Looking for something?

Loading...

Friday, 18 May 2012

An open letter to Jamie Grumet and ALL the other mums who have spoken publicly about sustained breastfeeding.

" From one mother to another, I am writing to express my thanks.  You see, I nurse my older child too, but I'm not as brave as you are and not that many people in my ‘real life’ know about it.  I don't talk about it openly because I'm too scared of what the fallout might be.  I know a lot of people would say what I'm doing is icky, or unnecessary, and others would believe I'm doing the wrong thing by continuing to nurse my child.   They wouldn't be slow to tell me either!  Some people might even accuse me of abusing my child by not weaning them.  I know those people are just ignorant of the facts and have no clue what they're talking about, but it's very hurtful nonetheless.
I've watched the TV interviews and listened to the phone-ins.  I've read the articles, and I've even made the mistake of reading some of the comments underneath.  I know you must be taking a lot of flack for talking openly about allowing your child to self-wean.  I can't imagine how it must feel to be in your shoes, but I want to express my thanks to you for putting yourself 'out there' and talking openly about sustained breastfeeding.  I want to thank you for being braver than I am. 
Please know that I support you and what you have tried to do by speaking out.  I know you're just doing your best as a mum. I am too.  I realise that some of your words may have been taken out of context - I know how the press can twist things.  Maybe you aren't entirely happy with how you were portrayed, and that must be infuriating.  I know you're not trying to tell other people how to live.  I know you're not trying to make anyone else feel bad by talking about your own experiences of parenting and know you're not 'doing it for yourself'.  I know how tough nursing an older child can be, because I do it too.  I also know you're not the 'attention seeker' that some people are trying to make you out to be, you're just standing up for something you believe in.  I know that you're not continuing to nurse because you're a mother who 'can't let go'.  I know you're not doing it because you want your child to be dependant on you but actually because you believe it will make them MORE independent in the long run.  I know because I am in the same boat.
I must admit to feeling a little guilty though.  Part of me thinks that if I were braver and more willing to talk about how things are in my own family then *I* could help debunk a few of the horrible myths about sustained nursing too.  After all, everyone's different.  The media often tries to stereotype or 'pigeon-hole' mums, but the truth is that my family is not like yours and I am not the same as you.  We do have this in common though, this shared experience. 
Despite all the rude, derogatory, insulting and uneducated comments you have probably been subjected to, I want you to know that you really HAVE made a positive difference in the world.  Because of you more people know that sustained nursing is possible.  Others have had their preconceptions challenged, and some folk will even have learnt something.  Because of you more people now know that it isn't necessary to wean their child and that allowing them to wean themselves is an option.  Some mothers who felt lonely before don't feel so alone now. 
Things are changing.  Okay so they're changing slowly, but a generation further down the line I don't believe sustained nursing will be as counter-cultural it is right now.   Some of the thanks for that will have to go to you. 
So THANK YOU for being willing to stick your head above the parapet, for talking honestly about your experiences, and for your bravery.  Thank you for being willing to tough it out at the front.
x anne"

If you feel you want to add your 'signature' to this letter and show your support for the women who have put themselves forward to talk publicly about sustained nursing, then please leave a comment below.  Even if you don't feel able to 'come out of the closet' it would be great to see a show of hands...  Anonymous comments are fine.  

50 comments:

  1. <3 this post. We're just approaching a year and I'm already feeling the pressure mounting from friends / my mum who have their own preconceptions and therefore assume I'll be stopping soon. I won't be - although as time goes on I suspect that we too may be 'in the closet'.

