk, just like juice in the fridge. It was no big deal. As for being embarrassed in public, I wore comfy tops I could just pull up to nurse…you couldn’t see my breasts, why would I be embarrassed? An older woman friend of mine told me she was normally uncomfortable around women breast feeding because they were so exposed. It wasn’t the feeding part…it was seeing someone’s whole boob. Lol. I can’t blame her for that, that is a bit intimate. She didn’t even know I was nursing my son because it looked like I was just holding him. Covers were a pain, so I learned to nurse, stay relatively modest and all was well. Breast feeding was one thing among innumerable things that I did and do for my children. I don’t really get the drama around it…it is just a meal.

    April 11th, 2013 5:32 pm Reply
  • Lisa

    An extremely good friend was shocked when I said I was stil breast feeding my 20 month old daughter. She exclaimed “Are you serious?? Well, that’s f&*king disgusting!!!!”.

    April 11th, 2013 4:42 pm Reply
  • Sarah

    I breastfed my first two until about 15 months, and am still nursing my 18 month old. I felt ‘pressured’ to wean the first two around 12 months so I started the weaning process then. Now with our third I have confidence to continue until it seems right to stop…but I am hesitant to have him nurse in public because of strange looks from others, and even friends will make comments, “You are still nursing him?!”. Thanks for encouraging moms to continue on —

    April 11th, 2013 4:31 pm Reply
  • Rachel D.

    Yeah, I’ve never understood this dislike for breastfeeding. It’s so much easier than making bottles. (I get that some can’t. But some just chose not to.)

    I think it’s a good point about nursing openly in front of your older children, including boys. I do that and I think it is telling them that this is right and good and expected. (I hope so anyway.)
    I don’t like to make people uncomfortable and I have been in situations where I was nursing and I wondered if anyone was uncomfortable, but I’ve never had anyone confront me about it. I would be super mad if they did though. That would feel like an invasion of privacy.

    Shout out to Nordstroms and Ikea for putting nursing rooms in their stores- big comfortable rooms with comfy chairs and toys for you to nurse in. It makes the whole experience so nice. When you have infants, you almost can’t NOT nurse whenever you out. They seem to nurse ’round the clock as it is.

    One other thing. I’m not against a nursing cover-up if it makes you more comfortable. I use them, depending on the situation. The hot thing is an issue. But I dislike this attitude that you must. Some women seem to wear a tent and they do it for modesty-in the sense that they think it might be sexually provocative. I think that is absurd. Most guys just avoid looking that way if they know you’re nursing (and are uncomfortable with it) and if they happened to see anything, I really doubt it would do anything for them.

    April 11th, 2013 4:09 pm Reply
    • Meg

      I think it’s strange that you would find it an invasion of privacy if someone asked you about nursing – in public. If you’re in public, by definition it’s no longer private. I say go for it, but if someone else that you’re sharing space with outside your home asks you about it, that’s their prerogative.

      I chose to cover up not because I felt that I was provocative – probably the opposite! I felt uncomfortable exposing the entire breast with the exception of the nipple uncomfortable to myself, and felt that my belly looked gross and flabby after childbirth so lifting my shirt and exposing my belly was also not an option without cover. It’s not a provocative thing, I think for most moms who covered up here it’s about their own person level of comfort with being more exposed than usual.

      April 11th, 2013 4:41 pm Reply
  • Sheri Taylor

    I have four children. My three youngest are adopted. I nursed three of the four for 4,5, and 6 years. The one I did not nurse spent most of her four years nursing a bottle while I held her. All of my children weaned themselves when they were ready. Today they are very healthy well rounded children. The only thing I would change; I would put homemade raw milk formula formula in the supplementer.

    April 11th, 2013 4:03 pm Reply
  • Mary Hopkins

    I had a doctor tell me that breastmilk was not beneficial to the baby after they reach six months of age! This was after I told her I planned on breastfeeding for at least two years or until my child self weaned. I couldn’t believe what she was saying…I was dumbfounded!

    April 11th, 2013 3:37 pm Reply
  • Leslie

    I’m currently breastfeeding my 18 month old. I read this article below and made me very happy to know how other countries view breastfeeding.

    April 11th, 2013 3:09 pm Reply
  • Kate

    I too have breastfed all four of my children longer than one year. My fourth is 21 months and still going strong, despite the finger wagging of the pediatrician and the pediatric gastroenterologist we had to see when he was 12 months (who told me that I would be hurting my son by continuing to breastfeed because I couldn’t possibly supply the nourishment he needed). He mostly nurses and eats meat for his food and rejects just about everything else – aside from the occasional cultured milk green smoothie!
    For my own comfort and privacy, I choose to use a very light blanket (the weight of a sheet) most of the time that I am in public during warmer months. I prefer not to expose any part of my breast to strangers, so if I have to nurse and don’t have anything to cover with, I will carefully pull up my shirt and keep it tucked down around his face so that everything stays covered. He has learned the ropes with this, so on the rare occasion that it does happen, he does really well. I practice this same technique at home when my older teenage boys are present as well. All of this may give me the title of “Puritan” as mentioned in an earlier comment, but I feel it is consistent with my own personal standards of my own modesty in public.
    Thanks for the great article! It is nice to be encouraged to continue nursing in the face of our backwards communities.

    April 11th, 2013 2:52 pm Reply
  • Danielle

    My son is 17 months and I am pregnant with my second. He self weened himself from daytime feedings around 11 months, so now he just nurses in the morning and before bed. The morning feeding seems the most important to him so I doubt that he will give it up anytime soon, which is fine, I prefer him to stop on his own. Not sure if he will continue when my next baby is born since my milk will change, but we shall see. I did cover up in public (for my own comfort, not anyone else) and never really had any issues. My family and in-laws are all very pro-breastfeeding, however a couple of my uninitiated sisters thought the idea of breastfeeding older toddler was strange. The hospital I gave birth at, my midwife practice and my pediatrician all greatly encourage breastfeeding.

