I was peddling my new-age nonsense apparently, trying to defend the indefensible
I recently mentioned in conversation that I was planning to wean my youngest child who is two and is still breast-fed. Although the focal point had been the sleep deprivation I’ve been suffering at the hands of my nocturnal toddler, the disclosure of my intent was met with an unnatural level of relief from the other party. “Oh thank God for that, he’s far too old for that nonsense,” I was told.
I’m not easily fazed when it comes to matters of the breast so I calmly and unaffectedly rolled out my usual and factual argument that the World Health Organisation actually recommends breastfeeding a child to the age of two and beyond. It didn’t matter – they had zoned out of the conversation. I was peddling my new-age nonsense apparently, trying to defend the indefensible.
I never saw myself as an “extended breast-feeder”. In fact my eldest child wasn’t even breast-fed. As a young, impressionable, first-time mum I was eager to soak up as much information as possible about impending parenthood. “Don’t breast-feed, it’ll destroy your boobs,” was the first piece of advice offered by a mother who hadn’t breast-fed. “Don’t breast-feed, you’ll have to do all the night-feeds yourself,” said another, who had also opted to formula feed.
“Don’t breast-feed, sure you’ll have no idea how much baby is getting – and they’ll never sleep,” came the sage words of an experienced mum, who thought breastfeeding was just for “hippy types”.
The message was clear, but the final warning was yet to come; “Stand your ground with the midwives after birth – if they get any sense that you might consider breastfeeding, they’ll pressurise you to do it”.
And so as I sat through antenatal classes and chuckled at the midwife who outlined breasts’ primary purpose even if, as she put it, “the daddies like to play with the empties”, I decided to…