Why Such A Stigma?

Something I never really thought about prior to deciding that I truly wanted to be a mother was breastfeeding. Growing up, anytime (although this was rare) I would see a woman nursing her child, it never embarrassed me or bothered me. I always thought it was natural, and I remember my own mother nursing my brother. I don't know how long she did, but the main reason I remember her doing so was because of one particular time when my grandmother came over and she kept walking into my mom's room... let's just say mom didn't appreciate that so much! LOL! When Justin and I started trying to get pregnant I started thinking about how I wanted to raise my children, and one of the first things that came to mind was that I wanted to nurse my children and avoid formula if at all possible. Frankly... if I'm being perfectly honest, I didn't have a clue about the nutritional values of breastmilk at this point... my MAIN reasoning behind it (and this was several years ago) was because of how formula smells.... BLECH! Now, however, that is not my only reason for nursing, thank goodness!
I am not the type of person who is going to just throw my opinions at you and then not respect your views on them as well. If you formula fed or still formula feed your child/children, if that's the path you have chosen.. then great! Your child is being nourished, fed, and they are growing! For me personally, I believe that breastmilk is best for my daughter, but I'm not going to judge you or put you down because you don't believe the same. So there's my little disclaimer before the rest of my post :)

Something I've been wondering since I started nursing Elah is why there is such a stigma when it comes to breastfeeding. Why, when it's the most natural thing I have ever experienced... it didn't feel strange or foreign to put my daughter to my breast to nourish her. I think the thing that bothers me the most, however, is how uncomfortable people are with mothers nursing their babies in public. I wear a cover or a blanket over my daughter while she nurses... not necessarily because I am uncomfortable nursing in public, but because I'm nervous of how OTHER people will respond to me nursing my child. I hate feeling that way! Breasts have become sexualized in this country, and I'm even nervous to just nurse my daughter in public without a cover because I don't want people to look at me and see it as a sexual thing.... when it really is a beautiful, natural way of life.

Over the past couple of weeks I've been doing some research on nursing and breastfeeding throughout history and I wanted to share a couple of links with you. Another blogger posted a blog about this very topic, she even posted a timeline of the history of formula! Please click HERE to be redirected to her post. It is very informative! I also found a facebook page full of historical photos, paintings, and prints of women nursing. What I found most phenomenal was how many women in these photos are nursing older children... and I'll talk about that in a minute as well. Please click HERE to be redirected to that facebook page. What is interesting is that there was this huge controversy about facebook banning photographs on mothers nursing their children... I wonder why that never happened with this page?

Now... something even more controversial than nursing in public is extended nursing. Meaning, nursing a child past a year old. After nursing my daughter and discovering how much of a truly amazing experience it is, I have a better understanding of why a mother might choose to nurse past her child turning a year old. A friend of mine has nursed her child for two years now, and I really respect her for doing so. I don't know if I will nurse Elah for much longer than a year, I do not plan on just cutting her off the moment she turns one, but I may try to wean her if I think she is ready. But really... what is the big deal? Why is it so taboo to nurse a toddler? Now, I am a little weary about nursing a child with teeth... just the thought of that makes me cringe a little, but why do people judge women who choose to do so? I don't think it should be the only source of nourishment obviously... but what's wrong with giving your child a substance that has so many nutrients? My plan is that once Elah is weaned that I will continute to pump until I am no longer able to or if I have another child (because then I will want to exclusively nurse that child) and give Elah breastmilk until I feel she no longer needs it. Whether it ends up going in a bottle or a sippy cup... who cares.

I guess all this rambling really just comes down to one thing.... why has something that used to be completely natural and a way of life for mothers been turned into something that is unnatural and taboo? Why have I been made to feel uncomfortable nursing my daughter in public without something to cover my breasts? I think it's something worth thinking about.

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