    I really think the problem is our oversexualized culture…the uninitiated see the breasts as nothing but a sex organ, so they sexualize it and I think that is the problem. I find it laughable that with the amount of nudity on tv and the stats of people that look at pornography on a regular basis that breastfeeding is seen as so offensive!

    April 11th, 2013 2:42 pm Reply
  • wendell

    My Mama breastfed my oldest brother, but the last 3 children including myself could not nurse because she didn’t have the right food I guess and the doctor told her her milk was like blue john and had no nutrition. The oldest never had ear aches and the three of us who didn’t get to breastfeed did. Back in the mid-50’s women wore a shirt specifically for breastfeeding. I was just a toddler and I was at the doctor’s clinic for an immunization and I walked by this lady with her shirt pulled over her infant’s head and being naturally curious, I pulled the shirt up to see what was going on. I had never seen a baby nurse before and I was red-faced and embarrassed from head to toe. All I could think of to ask her to cover my embarrassment was: He’s hungry, isn’t he? She was kind and smiled and pulled her shirt down and I went to the bathroom and hid until some older patient came banging on the door. I didn’t want to face the lady after pulling such a bone-headed stunt and if there had been a small crack in the floor, I would have crawled thru it. I knew it was natural and I learned after that to never try to figure out what was going on when a lady had her nursing shirt over her baby’s head. I think extended nursing is a great idea myself and results in a healthier and happier child.

    April 11th, 2013 2:10 pm Reply
  • Ellen McLaughlin – van Dijk

    My daughter was a premmie and i couldn’t breastfeed her, but she did get donor milk for some months. I breastfed my son until he was nearly 6. I did it in public until he was 3, after that it was more a indoor before nap- and bedtime thing. Like you Sarah, I didn’t like to cover up. I found often that mums who were trying to cover it up, actually were drawing more attention to themselves 😉 It didn’t matter me so much what other people were thinking, but the disapproval from family was sometimes stinging.

    April 11th, 2013 2:07 pm Reply
  • michele f

    The cover page for Time was meant to cause people to remember there even is still a print magazine called Time, before it goes the way of Newsweek. The picture is posed for maximum shock value and therefore disgusting.

    April 11th, 2013 2:00 pm Reply
    • Meg

      All magazine covers are created to provoke the buyer to purchase, but it’s NOT disgusting.

      April 11th, 2013 4:57 pm Reply
      • michele f

        its disgusting that the pro breastfeeding crowd current message has nothing to do with breastfeeding and everything to do with exhibitionism. it is actually against the law to expose your breast in public pretty much everywhere – even if a 6 year old is attached to the end of it

        April 13th, 2013 7:48 pm Reply
  • michele f

    If you are exposing your breast in public, you deserve to get dirty looks and be asked to leave. What makes you think other people need to “get over” the fact that you are exposing a part of your body that is covered in pubic. Breastfeed as long as you want – wherever you want but keep your breasts covered. No, I never nursed in a bathroom-gross.

    April 11th, 2013 1:59 pm Reply
  • J

    Read this while nursing my 18 month old. :) I have never got negetive comments or looks while breastfeeding in public, but I am also one who likes to cover up. I think that is what most have against public breastfeeding, when we are showing our breasts and they don’t want to see them. Can’t say I blame them :) I’ve nursed my kiddos until about two and I loved it.

    April 11th, 2013 1:58 pm Reply
  • Fawn

    So many people give dirty looks when a mother breastfeeds in public, BUT the more it is seen and done in public, the more accepted it will become. I still remember all the moms I saw as a child who breastfed their children in front of others, it will stick in the minds of boys, teens, adults and those same people may just be encouraged by seeing that when the time comes for them to be supportive of it or actually choose to BF their own children.
    Kudos to all the moms who have BF when their child needed it, regardless of where they were!

    April 11th, 2013 1:51 pm Reply
  • jenny

    I breastfed my 3 children as well and although I did not have anyone to compare my situation with I truly did not care. My family was supportive and that was all I needed. My oldest is 13 now and bf for 11 months. My 8 yr old bf for 15 months and my 5 yr old for 17 months. I can assure you they are very healthy well rounded children and the two oldest are a students and Gifted and Talented as well. My baby is also showing those great academic abilities as well. I believe bf should be first choice if possible. The benefits alone are why I chose to and now we really can see the truth behind the studies. I have spoken to all of my children why mommy did this for them and explained that this is why breasts are on my body. I wanted them to feel comfortable with questions and actually they were just truly amazed at how magical the human body is. As for the naysers they are just uneducated but there will come a day when the never spoiled or ,recalled and free milk is vastly accepted, till then Keep up the good work Mamas

    April 11th, 2013 1:39 pm Reply
  • Lena

    I wasn’t able to breastfeed my 3rd child so I chose to pump exclusively. My goal was to provide breastmilk for him for at least 6 months, but he is 16 months old now & I am still pumping. I can definitely confirm the statement about the composition of milk being different when pumping for an older child. My “newborn” breastmilk used to separate when stored in the fridge with cream floating on top & watery whey on the bottom. Now it has consistency of a milkshake & never separates.

