A Hot Debate


It’s been a while since I’ve talked about the boys and though this post references them, it’s not about them. This post is actually about me asking you, the readers, a question. And it isn’t the sort of thing we usually talk about on this blog, so feel free to stop reading if the question or the thought of what might follow, bothers you. Anyway, the question is this:

Where do you stand on breastfeeding?
image of breastfeeding child from OpenClipArt

Since having the twins, I have been reading blogs, articles, magazines, Facebook posts and leaflets about breastfeeding. It has been important to me because I chose, right from the start to breastfeed Michael and Leon. There was no debate in my mind and through all the research I did while pregnant, I just became more and more sure of that fact.

Since then, after the first eight-ish weeks of absolute hell (mastitis, thrush, sore nipples, no sleep and damp bedsheets), breastfeeding has just fallen into place. The boys know what they’re doing, I know what I’m doing and it is as pleasant an activity as any other that I get to share with them every single day. The bond I share with my children as I feed them, nourish them with my own body, is unparalleled by anything else I have ever come across.

A couple of weeks ago, I watched a documentary on attachment parenting. The show did a very good job of almost ridiculing these dedicated mothers, particularly those who breastfed their children beyond the age of about 18 months. I have also, through some of the Facebook groups I am a member of, been exposed to newspaper articles with titles like ‘Breasts are For Sex, Not For Children.’ I have seen debate after heated debate about the merits of breast milk over formula, bed sharing versus not and just want to get an idea of what people think.

I realise this is a massive step away from what this blog usually covers, and I’m sorry about that. As I said previously, if this post is not to your taste, please check back on Sunday at which point I hope to resume our usual programming.

Seven months into living with my boys I find that I don’t have strong opinions either way. Well, I have strong ideas about what I want to do, but not about other people. I plan to breastfeed until I feel like stopping (or until their new little teeth start biting where I’d rather not be bitten) and nobody is going to stop me doing that. I admire the mothers who breastfeed beyond one year, but, frankly put, I want my body back before my boys reach four years old. I don’t have any problem with seeing a woman breastfeed in a public place and I myself have had to do so on several occasions. In fact, I do almost every single day. I don’t use a cover – I tried to in the early weeks and it was so much faff just I just gave up on it – and I don’t feel offended if a curious child pops away from his mother’s breast and temporarily exposes a nipple. I don’t find it strange that we as adults will drink the milk from other mammals (cows and goats) but not our own. The fact is interesting to me, but since I have always put cow’s milk on my cereal, it makes no odds to me. I don’t particularly feel offended/upset/disappointed by seeing another mother feed their child from a bottle.

All these things (and more) cause such heated debates, furious tantrums and fallings out that, for my own curious mind, I thought I’d bring the debates to you.

So… what do you think? Do you have strong opinions/ideas/thoughts either way? Has anything I’ve mentioned above brought out a strong reaction in you? Is it a lot of fuss and bother over nothing? Do you have any experiences you would feel comfortable sharing? I’d love to hear from you.

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About Ileandra Young

I'm a thirty-*mumbles* year old (purple loving, cheese worshipping) author of fantasy, juggling a pair of beautiful twin boys with my burning desire to make up stories and write them all down. When I get the chance, I play games, listen to music, and in days long past I even ran a radio show. Though I occasionally write non-fiction, my heart lives in fantasy and my debut novel, Silk Over Razor Blades is now available through Amazon along with part two of the trilogy, Walking The Razor's Edge.
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12 Responses to A Hot Debate

  1. In the long run, it’s a short time in our lives, and a very big time in the kids’ lives. It was sweet to share those quiet and intimate moments with the babies. They pretty much weaned themselves, one at 18 months and the other at about 20 months.

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    • I’d love to let the boys self wean. I know I can’t really predict what they’ll be like, but Leon seems as though he’ll happily nurse well into his teens. He’s just soooooooo comfortable there. Lol.

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  2. Juls says:

    I think that whatever a new mother may choose to do for their baby, someone will have some high-horsed opinion about it and, because the new mother is vulnerable; new to being a mother and caring for a whole new life, it’s easy for doubts and insecurities to surge. I don’t have a baby, obviously, but it annoys me non stop that things like mothers that breastfeed discreetly in public are such controversial talking points, the holier-than-thou arguments that bitterly blast back and forth between the formula and breastmilk parties turns uglier and more accusatory than many political debates! If a mother has done her appropriate research on a subject and takes a way of action that is not illegal in trying to do her best to her new babies what she believes is the best start to life then can’t the rest of the world shut up and leave her to it?
    Of course breasts are for babies over sex and, of course, some mothers, either through circumstance or choice, do not breastfeed. That is their choice and there is no reason why either choice should be lambasted quite as viciously as I have seen. If a course of raising a baby was seen or known to legitimately cause harm or be neglecting the child of something vital, it would not be allowed. Yes, I think attachment parenting is odd, but does it make those parents bad parents or cause harm to their children? No. These things are choices that the new parent should be able to make without the noise of every piece of media, every neighbour, every family member, every work colleague, every work colleague’s friend thinking they have the right to intrude in it.
    I know your post wasn’t based around much to do with the above rant! I do apologise!

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    • Wow Juls!
      Can I just say, first, I love you! So many of our thoughts match up there that it’s nice to know I’m not the only one. Second, never mind that you may have drifted just a smidge 😉 you raise valid points.

