There has been a lot of media attention lately on Jamie Lynne Grumet, the mother who posed publicly for a photo shoot in which she was depicted breastfeeding her three year old son. You can find the May 2012 Time magazine cover here, as well as pictures of three other mothers and their nurslings who were also considered for the cover. When I first saw the cover, I admit, I cheered! Finally, breastfeeding a toddler has made the cover of a national magazine and is getting the recognition it deserves. But amidst the support and the general buzz of readers in response to the cover, there has been a strong undercurrent of anger and hostility.
There have been news articles about Time magazine ‘going to far’, and the amount of disgust that has been displayed on public forums across the Internet is disturbing. I fail to understand the ‘eww factor’ behind breastfeeding a toddler. Biologically, infants and young children are designed to breastfeed. In fact, baby teeth are called milk teeth because the child should be breastfeeding during the time in which these teeth are erupting. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding until a minimum of 2 years of age, and as long as mom and baby both feel mutually comfortable after that point. There is no upper limit on nursing.
So why the disgust? I think it is because a woman’s breasts have become over sexualized and we, as a society, have forgotten the purpose of breasts. They are made to feed infants, and every woman who is willing and able to breastfeed should feel pride in herself. Gone are the days when a woman needs to hide or cover herself. Moms, there are laws protecting you. Do what you do best- breastfeed!
The bottom line is, whether a baby is 2 months, 2 years, or 22 years of age, if a woman wants to continue nursing, there is a plethora of health benefits to breastfeeding. Her breasts, her decision. Can we bury the hatchet already?