    April 11th, 2013 1:22 pm Reply
  • Kathy

    I am one of those mothers who has kept secret, with the exception of a few extended family members, the fact that I nursed my daughter for 6 3/4 years. Yes, you read that right: 6 3/4 years, and right here in America. I am a white American born and raised in white America, so there was no ethnic/cultural component of my family that would have influenced my decision to nurse that long. (My own mother, typical of American moms in the 1940s and 50s, didn’t nurse any of her five children.) I didn’t even discover the world of GAPS, nutrient dense food, WAPS, etc. until five years ago, almost two decades before my decision to nurse as long as I chose to.

    I did have one experience, when my daughter was between one and two years old, that impressed me greatly, and no doubt helped me feel good about my decision to continue nursing long after toddlerhood. My husband, children and I lived in Japan for a year, and there I met a woman who was still nursing her eight-year old son. I was very impressed with the fact that, at least in the 1990s, extended nursing was a cultural norm in Japan.

    I honestly had no plan as to how long I would nurse my daughter, who we knew was our last child. I simply followed her lead. And at 6 3/4 years old, she was still as interested in nursing as she was the day she was born. Obviously, the amount of nursing each day had diminished greatly by the time she was almost seven, but her nighttime routine in order to fall asleep was the same as it had always been for her, i.e. she nursed to sleep. She would happily have chosen to continue to nurse, but I chose to stop when I did because, at the time, I had recently been asked to head the women’s organization at my local congregation, so because I had suddenly become slightly more high profile, I was genuinely afraid that if anyone found out I was still nursing my first-grader, I would be arrested for child abuse.

    Reading your post today, Sarah, has been immensely gratifying and vindicating. I see now that I was only ahead of my time. :) This the first time I’ve gone public with my little secret, but if it will help those struggling for the courage to practice extended nursing, I’ve decided to out myself. As far as disparaging looks from others when I chose to nurse in public, I just ignored them. I always wore loose-fitting shirts I could easily pull up rather than advertising that I was nursing by wearing a cover. (Of course, by the time my daughter was no longer a toddler, I restricted nursing to inside my or a family member’s home.)

    Happy nursing, all!!!!! :)

    April 11th, 2013 1:19 pm Reply
  • Lisa S

    My daughter is 22, so this was a long time ago, but I breastfed exclusively until she was 9 months old and continued breastfeeding with babified table food until she was 2-1/2. I took a nice 6 months to wean her. I was fortunate enough to be able to stay home with her which I think really helps. It’s hard to work and pump – not saying it can’t be done though.
    I found one of the main advantages of breastfeeding into toddler years was when she would get frustrated/upset/tantum verge. Nursing at those times allowed us both to sit down, calm down and change those negative emotions to something positive. It was as beneficial for me as it was for her. My mother was mildly supportive. My in-laws would ask every time they saw me when I was going to wean her. My husband was very supportive and helped me by running interference.

    April 11th, 2013 1:17 pm Reply
    • Magda

      Just wanted to chime in about pumping. I went back to work when my older son was 5 months and pumped for him for almost 7 months. Then I continued breastfeeding at home (day and night) till he was 3. With my younger one I stayed home till he was 10.5 months, then pumped for over 3 months (I might have continued but my pump died). I’m still nursing at 3 years old. I agree: it may not be easy. You have to eat and drink enough, relax enough to let down, make time, etc. BUT it’s soooo worth it. I would not have it any other way…

      April 11th, 2013 2:19 pm Reply
  • Eleanor

    I’m so glad you wrote about this topic. I’m overwhelmed just thinking about writing a post about it. I’m at a loss for where to even begin, but I’m not even the tiniest bit embarrassed about breastfeeding in any environment. I do sometimes feel anxious about receiving a dirty look or concerned someone may say something, but that wouldn’t change my desire to nurse my child anywhere. My llittle one is 27 months old and I can’t imagine weaning. We both love the bonding and cuddle time; it’s unlike anything else. :) I plan to allow my little one to self-wean for the reasons you noted in your post. It’s just to best way, no depression, no engorged breasts, no unhappy and confused baby because mommy took the breast away- just pure peace about it for the both of us. I wish more mothers understood and embraced extended breastfeeding because I think we’re doing the next generations and those that follow a disservice by refusing to give them the best that we can.

    April 11th, 2013 1:15 pm Reply
  • Stephanie

    Wow, this article is very timely for me. It’s good to be reassured of all the benefits of extended breastfeeding. I am nursing my 22 month old and feel conflicted. He still gets up 1-2 x a night to nurse and I’m exhausted! I don’t necessarily want to wean I just want him to sleep through the night. Any tips??

    April 11th, 2013 1:13 pm Reply
    • Magda

      Are you cosleeping? That definitely helped me. My 3 year old gets up in the middle of the night and comes to our bed to sleep the rest of the night – often wanting to nurse. It usually lasts a few minutes, then we both go back to sleep. Neither one of my kids has slept through the night till much, much later – well, the 3 year old still doesn’t! My 8.5 year old did it starting at maybe 4? or 5? Can’t recall now…. He did the same thing that my younger one does now and it works for us. Make sure you get enough sleep by going down early – I have to have 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night or I’m tired…

      April 11th, 2013 2:17 pm Reply
  • Sarah

    With my first son, I was still working ~20 hours a week to keep insurance, but my schedule was quite varied during the first six months of his life (during the summer). Because of my weird schedule and inability to pump at work (breaks not long enough, but work hours too long to keep regular milk supply), I was only able to do it for three months exclusively, and six months supplementing.

    With my second son, he hated formula and I wanted to breastfeed, so it wasn’t a big deal. At four months, we tried to introduce cereal and discovered a milk allergy, so I went back to exclusive breastfeeding. We introduced some baby foods closer to 12 mos., and introduced soy milk at 13 months, but it took until 18 months for him to wean. (We’re now off soy as well…yay coconut milk!)

