Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Normalizing nursing one person at a time

Tonight (Tuesday) I was sitting in the hallway of my college waiting for my Ecofeminism professor to get there and unlock the classroom. As I waited, several more students showed up and joined me in the lap of luxury seating arrangement. One girl said to me, "Hey. You're like a breastfeeding guru, right?" I laughed and said "Yeah, something like that I suppose." Then she said she wanted my opinion on what age a child should wean. I, of course, stated that I felt that weaning was appropriate whenever mom and baby were ready. Then she asked me, well what about like a 7 year old nursing?!? I said, well the average age in the world is 5 year old so there are definitely some 7 year olds nursing. Then I started giving her some facts about the natural age of weaning, I said that I was breastfeeding my 3 year old and intended on letting her self wean, etc etc.

There were a few other girls there, sitting and listening and two of them asked me a few questions. I told them that before I had kids, the idea of nursing a 3 year old was like "Whaaaaaa?" but that when you're with your kids, it's not like one day they're just *different* then they were before simply because they are 3. At least 3 (maybe more!) girls were listening, responding and asking questions. I was so excited to be able to share these things with them and break down the barriers that this country has about breastfeeding. All 3 girls have no children...and their idea's of breastfeeding were probably very different then what I was telling them my experience was.

I talk about breastfeeding a lot. It's not something I really go out of my way to do, it just happens because I'm passionate about it. ::shrug:: I just can't help myself! And I also think that talking about it like I talk about anything (and EVERYTHING) else, helps normalize breastfeeding. Who knows? Today I may have helped create a major paradigm shift for some people about breastfeeding, extended breastfeeding and child led weaning. Maybe not...maybe they thought I was a total weirdo, but I like to believe that at the very least, somewhere down the road, when they have their own babies, they'll remember the conversation and know that it's okay to breastfeed, it's okay to breastfeed past a YEAR and want to know more about breastfeeding!! <3


  1. How awesome are you. I have no doubt you made a significant impression on those girls, and probably changed their future children's lives for the better. *High Five!* Good for you!

  2. I love normalizing breastfeeding. I think it is probably the most important aspect of fixing all the systematic problems our society has with breastfeeding. And it's hard! I do my part by nursing my LO (who is now 2.5, and I'm pregnant, and we're still going) everywhere and anywhere. And I'm pretty public about it on Facebook with my status messages and what not, so even people in my "community" who don't live in the Seattle area (which is generally pretty crunchy and accepting of breastfeeding in public) are exposed to it.

    There is one thing that bugs me about your blog post. It is like nails on a chalkboard that you are referring to the women you were with as "girls." Isn't one of the problems with normalizing breastfeeding that society doesn't see women fully as women? That we're either infantalized or sexualized, but rarely seen as whole people? I see calling these college students (most of whom I have to assume are over the age of 18) "girls" is both a symptom and part of the problem.

    This societal concept that we call a group of women "girls" seems pretty deeply set. Your in a feminism class, you're dedicated to normalizing breastfeeding (which I, personally, see as a feminist issue), and even you've fallen into this trap. (Would we ever refer to a group of male college students as "boys" in that way? Maybe if I were joking around about their maturity level, but not if I were discussing sitting around outside a classroom having a discussion. I might say "guys," but not "boys.")

    I don't want to go on ranting, but it's something to think about. I used to do it myself, but I've worked really hard on changing my vocabulary. Some people say it's just words, but I think our words really matter!

  3. I call my girlfriends girls- not women and my husband calls his guy friends guys- not men. *shrug*?