It’s been awhile since I regaled you with a tale about my boobs.
July 27, 2011

Yesterday when we were out, Charlotte requested MOOK! PEAS! (milk, please).  It was a hot day, so I looked around for a bench in the shade.  I found one, not altogether secluded and not altogether open, and I cradled my two-year-old in my arms and watched her suckle.

I took a video of her laughing, never releasing my nipple, while I made silly noises.  I kissed the top of her head and the tips of her sweaty toes.  And finally I just sat, watching the people walking by, as her belly filled with milk and her eyelids grew heavy.

It was perfect.  It was intimate.  It was “MY STARS, ARE YOU BREASTFEEDING?  MISS, ARE YOU BREASTFEEDING?” in public.

She was an older woman and she pulled herself out of a group of people to come talk to me.  I eyed her warily.  “Yes,” I said defensively, ready to fight.

“She’s a doll; how old is she?”

“She’s two.”

“And you’re still breastfeeding?  Good on you.”

“Well thank you,” I said surprised.  Relieved.

“No, THANK YOU,” she responded.  “I never nursed my babies.  People just didn’t do that back when I was raising kids.  I wish I had.  It’s one of my only regrets.  Maybe if I’d seen other women breastfeeding, it would have been different, but all I knew was bottles.  I hope some kids see you nursing so they learn how and so they learn that it’s not just for infants.  She’s too young to say it now, but she’ll thank you for this one day.  Trust me.”

I shrugged awkwardly, not knowing what to say.  She might be right.  My mother breastfed me as long as she could.  When Charlotte was born, I thanked her.

“Thank you for breastfeeding in public,” the woman said, smiling.  “Such a beautiful thing.”

And I thought: yeah.  This part too.

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  1. By Elly on July 27, 2011

    Oh bless. I love moments like this one, where strangers are thankful and encouraging rather than arrogant and bossy. Makes the world a better place, you know :)

  2. By Taryn on July 27, 2011

    Love this! I always feel a bit awkward toddler-NIP, this makes me feel much more confident. And love the photos :)

  3. By on July 27, 2011

    Thanks for this post. My son just weaned himself off the breastmilk - just shy of 19 months. I was so tired of people saying, “aren’t you done yet?“ I was proud we made it that long as I felt strongly I wanted him to choose when he no longer needed mom’s milk. It was very refreshing when I mentioned to an old friend I recently caught up with how long we made it and she praised us for nursing that long. I needed to hear that support.

  4. By Jet on July 27, 2011

    My mother nursed all 3 of us until we decided to self-wean.  My older brother nursed well into his 3rd year.  He called his milk from mama, “Knock-a-mama.“  We still giggle about it today.

    And, it just so happens I posted a photo of me nursing my son today as well.  3 cheers for doing what we feel is right for our family and our children!

    http://jetsjourney.blogspot.com

  5. By on July 27, 2011

    What a beautiful post!  My children are now older (23,19 and 11)  With each one I nursed a little longer (18mos., 23 mos., and 25 mos.  with the last).  I can honestly say that neither my children or myself felt ready to wean when we did, but I felt it was “time.“  By that I mean, no longer socially acceptable…that if I continued to nurse longer I would be viewed as weird.  Wish I had had your confidence back then.

  6. By Christy on July 27, 2011

    How sweet!

    Lily is 2 1/2 and I doubt we are going to stop nursing anytime soon.  She rarely if ever asks to nurse when we are away from home these days.  So I never run into this type of thing.

    Good for you and yay! for the lady.

  7. By christy on July 27, 2011

    love the story! i’ve always been to afraid to BF in public. once we were out and i hid behind a picnic bench by some tress but no one came by. phew.  i like sharon wish i had your confidence!

  8. By on July 27, 2011

    Inappropriate.

  9. By on July 27, 2011

    I agree with Ellery. Breastfeeding is wonderful, but at a certain age if animals wean the young.

  10. By Jeneva on July 27, 2011

    I’ll admit, I got a little teary reading that. I love hearing stories like this. Where women are praised for this. And I only nursed for a few months with each of mine. I didn’t have the confidence.

    Anyway, good for you. Do it for as long as you two want. And those pictures are just wonderful. Thank you for sharing them with us.

  11. By on July 27, 2011

    I recently weaned Jude at right around 2 years. If we weren’t expecting our second (and I weren’t so intimidated at the idea of tandem nursing) I’m not sure when I would have stopped. I’m fairly certain that he wasn’t totally ready - he very occasionally still asks for it and still ‘fondles’ them for comfort - but it’s what works for us as a unit while I’m expecting. I didn’t want to find out AFTER I had our second that I wasn’t comfortable with nursing two to make him feel shunned by the other kid (same thing with cutting off co-sleeping, etc).

    I think what you’re doing is great. Different people (above) obviously have different opinions of what is acceptable or what they personally can handle which makes this a particularly touchy issue (among so many others) but on the point of weaning young, I’m fairly certain wild mammals don’t just decide one day ‘alright baby cub, no more nipples for you’. It’s something that the child can decide upon in unison with the parent - and clearly Charlotte seems to share your feelings that it’s not time yet.

  12. By Cynthia A on July 27, 2011

    <3 this Sarah!  Thank you for posting!  You are doing the right thing for you and Char, and you know that.  People like Ellery and Jean need to grow up and face the fact the breastfeeding is natural thing, and DO NOT LOOK if you do not want to see….

    Bailey is still nursing at 21 months and I do not see the end in sight yet, we will see if she continues when we conceive our next baby.  LOVE your photos.  Beautiful!

  13. By Jeneva on July 27, 2011

    I’m sorry, but I must say something in response to Ellery and Jean and anyone else who feels that way:

    To compare a human child to another animal is a little absurd. Humans take a lot longer to leave their mom’s than other animals. In fact, most animals are considered “adults” after just a year or two of life. So it only makes sense that they would wean sooner.

    That being said, it is your opinion and you are entitled to it.

  14. By Amber on July 27, 2011

    I think it’s wonderful that you got such a postive reaction in public. Unfortunately, I feel like more people agree with Ellery & Jean than the rest of us. I am ashamed to admit that once upon a time I thought there was a certain age (maybe 18 months) after which point nursing was weird. I was ignorant. I had no idea that nursing a toddler has so many benefits for the family, that it promotes incredible bonding and that many countries (and also the WHO, right?) actually recommend breastfeeding for at least two years. It is only through increased awareness (and making bfing “normal” by nursing in public certainly helps!)that that sort of unfortunate ignorance can be chipped away. These pictures are beautiful! We nursed until 22 months and I’m proud. It was the best move for our family and it took a lot of work in the beginning.

  15. By Heather on July 27, 2011

    That’s an awesome story.  So often you hear the stories of the people who get angry at seeing people breastfeed in public.  It’s good to hear of someone who was so supportive.

  16. By on July 27, 2011

    Ok, but that is bit like saying that because your child can and wants to wear diapers until they are 6 you would encourage, and let them? At some point the adult mother needs to know when to encourage the newborn to be a toddler or child. Is breastfeeding beautiful, and healthy..of course. But, at some point the parent must encourage the child to wean. Do you encourage you child to eat with a spoon, and folk? Or will you let them eat with their hands until they are 10? No you encourage them to act like a child or young adult. Cause if you let them make the decisions, they will.

    To each their own, I suppose.

  17. By Kristina on July 27, 2011

    What a wonderful story!  And beautiful pictures!  Good for you mama for doing what is BEST for your child, even at 2 years old!  Shake off those negative comments.  You know what’s best for your family, and keep that in mind - and heart!

  18. By Sarah Christensen on July 27, 2011

    Jean and Ellery – I am addressing this comment to you, but I mean for it to address everyone who shares your opinion as well.  I am sorry but it will take two comments because my response spans over 5000 characters.

    First and foremost, I think that it is important to understand that within our family and my community, my breastfeeding choices are perfectly acceptable and appropriate.  Both sides of the family are highly supportive of nursing, and one side routinely breastfeeds children beyond toddlerhood.  I can count on one hand the number of parents I know who have opted out of breastfeeding, encountered physical difficulties with lactation, or weaned under six months.  Most of my friends were nursed by their mothers, one for up to five years, and several of my neighbors were charter members of La Leche League and nursed their children through pre-school and even kindergarten.  Most of the parents I see on a regular basis nurse their children on a natural-weaning schedule.  I also know several parents who are breastfeeding school-age children, although to be fair all of those families know each other and it is our support of breastfeeding which brought us together so I am aware that they are an oddball sub-set of the population.

    Secondly, my personal view of humans is highly biological.  All mammals have an age range between which most young naturally wean – all mammals except, that is, for humans.  This does not mean that humans do not have a natural weaning age – it means that we sometimes have sociocultural influences which dictate weaning ages as well as breastfeeding practices.  I do not personally feel that this is a good thing.  I also have a hard time thinking that all those people all those thousands of years who weaned children at two, four, six, eight, ten, or older were patently wrong.  I like to think that there is no right or wrong so long as there is respect for other perspectives and practices.

    As far as what a natural human weaning age might be, I think the best book that I have found on the topic is Katherine Dettwyler’s Breastfeeding: Biocultural Perspectives.  Not only does the book delve into natural weaning ages for monkeys, primates, and other mammals, it also discusses the science behind the studies and how it relates to human breastfeeding relationships.  The conclusion seems to be that a natural human weaning age is somewhere between 2.5 and 7 years of age – the wide range apparently due to the fact that larger mammals have wider windows during which their infants develop.  In a different section of the book, archaeological digs are discussed.  Although human breast-milk does not seem to have its own isotopic signature, bone density is an excellent way of determining how long children were nursed.  Skeletons at archaeological digs have indicated a wide range of weaning age as well, with indication that in some cultures children were likely breastfed exclusively for up to two years.

    There are several other books that touch on natural weaning ages, but most of them specifically deal with formula and breastfeeding industry.  Politics of Breastfeeding, by Gabrielle Palmer, is the one which I recommend most frequently.  It’s a fascinating read, and the only pro-breastfeeding feminist piece I have ever found.

    Thirdly, it is also important to understand that I did not enter into breastfeeding a toddler unawares.  I read dozens of medical studies and books over the span of two years.  I discussed it at length with my pediatrician, who recommends breastfeeding for a minimum of three years if Charlotte and I are both up for it.  I read the World Health Organization guidelines, which promote breastfeeding for a minimum of two years (they leave the upper limit open).  I do not feel that breastfeeding a two-year-old is inappropriate when it is in accordance with contemporary medical knowledge.

  19. By Sarah Christensen on July 27, 2011

    Fourth, I feel that comparisons to diapering and table etiquette are ineffective.  For one, many societies do not diaper or have entirely different table etiquette than we do – and in fact, cutlery was not commonplace in our society until relatively recently.  There is a Senegalese family near me who eats with their fingers – I have the choice of viewing this as the beautiful preservation of their culture or as blatant rudeness and I choose the first.  I prefer to respect their culture than to force them to integrate into mine.  It would be a boring world if we all had the same cultural practices.  For another, we have a wide range of what we consider acceptable ages for the cessation of diapering and I do not see why that courtesy should not be extended to breastfeeding behaviors and weaning ages.  And last, I do not think that it is fair to assume that continuing the breastfeeding relationship is allowing a child to exploit a mother.  My husband is completely supportive of my breastfeeding choices, for example, and is arguably more passionate than I am about maintaining the breastfeeding relationship we’ve established.  But more importantly, I do not think that viewing children as manipulative by nature is beneficial when parenting them.  I like to think that I am raising an adult – so if I want her to respect people then I need to show her respect and if I want her to make decisions independently then I need to give her opportunities to do so.  Allowing her to play an active role in deciding when one chapter of our mother-child relationship ends and another begins is part of that philosophy.  I respect that she will nurse less frequently or more frequently based on her needs and I trust that she will wean when she is ready and I believe that this will be a slow process that nurtures her not only through access to milk but also through access to decision-making and gradual independence.

    I understand that we are all the result of different sociocultural backgrounds and that as such we all have different thresholds for what is appropriate and not, but I do hope that this further explains why I do not agree that breastfeeding my two-year-old is inappropriate in any capacity.