    I’m a very shy person, so I would seek out bathrooms with a chair or lounge area, and wear layers so I could feed discreetly, or I’d just pop him a quick feeding in the car before we went somewhere if it was an issue (easier and more discreet than you’d think, and certainly cleaner than a bathroom). For the most part, people were very supportive.

    April 11th, 2013 1:01 pm Reply
  • Megan

    well she turned 10 1/2 months yesterday. I will breastfeed up to 2 yrs if she wants to. however I think she will stop herself aroun d 1 yr the way she is tappering off. we are 1 in am 2 or 3 in even before bed and 1 or 2 at night now. thats down from first 6m 15 to 18times a day and then till now 8 to 10 times a day. every week now she seems to be cutting out one more feeding. it s up to her she knows what her body needs.

    April 11th, 2013 12:51 pm Reply
  • Danny

    I hope your optimistic outlook is accurate, b/c otherwise we’re in trouble. Today, natural isn’t normal. There is a new normal. Kids drink formula, aren’t allowed to play in dirt, have to wipe down w/ antibacterial everywhere they go, it’s ok for them to watch sponge bob, it’s ok for them to eat marshmallows for breakfast, hard work and outside time for children is on the slide, they’re locked into electronic entertainment constantly, it’s inappropriate for children to see a woman breastfeeding in public!, going with out vaccines is taboo (although we seem to be gaining slightly on this front), everyone now knows a child with cancer, etc.. I too am optimistic, but I think this curve of new stupidity will last for generations.

    April 11th, 2013 12:43 pm Reply
  • Theresa

    I nursed my first until she was nearly three, although toward the end she mainly used it to help her get to sleep or for comfort if she got hurt or was sick. I knew I needed neck surgery and was worried it’d be too painful to nurse during recovery, and I was feeling “done” anyway so I started giving her to a count of ten on each side as a method if weaning. It was more for comfort than nutrition by that point anyway.

    We live in a very pro-breast feeding area, and my best experience was while nursing her (probably around a year old) on a log during a hike. A couple people passed and gave thumbs up, or even said, “way to go!” as they recognized what I was doing. I always used a cover-up for my own comfort in public, often at home too since she was easily distracted without it.

    We’ll see what’s different with my son, due next month!

    April 11th, 2013 12:42 pm Reply
  • Kay

    Carolyn, k, and Amy, I agree!
    I breastfed all of my children for an average of one year (yes, not long enough). It is wonderful, beneficial, natural, and I feel very blessed to have had that experience.
    However, I do believe that our “right” to breastfeed wouldn’t be so problematic if we were just as considerate of other people as we would have them be of us. Discretion and courtesy have become pretty much nonexistent in the pursuit of one’s perceived rights – that is my first thought when seeing the Time cover.
    There is discreet, skinless nursing, and there is revealing nursing. Some people may have a problem with both, but most are okay with the discreet type and just don’t want to see the whole deal.
    When I breastfed in public I always made sure that the skin was covered; not out of a puritanical mindset, but as a courtesy. Not once did I receive any adverse reaction. (this was between 1988-2002). This doesn’t mean that I didn’t have the liberty to do it “my” way, but that I put others before myself. I think that if we had a “do unto others” attitude, rather than the militancy that has become pervasive in the pursuit of our “rights”, there would be fewer adverse reactions.
    There will always be rude, insensitive people, but that is life – and I don’t want to be one of them just so that I get to exercise my liberty.

    April 11th, 2013 12:36 pm Reply
  • Amy

    I breastfed all four of my children exclusively, three of them beyond the first year and two almost to the second year. I breastfed in public when it was necessary and I think that every mother should be free to breastfeed publicly without shame or fear of confrontation. However women should also be considerate of others while doing so. If a woman is wearing camisole, for example, then it would be thoughtful of others if she would cover her shoulder and exposed chest area with a lightweight blanket or other cover. Most other tops allow for discreet public breastfeeding because they can be pulled up from the bottom. If the blouse hikes up in the back, exposing the woman’s back, then she needs to find a seat where she can lean against something to cover her back. It’s not about being ashamed, it’s about being thoughtful of others. It’s not about flaunting our rights in everyone’s faces, it’s about consideration of others. A woman should stand up for her right to breastfeed in public, but she should not expose herself in public while doing so. If we could all be more considerate of others in all things, this world would be a much nicer place. I never had trouble breastfeeding in public, but I was always modest and exercised discretion.

    April 11th, 2013 12:25 pm Reply
    • Julie in WA

      I agree with you, Amy!

      We are a society that sees the breast as a sexual object. Blatant exposure regardless of the reason is shocking and draws attention. Thanks to extensive education via doctors, nurses, even television news and commercials, people today understand the importance of breastfeeding. Opposition comes when there is ‘blatant exposure’–I don’t think the answer to change culture is for women to “whip it out” to nurse. Modesty and discretion when nursing is an act of respect in an overly sexualized society.

      My daughter nursed for 2 years and 3 months; the only reason we stopped was because she got a cold and could not breath through her nose while she nursed! I always cherished the moments she nursed; it was for much more than just nourishment…it created a strong bond between us. I loved snuggling with her—even in public—when we nursed discretly. I was never once accosted for breastfeeding in public.

      April 11th, 2013 1:59 pm Reply
    • watchmom3

      Thank you for speaking to those of us who are 100% for breastfeeding, but greatly appreciate courtesy from those doing it. My daughter in law is breastfeeding my first grandchild and is always thoughtful of who is around when she does. I breastfed my son, and I just recognize that everyone is not always comfortable with it, so why does it hurt to be considerate? I actually think breastfeeding moms might consider that a part of it…just being thoughtful. Breast milk is awesome! God bless those mothers who are willing to give in this way!

