There is a huge difference between nursing a 2 month old and a 5 year old. There is. If you tell a woman nursing a 2 month old she can’t nurse at the table, that poor mama is gonna have a hard time getting dinner for herself, which she needs! I’ve nursed 2 kids, each past 2 (1 is still going). Both nursed pretty much non-stop in the late afternoon/evening at that age! As someone who nurses well into toddlerhood though, I do try to avoid nursing in front of others after age 1. Past age 1, they nurse much less often and we all know that nursing a 2 month old is uncomfortable for many people to witness, and that needs to be changed. Attempting to change that view by making an even larger group of people uncomfortable by nursing a 5 year old in front of them…..that actually sets back the chance of people becoming less bothered by nursing altogether. So, I agree with Beth here, that it is ok to politely ask someone to nurse a 5 year old in another room, but I strongly disagree with Prudence that that should apply to an infant. It wouldn’t be the first time someone was intentionally inflammatory in writing on this topic, and I’m not surprised to see it again.
I think you are absolutely right. Why is breastfeeding considered taboo at the table anyway? I think way too much is made of this subject. Will it kill these adults to put up with being uncomfortable for a short time at the table? Would it be that hard for this woman to accommodate them at family dinners? I think if they were all being genuine and compassionate about their differences, they wouldn’t need to write in for advice.
Yes, new moms need a lot of support and not made to feel isolated. If a mom doesn’t want to nurse in front of friends or family, it’s obviously her choice! But I don’t want moms to feel shunned. Let them guide others, not the other way around.
I found her tone to be very rude as well. The part that bothered me most of all was a response from her at the end of the article when she said it was inappropriate to breastfeed a 2 month old in the company of others who were eating. So often those first two months of breastfeeding are very difficult, and a mama needs to be lifted up by her family and held close, not asked to go away.
Very classy response. Good work!
You’re my new favorite!
A lot has to do with what is acceptable to each individual. This is highly influenced by – Environment, Circumstances, Background.
When I was a teenager I witnessed a child who, I remember to be around 3 or 4, confidently approach his mom, lift her top and proceed to breastfeed. He walked away and back again, helping himself as he pleased. I was flabbergasted. I thought it was weird (I used that word a lot back then).
Twenty-five years later I am a mamma to an almost 5 year old, and … I breastfeed him (http://www.loving-attachment-parenting.com). Not the same way, but he breastfeeds nonetheless. We didn’t plan it that way. He was a baby who exclusively breastfed, who turned into a toddler who continued to enjoy it and so on….
Of course, as he gets older the weaning has been happening forever. He is down to twice within 24 hours and never out of our home.
Then there is the opposite side of the scenario – individuals who we are around and who don’t feel comfortable with the idea of breastfeeding an older child. That’s where kindness and respect of the other person comes in. I guess in some situations like the one above it can be a real balancing act.
When I first had my son, if someone would have asked if I would still be breastfeeding when he was this old, I probably would have said “no way”. What was strange to me once upon a time now seems like the most natural thing in the world.
Hi Emily, yes I agree that breastfeeding at the table at that age is obviously likely unnecessary. With the limited facts that we had (pretty much the sister-in-law’s version of events) I wouldn’t want to comment too much on the possible actions, attitudes, or motivations of the breastfeeding mother without knowing more, but in general I certainly agree that I cannot really think of a reason why it would be required that a 5-year-old, allergies or not, receive breastmilk, at the breast, at the table at a dinner party. As you said, here I mostly took issue with the tone of the advice given, which was actually basic and reasonable given the situation and found it emblematic of a tone that is too prevalent in our culture to mock and belittle breastfeeding, especially extended breastfeeding (which, for some people, seems to start even before baby hits 12 months).
So I completely agree that a child should be allowed to breastfeed anywhere. But when they are 5, for that matter even 2 or 3 years old, they can have water if they are thirsty. My child never got milk or juice everytime he was thirsty. Water is a good thing to learn to enjoy.
I am all for rights to breastfeeding, but I think the mother was a bit rude in not considering how her new in-laws would react, and how that reaction would affect her child. What if they brought it up as he gets older, maybe even teasing him. To me it is not worth it to possibly subject him to that (Family can be cruel, and sometimes there is nothing you can do about it)
That being said, the “advice” was rude and very condescending. Not like I would expect any better from an advice columnist. I would have advised the SIL to go talk to the brother and wife privately about the whole ordeal. And not make fun and ostracize the mother for doing what she thought was best.
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