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Pressure to Stop Breastfeeding

Welcome to the Carnival of Breastfeeding hosted by Blacktating and The Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog. The theme this month is Extended Breastfeeding. Be sure to check out the other posts in the carnival at the end of this post.

With my first child, I stopped breastfeeding at 2 1/2 months because of medication I needed to go one that was NOT safe. With my second child, I was happily able to find medication that was safer and was able to breastfeed as long as I wanted.

However my husband’s family didn’t breastfeed or get breastfed and so breastfeeding was a new idea to them. They had to get used to me nursing in front of them and in front of their friends if I was at there house. It was always them that were embarrassed or apologetic, not me.

They got used to it but by the time the baby got to 6 months, there were hushed questions to my husband as to how long I’d breastfeed. They never were directed at me. By 9 months, my husband told me of these questions and said he wasn’t sure what to say. I told him to say that I’d be breastfeeding as long as the baby and I felt like it, at least a year as it didn’t make sense to stop breastfeeding to introduce formula.

By one year, the questions kept coming, occasionally to me, and I kept getting strange looks from the family too. Needless to say it was getting annoying. Why couldn’t they just be supportive? Or just leave me alone? Did I ask them how long they were going to bottle feed for?

At 12 months I decided to start weaning, with the idea to wean slowly. It ended up taking 3 months so I breastfed for 15 months. In terms of Extended Breastfeeding, this actually isn’t that extended compared to the 2 or 3 year olds that are still being breastfed. However the family was making me feel like I was nursing a 7 year old.

© Flickr User chispita_666

Health Canada recommends exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months with continued breastfeeding for 2 years and beyond. The World Health Organization (WHO) basically says the same thing. So breastfeeding up to one year is NOT really extended then but to many people, it does seem like it, which is sad.

If you are not comfortable nursing past one year, that’s fine. However I think nursing mothers should try for at least a year. Why introduce formula when you are providing breast milk for your baby?

More importantly, to everyone else, whether you breastfeed or not, please keep your thoughts and comments to yourself on when you believe breastfeeding should cease. It’s not your body or your child and it’s not your decision or your business. Thank You.

Check out the other posts in the Carnival of Breastfeeding:

Mamapoeki from Authentic Parenting: Extended Breastfeeding?
Mama Alvina of Ahava & Amara Life Foundation: Breastfeeding Journey Continues
Elita @ Blacktating: The Last Time That Never Was
Diana Cassar-Uhl, IBCLC: Old enough to ask for it
Karianna @ Caffeinated Catholic Mama: A Song for Mama’s Milk
Judy @ Mommy News Blog:My Favorite Moments
Tamara Reese @ Please Send Parenting Books: Extended Breastfeeding
Jenny @ Chronicles of a Nursing Mom: The Highs and Lows of Nursing a Toddler
Christina @ MFOM: Natural-Term Breastfeeding
Rebekah @ Momma’s Angel: My Sleep Breakthrough
Suzi @ Attachedattheboob: Why I love nursing a toddler
Claire @ The Adventures of Lactating Girl: My Hopes for Tandem Nursing
Stephanie Precourt from Adventures in Babywearing: “Continued Breastfeeding”: straight from the mouths of babes
The Accidental Natural Mama: Nurse on, Mama
Sarah @ Reproductive Rites: Gratitude for extended breastfeeding
Nikki @ On Becoming Mommy: The Little Things
The Artsy Mama: Why Nurse a Toddler?
Christina @ The Milk Mama: The best thing about breastfeeding
TopHat @ the bee in your bonnet: From the Mouths of Babes
Callista @ Callista’s Ramblings:  Pressure To Stop Breastfeeding
Zoie @ Touchstone Z: Breastfeeding Flavors
Tanya @ Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog: Six misconceptions about extended breastfeeding
Jona ( Breastfeeding older twins
Motherlove Herbal Company: Five reasons to love nursing a toddler
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Mom of five, Girl Guide leader, Blogger, Social Media Enthusiast, Knowledge Seeker, Canadian.

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  1. First off I would like to applaud you on not caving to the pressure of others. There are many others who would have second guessed their decisions because of others comments. It seems like we mothers can never win. If we breastfeed people make judgements on the length or frequency of nursing. If we bottle feed they make judgements as to why we didn't decide to breastfeed. If we work or stay at home there are always others who want to tell us those decisions are not right. Other women and mothers are often the worse. It would be so nice if we could all support each other with the knowedlge that each of us makes our decisions based on what we think is right for our children and our family.