      April 11th, 2013 3:03 pm Reply
  • k

    i nursed all my babies for at least a yr., most a little past that. i always covered up w/ a light blanket when nursing in public. i guess i always felt more comfortable, and while i don’t think there’s anything wrong w/not covering, i always try to err on the side of compassion for the uninitiated. definitely not meaning to take a swat at any of you, but i think that, for me, if i try to make others as comfortable as possible with my practices that go against the main, the more support/converts i have gained. catching flies w/honey, not vinegar, i guess. :)
    but then, i’m kind of a conflict avoider too……

    April 11th, 2013 12:24 pm Reply
    • Amy

      K, you said what I was trying to say below but you said it much better. “Compassion for the uninitiated” is a great way to put it. I wasn’t trying to take a swat at anyone with my comment below either. You said it well. We don’t win converts by getting in people’s faces. We win converts with love, charity, kindness, etc. I appreciate your comment.

      April 11th, 2013 12:31 pm Reply
    • Megan

      Agree 100% I submitted something very similar but somehow it didn’t make it on the board

      April 11th, 2013 1:37 pm Reply
      • Kay

        100% here too. I also submitted something similar, but it didn’t make it either.

        I breastfed (1988-2001) in public without any looks e.v.e.r. by just keeping the skin under wraps. Just putting others first. :)

        April 11th, 2013 1:57 pm Reply
  • Jenny Wade

    Great article. I nursed all three of mine until they were about 21/2 when they all self weaned. With my first child, I ran a small home daycare. Nursing was my daughters way of saying this is my mom – she may care for you but she only nurses me. One of the parents complained that their child would ask to nurse because of my daughter. It bothered them – too bad was my thought. I just instinctually felt she still needed it. The books at the time (she is 15) said there was only benefit until 1 year of age. That seemed ludicrous to me, no way natures best food started not being good just because the child turns a year old. My 3rd child is my son who had a Vitamin K Deficiency bleed at 5 weeks of age and now has massive brain damage. He nursed fine until his bleed and then after his brain surgery and he got off the vent, he was able to resume nursing. I pumped while he could not nurse. We nursed until he was 2 1/2. I would have nursed longer but he started really bitting and he did not have the ability to understand what he was doing. I know that nursing gave him such a good start and today he is physically very healthy considering his extensive brain injury. Nursing is critical and so important!

    April 11th, 2013 12:17 pm Reply
  • Meg

    I’m afraid I would weigh in with a more moderate view. I would first say that I fully support a mother to breastfeed for as long as she likes (I did for 2 years) and to breastfeed in public if she chooses to. I’m not uncomfortable with it at all. My point would be that public spaces belong to everyone – not exclusively to breastfeeding mothers. While for us we view it as a beautiful and natural thing regardless of the age of the child, others may have a more conservative outlook and don’t appreciate a woman (any woman, for any reason, not just breastfeeding), pulling out a breast in public. If that person chooses to ask you in a polite and courteous manner if you wouldn’t mind moving to a private location, then you have the right to inform them in the same way that you would prefer to remain where you are. We all share these spaces and we all have a wide variety of opinions on what is and is not acceptable in public. It is every much your responsibility to respect that someone else can have a different opinion than you as it is theirs to do the same, and hopefully reach a mutually agreeable compromise. I don’t think it’s offensive to be asked to move, because that’s basically being offended that someone has a different point of view than you do, and then you’re going to spend a lifetime being offended by people with different opinions than yours.

    April 11th, 2013 12:14 pm Reply
  • Jimmy’s Mom

    When I had my daughter in 2000, I nursed her until she was 11 months, just because I knew it was better for her, immunity-wise. I didn’t know squat about real nutrition back then, so I thought that 1 year was the limit. But, now, my son is almost 2 1/2 yrs and is still breastfeeding on demand. 99% of the nursing he does is for comfort, since he eats everything we do, but I will continue to breastfeed him until he self-weans, even though I am uncomfortable nursing him in public. Not because of everyone else’s opinions, just because it makes me, personally, uncomfortable. But I think that anyone who wants to breastfeed in public should be able to, without inciting disapproving looks and comments.

    April 11th, 2013 12:13 pm Reply
  • kathy

    I totally believe the stigma comes from our over sexualized society. When it comes to women’s breast everyone is programmed to think of them as men’s play things. Look at all the breast implants being done. Even teens are having that done. If you don’t have a certain size you are supposedly not even sexy. I remember reading an article once that the U.S. was the only country that sexualized women’s breast to the extent that we do. It’s pretty obvious the most important intentions God had in mind when he gave us breast. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for society to figure that out and respect it though.

    April 11th, 2013 12:12 pm Reply
  • Teresa

    I love nusing my babies!! I nursed my two daughters until they were 15-16 mo. They didn’t really ask for it anymore. I’m currently breast feeding my 11 mo old son… And I don’t see it stopping any time soon! This boy LOVES his “nummies” and that’s just fine by me! :) thanks for another great article!

    April 11th, 2013 12:06 pm Reply
  • Carolyn @ Real Food Houston

    Thirty years ago, I nursed all three of my children, each one exclusively for almost a year. I nursed the first two for about another year until several months into the next pregnancy when I got so tired. The third nursed for almost two years. I nursed in public but always used a blanket or pulled up a shirt so that it wasn’t always obvious that I was nursing. I was more comfortable with this method and was never asked to stop or even given strange looks (at least I didn’t see them). Nursing away from home is actually easier than bottle feeding–no bottles to prepare and pack and clean–just me and my baby. It helped that my husband was completely supportive of breastfeeding whenever and wherever necessary.