  20. By on July 27, 2011

    @Cynthia- I fully agree that breastfeeding is a natural and beautiful thing. The human body and sex are beautiful natural things as well.

    However, we dont walk around public naked- we have a covering- it’s called clothing. Just because my husband is feeling a little frisky and wants to have sex- which is a human need, like eating is, although admittedly not to the same degree- we don’t have sex in public.

    I guess what I’m saying is nursing in public (up to a certain age*) is fine as long as your breasts are covered. Don’t start
    on the “do you wear something over your head while you
    eat?“ or “my areola and nipple are covered by my child’s
    face” garbage. It is inappropriate to pull out your breasts in
    public, even if it’s to feed your child, without a coverup.

    *IMHO I feel that if your child is old enough to ask for milk,
    as Charlotte is, or to “fondle mom’s breasts for comfort” as Jude apparently is, or to just lift their mother’s shirt anytime, anywhere for a beverage, it is high time to remove the breasts as an option. Give Charlotte a cup of milk. At 2, the benefits of breast milk are nowhere near what they are for
    infants. If Jude needs something for comfort, give him a lovey or cuddle with him (with your shirt on). If my child is upset in the middle of the mall and needs comfort, I’m sure as hell not whipping my breasts out. Sorry, not happening.

  21. By on July 27, 2011

    Sarah-Thank you for such a well written and scientifically based response.  My baby is almost a year old and I have recently been feeling weird breastfeeding her in public even though I know I should not have to feel uncomfortable.  My baby will no longer breastfeed when covered but she still emotionally and physically (until recently she would not eat solid foods) needs to breastfeed.  I have loved every minute of breastfeeding.  I love the way it makes me stop and remember that my baby is most important.  More important than cleaning the house, returning phone calls or even reading a book. It reminds me to keep her world view and needs in my perspective.  Thank you for encouraging so many of us to continue to do what is so obviously the right choice for our children.

  22. By Sarah on July 27, 2011

    @Ellery - My son is 10 months old, and is fully able to ask for me to nurse him (and has been able to for two months). Should I ignore my doctor, the APA and all common sense and deprive him of breast milk because he has the ability to ask for it? Would you take away a baby’s bottle because they learned how to request it?

    Sarah, these photos are lovely. I have made a commitment to myself to take photos of my son nursing tomorrow, because one day these moments will be memories. Thank you for the reminder. Blessings to you and beautiful Charlotte.

  23. By on July 27, 2011

    @ Sarah Christensen - you can breast feed your children, whip out our boobs in public, have your children fondle your boobs for comfort, not diaper your children and let them eat with there fingers.  But if I walked naked in the mall, because there are other societies and cultures that do not wear clothes, and went to the bathroom in hole in my back yard, because some other cultures do, well then I ‘m pretty sure you not defend that. What I’m saying is there is a time when children are children, not babies or newborns. They should be encouraged to grow and mature and be weaned.

  24. By Sarah Christensen on July 27, 2011

    Ellery - I do not feel that nursing in public is akin to walking around naked, nor do I feel that there is some arbitrary date at which point nursing in public becomes less acceptable than before.  I’d also like to point out that I always breastfeed with my shirt on.

    That said, I have heard the argument before that children who are old enough to request milk verbally are old enough to be denied, but I personally do not see the connection between verbal skill development and the benefits of breastfeeding or the ability to understand being denied a source of nourishment and comfort which was previously given freely.  We wouldn’t take away a bottle from an infant simply because they learned how to verbalize their desire for it, would we?  Furthermore, children develop verbally at different rates just as they are ready to wean at different times.  I am related to someone who did not speak a word until they were nearly five years old, regardless of the countless methods of intervention attempted.  Conversely, some children speak very early.  (I don’t know how early because admittedly Charlotte was a bit late in speaking).  And younger siblings often (not always) speak earlier than did their older siblings.  I think the only relationship between verbal development and breastfeeding is that people are more uncomfortable with a child asking their mother to give them milk with words than they are with a child asking their mother to give them milk with screams.

    Personally, I prefer the words.  They are quieter.

    I also think it is important to note that I’m not solely a breastfeeding woman.  I am first a mother.  I do not take parenting decisions such as nutrition lightly and as such I am fully aware that the benefits of breastfeeding a two-year-old are not the same as breastfeeding a two-week-old.  Of course, just because the benefits are reduced does not mean they are non-existent.  I also keep my kid rear-facing because the benefits of doing so are still conveyed at her age, even if they are not as acute as they are when she was a newborn.  I think we can all agree that as parents we make the best choices we can for our children’s welfare given our knowledge.  My knowledge is that breastfeeding continues to convey benefits to a child beyond infancy and beyond toddlerhood and into childhood, that breastfeeding may never entirely lose its benefits (many societies have traditionally offered breastmilk to the elderly to keep their health) so much as children outgrow their desire to partake, that my child is still interested in breastfeeding, and that I am willing to give of my milk.  Given that knowledge, I see no reason to wean.  I also see no reason to express my milk into a cup unless that is the solution that best fits my family.

    Last but not least, this is an excellent time to point out that a blog is a glimpse into someone’s life - but it is not their entire life.  What is my general stance on nursing in public and how do I typically handle public outings when my daughter wants to nurse?  How long was I out in public that day and does the length of time I am out and about with my daughter at all influence my reaction to her desire for or need of milk?  How do I feel about expressing milk, how does my child handle a cup, and how long does expressed milk keep in soCal summer weather?  Where were we and was my daughter familiar with her surroundings and how might that have affected her desire for or need of milk and would that have any bearing on my reaction to her request?  What lessons are Charlotte and I currently tackling and is it possible that her use of the word ‘please’ might influence my position on breastfeeding her in public?  How do I feel about loveys and does my daughter have any and if so were they with her and do I feel that loveys are equivalent to breastfeeding?  These are all questions that you cannot answer based solely on my post and I think that points to the fact that there is always more to a person and their values than might meet the eye if you were to, say, pass them nursing a two-year-old on a bench in the shade.

  25. By Sarah Christensen on July 27, 2011

    Jean - I agree that there is a time when children are children, and they are no longer babies or infants.  I do not think that there is an arbitrary date to determine when all children need to be weaned by and I do not think that children need to be encouraged to wean.  Just as children do not need to be encouraged to walk - they will eventually walk on their own.  Charlotte will eventually wean on her own.  When she started walking, I still let her crawl until she entirely crossed over.  While she weans, I will still let her nurse until she entirely ceases to want my milk.

  26. By on July 27, 2011

    Also, as you stated Sarah…those who breastfeed into Kindergarten and their school age children. As a mother of school age children…. I suggest you speak to a school psychologist before you consider breastfeeding school age children.

  27. By on July 27, 2011

    People, you are being ridiculous.  The WHO says world norms of nursing are from ages 4-7.  I still nurse my 3 yo in public, at work, in front of my customers…none of them complain, but if they did, they would be asked to go elsewhere.  I nursed my 13 yo untill he was 7.  That’s how humans were designed.  Just because you’re uptight doesn’t change biology.

  28. By Sarah Christensen on July 27, 2011

    Jean - I am not currently breastfeeding a school-aged child but I suspect that I will address Charlotte’s breastfeeding relationship at every age, and determine how I feel about it as it progresses, and make educated decisions in conjunction with my husband and our pediatrician about it as she ages.

  29. By Tracy Roberts on July 27, 2011

    I have to say WOW!

    Wow… that anyone would think you have to make a child use the toilet, eat with cutlery, stop nursing, or as Sarah pointed out, walk, climb, and in general GROW!

    They all grow up and they all want too unless they are forced to do it too quickly and then they suffer.

    Wow Sarah Christensen!  Your responses are excellent.

    Wow Sara… beautiful response with a good head on your shoulders!

    My son is the same age as Charlotte and so NEEDS to nurse and just as I did not deny him his needs as an infant, I will not deny him his needs as a teenager, and I will not now.

    Why do people feel the need to judge when both people involved are clearly happy with the arrangement.

    The comments on here by people who weaned and know there children were not ready makes me ache.  I never want to have that feeling about my child. 

    We are forgetting that our children will grow up and way too soon.  Enjoy your time with your nursling Sarah, she will give it up one day and way too soon.

    But my friend, I know you know this!

  30. By Cynthia A on July 27, 2011

    Tracy- well said.

  31. By Cynthia A on July 27, 2011

    Sarah- your responses are excellent.  Keep up the great work.

  32. By on July 27, 2011

    Sarah,
    First of all, I am of the opinion that nobody needs to explain/justify their parenting decisions to anyone for any reason. You are Charlotte’s mommy:-) However, your explanation - and done so kindly and respectfully - is so educational and so thoughtful that it has moved me to ears recalling all the ideas that I agree with and all of the precious moments I spent nursing my three children. The pictures are beautiful and just such a pure expression of a mother/child relationship. Reading your post brought to mind all the times I did the same with mine - all the giggles with milk-dribbled chins and the sweaty little dimpled hands and sweet toes - just lovely!

  33. By Macha on July 27, 2011

    I loooooove to hear about people getting compliments for breastfeeding in public.  I intend to breastfeed when I have children, and it just gives me this awful knot in my stomach when I think about getting accosted by strangers (and even family) just for doing the best thing for my baby.  It makes me sick to think about it.  Breastfeeding leads to physically and emotionally healthier children, and it’s just ridiculous to expect women to isolate themselves like they’re doing something shameful just so they can breastfeed on cue.  GOOD FOR YOU for proudly showing your mamahood in public!

  34. By on July 27, 2011

    I think your story is beautiful.  My son is a few months over two and we are still nursing as well.  My first son weaned himself at about seven months and it probably had alot to do with the fact I was not as supported asbi am now. I lived in a different state where I didn’t feel comfortable nursing in public or anywhere outside my home.  Now I am sad for what we missed and wish I had been more confident and secure in my decision to breastfeed.  No matter the age comments like “inappropriate” are inappropriate and quite frankly don’t even deserve a response.  We know what’s good for our babies and no one should or could tell us otherwise.

  35. By on July 27, 2011

    Wonderful post <3 I want to thank you too, for nursing in public and for blogging about it too. The more people see breastfeeding in public, the more they will see how normal and wonderful it is :D

  36. By The Sparkle Mama on July 27, 2011

    Such beautiful lovely amazing pictures!!  I loved your post it’s perfection!  People who may think they KNOW what’s right for all children need to do a little world traveling.  My 23 month old nursling has and will continue to be nursed in public.  We are descreet in our, it’s our own quiet moment way just like you described.  People who have hang ups can keep them to themselves is all I can say to people who disagree.

  37. By LeanneP on July 27, 2011

    I live in a place where it is perfectly legal for woman to walk around with no top on - just as it is for men, love my equal rights. I’m comfortable then, if another woman were to accidentally and momentarily flash a nipple or if the side or top of her breast was exposed.

    There will always be people who judge. There will always be people who believe they have the market cornered on what is ethical or culturally appropriate. I hope those people are happy. Good and deeply happy.

    Sarah, you know you are doing a wonderful thing. You were even told by a perfect stranger (how perfect was she, eh?!) you were doing a wonderful thing. You have nothing to worry about from the Ellery’s of the world.

    So, got anything really important to get riled up about? Like poverty or war or what kind of soda you prefer? :)

  38. By Macha on July 27, 2011

    PS - On comparing sex to breastfeeding:
    1. My mouth and my hands are WAY more involved during sex than my breasts.  But I don’t cover those up, and no rational person would expect me to on those grounds.
    2. The reason sex is private (with the exception of exhibitionists) is not because of the nudity.  It’s because of the intimacy between partners.  There are things I would only whisper in my husband’s ear, and not share with anyone else, not even just sexual things.  That’s because of the intimacy we have, and obviously no nudity is even involved.  Similar to the “using the toilet is natural, but you don’t do that in public” argument - the reason you don’t do that in front of people is because it’s unsanitary and it smells bad, not really because of the nudity.

    If you’re not comfortable with exposing your breasts to breastfeed, then don’t you uncover your breasts in public.  That’s your choice, and nobody has a right to tell you that you have to do something that makes you uncomfortable.  However, the fact that someone is comfortable with something that you aren’t doesn’t make them wrong.  It just makes them different.