    ReplyDelete
  2. i am here with my hand in the air! Thank you Jamie. What a perfct letter to express how i am feeling and to highlight the amazing thing you did. Thank you from my babies and me x

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hand up in the air here too. I fed until my son was 3. He stopped, not me.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I fully support these brave women too. I intend on feeding my daughter as long as she wants, despite her father disagreeing with it. She's only 8 months & I'm already getting asked almost daily when I'm going to wean her :-( societal pressure makes me sad

    ReplyDelete
  5. Excellent. I'm nursing a 2 year old and I just do it, I don't really think much about it, he asks for milk he gets it. :)
    It's a shame that the baby milk industry has done so much damage to breastfeeding and infiltrated our society so much people see the plastic receptacle with a latex teat the normal way to feed a baby. Mama's, we need to feed in public to show how normal it Is :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. We only 13 months in but I want to say thank you too!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Nice letter Anne, add us too - not only sustained, but tandem.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Absolutely agree with this! You all rock mamas!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Amen! My son weaned himself around 20 months, and while I miss it sometimes now, I am glad I held the space for him to do what felt best to him. Thank you so much for this post!

    ReplyDelete
  10. My hand is waving for you! I am only at 5 months bf at present, but determined to continue as long as my daughter wants it, for however long that may be. Your letter is a fab summation of what I would like to say to Jamie and every other supporter of sustained bf. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Replies
    1. I fed my little boy until he stopped by himself at only 20 months. It seems such a short time to have fed him now. No-one knew I was continuing to feed him. I loved coming home from work to feed him at night time. Nevermind a glass of red to calm me down, this was our lovely quiet time together. I cherished it.

      I am feeding son no. 2 and hope we can go longer than 20 months this time (obviously this is up to him). Thanks for your open letter Anne.

      Delete
  12. I bf my son for 25 mths & am looking forward to doing the same or longer with my next son when he is born in 10 weeks. Hurrah to all the other Mummies out there & here's to a day when we become the "norm"

    ReplyDelete
  13. My thoughts on the matter. I haven't been discussing it much lately, but only because a bout with cancer cut nursing with my toddler short. Here is my story: http://dinoiafamily.typepad.com/the_dinoia_family/2012/05/wow.html
    and thank you for sharing yours!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow - you have done such an amazing job! Thank you for sharing x

      Delete
  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I agree whole-heartedly! Thank you brave mamas who stand up for your beliefs and for the rights of you, your child, and the rights of all mamas and babies everywhere!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I am tandem nursing a 4y & a 2y and am pg. I whole heartedly support this letter!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I could have written this. I nursed my daughter until she was ready to self wean 4 months ago at 4 years 3 months old. All of my friends and family knew I nursed her at age two, but once she turned 3 and then 4 and was nursing only in the privacy of our home (usually before bed) I didn't talk about it anymore - no one saw it, so it didn't come up in conversation ever.

    I appreciate and fully support all the women speaking publicly about their experiences with full term breastfeeding!


    Jenny

    ReplyDelete
  18. This letter was so beautifully written. The best post I've seen in response to the TIME cover yet, so thanks to you also, Anne for putting it so PERFECTLY! :)

    ~Christina

    ReplyDelete
  19. I nursed all 5 of my children (weaning the first 2 at 12 months and 14 months, having not heard of extended breastfeeding or child-led weaning). I nursed my 2nd while pregnant with my 3rd, who self-weaned at 2 3/4 years old. I nursed my 4th while pregnant with my 5th, tandem nursed them, and they self-weaned at 3 3/4 years and 2 and 3/4 years, respectively. I'm proud to say that my oldest, now 25, is still nursing my grandson at 3 1/2 years old. She has no support from her peers at all, so I am especially grateful to all you young moms who are willing to give your children this wonderful gift - and talk about it!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I love this response as am almost into 'extended' nursing since my eldest is almost 2, I am also tandem feeding with my 4 month old and frequently get asked when I'll stop. I think that I may have a little more courage not to hide away that I'd like to let my toddler self wean now :)

    ReplyDelete
  21. We're coming up for a year and will be stopping as and when the little person chooses, not when western society tells us we should. Well done to all those who speak out and also to those who feel the need to hide, the more we all do it, the less we'll feel the need to hide hopefully :0) we are bringing up the breast feeding mums and dads of the future, let's help make their path a smoother one than ours xx

    ReplyDelete
  22. Agree :)

    I stayed with my in-laws last week and was surprised by the lack of comments that I'm still feeding my 22 month old. However I found out today that my partner got them all instead, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that he doesn't care, he told me that he's seen how little illness our daughter has had compared to others her age and how advanced she is and how proud he is that we've brought her up our way. After nearly 2 years of thinking he would prefer me not to bf it made my day and with all the media coverage at the moment I feel he couldn't have chosen a better time to let me know. Thank you to all the people supporting us mums, both vocal and non-vocal!