    April 11th, 2013 12:05 pm Reply
  • Jennifer

    I breasted my first until almost 4.5 years, the second until almost 4, the third is still nursing (usually once a day) at almost 3.

    April 11th, 2013 12:03 pm Reply
  • Heather

    I nursed my child until she ready to be done @2. I believe it is the reason why she almost never got sick, despite that I was a full-time working mom and she attended daycare. She’s only had antibiotics once and that was before I was completely well-versed in other curative remedies. It’s a shame that so many feel the pressure to stop so early and that it is so difficult to get a quiet, clean, and comfortable place to nurse our children! Nursing my child for that period of time while I was working was SO hard, but I would do again in a heartbeat!

    April 11th, 2013 11:55 am Reply
  • Melissa

    I have four kids. I nursed my son until he self-weaned at 3 years old even though my obgyn was complaining that it might cause the premature birth of my second. (She came right on time). I weaned my second at 5 years old, my third self-weaned at 4 1/2, and my 4th is 2 1/2 years old and is still nursing.

    April 11th, 2013 11:43 am Reply
  • Mary Rose Burke

    Thanks for this article! I am a proud extended breastfeeder. My oldest nursed until she was 4 yrs & 9 mos, my 2nd until he was 4 yrs & 3 mos, my 3rd will be 4 in 4 mos. and he’s still happily nursing, as is my youngest, who is 1 yr. I nursed through all 3 of my last pregnancies, and tandem nursed all of them, as they are all 2 – 2 1/2 yrs apart. Before I had my first baby, I didn’t plan to to this, but I’m just doing what works for my kids and I. I mostly stop nursing them in public when they’re 2-ish yrs old (unless they get hurt or something), but not out of shame, just because I need to set some limits with them or I’d go crazy. It hasn’t always been easy, but extended nursing is totally worth it!!

    April 11th, 2013 11:39 am Reply
  • Jamie Wright Bagley

    My first was nursed until 27 mo.; second 24 mo; third is still going at 26 mo. I find it really discouraging that i have been advocating for normalizing public breastfeeding for the almost-eight years I have been a mother and many of my friends even longer. Why, oh why, is it still so taboo? It’s very wearing to try to educate for so long but still be waiting for a significant breakthrough in public opinion. What else can we do to make this more socially acceptable?

    April 11th, 2013 11:38 am Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Good question. I have no idea why breastfeeding in public particularly a child over 1 is such a big deal. It’s a shame because it is such a healthful practice for Mom and child. The social taboo is why many women stop or won’t even admit to doing it, which is really sad.

      April 11th, 2013 11:48 am Reply
      • Sarah

        I am nursing my 15 month old and even at this age I can see the “looks”! Even my friends who nursed their babies but stopped much sooner ask me when I am going to stop. I read an article the other day that said nursing past 1 year was regarded by most people as “extended” breastfeeding and that we should drop that term altogether. I’m inclined to brand those who stop breastfeeding early “short term” breast feeders. Although I do realize there are rare instances where a mother cannot breastfeed exclusively. By the way, Sarah, I love your How To video on homemade formula. I watched it just in case something were to happen and I needed to do this. Your videos are so helpful!! I can’t say it enough.

        April 11th, 2013 2:50 pm Reply
      • Kinzie

        My boy is 26 months, and while I don’t breastfeed in public (if he asks, I just tell him we’ll do it later), I DO try to casually mention it when the opportunity arises, just to help normalize the idea in some small way. He asks as soon as I get home from work, and will nurse again before bed, and more on the weekends. In January he was sick for a week, and had virtually no appetite for solid foods, but wanted to nurse constantly. I was glad to have kept it up, so that I knew he was able to get not only fluids, but nourishment and antibodies. I have no idea if he’ll self-wean soon, or if I’ll end up hurrying things along at some point, but for now, I’m fine with keeping it up. It only takes a few minutes, then he’s off to do toddler things again. The “don’t offer, don’t refuse” plan seems like a good one to me.

        April 15th, 2013 2:22 am Reply
  • Julie Coppedge

    I never cared what others thought about my right to nourish my children as I saw fit. I knew that this is the way God intended us to care for our kiddos and others judgements were theirs to answer for. Caleb, the oldest, self weaned at 2. Alaina would have continued indefinitely, but at three and me pregnant again, it hurt too much. We made a big celebration over her “graduation”. Cassia was 2 1/2 when I went to work and it wasn’t much of an issue.

    April 11th, 2013 11:37 am Reply
  • Angel Tucker

    I breastfed for 15 mo. I could tell she was finished by the way things were going. I feel like Moms feed at late ages for their own emotional benefit. I also felt like covering in public was the “right” thing to do. If a man pulled out his penis, just because he could, and peed in front of me I’d be insulted. I think it’s just a common courtesy for other people. We live in a society and need to respect others just as much as we would like the freedom and respect from them. If I was covered and somone came up to me and gave me the busines I’d say something, but if I just let it all hang out – I get why people would complain! One time I used a towel at a restaurant to cover…Plus, I don’t really want someone looking at my breast anyway. I’m a total advocate of Mom’s breastfeeding until they see fit – but we gotta be real too..we don’t live in a 3 world country where breastfeeding is essential to life. Anyway, I hope I’m not offending anyone but in almost everything there is a happy medium.