  39. By on July 27, 2011

    First of all, this is beautiful and thank you for sharing. I’m currently nursing my 3 months old and hope to make it to 2 years, so good for you momma! Sadly, so many people view breastfeeding the same way these ladies do- if they can ask for it then they are too old. And the comment about breastfeeding older children and how you need to let them be independent, people should really do a little research- “Meeting a child’s dependency needs is the key to helping that child achieve independence. And children outgrow these needs according to their own unique timetable.“ Children who achieve independence at their own pace are more secure in that independence then children forced into independence prematurely. :) Keep up the good work Sarah!

  40. By Jaclynn on July 27, 2011

    Love. Love that stranger and love this post. Makes me wish we didn’t ween 3 weeks ago. Congrats to you and your free flowin boobs!

  41. By Rose on July 27, 2011

    Just wanted to say this is a beautiful story!  I am proudly nursing my almost one year old and hope to go until she tells me she is ready to stop.  Also just wanted to say, to the person who mentioned the breastmilk after a year or so isn’t as good as newborn breastmilk, I just read an article the other day, and of course can’t find it anywhere now, that breastmilk actually gets better the longer a mother continues to breastfeed.  So actually quite the opposite is true.

  42. By Christa on July 27, 2011

    The only thing inappropriate is people making ignorant comments. Across the world, the average age is 4-5 so nursing a 2 year old is inappropriate? What a beautiful post and people should keep their ignorant comments to themselves. Thank you for nursing your toddler in public!!!

  43. By erin on July 27, 2011

    I’m not sure I want to delve into this discussion, because I’m not sure I can articulate how I feel well enough to be clear and convincing.

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.  Ellery and Jean, I’m sure you have made parenting decisions that I or others would not agree with.  Whatever my thoughts on those decisions may be, I trust that you made (and continue to make) them with your child’s and your family’s best interests in mind.  I trust that you have done enough research to be confident in your decision.  Unfortunately, there are very few absolutes in parenting and what works for you and your family may not work for me and mine.  However, that does not make either of our parenting choices wrong.

    Societal discomfort with a parenting choice does not make it wrong.  Many families choose to practice elimination communication with very young infants.  Holding an infant over a toilet to pee instead of simply using diapers may make some people uncomfortable, especially if practiced in a public restroom.  Does someone else’s discomfort make that parent’s choices wrong?

    Children will choose to wean in their own time, just as they will choose to speak, walk, use tools to eat, toilet-train, or perform any other “milestones” that we decide are necessary.  Just as (I hope) you did not force your child to walk before they were ready, Sarah has chosen not to wean before Charlotte is ready.

    Finally - what is truly inappropriate is continuing to argue Sarah’s parenting decision.  As she mentioned, a blog is a slice of life and you do not know her situation, nor do you know the circumstances surrounding this little vignette.  I’ll be honest, I am personally not comfortable with toddler-nursing - which is why I am not nursing my toddler.  However, I choose not to judge someone else’s decision to nurse their toddler, and truly I admire Sarah’s courage to not only continue to nurse her toddler in the face of not only perceived or actual criticism in real life, but to post about it online and open herself up to virtual criticism.  If you don’t agree or feel that she is parenting her child inappropriately, you can choose to not read her blog or not participate in the comment discussion surrounding her posts.

  44. By Christa on July 27, 2011

    Oh and Sarah? I’m sorry that you have ignorant stupid people making ridiculous comments on your beautiful story. It’s a lovely post and I’m ashamed that there are people out there who are so incredibly stupid.

  45. By on July 27, 2011

    It is sad, but it is because of people like Jean and Ellery that I am constantly self conscious of breastfeeding my two year old anywhere but in my home. Where I feel like I *should* take my child to the bathroom to nurse, because what if one of these women comes up to me and attacks me with ignorant responses. I forced my oldest daughter to wean when she was 8 months old because of pressure from family. It was a torturous time where I forced her to use a bottle and would not put her to breast, no matter how much she screamed. It was an awful feeling, and I feel even worse about it now than I did back then, because back then I fed myself all kinds of excuses and reasons and supposed facts to weaning her early. My daughter is now 8, and is an extremely sensitive, extremely attached child. I wonder if her behavior has anything to do with my denying my child a natural need as an infant. I feel like I failed her. And it was because of that experience that I chose to breastfeed my youngest child until she decides to wean. She is now 25 months, and has cut down on the frequency of nursing, but is not showing signs that she is ready to stop. I know that she needs this, for nutrition, for comfort, and for mother-child bonding. Yes, she uses a cup. Yes, she uses utensils (sometimes). Yes, she is potty trained. She is very much a little girl, who happens to still breastfeed. Breastfeeding is not hindering her development in any way. It is not harmful for her or myself. I am creating a strong, independent child who recognizes that her mother is fulfilling every need she has, without question. And as mentioned in previous posts, the WHO recommends breastfeeding for AT LEAST 2 years, and studies/statistics show that the NATURAL weaning age in humans is anywhere from 2.5 - 7 years old. My daughter hasn’t even reached the minimum guideline, so why should I feel bad about tending to her? I am fortunate enough to live in a community that seems to be more approving of nursing toddlers, in private or public, and yet because of the stigma caused by ignorance, I still have this fear and self-consciousness.

    Sarah, I thank you for your positive post on breastfeeding a toddler, complete with such beautiful pictures, that reinforces and reminds me why I continue to bond with my child in this way. The next time I find myself in a situation where I am out in public and my child asks to nurse, I hope I will remember this post and the information provided, and will have the confidence to fulfill my daughter’s needs. And I hope that children see me nursing my daughter and hold that with them into adulthood.

  46. By on July 27, 2011

    @Erin, I’m sorry I did not realize the comment section was reserved for only those who agree.

    @ Sarah, you last post addressing me, was well said. I wish you all the best.

  47. By Teresa on July 27, 2011

    Couldn’t have said it better Kate. I have read all these comments remembering my sweet two year old girls nursing. This was 11 years ago, no one was approaching us to give us kudos but we kept on anyway. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

  48. By on July 27, 2011

    Awww, yay for you! I love this story. I nursed my second until he was 20 months old (and I was 7 months pregnant). He self-weaned and I am now one year into my blissful breastfeeding relationship with baby 3. I have had compliments from strangers too. It makes you feel good, eh? :)

  49. By Lorien on July 27, 2011

    Beautiful post, beautiful pictures, beautiful child.  Thank you for writing this post: you are eloquent, well informed and much, much more polite than I would have been had those negative comments showed on my personal blog.  Also, thank YOU for nursing your toddler in public—my almost-two year old thanks you as well :)  We nurse out and about specifically to challenge those societal norms that state for some arbitrary reason that it’s ok to parade down a sidewalk with a too-small bikini top and one’s ass cheeks hanging out of one’s shorts (though only if one is young and trim), but not ok to discretely lift one’s shirt to nurse a sweet toddler asking for ‘mik peese’!

  50. By on July 27, 2011

    I fully believe that everyone has a right to their own opinion.  However, those who want to be overly critical and judgmental really need to ask themselves why breastfeeding an older child bothers them so much.  Did you ever experience breastfeeding a child?  I am a first-time mom who has chosen to breastfeed my child.  He is 4 1/2 months.  I am proud to say that I am gaining confidence with breastfeeding him in public…only because of people like Sarah and the ladies of the breastfeeding group I attend.  It was just recently that I nursed my son without a cover.  That being said…I did not “whip it out”.  Breastfeeding in pubic can be done in a tasteful and tactful manner, using a cover or not.  For the people who actually decide to look at me as I breastfeed, they also have the option to look away…no one is making them watch.  If you consider the attire that many people wear these days, both in public and on TV, I am sure you would see much more revealed *on purpose* than you would ever see with me discreetly feeding my child.  If you look at cultural norms, especially in the American culture, it seems that we have much more to worry about causing harm to our children in this generation and the generations to come, rather than debating whether or not extended breastfeeding is going to affect their mental stability if we don’t stop within a “socially acceptable” time frame.  Personally, I don’t know how long I will breastfeed my son.  I have thought of a specific time frame to wean my son before. But, when I go back and think about it, the only reasons I can give for weaning are selfish, only considering what I want.  Don’t get me wrong.  My son is not going to dictate my choices in life….but when you become a mother, you have to learn how to be selfless.  I agree 100% with the older woman in the article: if only more people set a positive example for other women, maybe more people would breastfeed.  I understand that breastfeeding is not physically possible or a feasible option for some families.  That is fine.  They have made the best decision about what works for them.  Isn’t it about time to stop being critical of other peoples’ decisions?  If you have a difference of opinion, there is a way to say what you want without throwing daggers.

  51. By Sarah Christensen on July 27, 2011

    Everyone who has come here to lend support, I want to say thank you so very much.

    Jean - Thanks; I hope that we can simply agree to disagree.  As well, I think that Erin was making a point about my parenting choices being called into question repeatedly after I had explained why I made the decisions I did.  Erin herself pointed out that she does not agree with me and that toddler nursing makes her uncomfortable, so I do not think that she was saying that she thinks comments should only be welcome here if they are in concert with my opinions.  Differing perspectives - be they yours or Erin’s or someone else’s entirely - are always welcome here so long as they are respectful.

    And Tara, please please please know that next time you’re in public and your daughter wants milk, I’m in your corner and there are plenty of other people who are too.  I hope that nobody ever makes you feel like you are doing anything less than wonderful - you are loving your family and caring for your children in the way you feel is best and THAT is always worthy of kind words.

  52. By Rose on July 27, 2011

    Lorien:  great point!  I get so disgusted by the fact that our society is totally fine with a girl/woman walking down the street wearing booty shirts and a barely there bikini top, leaving hardly anything to the imagination, yet a mother is not allowed to feed her baby with far less skin showing than the women walking past her giving her dirty looks.

  53. By erin on July 27, 2011

    Jean, obviously the comments section is not only for those who agree.  However, it is disrespectful and rude to continue to criticize this specific decision Sarah has made, and to continue to attempt to sway her opinion.  This may be an open forum, but it might behoove you (and all of us) to think of this blog as Sarah’s virtual “home.“  She has invited you in to her “home” and allowed you to be part of her life in the same manner that she might in real life.  Just as you would likely find it rude if someone criticized your parenting style in your own home, it is rude of you to continue to do so in Sarah’s virtual “home.“

    At any rate, your point has been made and responded to.  You’re not going to change your mind, she’s not going to change hers, I’m not going to change mine.  We’re all still doing what we feel is best for our families and our children, given the circumstances that we are all individually placed in and the “tools” that we bring to the table in the manner in which we have been raised and the information with which we continue to educate ourselves.  No matter what age your child was breastfed to, I’m sure your child is just as happy and healthy and well-adjusted as Charlotte is.  I’m not trying to argue - there’s no point in arguing.

  54. By DBM on July 27, 2011

    http://mythnomore.blogspot.com/2010/12/breastfeeding-two-year-old.html
    Another personal story.
    Perfectly biologically normal. Just in some places there seems to have been collective amnesia about what normal really is. Xo

  55. By Lynne Gomez on July 27, 2011

    Beautiful post! The photos are amazing!! How wonderful for this woman to come up to you and share! :) Kuddos to her!! MAJOR KUDDOS!! :)

    You are so right that it passes far to quickly!