  2. Well said Jess. I can't say I don't make judgements sometimes on other parents choices but I try to keep them to myself as I don't want them telling me that I shouldn't be doing what I'm doing. If it's not hurting anyone, it's the parents choice.Thanks for your very thoughtful comment.

  3. I'm hoping not to get this type of pressure from the in-laws or some of my family. I think we might be ok since only a few people have tried to make an issue about us cosleeping.Definitely do what's best for baby AND what you are comfortable with! I agree, stopping just to switch to formula makes no sense to me.

  4. My worst pressure to quit came from my in-laws too. I live thousands of miles from them, so it doesn't come up frequently.Although my in-laws are "supportive" of breastfeeding, they also want all of their daughters and daughters-in-law to go to another room to feed. Sorry, in-laws, I didn't travel 24-hours on a plane to go sit in a cold room with no other adults so I can breastfeed! I just ignored the norm and breastfed discreetly like I do in every country and situation I encounter. This helped my sisters-in-law to be able to do the same (though some still chose cold-room exile).Good work to you for sticking with it. Kudos to your husband as well for at least partially shielding you from the comments. Hopefully everyone in his family is a little better informed now!

  5. I was fortunate enough to have a husband who is extremely supportive of my choice to breastfeed my son past infancy and a family who keeps their mouths shut. But I feel for all the mamas who have to deal with comments from loved ones, it can feel very alienating and force you to defend your position, which is sad in itself because it's the most natural feeding method. Good job not caving in, mama!! *oh, and that pic is adorable and hilarious! :P

  6. Same thing happened to me. My mother thought a baby should be weaned at 12 months. I tried at 12 months and he wasn't having it. So at 17 months I weaned my first son cold turkey, my second son at 12 months and then I learned better. I'm currently nursing my 22 month old and I hope to wean him when he's ready. I can totally relate!

  7. With my second, I got a little pressure from my [then] husband to wean. I may have edged her in the direction, but ultimately I let her lead the way.It really sucks when the people in your life that should be the MOST supportive just aren't. I was lucky to have SOME people in my life that were/are supportive.

  8. Hi! Following you back from the We Are Canadian blog hop.

  9. Moms! FYI. Breast milk is best, but if you have a preemie who is not thriving, please watch this news story. I found it extremely interesting. Preemies are thriving at Metro Health Medical Ctr. in Cleveland thanks to a machine that tests the mother's milk and tells doctors what nutrients are not at adequate levels. I assumed breast milk was all the same and had all the nutrients a baby needed. Not so. Mothers who were interviewed commented on the weight gain after the personalized nutrient supplements were given together with the breast milk! Here's the link:

  10. Love your ending, basically, "if you can't saying anything nice, don't say anything at all." We need support and kindness. What often goes with breastfeeding is the attachment and that comes under fire as well. "Hey Momma, you gotta let them go." "She's got you wrapped around her finger doesn't she?" "About you send her to us with her aunt and we'll bring her back in a couple weeks." The attachment goes both ways, and it's a relationship, it's personal, it evolves.

  11. This is a great post for the breastfeeding carnival. I am sorry you experienced some criticism of the length of time you are breastfeeding. I agree that the questions that are asked from a preconceived judgment are tough to deal with. I don't have a problem with curiosity and questions, but there is pressure from those who think that there's something wrong with breastfeeding if it is different from how they feel. It helps a lot when you can look down at your little ones and see in their eyes that what you are doing is the right thing for your family <3

  12. Thank you for sharing the info about WHO and all. How can people disagree with that? Love this! People are so weird about breastfeeding. I especially think it's weird how people don't like breastfeeding in public–like a woman should do it in the bathroom. As if feeding a child in a public restroom is normal! omg What???? It's hard enough sometimes to psyche myself up to use the public bathroom, let alone asking a child to eat in there!In the last year, I went to visit a friend, and her son was 1 year old and was breastfeeding. She was telling me that her kids have weaned themselves when they were ready. Makes total sense to me.

