I was a member of many of the breastfeeding groups on social media and this is part of what kept me going – I knew so many felt the same way and being able to speak to other mothers really made such a huge difference in my life.
I was a cheerleader and a supporter in these groups. I thought we all were – in some ways the breastfeeding community almost felt like a family that had your back – I was one of many. This changed when my son turned 3.
Now the compliments were replaced with abuse. I was disgusting and sick. I wasn’t a fit mother. I started avoiding social media.
There was only one page that focused on breastfeeding children past 1 and here we came together attempting to hold each other up.
“Self weaning isn’t hard. It’s bittersweet but not hard.”
The support made me feel confident at the same time as the negativity somehow made me stronger and more willing to fight for my son, for my body and my maternal rights. I followed my son’s lead and was not going to be shamed for it.
I continued to feed him regularly for another year until he started to self wean.
Self weaning isn’t hard. It’s bittersweet but not hard. It’s not for everyone but it was for us. My son chose when he was ready to move on and I jumped onboard the weaning train somewhat excited but also sad that my boy was growing up.
Most of us are though, aren’t we? We want to see them grow and become independent but as they do, we mourn the stage that has passed.
But back to my original point and something I truly want to speak out about.
You cannot be a breastfeeding supporter and a supporter of women’s right to breastfeed freely, when you follow this sentiment with a “but”.
In fact, that makes you NO better than those who compare breastfeeding out and about with urinating in public, or those who say that it’s sick to breastfeed – full stop.
If you’re a supporter of breastfeeding women, you’re a supporter of the right to breastfeed as it suits mother and baby, where it suits us and however long it suits us.
“There is no in between here.”
There is no in between here. It’s OK to say, “I’m happy to breastfeed for a year”. It’s not OK to state that “breastfeeding after a years is disgusting.”
Support doesn’t come with a “but”.
So do you, and do you proud but don’t diminish someone else’s journey just because it travelled down a different road to yours.
The Gentle Mum is a woman, simply trying to maneuver through motherhood with empathy and respect. Between training to become a breastfeeding peer supporter, completing her degree in Youth and Child studies and pursuing her writing hobby, she can be found on the school run, flustered whilst trying to be the best mother she can possibly be. These are her thoughts and musings on life, alongside the ups and downs of motherhood.