      One thing I believe, above all else, is that a mother’s instinct should be trusted. If that instinct is telling a mother to keep feeding, or to cuddle a child, or anything else, then that’s what she should do. It’s worked well enough for enough years to make humans the dominant species on the planet, right? Clearly we’re doing something right. That, at least for me, is what attachment parenting should be.

      I think I’ve been quite lucky in that family and friends haven’t tried to bury me in their opinions and ideas. There are a couple of decisions I’ve made that have made my parents a little unhappy, but at least they’re big enough to step back on the understanding that I’m the mum, not them.

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  3. Sarah Paine says:

    I think it’s a very individual decision and no one should be pressured one way or the other.

    I only breastfed Alexander until he was about 6 months old, but that was because I had to have an operation and be on painkillers which would have been transmitted via breastmilk – I expressed as much as I could beforehand, but ultimately he then took to the bottle and was fine about it.

    Rowan flatly refused anything but breast even with expressed milk, so I fed her until about a year and then she mostly weaned herself! Independent little so-and-so even then.

    I enjoyed the bonding with them during this time, but I am sure I would have bonded similarly with them if bottle feeding – otherwise all dads would be left out too from this part of the bonding process 🙂

    I’m fine with breastfeeding in public. Ideally you still look the mother in the eyes when talking and not at her boobs, but that’s just polite and you’d do that to a non-breastfeeding mum too – what’s the big deal?

    Kids seem fine, a few years on 🙂

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    • There is absolutely nothing wrong with your beautiful children, lol. You and Simon are a couple I think of a lot when I think about how I want to raise my boys; I admire you and the relationship you have with them. And they are both wonderful kids!

      I certainly agree that while breastfeeding is a great bonding experience, it’s not the only way. The shining lights in these boy’s eyes each time Dave walks into the room is proof enough that they adore him. And he gets the same light in his eyes when he sees them, so I guess we’re doing all right!

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  4. Kana Tyler says:

    For me, the “pros” of breast feeding (health benefits for baby AND mum, zero-cost feeding, bonding time) outweighed any “con” (people disapprove–so what?). I nursed my son for a long time, even after it ceased to be his main source of nutrition. Nursing before naps-and-bedtime was pleasant for us both. And when we spent a summer in the Philippines when he was 16 months, I was glad I hadn’t weaned him! Our schedule was weird (and out of our hands)–but I could always feed him when he got hungry! I had to go on some medication for Crohn’s Disease when he was 19 months, and couldn’t breast feed while I was on it–otherwise, I probably would have kept going with the bedtime-breast feeding… My daughter, on the other hand, was 12weeks premature, spent 3 months in hospital, and never learned to latch… I used the breast-pump for a YEAR for her (because I knew she needed every health benefit I could give her)–and I definitely prefer nursing!! :). Bottom line–it’s great for your kids, so the nay-Sayers can stuff it!! 🙂

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    • Thanks Kana. I think that’s one of the big deals for me; being able to feed the boys whenever and wherever. Nothing has been more valuable than that. The amount of times I’ve been caught away from home after miscalculating how long it would talk to walk somewhere, or having to stop the car on along journey. Particularly in the early months; knowing that I could always, always provide food for them was such a comfort. And the free part! Gotta love the free part. I can’t even begin to imagine how much we might have spent on formula for TWO babies if that was the road we went down. The health benefits too… I’m almost positive that their snotty noses, sneezes and coughs would be a hell of a lot worse if they weren’t stuffed full of mummy’s antibodies!

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  5. jmmcdowell says:

    I think what works best for you and the babies is fine. Being an anthropologist by training, I’m rather familiar with the fact that most cultures through history didn’t have any other choice but to breastfeed until children were old enough to start eating solid foods!

    And please tell me people who think “breasts are for sex, not children” will never have children of their own to screw up!

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  6. Writerlious says:

    You go girl! I breastfed both of my children and I am confident that not only was it healthier for them, but it allowed us to bond in a way that bottle feeding wouldn’t have.

    I think many people trash breastfeeding out of guilt or jealousy. Sound weird? Hear me out… Many mothers choose to formula feed their infants because it is easier. I think a lot of those women feel threatened by the idea that something other than what they’re doing (formula feeding) could be better for their child. Also, many women can’t breastfeed because of various problems (low milk supply, inverted nipples, required medications) and I think some of those women also feel guilt and may feel some resentment about not being able to share that with their child. As for the jealousy? Men want their wive’s breasts all to themselves and they view a baby on a boob as a little interloper encroaching in their territory. Even my own hubby, who was in support of breastfeeding, got tired of me swatting his hands away from the ladies after a year or so.

    Whew –that was a crazy rant. It’s true though!!!

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    • It doesn’t sound weird actually, the guilt or jealousy. I understand why people may feel/think that way and I certainly do feel that there is weight to that. There is so much for mothers to worry about already that something like this is just one more issue on top of all the others.

      I guess I’m really lucky that Dave is mega supportive. There is no pressure either way from him and he is still sleeping in another room so I can co-sleep with the boys and occasionally bed share. I don’t know how long it will last (we’re both getting tired of being so far apart!) but to get this far knowing he supports every decision has made it so much easier than it potentially could have been.

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