    I posted this blog to my facebook page “Stop Canterbury Mobile Home Park Harassment”. I hope you don’t mind! I know my fans/likers/whatever will enjoy it! :)

  56. By on July 27, 2011

    good on you, lovely story here are some links for you http://breastfeeding.asn.au/bfinfo/sustained.html http://breastfeeding.asn.au/bfinfo/toddler.html http://breastfeeding.asn.au/bfinfo/out.html in Australia it is illegal for anyone to ask you to stop breastfeeding in public unless you are somewhere the baby shouldn’t be for example at a bar in the pub or at the pokies. I think the more mums breastfeed their children in public, the more normal it will be seen to be

  57. By Kirsty on July 27, 2011

    Amazing pictures, beautiful story.
    It is stories like yours that make me wish I was able to breastfeed my 19 month old. She has never been breastfed; because of a tongue tie I had to express and bottle feed, but my supply only managed a year.
    There have been so many times in the last 7 months that I have wished she was able to breastfeed. When she was sick I got donor milk, but there are so many times a cuddle just doesn’t cut it and a boob would be so much better.
    Number two is due in November, so I hope to be able to say this time in two years that I am breastfeeding a toddler, it would be the ultimate achievement.
    Thank you for sharing your story and your beautiful photos. Thank you to the stranger who thanked you for breastfeeding your toddler in public.
    Ignore the uneducated commenters; you know that what you are doing is wonderful, natural, and normal and that is all that matters.

  58. By on July 27, 2011

    I am still nursing my 19 month old on demand.  She has been asking for “ninny” since she was about 8-9 months old.  There is nothing quite like looking down into their eyes knowing that you’re giving them everything they really need.  Kudos to you, Sarah!  Thank you for sharing your story and for replying so diplomatically to the nay-sayers.  You represent the rest of us so well, and I would not have been able to keep my cool as you did.  :)

  59. By on July 27, 2011

    I nursed my daughter up until she was 10 months old, and decided that I would wean her gradually by only doing mornings and nights. Once I cut out the daytime feedings, she would laugh at me anytime I tried to nurse her. I regret it now, but hindsight is 20/20 and my next baby will be weaned when they want to be weaned. I don’t believe in nursing an older child, but I don’t condone it and love that woman are doing it and love that their children still enjoy it. My daughter who will be 2 in October, still remembers what my breasts gave her, she will look up at them and ask “some? num nums?“ and I let her put her mouth to them and that is all she does.
    For these people who are arguing for a point of it being “not proper,“ I want to know who told you it was not proper? What makes it not proper? What is wrong with a woman who makes her own decison (which is a right, and for a child who makes a decision to still ask for boobies(which is a right)?
    Honestly, this story made me smile; that an older woman would cherish something so special and something so personal.
    My boyfriend found nothing sexual about my daughter breastfeeing, so why should anyone else? My breasts were a source of food and nutrients that I will not deny my child.
    My mother breastfed, my aunts and random woman we would see outside of the house breastfed and hung them out free, I wish society was the way it was back then, because then I wouldn’t feel ashamed for showing my breasts while feeding my young.

  60. By Amanda on July 27, 2011

    Beautiful pictures! Your little one is so adorable.
    I haven’t had anyone come up to me as of yet and say anything good or bad in respects to NIP. I am always on guard though and have responses ready in case anyone says anything. I hate to be tensed up like that.
    I love that that woman was open to you breastfeeding. I hope to stumble across someone like that! My little guy is 7 months old.

  61. By on July 28, 2011

    Thanks for this post!

    I have never quite understood the facisnation with weaning when they can ask for it. Doesnt make sense to me that vocal skills and nutritional, boding or whatever other needs are related.  While its a good goal to aim for, BF til they can talk well… I just think its so natural to let it be.

    I also looked into that whole animals wean their children thing… These are some numbers I saw .

    1 In a group of 21 species of non-human primates (monkeys and apes) studied by Holly Smith, she found that the offspring were weaned at the same time they were getting their first permanent molars. In humans, that would be: 5.5-6.0 years.

    2. It has been common for pediatricians to claim that length of gestation is approximately equal to length of nursing in many species, suggesting a weaning age of 9 months for humans. However, this relationship turns out to be affected by how large the adult animals are—the larger the adults, the longer the length of breastfeeding relative to gestation. For chimpanzees and gorillas, the two primates closest in size to humans and also the most closely genetically related, the relationship is 6 to 1. That is to say, they nurse their offspring for SIX times the length of gestation (actually 6.1 for chimps and 6.4 for gorillas, with humans mid-way in size between these two). In humans, that would be: 4.5 years of nursing (six times the 9 months of gestation).

    3. It has been common for pediatricians to claim that most mammals wean their offspring when they have tripled their birth weight, suggesting a weaning age of 1 year in humans. Again though, this is affected by body weight, with larger mammals nursing their offspring until they have quadrupled their birth weight. In humans, quadrupling of birth weight occurs between 2.5 and 3.5 years, usually.

    4. One study of primates showed that the offspring were weaned when they had reached about 1/3 their adult weight. This happens in humans at about 5-7 years.

    5. A comparison of weaning age and sexual maturity in non-human primates suggests a weaning age of 6-7 for humans (about half-way to reproductive maturity).

    6. Studies have shown that a child’s immune system doesn’t completely mature until about 6 years of age, and it is well established that breast milk helps develop the immune system and augment it with maternal antibodies as long as breast milk is produced

    I think it would be interesting to see all animals in a chart with their weaning age in relative human years. I think we’d realize that most of society is crazy, arbitrarily assigning dates we need to wean by!!!

  62. By on July 28, 2011

    @ Ellery -
    I just thought I’d comment that I don’t encourage Jude to use my breasts as comfort any more than I encourage him to use his thumb for comfort or to snuggle up with his stuffed animals or to come running to me for a hug if he falls and scratches his knee. All of which he does. But that being said, I’m not going to reprimand him and say any of it is inappropriate if he needs that support. He doesn’t whip my boob out of my shirt, I don’t take it off at nap time so he can nuzzle his head in between them - he just rests his hands between/on/whatever because to him, they have always been some form of comfort.

    I have had a number of friends who weaned at much younger ages than Jude (10months-1year range) and all of them have told me stories about their child asking for milk well beyond weaning in addition to seeking their breasts in one way or another for comfort. They all entertained the interest their children had in a very open way and eventually the attachment to the breast was lost - as it will eventually be lost for Sarah and the other slew of people who continue to nurse beyond the ‘socially acceptable age’ (whatever that may be to you)

    It’s my personal belief that eventually/naturally Jude will find something else that comforts him. But it’s also my personal opinion that denying him of something as harmless as my breasts is more detrimental to his growth and development than the alternative.

  63. By Amber Morrisey on July 28, 2011

    That is so beautiful. I always smile at nursing mothers and hope they receive it as the woman in your story. Because, you know, running up to someone and hugging them is a bit strange ;)

  64. By on July 28, 2011

    What a wonderful thing.  I have been surprised by the fact that the only people that have made comments to me while I BF in public are older women.  The comments are always positive and lovely.  I agree, what a great way to promote breastfeeding….feed your baby in public.  Its the only way to make it normal.  Thanks for your post!

  65. By on July 28, 2011

    Perfectly acceptable to breastfeed a toddler WHENEVER they’re hungry. The nutritional benefits are still there and I know it helps her to feel secure and loved. I’m sure the naysayers would be only too happy to sit next to you while you denied a screaming two year old.

  66. By on July 28, 2011

    Sarah,

    Thank you from one Sarah to another! I live in the conservative South East and since I have been breastfeeding my Ruby for the last 6 months, I have seen ONE other women breastfeeding in public and we are out and about a lot. It absolutely shocks and saddens me. I wish you were feeding Charlotte in MY local park- it would encourage the socks off me!

  67. By on July 28, 2011

    Hi
    I would just like to add a recommendation for a great book called “breastfeeding older children” by Ann Sinnott - it was a big help to me!  (I am nursing my 41/2 yr old and 2 yr old)  I remembered it because of the comment made about checking with the school psychologist before nursing your school age child.  In her book Ann makes it perfectly clear that there are simply no studies (ie: NOT ONE!!) on the psychological effects of nursing a child past the age of about 2 - so the opinion of ANY psychologist on the matter is merely a personal (very potentially culturally biased) opinion not based on any scientific data.  In fact Ann’s survey of well over 1000 mothers nursing their “older” children is probably the best, and only information out there for making a more informed choice (if you need more than your own relationship with your own child)

  68. By on July 28, 2011

    I wonder if the discomfort some have about breast feeding children who are older than infants has anything to do with the sexual way that breasts are seen in our society.  For a time, I referred to my breasts as the community chest because my husband enjoyed them sexually, by 4 year old would cuddle up against them for comfort and my 15 month old would nurse vigorously from them.  I had no trouble keeping all of that straight and never felt sexual stirrings during nursing/cuddling but maybe that is hard or impossible for others and that makes them uncomfortable.

  69. By on July 28, 2011

    It’s a sad day when our society is more comfortable with a barely concealed woman is sprawled on a billboard rather than with a barely concealed nursing mother.. I agree that we tend to sexualize breasts, but after breastfeeding my dtr, I can confidently say that when my dtr needs to nurse, they are NOT sexual objects, but rather a source of food!! I covered myself as best I could, but I fed my dtr confidently in public as well!! Congrats, Momma, you have my support!!

  70. By Christy @ Adventures in Mommyhood on July 28, 2011

    Such a beautiful post, it made me tear up a bit to read.  After reading so many negative NIP expereinces it’s so refreshing to read such a positive one.  How sad that so many felt the need to taint it wil ugly, rude and just plain mean comments.  In an effort not to taint it any further I will leave it at that.  Wonderful post!

  71. By KAS on July 28, 2011

    I’m teary-eyed! My BFing relationships with my two boys were too short and sabotauged (forgive the misspelling, my phone won’t let me spellcheck it). I would have loved to let them self-wean - my second, barely two now, would surely still be nursing. A beautiful reminder of how precious this relationship is to both mom and baby! The negative comments here are heartbreaking, but such is life in our society today. I hope that together we can all help these harmful stereotypes of breastfeeding, child-led weaning, and nursing in public change for the better.

  72. By on July 28, 2011

    Kristine,I’m pleased to know that Ann SInnot’s book “Breastfeeding Older Children” has been a help to you! I was one of the mama’s who were interviewed for the book,and answered a series of questions a couple yrs. ago. I was glad to be a part of it. I’m still nursing my daughter and I’ve never felt like it is anyones business but ours.

  73. By Sarah Christensen on July 28, 2011

    Rebecca - I’ve found the same thing.  The vast majority of people who say anything to me are older women.  And most of them are very supportive.  When Charlotte was a baby, one woman at the park wanted to watch her nurse and tell me all about how her baby had once nursed.  And her baby was all grown up and retiring soon!  I rarely hear any dissent in public, but these days I also carry the California state law in my wallet and am very wary of strangers approaching me while I breastfeed.  All it takes is one bad apple to make me nervous about everyone else.

    Kristine and Danielle - I would like to third the recommendation of Ann’s book.  I checked it out from the library when my daughter was an infant and I gobbled the whole thing down in no time.  It’s an extraordinary book and I’d forgotten all about how it touched on the psychological impacts of nursing an older child.

    Alicia K - Hear hear!

    Bobbi - I love when people who don’t have the same practices or beliefs can still come together and respect one another’s choices.  Thank you so much.

    Mitzie - I think that the sexualization of breasts in our culture is probably related to some degree to disapproval of nursing older children.  My breasts have different purposes in my life and I have no problem differentiating between those purposes, but I think that some people are probably uncomfortable with the idea of coupling something that can be sexual with an innocent child.

  74. By Kris on July 28, 2011

    What a marvelous story! I actually teared up a bit. I never nursed my last baby in public after she turned 2, but with this one maybe I will.
    My own Mom’s greatest regret is not nursing her children too.
    Thank you for sharing.

  75. By on July 28, 2011

    My son nursed until a few months shy of 4 years old.  Even now almost a year later, when he hurts himself he comes to me for a cuddle and puts his head on my breasts and rests there for comfort for a few moments. 

    Those photos are very beautiful and what a wonderful story.

  76. By on July 28, 2011

    Beautiful post. Forwarded to friends….but even better is the well argued defense!

  77. By on July 28, 2011

    So there is a book, by an author who unless I am mistaken is not a psychologist in her own right. Has there been any research done on the negative affects of breastfeeding a school age child? Or are you saying there is none at all? I would like to know that when your older breastfeeding child, or children are in school, will they keep it a secret from their peers? Or will they inform they classmates that they breastfeed? And you want to say that it’s a personal family issue to be kept at home….... you obviously have not had a child in Kindergarten. I am not saying NOT TO breastfeed, I am not saying that it is dirty, or sexual or that you must go in hiding. Furthermore, my comment is not going to change your mind, nor stop you from breastfeeding your older children; lets be realistic. In ‘my’ opinion, it is at a certain point I believe children need to grow and mature, and be a child. And that breastfeeding a child or school age children is inappropriate. It’s not an argument, it’s an opinion. You are more then welcome to disagree, as I have the right to disagree with yours.

