You’ve probably either seen or heard about the current Time magazine cover with the photograph of a mother breastfeeding her 3 year-old son. It’s definitely stirring up a lot of debate. Some people think the photo is inappropriate. Some are “grossed out.” Other folks are wondering how the child will deal with the sudden- and thanks to the Internet- eternal notoriety. Then there’s the debate over breast milk versus formula.
Most of the comments I have read are by women with the occasional man wondering if years of breastfeeding are ruining the mother’s breast. Images certainly can spur a myriad of reactions.
The actual article that the photo is supposed to represent is about attachment parenting. Attachment parenting has come into vogue through the writings of Dr. Bill Sears and his wife Martha. Their book, The Baby Book, was published in 1992, and promotes extended breast-feeding, co-sleeping and “baby wearing,” in which infants are physically attached to their parents by slings. But a lot of people are having a hard time getting pass the cover to read the article.
Another debate the photo has inspired is "how old is too old" for a child to breastfeed?
Personally I think that’s a parent’s choice. I’ve known mothers who breastfed till their child was 3, others who breastfed from 6 months to a year, and others who didn’t breastfeed at all. All the children are doing well.
Breastfeeding is the natural way to feed your baby. Not every mom can or wants to breastfeed her child, but there are plenty of good reasons to give it a try.
Breast milk contains all the vitamins and nutrients your baby needs in the first six months of life, and it is easily digested. Also, breast milk contains antibodies that help protect infants from a wide variety of infectious diseases, including diarrhea. Studies suggest that breastfed babies are less likely to develop certain medical problems, including diabetes, high cholesterol, asthma, and allergies. Breastfeeding may also decrease the chances that the child will become overweight or obese.
Those are all very good reasons for mothers to breastfeed their children.
There are times however, when breastfeeding isn’t recommended. Sometimes a mother's health can interfere with her ability to breastfeed. For example, a mother undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, or a mom who is infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV, the virus that causes AIDS) should not breastfeed.
If you have a medical condition or take any medications on a regular basis, you should check with your doctor before breastfeeding. Mothers with inverted nipples can have a difficult time breastfeeding.
How long should you breastfeed? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mother and baby desire. The World Health Organization recommends continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond.
Is the Time magazine cover making a positive or negative statement about breastfeeding, or is it just a clever way to get publicity and sell magazines? I think we know the answer to that.