Sheryl Jesin

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Handling criticism about breastfeeding

One of the reasons I went to my first La Leche League meeting when my son was 9 months old was because I wanted to meet other mothers who were still breastfeeding their babies.   Many mothers I knew started introducing formula and weaning their babies at 6 months and I knew that both Dylan and I weren’t ready to stop at a year.  It was great to go to the meeting and meet other like minded moms who recognized that the benefits of breastfeeding don’t stop when a baby has his or her first birthday!

It can be hard to breastfeed past a year in our society because it is unfortunately not common.   I know that I received some negative comments from family regarding breastfeeding past a year, and at the time I was unsure how to respond.

I have recently become a mentor for the Natural Parents Network and was asked to help a mom who was receiving negative comments about breastfeeding past a year.  Check out her question and my response, along with the responses of 2 other mentors here.

I suggested the following to her:

There are a number of different ways to handle the criticism. Different methods may work best for you depending on the situation or your mood. Some women find it helpful to diffuse negative remarks with humour. For example, if while nursing your son, someone asks you how long you plan on doing it for, you can say: “I will be done in about 10 minutes,” or “He probably won’t be nursing by the time he goes to college.” Other mothers find it helpful to educate their audience. For example, when questioned about breastfeeding your toddler, you can say that the World Health Organization suggests breastfeeding at least until the age of two. Or you can mention that breastfeeding past a year has numerous health benefits to both mom and child. Some moms, when questioned about breastfeeding, find it most effective to provide a short answer and change the topic. This can be done by saying: “It is a personal choice that I don’t want to discuss. So, all the snow we’ve been getting this year is crazy, isn’t it?”

How have you handled criticism about breastfeeding beyond infancy?