  78. By on July 28, 2011

    That’s like saying gay teens are depressed, but not looking at the problem of them being bullied.  You shouldn’t breast feed your kid because other kids will make fun?  And where would they have gotten that idea?  From THEIR parents? 

    I live in a liberal area where many people nurse into the school age years.  It’s normal here, so no one gets made fun of.  It’s just a non-issue.

  79. By tara pollard pakosta on July 28, 2011

    soooo sweet!
    I have very few pix of me breastfeeding and wish that I had MORE!
    My firstborn only nursed 10 months, HER CHOICE, not mine. I cried and cried. she had gone on a nursing strike at 7.5-8 months old for 3 weeks and I MADE her continue by not giving her anything else, but she just would NOT (strong willed) do it any longer at 10 months….so when my 2nd born daughter came along and was a VERY HAPPY nurser, she nursed until she was 3 years OLD! and I LOVED IT!
    I still miss it sometimes!
    do it as long as she will let you!
    my sister in law did it until her daughter was SIX!
    tara

  80. By on July 28, 2011

    @Dana. This has nothing to do with gay teens, or being bullied. Secondly, what you consider normal and what others consider normal is a difference in opinion.
    Yes, there are going to be parents as myself who do not agree with breastfeeding older, and school age children. Yes, there will be other parents and children ‘in school’,who may also see it as inappropriate.

  81. By on July 28, 2011

    It has nothing to do with gay teens, yet is exactly the same.  You shouldn’t nurse, junior, because someone will make fun of you.  How about instead we address the bullies who are making our kids feel bad? 

    My oldest nurser was 7.  It wasn’t a big secret, but I don’t think it came up in conversation much, either.  No one ever made fun of him for it.  I have known plenty of 5 and 6 yo nurslings, too, but none that I know have ever been made fun of.  It’s almost exclusively adults with issues who have problems with it, not other kids, anyway! 

    I teach my kids to do what they think is right…not to do what will get them teased the least.

  82. By Sarah Christensen on July 28, 2011

    Jean - I could be wrong, but I do not think there is much research at all into the topic.  My understanding is that the population who nurses children beyond toddlerhood in our culture is so small that it is difficult to conduct studies that control for other variables that the families might have in common and have adequate insight into the topic.  I think there are only one or two studies and that all of them have their limits.

    My personal opinion is that parenting school-aged children has a set of needs which I cannot predict until my daughter is that age.  When she is five or six or seven, I hope that I will be continually assessing all aspects of my daughter’s life through both my eyes and hers.  If she is beginning to feel awkward about nursing then I suspect that I will give weaning an extra push in much the same way that one day I will put training wheels on her bike and then let go.  I think that sometimes children want to end a part of their relationship with their parents but don’t know how and I hope that I have the sensitivity to be constantly paying attention to how she feels about breastfeeding.  But unless I’m receiving cues from her that indicate that she needs my help in weaning, it’s important to me to continue allowing her to play an active role in the weaning process.  She nurses less frequently today than she did a year ago or even six months ago, after all, which I think indicates that she is already naturally weaning herself slowly but surely.  It may take another few months or another few years for our breastfeeding relationship to come to an end, but I feel confident that my daughter will continue to nurse less frequently as she grows and changes and that one day she will simply not want my milk any longer.  At this age, I feel that Charlotte is still more baby than child.  Sometimes I look at her and see that she is not the baby she was, but more often I look at her and see that she is a baby yet.  As that changes, so too will our breastfeeding relationship.  And as she weans, she will naturally grow more independent and I will encourage her to continue maturing at her own rate throughout childhood.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I should point out that we plan on home-educating and belong to home-education co-ops populated by families with very similar parenting methodologies to our own, which I think makes it easier for me to feel comfortable with nursing a school-aged child in that my daughter will be surrounded by peers who have a later weaning age in common with her and who are frequently exposed to breastfeeding children of many ages.

    Last but not least, it is important to me to point out that I respect your right to differ in opinion from me and I respect your perspective as well, even if we do not see eye-to-eye on this issue.  I do read every comment that is placed on my site and many of the commenters do not agree with me.  Sometimes they sway me, sometimes they don’t.  Please don’t think that I am dismissing you, because I’m not.  I am listening to what you are saying and some of your points will give me food for thought for quite awhile.

  83. By on July 28, 2011

    beautiful story indeed!

  84. By on July 28, 2011

    My daughter is 21 months now and I stil breastfeed.  In terms of publicly, it all depends on the situation - the location, who is around, why she wants to nurse, her mood, etc… I do not use a coverup but I try to be as discreet as possbile- try to keep my breast covered up with my shirt as well as you can with an almost 2 year old.  I’m unsure of how long I will breastfeed.  I plan to follow her lead, but I’m sre there will come a point where if she hasn’t self-weaned that I will attempt to.  Obviously I’m ok with toddlers still breastfeeding, but I am uncomfortable with school age kids still doing it.  I’m not sure what the age is that would start making me uncomfortable. 
    Out of curiousity Sarah, of the people you know that still BF school age kids, do any of them do it publicly or is it just an at home thing?

  85. By Sarah Christensen on July 28, 2011

    Kyla - I think most of them are only nursing at home maybe once a day or once every few days, but I’m not positive.  I met the group when I first started breastfeeding and even though I’d known of other women to nurse up through age five, I’d never known anyone to go beyond that so I thought they were all whack-jobs, but I think that the more you’re around something the less you care about it or notice it honestly, especially when the mothers and children involved all seem pretty happy with the arrangement.  It doesn’t come up in conversation anymore and I don’t really remember all the answers they doled out when I first joined the group.

    When Charlotte was about six months old, I met another mother through a city-sponsored mom group.  She was nursing her baby (1), her preschooler (3.5), and her first-grader (6).  She would check the first-grader out of school for lunch and nurse the kid on the bench outside of the school where the other kids could see.  So obviously she had no problem with nursing an older child in public.  I remember at the time that I asked if she was worried about teasing and what-not especially since the other kids could see her child nursing and she was taking her child away from lunchtime with their peers and she said that she’d been nursed until she was eight and that the other kids knew and she’d never been teased for it, and that she had a 10-year-old who had nursed until they were nearly nine and that they had only been teased once, and that was by an adult, not a kid.  I’m not saying that she’s representative of the whole population or anything, but I was really surprised.  And sort of horrified that an adult had teased a kid about anything - that seems very wrong to me.  I haven’t seen her in well over a year, but she definitely made me feel more open to nursing children in public.

  86. By on July 28, 2011

    @Sarah Christensen, Thank you Sarah, you are very kind. I know the subject of breastfeeding is touchy, and opinions will always differ from one to another. I do agree that there is not enough research on breastfeeding toddlers, or school age children. Either way, I think there are pros and cons to everything in life, and difference in opinion will always be there. With that said, as mothers we will all make the best decisions for our own children. Thank you for your respect in my thoughts, and opinions. All breastfeeding aside, Charlotte is adorable little girl. Take care.

  87. By Sarah Christensen on July 28, 2011

    Jean - You too.  And thank you very much for your kind words.  I think Charlotte’s lovely, but then I’m biased =)  No, but seriously, she’s adorable.  This morning when she woke up she told me she dreamed about “Momma give baby kisses” HEART MELT!

  88. By on July 28, 2011

    =)

  89. By on July 28, 2011

    An interesting story on the topic of kids being teased for nursing (sorry, it could get long and drawn out)...

    When I was growing up, I remember one day that a little boy who was about 4 or 5 told the group of kids playing in my neighborhood that he was going home. It was a small neighborhood, so all of us kids used to play together regardless of age, so it was very common for this particular child to be part of our play group even though I was maybe 4 years older. I hardly remember what he said or why, but one of the kids who was closer in age to him made some sort of mocking comment about how he was going home to nurse (or as a 5 year old would say ‘suck on his mom’s boobies’!).

    My stepmother nursed my younger half brothers (and is a big part of why I think I made the decision to nurse) - and so I was familiar with the idea of nursing, but remember thinking it was strange. None of the other kids really commented about it to the little boy aside from that particular kid and maybe one or two others who seemed to be following his lead that it was ‘weird’ - but really the whole concept to children not in a nursing environment probably seems more strange (and perhaps even made-up) than anything, so how can they even begin to make sense of it enough to formulate a put-down?

    My stepmom had always been very private about nursing and my dad and her made it clear to us that nursing was for babies. My memories from the whole event are very hazy, I was young and it really didn’t play out as a big deal, but I know that kid continued to play with us and I have no other memories of it ever being brought up again.

    I remember that in particular I wondered at the mechanics of it - my stepmom seemed to make it clear to me (as the only other female in the house, she was very open with me about nursing) that at a certain age the milk was gone and that’s just how it was so it seemed so bizarre that this woman was still making milk 4+ years later! I guess I kind of saw her as some sort of crazy exception to the rule that milk just goes away.

    While we all encounter our share of bullies and there are always extreme exceptions to any rule, I think that the average young child is very forgiving and could make fun of someone for something stupid one day and forget all about it the next. How many kids argue and bicker with their friends and minutes later are back playing together as if nothing happened (I just witnessed it in the amount of time it took for me to type this between my son and a friend’s child I’m watching for the day)

    In this particular situation, chances are that both mothers had a conversation where the one revealed she was still nursing her 4 year old. The one probably went home and said something negative about it to her husband that her child overheard and the child just repeated it in front of the other kids without any idea of what he was saying. So, to assume that nursing children past a given age opens up the flood gates for emotional instability as the result of bullying is (in this particular case) hardly supported.

    Had the other child not mentioned it, no one would have even known he was nursed - I think the older children get the less common it is for it to happen outside of the home because they become more and more distracted with their surroundings. Even after it was mentioned no one even knew enough about it (or cared enough about it) to bring it up beyond this isolated case which probably had very little affect on the mental stability of the child (whom as I said continued to play with the group well beyond this incident as if nothing happened).

  90. By on July 28, 2011

    Since I’ve had my son, my life has completely turned upside down. My opinions have changed drastically by being exposed to a variety of people with different passions and beliefs; from breastfeeding to parenting techniques to cloth diapers to cloth pads…

    Originally I wanted to breastfeed. Unfortunately that didn’t work out, so I pumped instead. After 3 months I gave up because I couldn’t keep up with my son (I pumped about 1 L a day!). In retrospect, I should have cut down the pumping to a manageable amount and supplemented the rest. *sigh* I’m so envious when I read posts about breastfeeding.

    Anyway, reading all the comments makes me remember a conversation I had with my friends a few years ago (we were all about 30 years old at the time). One friend was a daycare teacher and she talked about the toddlers who still breastfed. And then she talked about the 5-year old who still breastfed. Everyone laughed and made jokes about it. I didn’t know any better, so I laughed too. How ridiculous! Weird! Inappropriate! But had I been surrounded by people like you, I would have formed such a different opinion. It’s unfortunate but now I’m a little jaded by the thought of an older child being breastfed.

    I think if we were exposed to it more (or at least educated about it at a younger age), we would be more open and tolerant to it. That’s the case with almost any kind of intolerance today…

    It actually makes me realize how many decisions I am making for my son that are not fully researched. I do things that I *think* are best, but maybe there’s information out there that would change my mind. Like maybe I should have read more about pumping before giving up…

  91. By Angela Harrison on July 28, 2011

    At a certain age hmmm? Based on science the natural age for weaning a human child is between four and five years of age so two is well within the normal range. Plus, scientific evidence shows that there are benefits to breastfeeding until AT LEAST age two. If that offends others, well, I don[‘t know what to say about that. Are they offended by normal sleep patterns or other biologically determined functions? It is a CULTURAL issue that makes them uncomfortable with it, they are not use to it that’s all. People are often also misinformed about it and don’t understand the science behind it. If you want to talk about infant brain development and attachment, then the longer you can breastfeed , the better, trust me on this!

