I breastfed my amazing son until he was 2 1/2.
African American women are the least likely to breastfeed of all women across ethnic lines in this country, which is too bad, since breastfeeding is the perfect nutrition for your child, guards against cancers in both mother and child, improves cognitive brain function and leads to higher test scores years after the breastfeeding has taken place.
When I was still pregnant with our firstborn son. I challenged myself to breastfeed for one full year, the minimum recommended by the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics). The first few weeks were challenging, and I often told my husband that breastfeeding was the biggest commitment of my life—bigger, even, than my commitment to our marriage. It was difficult to find our rhythm. By about a month or two in, though, my son and I were in synch. I could pop him in his Ergo carrier, throw a scarf over him, and nurse on the busiest New York street, in a cafe, even on the subway. In the first 6 months, he was breastfed exclusively. He had never had a pacifier, never had a bottle, never had anything produced in a factory. He only had me.
At 6 months, we introduced complimentary foods, At one year, he was still happy, as was I, with breastfeeding. Many of my friends were continuing to nurse their one year old children, and so did I. WHO (World Health Organization) recommends breastfeeding for at least two years, and most children around the world don’t wean until age 3. He was eating solid foods like a champ, so breastfeeding was like a super boost of powerful nutrients —and love.
It was so much about the love. His eyes gazing at mine. I could weep now even thinking about him discovering his little hands at my breast, smiling at my breast, falling asleep at my breast. Because I’m his mamma. That’s really why we kept breastfeeding: What his great grandmother calls ‘the bonding.’ What I felt as Love.”
Healthier. Smarter. Breast is best.
Obviously the Time cover is sensationalistic. If they showed the same child, cradled against his mother, with both gazing at each other and not the camera, the magazine would sell fewer copies, but would also express the true loving bond of breastfeeding without pushing weirdo buttons in so many westernized middle Americans who have been criticizing mothers who choose to nurse into the toddler years.
(The photographer who took the cover photo has no idea what he is talking about; or, more likely, is lying to avoid stating the real reason for the cover—to generate buzz.) See the Time article. Most women today in affluent urban communities do it, openly, in public. Few folk in NYC even bats an eye when someone nurses anymore, which is likely why Beyonce didn’t hesitate to nurse her child at the table when dining with her family in the city. Kudos to her, to all the women who breastfeed with gusto, and to the men who support us.
Shame on Time for publishing a cover that would derail what should be a wonderful discourse about the benefits of breastfeeding. And shame on anyone —ANYONE—who judges the women who can not breastfeed or the women who choose not to breastfeed—and shame on anyone who judges the women who do.