    April 11th, 2013 11:34 am Reply
    • Melinda

      I could not agree with you more. I feel like mothers (some of them) are trying to shove breast feeding down society’s throat! I feel that there is a sense of entitlement. “I ‘M a nursing mother and I can whip it out anytime I want!!! ” And if that’s how you conduct yourself, go for it. But don’t ry discrimination when you are asked to ‘cover up’ because it makes someone feel uncomfortable. I really don’t want random people staring at my breasts either, it doesn’t take much to throw a towel over your shoulder. This will at least give you a little privacy.

      I find the author of this article very self centered. “The Y should have a recliner so that I (me me me!!!) am more comfortable nursing.” Do you have a disability? No. Rearrange your schedule if you are not comfortable in the chairs provided , Supermom. Or donate a Lazy Boy to the Y so that you and your exhibitionist friends can be COMFORTABLE.

      I won’t get started on “advanced age breast feeding.” That definitely comes off as something for mom’s benefit. Very creepy.

      April 12th, 2013 12:08 am Reply
      • Kristie

        I don’t think moms are necessarily trying to “shove breast feeding down society’s throat.” I do believe that many moms are defensive when it comes to breast feeding just because of all the negativity they have received for so long when it came to the subject. I can see how it would make a person angry that they are being treated like some kind of pervert or exhibitionist just because they’re trying to feed their kid.

        April 12th, 2013 1:09 pm Reply
      • olivia

        The whole point of her requesting a more comfortable seat for herself and other nursing moms was so that she could more easily meet the needs of her baby. That is in no way selfish. Mothers who opt not to give their babies the healthiest start in life by breastfeeding because they are too afraid of the way their breasts might look after breastfeeding are selfish. Mothers who are nervous of what others might think of breastfeeding and so choose not to are selfish. Women who feed their babies chemicals and sugar in the form of formula because breastfeeding is “too hard” are selfish. Breastfeeding is vital to the physical, mental and emotional health of growing infants and toddlers. That is not an opinion, that’s science. And if Sarah and other breastfeeding mothers are shoving it down society’s throat, it’s because society needs a wake up call. Breastfeeding is not gross. It’s natural and beautiful and anyone who thinks otherwise is very immature.

        April 12th, 2013 10:04 pm Reply
        • Kinzie

          Where is the “like” button when I need it? WELL SAID, Olivia.

          April 15th, 2013 2:13 am Reply
      • Amanda

        She asked for a recliner in the women’s locker room, so that she would not have to continue using a bench in the hallway. I’d say that’s pretty much the opposite of shoving it down people’s throats.

        May 13th, 2013 2:26 pm Reply
  • Susan

    I nursed until my daughter self-weaned at 21 months. I LOVED nursing and was so sad for it to end. It was a very happy and calming experience!

    April 11th, 2013 11:26 am Reply
  • Eliza

    I nursed my firstborn until 16 months — in public, I did cover up with a blanket. In private homes, with other mothers and fathers of young children, I did not cover up. The other children in the room were interested and the parents were accepting.

    I nursed my twins until 11 months. I would have gone longer, but I found it exhausting to make that much milk, unfortunately. I tried to wean them at 9 months but they caught a stomach virus, so I immediately went back to breastfeeding and they got healthy quickly, and that is why I continued another two months (for their health). It took a toll on me physically, though (I lost a lot of weight nursing twins).

    Despite my personal difficulties with nursing twins, I support fully every family’s choice and love to see women nursing in public, without shame or embarrassment. It is a beautiful, natural thing. Mothers need a lot of support (and less judgment!), especially with their first child, to get off on the right track.

    April 11th, 2013 11:16 am Reply
  • Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama

    I breastfed my oldest for 4.5 years. My second, 3 years (surprised me by self-weaning then). Both occasionally still ask now that I have another baby…but they’ve been done awhile. My 20-month-old still nurses once or twice a week, not very often. And of course my 1-month-old nurses constantly. :) I let them all self-wean, although I no longer offer by the time they are 3 (but don’t refuse either) and I don’t generally nurse them in public past age 2 — just what I prefer, I feel they can understand “We’ll have milk in a little bit when we get home” at that age. I nurse on demand, anywhere, until then though.

    April 11th, 2013 11:11 am Reply
  • Netty

    Reminds me of the saying: “Canada got the French, Australia got the criminals and we got the Puritans.” :)

    April 11th, 2013 10:35 am Reply
    • Nikki

      While I’m sure you’re just joking, I will take issue with this comment. I LOVE the Puritans. I’m sure they breastfed, and being quite versed in Scripture, I’m sure they knew of the great example of Sarah who didn’t wean Isaac until he was over three years old. Lets not blame modest, God fearing saints. Instead, we might look at how our sinful culture has blatantly sexualized everything and hijacked innocence. How can we expect breast feeding to not be stigmatized while at the same time implicitly approve of the larger than life, half naked, sexually posed Victoria’s Secret store window photo on the edge of a children’s theme park? (Or GAPbody, Aerie, etc…) When we elevate our God given worth as women (and that of other women), protect and fight for the innocence of our sons and daughters, and seek to honor and glorify the one who designed such an amazing relationship as the one mother and child experience at the breast, then, and only then will our culture have the correct appreciation for breast feeding. It is sin, not righteousness, that distorts our view.
      I began writing this while nursing my fifth of five breastfed babies. I nurse modestly in public (because reality is there are men who fight against sins of lust and I don’t want to be a stumbling block amongst other reasons) and mostly uncovered at home. I’ve nursed tandem and weaned anywhere from 7 months (due to low milk and low immune during a pregnancy- onto raw milk formula) to 3 years. My husband pastors a small, conservative Christian congregation and every single mother in our church breast feeds or strongly desires to. We nurse during church, during fellowship, while walking around, while chasing after toddlers. We promote it, we cherish it, we encourage others to do it. And I don’t know one God fearing man in our midst that is unsupportive. Our young men are even used to it, or at least show no signs of awkwardness:)

      April 12th, 2013 6:05 pm Reply
      • Kate

        I’m glad to see there is someone else here who understands that modestly while breastfeeding is not some kind of persecution. You certainly have a point – some men do have problems with lust, (I’m not saying that’s the appropriate response to seeing someone breastfeeding, just that it IS a response for some) and I’d much rather not be a source of temptation.

