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Wednesday, November 21, 2007I'm finding the thread on what defines a lactivist to be pretty interesting. While the majority of posters seem to agree a lactivist is anyone who does their best to promote and support breastfeeding, there have been a few lengthy responses outlining some pretty extensive requirements for the title.
A few of the comments (and several of the posts on the forum) have branched off in a different direction and I felt like they warranted a post of their own.
The crux of the points being made is that I've always said (and continue to say) I believe in and support child led weaning. To many, the fact that I'm gently weaning my son rather than waiting until he gives up nursing on his own means I must have been lying about my position on child-led weaning.
I find this interesting.
I believe child led weaning is a wonderful thing for mothers who desire to nurse for as long as their children wish to continue. The benefits of breastfeeding do not end on any particular day. Both mother and child benefit physically from each and every day of nursing. Additionally, I know many moms who find nursing to be an invaluable tool when it comes to soothing a fussy or tired child, or helping a child "reorganize" when they get stressed out.
I have and will continue to stand up for the right of any mother to nurse her child for as long as the two of them wish to nurse.
Now with all that said, many have taken issue with a comment I made on that discussion forum. To paraphrase, I said "child led weaning is a wonderful thing, but it's not for me."
Many have taken that as a personal slam. Me saying they're strange, or wrong for practicing child led weaning. A few have implied that by saying that, I'm making it clear that I'm not one of those "weirdos" who nurses until their child hits college.
So let's break this down. As you know, I'm nothing on this blog if not honest.
The idea of nursing a toddler weirds me out. I've said that quite a few times in the past. I've noted that I'd originally planned to breastfeed for six months. (That holds true for both Nora and Emmitt. I had planned to switch to EPing when Emmitt turned six months.) Then I started nursing Emmitt and six months came and went quite quickly. Suddenly, nursing a six month old didn't seem so odd.
At eight months, things were still going quite well. In fact, they were going well enough that I posted here that I'd decided to aim for 18 months, but was open to going longer than that as long as things were going well. I still couldn't picture nursing a talking toddler, but I was willing to give it a shot.
Then we hit nine months and things started going down hill fast. That was five months ago and nursing hasn't improved one iota. It's not horrible, but it's not fun either. I dream of being done. I dream of wearing real bras and of being able to sleep through the night sometime because Greg is capable of getting Emmitt settled. I dream of being able to take care of a business meeting without staring at the clock so I can get home in time to nurse.
And so, I decided to gently wean my son.
Because I believe that breastfeeding, while an amazing thing, is not something a woman should be forced to do. Child-led weaning is wonderful when both participants are willing participants. We would never dream of forcing a child to continue nursing when they wanted to quit. Yet somehow, we're ready and willing to raise eyebrows and purse lips when a mother decides she's done. Rather than respecting the dyad and their own individual dynamics, we've elevated the baby's rights over the rights of the mother. This despite the fact that the mother needs to be in an emotional state to tend to baby, herself and often a spouse and other siblings.
Do I believe in child-led weaning? Absolutely. But ONLY when the mother in question desires child led weaning.
Think about it this way. I believe in the benefits of regular exercise, a diet of whole foods and getting eight hours of restful sleep a night.
I haven't managed to pull that off either. :-P
So I ask my readers...does the fact that you don't do something yourself remove your ability to claim to believe in and support it?