    ReplyDelete
  23. This conversation keeps coming up in America. Seems like every decade we have to repeat it. BUT...I was talking to a young, male African-American friend last spring. Said friend is currently childless, and you have to understand how abysmal breastfeeding rates are in the African-American community(even worse than whites, but African-American women who breastfeed are more likely to practice extended breastfeeding). Friend tells me, "all children should breastfeed until at least 4 or 5, and the child should be allowed to choose when s/he weans." We ARE making progress--am trusting I will live long enough to see the fruit of the efforts of myself, friends, and so many others. Lynn Stuckey http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=125961&page=1#.T7iF-1KgWuI

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel the same way. especially about feeling less alone. my daughter reluctantly weaned at 4 and a half when I was pregnant again. I was always scared of other people's criticism even though I knew how beneficial it was to my daughter. thank you Jamie. Sasha

      Delete
  24. Agree. She and Mums around her who spoken up, very brave. Great post

    ReplyDelete
  25. My daughter is only 23 months, so I'd hardly call it "sustained nursing" yet. But I do plan on letting her keep going until she is ready to stop. A big THANKS from me too :)

    ReplyDelete
  26. Amen! I couldn't have said it better. I nursed my first till 27 months and am still nursing my second at 22 mo. The first weaned due to pregnancy and the second will probably wean shortly for the same reason. My family knows I still nurse and while I am sure they think I am a crazy hippy for this and other reasons, They also accept me and I feel I have helped 'normalize' bfing for them.

    ReplyDelete
  27. 22 months here... and baby will self wean.... I support your boobs Jamie

    ReplyDelete
  28. Thank you for writing this letter. I nearly cried reading it as it is me and how i feel. Thank you. xx

    ReplyDelete
  29. An amazing letter, and one that I could have written. I wish I too could stand up and be counted instead of it being a secret (though not one that my 3 and a half year old helps to keep, she will ask for 'boobie' very loudly regardless of where we are :) ) Thank you Anne, and heres me doing my little bit and putting both hands in the air xx

    ReplyDelete
  30. Thank you from me, I'm currently tandem nursing my almost 4 year old and my 20 month old and also have a 7 year old who self weaned. As frustrating as the ignorance of some people can be you've made people talk about it and thats a big step towards changing those ignorance attitudes. I'm actually surprised at the number of people who are beginning to accept bf 2 and 3 year olds even if they do critisice it beyond that. When my eldest was a toddler people critisised bf past 6 months so we've definately come along way.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Thanks for writing this. I totally agree. I'm nursing a nearly-4-yr-old and a 10 month old and I'm starting to feel I need to keep quiet about the older one because I don't want him to get bullied when he goes to school. I don't nurse him in public any more. Makes me said because he knows I feel uncomfortable about people's reactions.

    Hannah (London, UK)

    ReplyDelete
  32. My kids were 14m and 4.5 when they self-weaned. They are now 12 and 8 and I'm reaping the rewards. Smug? Well, maybe a little :-)

    My kids are unscathed! I worry that they'll hear rubbish, hateful stuff about term nursing so I'm adding my name here to show solidarity.
    Maddie (Cambridge)

    ReplyDelete
  33. Fantastic :) Tandem nursing a 4yo and almost 2yo here ;)

    ReplyDelete
  34. I wish I had taken more photos of my girls as they fed past the acceptable ages. I never thought I would be feeding my daughter after a day at school. She had her last feed at 5 years, 8 months (I was 8 months pregnant and still feeding a 2.5 year old).
    Towards the end, we did manage a few feeds standing up. She didn't need a chair. :)

    ReplyDelete
  35. We're 13 months in and I feel like it's a bit of a crossroads from 'normal' breastfeeding to 'extended' breastfeeding in many people's eyes. I have no plan to cut our breastfeeding short and reading all the negative, ignorant and uneducated articles and comments just makes me more determined to carry on until my son wants to stop. I will be sad when we do stop but glad we will be moving on to the next stage of life :)