  13. Wonderful post! I think that "extended" breastfeeding is great and extremely healthy for baby. Breastfeeding in general is also somewhat of a "new" concept considering that a couple generations ago Dr.s encouraged women not to breastfeed as it was not considered sanitary and you couldn't know how much baby was getting (in the US at least). Pretty ridiculous. I felt some opposite pressure. My babies have booth struggled with many food sensitivities and allergies. So many that I cannot keep up. There is too much that I can't eat in order for me to get the nourishment that I need. Not to mention that with all the eating strikes (result of upset tummies) I was constantly battling blocked ducts and in fear of mastitis. I was an absolute wreck and my baby cried ALL the time. With my youngest (at 4 months) I finally decided that it would be best for the whole family if we switched to formula. We put him on a hypoallergenic formula and the transformation was amazing! We had a different baby. He was happy and we were happy. Coming to that decision was very difficult because I truly felt like I was failing as a mother if I could not breastfeed my son.

  14. Thanks for all the great comments! I am not able to reply to all but wanted to say..Nancy.. thanks for sharing that link, that's quite interesting. I didn't realize our milk was different and that it's genetic. Amy.. thanks for sharing your story. I understand it must have been hard to make that decision but I'm glad you and baby are happy now. You didn't fail. You were doing what was best for your son.

  15. I stopped with my son at 9 months for health reasons–I wanted to get a mole checked that was in an inconvenient place. I breastfed my daughter until 14 mos. and then she stopped. :(. Stopping with both made me so sad! Following you here now too!

  16. Stopping by from Thirsty for Comments – I stopped with both of mine when they self weaned… I have to say that I wasn't a very good breast feeder… but they both lasted until 5 months… I always envy moms who can make a better go of it than I could.

  17. Like a few of the other women commenting here, I have been fortunate not to face any opposition from close family. Other than my spouse, they haven’t exactly been supportive as they don’t seem curious about it or its benefits, don’t provide any encouragement to keep going or express anything positive about breastfeeding in general, but no one has said anything negative or discouraging about it either. It does make me wonder now if some of them think it’s weird or something. Which of course is your final point, Callista! It’s been really good for me to not hear anything negative. I can find plenty of good examples and support in my community and online for extended breastfeeding (and NIP too!) and feel comfortable continuing to breastfeed my toddler.

  18. Hello, I just stumbled you, if you would like to keep up with me on stumbleupon please follow this link

  19. I cannot imagine what you went through!! Kudos to you for being strong and patient despite all the pressure and negativity. I applaud you! It's a shame that this is so frowned upon in this country! It really defies all logic.Stumbled you…would love if you could stumble me back: for linking up!Kristin :)

  20. Good job! Still breastfeeding here :) You have been stumbled by Makobi Scribe My post to be Stumbled is at How to use Ping-o-matic So sorry for the cut and paste, but I wanted you to know you have been Stumbled even though I am in the middle of the I Love My Mommy event!

  21. Great post – I'm in complete agreement with you – why not go for the year and then see what happens from there. I stopped with my son right at 12 months but later felt like I should have continued just a little bit longer. Hindsight is always 20/20 ~ Thanks for stumbling today

  22. That is great to hear. I was fortunate to have supportive family, but I totally agree. Breastfeeding is so taboo for a lot of people- especially when babies get older. I am very much oping the that BF propaganda in the US will start changing people's minds. (I am from the US, in the Northeast).

  23. i plan on BFing my kids when i do have them in the future. Supportive faimly members and friends would be very important to me…and anyone who pressurizes me into weaning, well sorry but i will decide when i feel it is best to do so for me and my child. no one should have to cave into pressure from others!

  24. Thank you! I nursed my first 2 for 12 & 14 months. I am still nursing my twins at almost 18 months & constantly get asked when I'm going to stop. Even our doctor said something about it not being necessary at this age!I don't understand why anyone outside of my household thinks they have any say in how long my kids breastfeed. They nurse 2-4 times a day (morning and night always, sometimes before/after nap, and occasionally when sick or hurt). It definitely understand people making you feel like they are 7. For some reason, most people seem to think that once they can move (crawl or walk), they should quit nursing. I find it pretty funny that formula companies are now making extended formulas, but people are supposed to quit nursing at 4-6 months & switch to those formulas that say "breastmilk is best" in tiny letters.Sorry for the long post. This is a very hot topic for me.

  25. It saddens me to hear that family are not supportive of breastfeeding, whether immediate or extended. I don't understand why some parents would question the choice of others who are clearly making an effort in providing the best food for their baby. No formula in the market compares to breastmilk. Good for you for continuing to nurse despite low support.

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