    I also was approached in public once and congratulated on breastfeeding my toddler in public. The woman was from Europe and said it was normal and standard there and she didn’t understand what the big issue was in America over the whole thing. It’s cultural, and the only way to change the culture is to educate people and to be visible, people need to see it need to stretch their comfort zone a little. So on behalf of breastfeeding mothers and children everywhere, THANK YOU!

  92. By Angela Harrison on July 28, 2011

    MC: There was a time when I also would have said a breastfeeing toddler weird, strange and inappropriate. Having my daughter who steadfastly refused to give it up at the age of one made me reconsider and research. One of my favorite sayings is: When we know better, we do better. So never beat yourself up for doing the best you knew how at the time!

  93. By Molly on July 28, 2011

    Sarah, as usual, your writing is beautiful and your answers to tough questions are educated and well written:).
    I am currently nursing both a 21 month old little girl and a 9 week old baby boy.
    To be honest, the decision to tandem nurse just felt natural and best for our family.
    While I choose not to nurse publicly, I see nothing wrong with those who do. To each his own, ya know? Whatever happened to supporting each other as mama’s????
    It takes a village, no?
    :)

  94. By Marisa on July 28, 2011

    I don’t have a problem with breastfeeding in public. 
    But I have to admit that when I read other mom blogs and on my computer screen boobs pop up (not one picture, but a few) then it’s like, “Really?“
    I feel like it’s a woman’s version of - Who has the biggest penis.  Seriously.  There are other mom blogs that go to this extreme of making their point and I just don’t understand it.  Showing pictures of one’s child chewing on their nipple is not something I need to see in order to understand one’s point. 
    Again, I FULLY support breastfeeding until whatever age the child would like to breastfeed, but plastering pictures on the internet, I’m guessing, is just for more traffic to one’s blog and for shock value.

  95. By on July 28, 2011

    Marissa,

    Ill respectfully disagree with your comment on how its for traffic. I think that many women who have blogs about parenting use it as a modern tool for writing their childs accomplishments and milestones down. A new age scrapbook sorta. She probably didnt put the picture up to piss you off, or to shock you, I doubt she considered any one of us, its her blog about her life and really I know I love the pictures of my daughters nursing because it was a long and proud time in our life.

    As for the shock value though, really it gets people reading and then it gets discussion flowing. IF the title but no picture was there I would say half the comments would be here. If you truly are pro breastfeeding then you should want more support (if not for yourself, for others), and for that to happen you need more awareness. To create awareness it often takes a bit of shock value.

    And come one, how is this at all the same as the who has the bigger penis talks, thats ridiculous. Does a bigger penis result in a happier life, increased bonding, self confidence, higher intelligence, decrease in allergies etc.. or just in general does it truly improve ones life… No. So if women are going to compare these things that better lifes of others why would we even try to call it a competition. ITs called support and encouragement!! Maybe her post will result in ONE more baby being breastfed til 2 (or older), that would be amazing!!

  96. By Sarah Christensen on July 28, 2011

    Marisa - I honestly never thought of it that way.  I post breastfeeding photographs on my blog (and have since Charlotte’s birth) because breastfeeding is a part of my parenthood.  For the most part, I try to make this blog a reasonable mix of the many various sides of my life as a mother - and breastfeeding is part of that.  I’m not a busty woman and never have been (pre-breastfeeding I was almost an A cup, and for several months postpartum I made it up to an A cup, but now I’m back to almost being an A cup lol), so it’s not that I’m trying to show off the size of my breasts or anything like that.

    I chose very early to post pictures because it’s an important part of parenthood to me - and also because I think it’s beautiful.  Before I was a parent, I read a blog where the woman regularly posted very tactful and very beautiful images of her nursing her babies.  I thought it was super cool that she had the confidence to do that, and that she was able to use those pictures to educate readers who were curious about breastfeeding, and that she was able to do it in such a way that it was never awkward to look at.  When I was a couple days postpartum and was struggling to establish a successful breastfeeding relationship, I remembered that blog and thought THAT is what I want my breastfeeding posts to be like.  Realistic, beautiful, tactful, and done in such a way that I could help people who were curious and be reminded to have confidence because the opportunity to nurse a child is an extraordinary gift.  In the beginning, I received alot of complaints about the images because an image of a bad latch showed my areola and an image that I was so proud of (because I was able to stand up straight for the first time in ten days and do it while nursing, which was multitasking like I’d never dreamed possible when I popped the baby out) showed me topless, using the baby as a censor strip, etc.  They were realistic, though, and for every person who was annoyed, there were also people who found it helpful to see what a bad latch looked ilke and who thought it was funny that it took me time to adjust to doing two things at once (like breathing and breastfeeding lol, seriously, I was awful).  I don’t want to say that I’m above shock value, because I’m probably not.  But I do think it’s fair to say that I will not use my child or something I value as much as my breastfeeding relationship with her for shock value.

    I understand your point and I think it’s a good one, but I also think that I’ll keep the breastfeeding images on my site.  They’re a record of my parenthood as it’s evolved, and I really enjoy them.  I hope that nobody ever looks at my pictures and thinks I do it just for shock value, because I don’t.  There are way better posts and pictures that I could use if I wanted to do that.

  97. By Sarah Christensen on July 28, 2011

    I should also explain here that as a result of me posting breastfeeding pictures online, I have been rejected by a number of advertisers, was handily turned away by an ad network that spent months courting me before they actually took a look at my site, and have had shops refuse to continue working with me.  I could have just taken down the pictures and taken the money and nobody would have been the wiser, but I opted out because I felt like it was compromising my values and my personal beliefs as well as my goals for this webspace and my desire to document the important bits of my daughter’s childhood.  At this point, I think it would be fair to say that I would actually have my pride bruised a bit by changing my tune on that now.  So although I disagree with the idea that breastfeeding pictures are a shock value thing or a traffic booster (which I think also implies that I’m only in it for the traffic - and if that were the case, I’d have left my values in the dust a long time ago and taken the cash), I think it’s also a valid point that I’m too stubborn to change my mind now.  It’s already cost me =P

  98. By Marisa on July 29, 2011

    Sarah, because of your last comment…. for that purpose alone you should keep posting the photos then :)  I (insert expletive) hate it when companies oooh and ahhhh over someone then pull away simply because someone is documenting their life as they are truly living it.  Curse words and all… it’s that person’s blog and really, you are doing them a favor by letting them post ads on your personal site. 

    Peace.

  99. By on July 29, 2011

    Your feeding pictures are beautiful Sarah xx

  100. By Jordan Marie Schilleci on July 29, 2011

    my first visit and already in love. my daughter is only 4 months old and we are going strong with the breast feeding! you have a zillion comments, but at that age.. do you breastfeed on a schedule or does she ask for it or ? i am so curious. i know i want to make it past one year.. i bet you have some tips on your blog somewhere.. off to search..

    <3xojo

  101. By on July 30, 2011

    Sarah this is absolutely beautiful, you have encouraged me to continue nursing my 20 mth old. what a lovely story, a lovely lady and lovely photos. You’re answers are factual, evidence based and well written. I hope people learn that this is what’s normal not bottles and dummies. Well done and keep up the good work. Xx

  102. By Sarah Christensen on July 30, 2011

    Marisa - I hate it too.  I don’t understand why companies can’t embrace that personal websites succeed because they are individual.  I get press releases all the time that ask for small changes - maybe I could delete this one post or that series of pictures or how about that expletive? - and it pisses me off every single time.  It’s like saying to someone “I’ll be your friend, but only if you dye your hair purple.“  It really surprises me how many bloggers in that situation are willing to dye their hair purple, though, so who knows?  Maybe I’m missing the boat.

    Gwen - Thank you, what a sweet comment =)  You made my day!  Keep on keeping on, mama!

    Jordan - I’ve never breastfed on a schedule, always on cue, BUT my daughter has been night-weaned for a very long time as well.  She began sleeping through the night around six days of age on her own.  The first week, she wanted milk every forty-or-so minutes around the clock, but when she suddenly started sleeping through the night she increased her intake to every twenty-or-so minutes throughout the day.  That lasted for a long time.  At various times, my daughter has cut out nursings - for awhile she even went down to one suckling a day - but she’s always ramped that back up shortly thereafter.  Right now, Charlotte still nurses several times a day.  Now that she’s older, she usually tells me when she would like milk or I offer it to her when her behavior gives me reason to believe she needs a little time away from all the busy-ness going on around her.  When Charlotte was pre-verbal, she used sign language (and good old-fashioned crying) (also: rooting and snuffling and shoving her face down my shirt or licking my chest desperately) to let me know when she wanted milk.  I think that the verbalization is much much easier lol.  And “MOOK” was one of her first words.

    I have a good friend who has scheduled each of her children.  I think that there are some definite benefits.  I just never felt comfortable with it personally because Charlotte slept so well at night - I worried that if she didn’t nurse on cue during the day then she might not get as much milk as she needed before sleeping like a log again.  I tried scheduling once, briefly, when my daughter was about ten months old.  She wasn’t really into solid foods so even though we introduced them at six months, she was nine or ten months old before she ever had solid food more than maybe once a week.  And even then, it was rarely more than one spoonful or bite.  I was worried that she wasn’t going to get enough nutrients from me, so I tried scheduling her so that I was clear on how much milk she had and so that she had a routine she could rely on for solid food in-between milk.

    As I said, it didn’t last long.  My milk supply dropped drastically, I ended up with a plugged duct which turned into a breast infection (something I seem particularly prone to), and she clearly felt that applesauce was not equivalent to my milk.  So I say do what works best for you and for me that was cue-feeding.

  103. By Lindsay on July 30, 2011

    I think it’s absolutely disgusting and completely terrifying that people can find something NEGATIVE in this post. And the fact that people are so passionate with that negativity has me just staring at the screen in disbelief. What can people possibly find negative about a mother feeding her child; about a mother doing the most natural thing possible?

    I always planned on breastfeeding but was faced with a difficult birth and an inability to breastfeed which has traumatized me so much that I am in therapy to try to accept (as much as it’s possible to accept such a thing). My birth trauma and the health issues that followed it robbed me off my natural ability to feed my child as I would have loved to. I’m so comforted and my pain alleviates a little when I see posts like this, posts where mothers accept their ability to feed their child in this natural and beautiful way. To know people find negativity in this is, like I said, downright frightening.

  104. By Lynne Gomez on July 30, 2011

    Lindsay,

    Please come join my page and post your comment.. or give me permission to post it on my page!
    @Stop Canterbury Mobile Home Park Harassment

    Apparently management has taken notice of my page and is monitoring it and I would LOVE your post to be on my page! You can read all about the harassment throughout the page.

    Thank you! :)

  105. By Lynne Gomez on July 30, 2011

    Crap lol.. Lindsay, that’s on facebook.. sorry I forgot to tell you where to find it :)

  106. By Sarah Christensen on July 30, 2011

    Lindsay - My heart aches for you.  I am so profoundly sorry that breastfeeding did not work out for you when you so wanted it to.  I cannot imagine the hurt that must be associated with such a loss and I hope that as you go forward with the healing process, you never forget that you are an excellent mother and a capable woman, regardless of the (sometimes shitty) cards life dealt you.  I also hope that if you find yourself walking the same path in the future that your birth and your breastfeeding journey are much more positive experiences.

  107. By Lindsay on July 30, 2011

    Sarah,

    Thank you so much for your kindness, seriously. It’s so hard when you look forward to something for so long…and once I was put on bedrest during my pregnancy, it all felt downhill from there. Like I just couldn’t win! All of the preparations I took and the care I took, it seemed nothing mattered and those shitty cards just kept getting dealt. But I have a healthy, beautiful, amazing son and I am just trying to focus on the fact that I have him. He, the ultimate goodness, came out of an otherwise unpleasant experience. Yes, I hope one day I am waking the same path and am able to have the breastfeeding journey I always dreamed of. I’m trying not to give up hope, or, rather, to gain it back again. All I have to do is look into the eyes of my beautiful little one-month old love of my life and I’ll start to feel hope again. Being a mom is incredible.

