If you’re in the mommy circuit, or even if you are not, you have seen the recent TIME magazine cover featuring a mom breastfeeding her 3-year-old son. They are (untraditionally) both standing and staring unabashedly at camera. As a breastfeeding mom myself, I’ve read a lot of the commentary on the provocative cover story on “attachment parenting.” I share the views expressed in this article, that TIME’s depiction of breastfeeding is an extreme. It’s frustrating because at eight months (and even earlier) when I’d mention that I am breastfeeding I get the response, “STILL?!” and accompanying commentary or innuedo that I am abnormally babying my son or over-attached. I have to diplomatically reply that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding until 12 months.
The criticism also makes me mad because for a lot of moms breastfeeding is far from easy. It takes learning technique, sleepless nights, worries about adequate “supply” to nourish baby and —for a working mom like me— a lot of accomodations and excuses in terms of schedule and routines. I could add a lot more on the stress of business travel. (I’m talking to you, Doubletree Hotel and your inability to provide a mini fridge to someone who requested it over a week in advance!) Evidence of its challenges…
About 44 percent of U.S. moms do at least some breast-feeding for six months. But only 15 percent follow advice from the American Academy of Pediatrics that babies receive breast milk alone for that time span. And fewer still stick with breast-feeding for a year, also recommended by the academy.
So this TIME magazine cover may be successful in its ability to generate chatter and magazine sales, but it depresses me in my effort to be relatively ordinary and care for my baby the way doctors reasonably recommend. It makes breastfeeding seem like an extreme practice, which it’s not. It’s the most natural thing in the world. That image just isn’t what it’s really about.
(Image: Mother and Child by Enoch Wood Perry Jr, 1831 – 1915)