The (Non) Judgment of Breastfeeding a ToddlerLauren Hartmann
Editor’s Note: In just 2 days Babble will reveal the top 5 breastfeeding writers online. Leading up to our big reveal, we’ll be sharing some of our bloggers’ stories on the topic. Here Lauren explains how she handles breastfeeding her toddler in public:
Recently I made a little list of reasons why I’m still breastfeeding my toddler and I wanted to share a little more about my experience of breastfeeding a toddler and why it’s totally not a big deal…or at least why it’s become not a big deal over time.
Here’s a little bit of my back story leading up to now: I am an incredibly modest person. My roommates in college would often tease me and call me a “never nude” and my midwives could hardly believe that I labored for 12 hours in a swimsuit top, so you can probably imagine how the early days of breastfeeding went for me. I spent a lot of time nursing in dressing rooms and in the car under a stupid nursing cover while everyone else was eating their meals out at restaurants — basically it sucked.
Over time though, I became OK with my breasts and the fact that they were here to serve a purpose: feeding my baby. I think realizing this seemingly simple fact was the main roadblock for me when it came to breastfeeding early on. Breasts are so sexualized in our American culture that people (myself included) have forgotten that their main purpose is purely functional. It’s not like I hadn’t seen my fair share of breasts prior to having a child, but it wasn’t until I saw a video in my breastfeeding class the month before giving birth that I actually witnessed breasts doing their God-given job for the first time. Sure I’d seen women nursing underneath giant nursing cover (AKA “circus tent boob hiders”), but I’d never actually seen it up close and personal.
I think that over time, breastfeeding has helped me accept my body for what it is and for the amazing things it can do, and that is a big reason why it’s not a big deal for me to still be breastfeeding now that my baby is a toddler. It just seems like a perfectly natural thing for us to do.
We mostly just nurse at home, so it’s not like anyone has to see us or anything, but even when I do nurse my daughter in public, it’s not like people stare or make comments. Perhaps it’s because I live in Portland where people are into all things natural with a “hippie” leaning to them. Even our pediatrician is so great about encouraging our extended breastfeeding journey and I know plenty of other mamas who have gone this same route. It is not abnormal to see someone at a park or a restaurant quickly nursing their toddler and to then see the child run off to play with other kids. It’s kind of just “normal” here. Even in the suburbs where I live, people have been totally accepting of it.
So nowadays, I basically nurse Fern anywhere and everywhere that I please. Why? Because I can…because that’s what boobs do…they feed babies…and toddlers. Get used to it people.