        It shouldn’t be a matter of whether YOU’RE allowed to show your breasts to everyone… it should be a matter of whether EVERYONE is allowed to see them. Not because they’re dirty or sinful, but because they are too beautiful and special for the general public. There is only one person (other than my very small children) who has the right to see mine, and that is my husband.

        April 18th, 2013 12:59 pm Reply
  • Rose

    This topic is probably close to the heart of many. I’ve breastfed my babies until 2 yo plus. The youngest is nursing now at 2.5 yo.

    I was told while nursing my third, who was about 5 weeks old at the time, in my child’s grade school lobby to cease nursing by the school principle. I was shocked. Apparently another parent came in and saw and thought children shouldn’t see this. – Not to mention the kids wouldn’t have even noticed! – Anyway, I talked to the principal after getting over my shock, and she just asked if I would consider nursing in a separate room, for everyone’s comfort.

    I am one who is not too confident nursing in public, but I’ve always done it. This was the only instance I’ve ever been confronted. – Not too bad considering the high frequency I did it!

    April 11th, 2013 9:56 am Reply
  • Pam

    Great article, Sarah! I breastfed each of my 10 children exclusively for 2-4 years. It was an amazing gift, not just for each of them, but for me. It is a shame our society has such little value in breast feeding –mothers milk is like liquid gold. If you had all the money in the world to use to feed your baby, you couldn’t buy anything better. And to think reast milk is free!

    April 11th, 2013 9:48 am Reply
    • Valerie H

      I’m not trying to be snarky, buy they didn’t have any other food until 2-4 years. I can’t imagine exclusively nursing for that amount of time.

      April 11th, 2013 10:03 pm Reply
  • Sarah

    I am still nursing my 21 month old and am pregnant with number 4 due in 3 months. Just 2 weeks ago I had to nurse him at the museum when I took him and my older 2 for an outing over spring break. The toddler was tired and grumpy and wouldn’t go to sleep so we sat on a bench near an exhibit and he nursed until he was content again. A few people walked by but I don’t think they thought I was doing anymore than holding him, even if they did I didn’t get any weird looks or comments and for that I was grateful. I will say that it was extremely hard for me to do that in public as he usually doesn’t ask unless we are home and he is tired but it was definitely helpful to get him to settle back down.

    April 11th, 2013 9:44 am Reply
  • Sharon Fung

    I’m 37 weeks pregnant and still breastfeeding my 15 month old and loving it. I can’t wait to tandem feed. I must say though that while I’ll breastfeed my infant anywhere and everywhere without any nursing cover, I feel much more awkward with my older child however and ppl seem to feel much more comfortable about telling me that I shouldn’t be feeding her. Kinda sad…

    April 11th, 2013 9:24 am Reply
  • Michele

    I breastfed my daughter for over 3 years. My in-laws however thought breastfeeding past 12 months old was something “she shouldn’t be doing” so I let them believe she was weaned at one year old. Even now if I tell someone that I breastfed for that long 9 times of 10 I get a look like “Oh, you are one of THOSE mothers!” Yes, I guess I am:) I never was comfortable breastfeeding in public or in front of someone I knew would be uncomfortable with it. I am however so grateful for those moms that DO breastfeed in public AND in front of people that are uncomfortable:) We need more mothers like that…I just didn’t have the confidence at the time.

    April 11th, 2013 9:09 am Reply
    • Magda

      Very similar experience: I breastfed in public when my kids were small (probably up to 6 months or so). I just felt more comfortable doing it at home, in the car, etc. But if they had to eat, I would definitely ‘whip it out’. My MIL was totally supportive and thought it was great that I was breastfeeding past 1 year – my mom, not so much. When I went to see her, I would BF in another room. Overall, I BF my older son till he was 3, my younger is still going (he turned 3 in January). He’s down to one feeding in the morning and one before bed (totally his choice). I will be weaning him at the end of May when he goes to Europe for the summer.
      I never really discussed extended breastfeeding with many people. They just don’t get it!! If someone asked, I would totally discuss it. Otherwise, I just kept doing it (mostly at home) and that was that!

      April 11th, 2013 11:58 am Reply
  • Andrea

    I breastfeed in front of my children, daughters AND sons and I think that is the best and most natural way to remove the stigma from peoples minds, I find men whose mothers breastfed unashamedly in the home have no silly hang ups.

    April 11th, 2013 8:41 am Reply
    • ( : David’sKate : )

      I couldn’t agree more with you!!! I am very thankful for the way my mother-in-law approached this subject with my husband!

      April 17th, 2013 1:59 am Reply
  • Danielle

    I am currently breastfeeding my daughter who will be three next month. I plan on letting her wean herself as I know it’s very beneficial for her and it’s good bonding time for us. Thankfully, my husband is very supportive and thinks it’s great. I haven’t fed her in public for a while as there is usually no easy place to do it without calling a lot of attention to ourselves. If she asks, I usually tell her we need to wait until we get home; most of the time she’s okay with that. While I’m not ashamed for people to know I still breastfeed her, I do get nervous about people’s possible reactions, even though I shouldn’t.

    April 11th, 2013 8:08 am Reply

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