    I read your blog all of the time while pregnant and just want to say that you are an amazing mother. I learned so many wonderful things about parenthood from you! Keep up the awesome work and ignore all of the clearly misinformed people. My mind is still completely boggled by these negative opinions. It really is scary.

  108. By on July 31, 2011

    Sorry Sarah but I think taking a picture of yourself in a park while brestfeeding is kind of creepy.

  109. By on July 31, 2011

    Joyce,
    Please investigate why you feel that way, and with complete scrutiny examine whether or not your feelings are justified.

  110. By on July 31, 2011

    Why would Sarah have a need to take a picture of herself in a Park! She can take pictures of an intimate moment at home. We have a person like Sarah in our family and its uncomfortable for some of men and boys to be around when it’s in Your Face breastfeeding. Some have even made excuses not to be at family functions because it is uncomfortable. I am all for breastfeeding as I did my own, but use a little common sense and discretion.

  111. By Angela Harrison on July 31, 2011

    I am so sick of hearing how breast feeding is “in your face’ or ‘militant” if you don’t manage to cover every tiny inch of flesh because some poor male might see it! Really? You can see more on any beach, at any public pool, in any advertisement and on most teen/young adult women’s low cut t shirts these days and no one has an issue with that. What are these impressionable young boys going to learn from seeing a mother breastfeed her infant? That breasts are for feeding babies? GOOD! Being uncomfortable with it implies that there is something wrong with it. Any sexual connotation is in the mind of the offended person. The discomfort is because they are not use to it. My 19 year old son was breastfeed and saw his siblings breastfed and is not uncomfortable around it. Why? Because to him, it’s normal and natural and in no way connect to sex. I’m sorry Joyce, but it sounds to me like your family is the one with the issue, not the person who is simply feeding her child.

  112. By Angela Harrison on July 31, 2011

    Sarah, you know anyone who finds it creepy is the one with the issue. You are doing a beautiful and natural thing and giving the best start to your child and that is all that matters.

  113. By Angela Harrison on July 31, 2011

    http://angeladarland.multiply.com/journal/item/126/Breastfeeding

    and now you’ve made me write a blog about your blog!

  114. By on July 31, 2011

    Ask Sarah if she gets the feeling that it makes Some of her family uncomfortable at her family functions. Ask her if she notice that people walk away when she decides it’s time to feed. Ask her if she doesn’t care that she is making it uncomfortable for others.. It’s selfish to assume that everyone wants to see it or cares to. Whats wrong with being discreet? I bet not all of her family is so overjoyed at watching .@angela taking pictures like that at a park..OH pleassse..Inapropriate like Elleryon said..

  115. By Jordan Marie on July 31, 2011

    Showed  picture to my love and his response to the negative comments.. “Seriously this is what you have to be upset about.. 3 wars.. And a debt crisis.. And the tender act of breastfeeding offends you.“

  116. By on July 31, 2011

    My child had a stroke at 10 m from mold in our home that our landlord wouldn’t fix. Didn’t realize that could happen. Anyhow I’m mentioning this because the mind institute dr. who treated her told me and encouraged me to continue breastfeeding for as long as I could,me being me I’d already planned on that. I asked him what he meant by that exactly,as in how long. He said that anything past 2 yrs. is great,it is so healthy for their brains he said,as well as all the other benefits to child and mama. I said even till 3 and he said oh yes,as long as you can nurse do it. So here is an educated medical dr. skilled in brain development giving me valuable breastfeeding advice. All the drs. that have ever seen my child have been amazed how well she healed up from the stroke. I absolutely believe they are connected. As for the stroke,and children getting them in Europe the drs. are well aware of the connection between mold and strokes in children. Here in USA they are not aware of this,and believe it only shows up as viral encephalitus which means that it only effects the lungs in their limited knowledge of effect. Europe is ahead of us in this for sure.

  117. By Angela Harrison on July 31, 2011

    Well, Joyce, what can I say? Other than, who cares? Should someones discomfort, based on ignorance and prejudice, come before a child’s well being? Not in my book. Who is forcing these family members to watch?  I suppose Sarah and her child should be banned from being part of the family gatherings?

    I have breastfed my babies at many family gatherings with no issues what so ever. Again, the discomfort isn’t caused by feeding the child, it’s in the mind of the person who can only see breasts as a sexual object. No child should be denied being breastfed due to someone else’s lack of education.

  118. By Angela Harrison on July 31, 2011

    Jordan, I love your husbands response! It seems to me that some people just like to create drama where there isn’t any!

  119. By Kirsty on July 31, 2011

    I really don’t understand this concept of ‘in your face breastfeeding’.
    If someone had their boobs and baby 20cms (a foot) away from your face, sure, that could be ‘called in your face’ and would be pretty rude. But if someone is sitting in the park, a mall, family function, wherever, and feeding their child, that can’t be called ‘in your face’. If your face is that close to a mother feeding her child, stop being so rude and get out of their personal space!

  120. By on July 31, 2011

    Joyce
    In the human body we have many different parts that serve different purposes.  Hands for grabbing and holding, mouths for eating and kissing and talking, eyes for seeing, etc… and MAMMORY GLANDS for making milk to feed our young!!!

    I’m sorry but the fact that breasts also sometimes serve a TOTALLY secondary function in our sexuality (hence all the repressed “eww!  Keep it discreet!  crap!)  is entirely beside the point - so do our mouths and our hands, and whatever else we want to involve!  Our CULTURE is wrong in it’s desire to hide away the breastfeeding mother - and so every INDIVIDUAL must really really take a tough look at why they feel so wierd about mammory glands and GET OVER IT!!!

    (sorry all for the caps….feeling a little testy!)

  121. By Sarah Christensen on July 31, 2011

    Danielle - When I first started reading your comment, I froze.  I am so relieved and so grateful that your daughter has healed up so well.  I agree with you - it doesn’t seem like her progress and your continued breastfeeding (per doctor’s orders or not) are unrelated.

    Joyce - I have been mulling over your comments for quite some time and I want to be clear that you are dangerously close to overstepping your bounds.

    If you have any questions about the nature of my breastfeeding relationship, about why I have made the decisions I have, or about the many various experiences I have had while nursing and how they have influenced my choices relative to breastfeeding, then I encourage you to ask them.  I will do my best to answer honestly and respectfully.  You can also likely find many answers in my breastfeeding category archives.  I also feel that you are always entitled to your own opinion and I hope that you feel comfortable expressing that opinion here.  I do believe in open and honest discussion, even where we might not agree, so long as the discussion remains respectful.

    That said, I will say this once and only once.  MY FAMILY IS OFF LIMITS.  I and my relatives are the only people here who are welcome to make any comments as to the personal qualities of my family.  Do not ever make the mistake again of jumping to conclusions about people you do not have the privilege to know and my relationships with them.  I am going to take your statements as a question.  I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt and say that you meant to ask “do your relatives ever express discomfort with your decision to nurse in public or in front of them?” and I am going to answer that question as simply as I can.  In the future, I hope that you can remember that my family are people.  They have not chosen to write a blog and their actions, beliefs, values, etc. are not open to critique.

    For the purpose of quenching your curiosity, I am going to repeat something I said in a comment above.  In our family and in our community (our community being defined as close friends and neighbors, people our family sees frequently and who form our metaphorical village), breastfeeding a toddler and doing so openly is perfectly acceptable.  I have never had a friend or relative refuse to look at me while nursing and I have never had a friend or relative excuse themselves from the room, act uncomfortable, or make unsupportive comments about it.  I’ve certainly never had anybody make excuses not to be at a gathering.  A large chunk of our family nurses their children BEYOND toddlerhood.  Not ‘until’ toddlerhood, BEYOND toddlerhood.  At a holiday gathering we attend every year, one of the women nurses her children openly until they self-wean, be that age four or age seven.  I sometimes ask if everyone’s okay, and I am always waved off.  I am lucky to have been born into a family and to have built a community of friends who really don’t think breastfeeding is a big deal.  We’re all pretty easygoing folk.  Breastfeeding tolerance and support is part of the culture of my family and, to the best of my knowledge, always has been.

    When one of the women in my family was still nursing her baby several years back, she once excused herself from the room.  One of my aunts came forward and told her this: “You do what you feel comfortable doing for you and for your baby.  The two of you are the only ones that matter in this.”  It is an oft-repeated story in my family and one that comes up regularly when I am breastfeeding my daughter.  In another story that I love to tell, one of the women immediately postpartum waffled a bit on whether or not to continue nursing.  It was far more difficult and painful than she’d anticipated.  An older woman in the family came out to her strong and clear: “If you want to dance,” she said, “then you have to pay the fiddle.”  Breastfeeding was EXPECTED of her because it was a fundamental part of the family’s parenting practices.  And so she nursed.  My relatives, it is safe to say, not only don’t give a rat’s ass how I feed my child, but also endorse it, support it, and sometimes expect no less.

    Of all my encounters with family and friends, I have only once had someone act awkwardly.  Not someone I am related to, friends with, or interact with on any sort of predictable schedule, but someone I do know and tolerate because of our mutual contacts.  After the person said something about it, everyone in the room stood up for me, male and female.  It has not been an issue since and given how infrequently I see them, I suspect it never will be.  Of all the people in my family, my greatest concern was always my father.  I thought certainly it would be weird for him, but I was wrong.  My dad will play with Charlotte while she’s breastfeeding.  I guess that means he’s fine.

    I have no idea what your family is like or why your family perceives breastfeeding the way it does or reacts to a breastfeeding woman the way it does, but I think that our families (and our communities) are vastly different.  I also suspect that you and I differ greatly on this issue.  I do not feel that it is selfish to breastfeed my child, either.  And I don’t agree with the argument that I or any other woman should make decisions about how to nourish our children based on the convictions of people who disagree with breastfeeding or are uncomfortable with it or who don’t want to see a child suckling or what-not.  Some people don’t agree with public displays of affection, but I’m not going to stop kissing my husband or holding his hand or giving him hugs.  I don’t think that’s selfish either.  I think it just shows that we are all different and have different ideas of what is and is not acceptable.  You can never, not in a million years, please everyone, so my rule of thumb is to focus on what I feel is best for my family and then on what is fitting in my community.

  122. By Sarah Christensen on July 31, 2011

    Joyce – I’m sorry, I forgot.  You had another concern – that taking a picture of myself nursing my daughter in a public space is ‘creepy’.

    In this, I disagree.  The light was beautiful, the weather was pleasant, and I wanted to remember what she looked like RIGHT THEN because to me it was perfect.  I personally feel that how a parent chooses to document their child’s upbringing is their own business.  Some people like a bunch of posed pictures in front of monuments.  Some people like candids.  Some people like blurries.  I like photos of my daughter as I see her in a specific moment, doing things we do often, in surroundings that compose the backdrop of her childhood.  That includes breastfeeding, and in this case, it included breastfeeding behind an art museum.

    It’s a little perfect that I was at an art museum, though, because I get to use this example: beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  What is one man’s masterpiece is another man’s junk, and in this case what I feel is beautiful you do not.  I’m okay with that and I hope that we can agree to disagree in this respect.

