My Breastfeeding Hero is You!

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After seeing the magazine cover that is setting the interwebs abuzz, I decided that I would like to voice my opinion on the matter. Then after seeing this week’s Breastfeeding Blog Hop topic, I decided to use this cover as the inspiration for my post because they truly are one in the same.

My breastfeeding hero is every woman who gives it an honest try. Every woman who has the guts to go against the (American) norm and breastfeed for an “extended” period of time. Longer than six months, or a year, or even two. My hero is the woman who takes the bull by the horns and breastfeeds for as long as she and/or her child wants to, however long that is.

I breastfed my first child for six and a half months and I quickly regretted my decision to stop, but it was too late. I waited too long. I didn’t have the support that I do now and I thought that formula feeding would be easier, but I was wrong. Having to remember to pack enough for an outing, washing bottles, heating one up in the middle of the night, it wasn’t easier at all. Then enter my second child.

I knew that I wanted to breastfeed him longer and figured I would go for a year and maybe pump for another year after that. Ha! At 18 months he is still nursing 4 to 5 times a day, give or take, and refuses to take breastmilk from anywhere other than “the tap”. But I do not consider myself a better mother to him than I was to Red, just and older, wiser, more supported mother. Either way, I breastfed and therefore I was a hero. And so is every other woman!

Now I would like to expand on this cover a little bit. I am frustrated by it. I admit that I haven’t read the article, but the article isn’t what is causing an uproar. This photo of a gorgeous woman with great breasts and a larger than average 3½ year old wasn’t chosen by accident. This was meant to create shock and even possibly outrage, not to encourage a healthy discussion on breastfeeding, and probably not on attachment parenting either. Even the headline uses the word “extremes”. Being a cloth diapering, breastfeeding, baby carrier using mom, even though I don’t consider myself an attachment parent I am thrust into a world of attachment parents because how I parent is in line with what some of them do and there are some out there who seem to compete. If I wear my baby all day and you only do it when you go out or use a stroller, I’m a better mother. If I used cloth diapers from moment one when you didn’t start until your baby was six months, I’m a better mother. They’re out there. You’ve seem them, too. So the article itself may have a little merit, but this photo is going to set not just extended breastfeeding back for some, but maybe breastfeeding in general. I have seen the comments on my local news website’s Facebook post of this cover and they are mostly comments saying that it’s abuse, disgusting, babies should only breastfeed until they get teeth (!!), this mother needs a man, and of course the eyeroll inducing “Ooh, boobies” comments. These are comments from an unenlightened and uneducated society when it comes to breastfeeding and that needs to change! Only in this country do we act this way and I find it shameful.

So to all of you breastfeeding mamas out there, you are a rock star and you are my heroes!

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  1. I completely agree with you, any mom who gives breatfeeding a chance, for however long, is a hero!

  2. The reason why the big kid is on the cover is because he’s the woman’s son. He’s not some child model that they hired for the cover.

    Now whether Time selected this family for shock value, or merely because they were the only ones willing to put themselves out there in public like that is up for speculation…

    1. I know that he is the woman’s son. But they still chose to use a photo of a woman with a larger than average 3.5 year old in a pose that makes him look even older and bigger than he is. I saw some of the other photos and while he still looks bigger than my son did at that age (and he was in the 80th percentile for height then), he looked closer to his age than he did on the cover. Time’s one and only job is to sell magazines and they’ve done their job.

  3. I agree with you! My daughter is 20+ months and is still breastfeeding. I’m sometimes ashamed to admit I apologize for breastfeeding my daughter. Why should I? I shouldn’t have to. Instead I should be explaining/educating about the benefits of breastfeeding past one year. I don’t like the photo either, but will also say, Time wants people to read their magazines and they are getting all kinds of free publicity about this issue, and because of all the blog posts I have seen re. this, I might actually go buy the issue and read the article. Regardless of whether or not I blog about the photo, I will read the article first and write a letter to the editor.

  4. Yes. yes. yes. I am totally in agreement with you … my thoughts are that this photo is completely damaging to what breastfeeding (of any length) is SUPPOSED to be all about. It is highly sensationalized and most likely does NOT reflect how most women who DO breastfeed feel about the topic. It also makes it look like ALL breastfeeding moms are “extreme” as you say – therefore alienating women who might have been on the fence about trying. In a country where I think less than 14% of women even try to BF, this is NOT a healthy image of a BFing mom. The debate shouldn’t even BE about how long a woman chooses to BF, it should be about why is THIS how the media sees BFing women? It’s the picture the magazine CHOSE to pose and publish. And that is why I am disappointed with it. Thanks for this – I need to also do a blog post about the topic.

  5. We have been breastfeeding for ten months and I plan on letting my baby decide when to stop!

  6. I sooooo agree with your assessment of this picture! It really might set back the acceptance of extended breastfeeding. Funny, I always think of extended breastfeeding as anything beyond 18 months but that doesn’t seem to be the prevailing definition. Btw, my breastfeeding hero is my great grandmother who while nursing twins during the great depression took on the task of nursing a neighbor’s baby too while the neighbor was in a sanitarium for TB quarantine. Sadly, her daughter, my grandmother bottle fed all 4 of her babies in the late 40’s and early 50s.

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