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"It Takes Diff'rent Strokes"

"What might be right for you, may not be right for some"
 -Alan Thicke, Gloria Loring and Al Burton

When did our society start passing so much judgment on nursing mothers? Who made up the rule, "if they're old enough to talk, they're too old to nurse?" I would just like to know why people are so concerned with how long a child is nourished or comforted by his mother. Mother's milk has been proven to aid brain development, immunity, dental health, and a myriad of other important functions. In fact, children who nurse for beyond 12 months are shown to be more independent toddlers and young children.

I just don't understand why people care so much. As a new mother it seems that everyone has an opinion on our parenting style. We get questions like, "are you letting him cry?" and "are you practicing attachment parenting?" and "why don't you stop nursing, you will feel so liberated." My husband and I are not practicing any particular style of parenting aside from our own. We trust ourselves to do give Sammy everything he needs and the first way we do that is by choosing to breastfeed exclusively. I understand that there are a lot of women out there with particular circumstances where formula can be a great help, but thankfully, we are not in that position. Sammy has a hearty appetite and I have an ample supply of milk. I am able to hold Sammy to my breast with confidence and strength, we are both healthy and strong, so why not nurse.

As a woman, my body was designed to gestate, birth and nurture my child. While my pregnancy with Sammy was a minefield of symptoms such as nausea and achy joints, his birth was the most natural, joyous and beautiful experience. I thought that after a natural birth breastfeeding would be a simple and easy step, but it wasn't. Breastfeeding is a process and occasionally a struggle, but when put in perspective, the struggle is well worth it. There is always the knowledge that the whole point of my breasts is to feed my young. This knowledge comforts me in my moments of distress and struggle. This knowledge is what I explain to people when they question my choices. "This is what my body was designed for, and this is what works for us and our family."

My choices as a mother are my own. I endeavor to give Sammy the best life he could possibly have and I do that the best I can. My relationship with Sammy blossoms every day, we grow closer and get to know each other a bit better. Sammy's father stands behind my choices as a mother and I stand behind his choices as a father. We support each other and believe that what we are doing is best for our boy. We know that we have given him a jumpstart at life by breastfeeding and we hope to continue breastfeeding as long as we both can stand to. My question is why does it bother so many people? Why is a woman feeding her child so upsetting? When will parents learn that "it takes diff'rent strokes?"