  123. By KAS on July 31, 2011

    I’m admittedly becoming more and more frustrated by the massive amount of negative commentary. While I realize that everyone is certainly allowed their opinions, I realize too that many of these opinions are based on the society-forced idea that somehow breasts are unnatural, disgustingly sexual, and should not be shown in any context - other, of course, than the clothing that many women choose to wear in public on a daily basis. I know I would personally rather someone happen to catch a glimpse of skin - god forbid! - because I am feeding my child than because I am wearing so little clothing out in public that I am practically flashing everyone. I think the pictures remind me of how my own boys act; these are opportunities that I will never have with them because we did not have the opportunity to continue to breastfeed to this point. The few pictures I do have of him after nursing are so peaceful and happy - I only wish I’d been able to capture those loving moments when he was old enough to convey his appreciation and contentment in ways other than the occasional facial expression.
    People who are so firmly convinced that breasts are not to be thought of as anything more than “funbags” are the exact reason that breastfeeding mothers currently still experience so many problems, even in states where their rights are firmly upheld and intact. Those of you who are so desperate to instill a sense of guilt in women who choose to breastfeed in public - often without “whipping them out” as you (general you) so happily call this beautiful bonding experience - are THE EXACT REASON why women give up this opportunity far too early, who insist on denying their older babies and toddlers and even preschoolers the opportunity to nurse freely, be it at home or in public; you are the reason that women go against all better reasoning and the cries of their hearts to wean their children when they are four, six, nine months old, long before most children willingly give up the breast, at an age where a bottle is still a perfectly acceptable accessory in public but a breast is for some reason taboo.
    I only ask that you please remember that next time you are rolling your eyes, groaning indignantly that somehow your rights are being infringed upon by a woman giving her baby the absolute best she can because she is choosing to breastfeed in public, and she has perhaps chosen not to use a cover or perhaps her baby refuses to nurse with a cover on, that when you react so negatively you are not encouraging to her to find someplace away from YOUR eyes to feed her child - you are encouraging her to give up this relationship completely. A breastfeeding mother in public does not see you reacting to the situation, she sees you reacting to what SHE is PERSONALLY doing, and that is feeding her child the best possible way - so when you give her grief, and cause her to feel guilt, you are telling her that BREASTFEEDING is not all right. You are not at all conveying the idea that you are personally not accepting of the idea that she is fulfilling her child’s NEEDS. You are telling her that her choice to breastfeed is not acceptable to you, that it insults and disgusts her, and you can bet that one day, your disgusted eyeroll or nasty comments made just loud enough that she can hear, or the shake of your head that you give her, or your request for her to cover up or leave, will be the breaking point for some poor mom who is already struggling and learning the personality and quirks of a brand new addition to her family, who does not need the critical, crude comments of a complete stranger who feels the need to intrude into her life and choices, and you WILL be the reason one day that a mother just like that will give up her breastfeeding relationship with her child.
    Think it can’t happen, or that surely you can’t or won’t be that person? You will. It does happen, I’ve talked to too many moms who have suffered cruelty at the hands of uninformed strangers, and I know it happens. Please do not contribute to the suffering of moms who may be struggling with things you cannot begin to imagine or conceive because you feel the need to make someone else feel miserable about a choice that is otherwise positive, helpful, healthy, and enriching. Quite simply, it makes you look like a twit.
    Sarah, I didn’t mention it before, but you’ve found a new follower in me. I wish you all the best, your daughter is amazing, and so are you. <3

  124. By on August 01, 2011

    I just wanted to add something else. No one makes anyone feel anything,we do that on our own.
    I’m responsible for my own thoughts,feelings,and projections onto other people. They are responsible for theirs.
    People will always have their own versions of truth/reality,whether it’s a core truth or not.
    To me a vital God truth is this: is is love based,or fear based? If love then that’s a God truth,if fear then it’s an illusion and human created.
    As for breastfeeding my child I’ve never felt that I needed,desired,nor required anyone elses opinion about when I breastfeed,how long I nurse,or when I stop altogether.
    Having said this, I personally felt shy about,and a bit nervous about being approached in a negative manner while breastfeeding her so I chose to avoid it while in public unless in our car,or on a bench away from traffic. In the town I live in I’d heard that women had been approached very negatively about public nursing. I felt like if that happened to me during my sweet time nursing my beloved that I would rip their heads off,me being protective,and when I feel vulnerable I can react defensively. So I avoided the situation altogether. I’m not much of a go outer anyway,so it didn’t come up.
    All the comments made in support of the simple facts about the naturalness of breastfeeding I support.
    My child is school aged and she nurses at night. She is about to self wean and it’s all happened on her terms,naturally.
    Sarah,thanks for your blog,your sharing,your beauty,and your loving energy.

  125. By Amanda Jillian on August 02, 2011

    This is AWESOME! I used to get people all the time that thanked me for breastfeeding my son in public. I don’t get it so much for my daughter since we’re having a hard time and we don’t go out much .... plus there’s my mother’s comments about it that bother me, which I don’t remember her doing with my son.  ;-/

  126. By on August 02, 2011

    Wow!  So much to think about….

    I have always considered myself to be a supporter of breast-feeding.  Somewhere around 2 years of age seems to be the arbitrary “limit” in my mind.  I did feel a little taken aback by the pictures for whatever reason.  They are beautiful, maybe just not something I’m used to seeing.

    I’m about 85% sure I wish I could have a baby.

    Thanks for your interesting posts, Sarah.  I hope all is well.

  127. By on August 06, 2011

    Just chanced on this and pleased I did! 

    @Sarah, your pics are beautiful!  Have read quite a lot of posts and briefly scanned others. 

    It’s always so heartening to encounter experienced and well-informed mothers - no need for me to add :)  Let’s hope that other ill-informed commentators [usual stereotypical criticisms] learn from reading such considered, well-written posts!

    @Kristine, more than 2000 mothers (and many many fathers) from 48 countries responded to the surveys I ran for my book ‘Breastfeeding Older Children’.  BOC was published Jan 2010, at that point there had been NO psychosocial adjustment studies on children bfd for longer than a year, far less on any who bfd until more advanced ages.  BUT things are beginning to change!  A research group at Notre Dame University, USA, previewed their findings in Sept 2010 (to be published in a forthcoming book: for sound emotional and moral development, six parenting practices are recommended - including breastfeeding until the age of five!

    @Danielle, thankyou for taking part in the survey. You mothers who took part made the book possible.  I constantly hear words of thanks from mothers who say reading the book has changed their lives - so, Danielle, congratulate yourself!

  128. By Rachael on August 06, 2011

    Such a lovely post, and such beautiful photos.  My almost 2 year old is “still” nursing although usually just at bedtime.  I wish he nursed more but I go out to work for long 11.5 hour shifts and over time he has stopped nursing during the day.  Our time together at bedtime is so special and he seems to really need that time to connect with me and wind down.  I weaned his sister at 17 months as she had begun biting (again) and I couldn’t face it any longer, with hindsight I wish I had tried to carry on longer with her.

  129. By on August 06, 2011

    Beautiful pictures! I completely agree with you! My daughter is 12 months old and still nursing. We will not be stopping until SHE is ready.  I feel sad about how uneducated our society is about breastfeeding….all we can do is continue to be kind, open and honest, and help to educate those who oppose us.  God speed!

  130. By on August 06, 2011

    I just found your blog and so far I love it!  I am currently nursing my 3 1/2 yo and my soon to be kindergartener.  If anyone had asked me 5 years and 4 months ago if I’d still be nursing I would have said NO WAY!  Why would anyone nurse a kindergartener, it’s weird, creepy, etc.  Well, here we are and my kids are normal, intelligent, welll-adjusted kids with no noticeable psycho-social problems to speak of.  How about that? :)  What people don’t understand is that it’s not like you just wake up one day and nurse a 2 yo or 3 or 4 or 5 or EVEN 6 yo.  My big tall 5 yo was once a tiny newborn and then a chubby infant, then a toddler, preschooler, and now a kindergartener.  Her needs have changed and she mostly doesn’t nurse anymore, just mornings and not every morning anymore.  My 3 1/2 yo nurses quite a bit and thank goodness he does because he’s not really into eating food.  Very picky.  And to the woman who thinks they ought to just “have a cup of milk,“ we don’t drink cow milk because, frankly, I’m grossed out by the idea of drinking a cup of the mammary secretions from a cow.  (and they don’t tolerate it well) I guess just the same way you are disgusted by my children drinking human milk :)  Way to go and screw all the naysayers.  I will be a reader of your blog from now on!  Oh, and I’m extremely jealous of your family!  Mine is somewhat supportive but in a “she’s crazy so we aren’t going to say anything” sort of way.

  131. By on August 06, 2011

    Oh, and as for silverware and diapering.  What is with people thinking that nursing children don’t know how to eat??????  Unlike most of my kids’ peers that were bottlefed, my kids weren’t spoon fed babyfood and therefore learned how to eat independently by 12 months old, with a spoon and fork.  My daughter potty learned all on her own on her 3 rd bday and my son on his own at 2 years 1 week old.  So they are not delayed in any way developmentally by nursing.  And I’m not sure either has ever discussed it with their friends.  Do your children discuss their drink of choice with their friends?

  132. By on August 08, 2011

    Not everyone who chooses to stop breastfeeding is ignorant, lazy, or uptight. Just like women who choose to breastfeed into their child’s toddlehood don’t like blanket statements being made about them, I don’t appreciate blanket statements about women who chose not to continue nursing. You do not help your cause by being rude and implying negative things about women you do not know. That goes for BOTH sides of the discussion.

  133. By Sarah Christensen on August 08, 2011

    Meighan - I hope that I have not, at any point in this discussion, given the impression that I think women who opt to stop breastfeeding - or opt out of breastfeeding in total - are ignorant, lazy, or uptight.  I do not think that this is the case at all and I would like to extend my personal apologies if I have been discourteous or intolerant of your personal rights and choices at any time.  As the moderator of this comment thread, I am also sorry that some of the views here are so harshly put.  Ordinarily I try to delete comments that are unnecessarily judgmental of fellow commenters, that are rude, and that make assumptions about other people.  The reason I did not do so on this comment thread was because I wanted the negative comments about nursing into toddlerhood to stand so that I could explain my beliefs and position.  I felt it might be inappropriate to leave some comments and not others, so after some thought I did edit a few comments to keep the harsher phrases out of the discussion (each of the writers of these comments is fully aware of this), deleted four comments which were unnecessarily cruel toward women who do not breastfeed, and left the rest.

    If there is anyone who is reading this post or this discussion thread and is offended, I am truly sorry.  Please understand that this is a matter of opinion and that I think I speak for everyone in this comment board (regardless of where they stand on this issue) when I say that we all believe that there is more to parenting than breastfeeding.  One decision does not an ignorant, lazy, or uptight person make.  I do not think that you are a lesser parent if you wean earlier than I do or if you opt not to breastfeed at all.  The people commenting here often express very strong opinions, and I urge you to do the same.

  134. By on August 08, 2011

    Sarah,
    I think you have conducted yourself in a respectful manner, however some of your posters have not. If the ultimate goal is education and awareness, MANY people go about their approach all wrong. The best thing someone can do do push people away from the breastfeeding culture is to 1) assume you know more than you do about the person you are verbally berating 2) be condescending and rude rather than respectful and informative and 3) take other people’s opinions personally and choose to get aggressive in response.

    The fact is, many people ARE ignorant. It sometimes is hard to choose to respond in an adult non-confrontational manner, but such restraint is vital when you are dealing with a person who allows their emotions to control their words rather than their better judgement. Being harsh and rude will not enlighten those around you. While you encourage strong opinions from your posters, many people confuse strong opinions with being over-zealous and judgmental. What most people don’t realize (or choose to ignore) is that if you truly seek to affect positive change and encourage more people in our society to see breastfeeding as healthy and positive you will be more successful by focusing on facts and highlighting breastfeeding in a positive light and leaving the disrespect and finger-pointing at the door.

  135. By on August 08, 2011

    Ann Sinnott,
    Your welcome! I was glad to help out with the survey,and it feels good to help others in the little way I did just by answering questions about what comes naturally to me in parenting which is child led weaning. Thanks to you for putting the book out there :) Your wonderful!
    Meighan, I like what you had to say and respect your saying it all. Thank you. None of us can be responsible for how others take things,BUT we surely can speak in a loving respecful manner because the energy we put forth in words can effect how someone hears/takes something.

  136. By ChewyMomma on August 17, 2011

    I LOVED this post!  It brought tears to my eyes!  I bf my son for 22 months, and only stopped because I was 2 months into a high-risk [no sex] pregnancy.  Our new baby is 8 1/2 months and going strong.  Since she’s the last, she can wean herself whenever she wants.  No matter how old she is.  When children are allowed to wean naturally, they usually stop between 3-4 years old.  And I’m fine with that.  There is nothing better we can do for our little ones. 
    Thank you for brightening my day with this story.  : )  (And don’t worry about the ignorant comments.  Haters gonna hate.)  ; )


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