    As a peer supporter and blogger, I am pretty loud about bf in general and I haven't had any negative comments from friends and family since they know it's not worth having a pop. My hubby isn't too sure about me feeding once my son can talk but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it and come out breastfeeding the other side :D

    Thanks for this post, I really wish you were able to let the world know and not feel like you're keeping a seedy secret which is sad but I understand why you don't feel able to share with everyone. No one should have to face prejudice whatever their choices in life x

    ReplyDelete
  36. Bridget Cavanna I fed my twins until they were 21 months. I mean, I still feed them of course, but I demand breastfed them until then. Ok, I eventually put an end to it, and I have part of me that still feels a bit guilty about that, but on the other hand I join ranks with all the others who have gone beyond the unfortunate norm. Lets make the norm extended!
    Thank you.xx

    ReplyDelete
  37. Well done!
    To all those that asked how the boy would feel in 10 years, I have a photo of me tandem nursing my oldest two, my son was 3-3/4 years old at the time it was taken (and he went on to breastfeed quite a few years after that). This photo has been published in books (including Adventures in Tandem nursing), a calendar, and been a a number of websites. My son is now 14 yrs old and PROUD of that photo. He’s also had a photo of him on the front page of a National newspaper breastfeeding.
    The oldest I’ve breastfed one of my children in public is at 6-3/4 years old, and quite a few people saw. I’m now tandem nursing my youngest 2, at 4-1/2 years and 3 months old.

    ReplyDelete
  38. I'll stick my hand up in support of this.

    After a very rocky start and abysmal support, I consider the fact that I'm still breastfeeding my 23 month old daughter something of an accomplishment. I intend to continue doing so until she is ready to wean, regardless of how many evil looks I get, negative comments or complaints. Cultivating a thick skin is hard going even on the small scale of day to day negativity and so I really do admire those who are willing to publically speak up for natural term or extended breastfeeding.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Well writter letter and I support you! My 16 month older daughter is still breastfed and it feels completely natural to do so!

    ReplyDelete
  40. I hope to be able to continue to breastfeed my daughter (just turned 1) for as long as she needs/wants it. I don't know how long that will be and I don't know if that's realistic, but just knowing that there's lots of other mums out there also doing it is great. At the moment, the idea of weaning her when she barely eats solids is laughable. (I suspect that baby-led weaning and breastfeeding past infancy go hand in hand). I haven't had to deal with any sideways looks or comments yet, but my mum is anxious for me to wean her so that she can have her to stay, and keeps telling me that feeding past 1 is weird. It's hard to stay focussed on all the postives, so thanks for this post and thanks to all the women in Time.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Heartfelt thanks to Jamie and The other families, they did a very important and brave thing.

    Nina, currently nursing a 4 & 1 year old xxx

    ReplyDelete
  42. I'm a mom of a beautiful and happy and healthy 18 month old that still nurses. I will continue to nurse her until she self weans. I see no reason to force her to quit nursing when there is no reason for it. It will benefit no one and only hurt her. I will not allow the ignorance of peoples' comments deter me from doing what is best for MY family!!

    ReplyDelete
  43. Oh goodness...I don't think I ever commented on here to express my gratitude for writing this lovely post.

    I came across it again tonight when Dr. Jay Gordon emailed me the link. I had originally read it during the peak of the storm. I cannot tell you how much comfort and love I felt reading this post. It brought me to tears that someone was discerning enough to understand our intentions. The women in this community are so loving. I will gladly take the flack for you ladies. The true heroes in this are all of you that continued the conversation and really educated people on AP (the TIME article only got people talking...)

    Thank you! And FYI, you 100% are brave enough. Don't sell yourself short. This post alone is heroic to me. Thank you for stepping up (yes, even online!) in support of mothers.

    -Jamie Grumet

    ReplyDelete

I LOVE to hear from you, so please leave any comments or feedback below. Just a polite reminder though - if you're rude or abusive your comment will be deleted.