Briefly – On Extended Breastfeeding and Time Magazine

May 11th, 2012 by Dionna | 26 Comments
Posted in Breastfeeding/Lactivism, Compassionate Advocacy

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Quick: flip to picture #3 on Time’s Photo blog. That is me, tandem nursing my 5-month-old daughter and 4-year-old son.

Oh wait – here’s another one on the right that Tom took during the photo shoot.

No, I do not nurse Kieran while he stands on a chair.
Heck, I hardly nurse him at all anymore – maybe once every couple of weeks for a minute at bedtime.

We practice child-led weaning. Well – we do right now, but if someday I feel that enough is enough, then I’ll gently nudge him in that direction.

I took part in this photo shoot because I want to normalize breastfeeding. Breastfeeding in public. Extended breastfeeding. Etc., etc. Because breastfeeding kind of rocks.

You can read a little bit about my response to the cover photo and the title of the cover story over at Huffington Post – I wrote a piece for HuffPo today entitled Extended Does Not Equal Extreme.

I’ll be writing more on the subject, but for now I’ll leave you with these thoughts:

  • Thank you to my friends and family who have wrapped me in love and support as the inevitable negativity started rolling in.
  • Breastfeeding, cosleeping, attachment parenting – practicing one or all of these does not make any one of us “more mom” than another. We’re all parenting our children with love. Let’s concentrate on that – not on judging the choices that work for other families.
  • Time wrote, titled, and chose a cover photo for its piece in order to sell magazines. We are not Time. We can share why our parenting choices work for our families without criticizing other choices.
  • FYI: you do not need to be thin or white in order to breastfeed your child. I wish Time would have done more to make the families selected for the photo shoot less homogeneous.
  • For the record, the American Academy of Family Physicians has said: “As recommended by the WHO, breastfeeding should ideally continue beyond infancy, but this is not the cultural norm in the United States and requires ongoing support and encouragement. It has been estimated that a natural weaning age for humans is between two and seven years.

Oh! One more thing. Thursday and Friday have been spent visiting about breastfeeding with reporters from my local news stations and radio personalities. Check them out:

26 Responses to:
"Briefly – On Extended Breastfeeding and Time Magazine"

  1. Liz

    You go, girl :) The title page certainly was antagonistic!

    • Stephanie B Cornais   mamaandbabylove

      Dionna!! These pictures of you and your children are stunning! Thank God you are big part of this national conversation. I wish they had chosen your picture for the cover!

  2. Sarah @ OneStarryNight   onestarrynight

    First off, I am SO PROUD OF YOU!

    Second, I think they chose the photo they did with the headline that they did to boost sales and drive up the drama. I’m still wondering how the articles are simply because I am scared I’ll get upset and feel defensive heh.

  3. Ellen

    I really appreciate your participation in this article. I am currently tandem feeding my two-year-old and my newborn son. I just happened to see a news report while channel surfing and I was so excited to see a local mother talking about breastfeeding a toddler. Many of the mothers I’ve talked to who breastfeed past one year feel like they have to hide – it’s ridiculous. I completely agree with your stance that breastfeeding needs to be seen to normalize it. Thank you!

  4. Jen   diplomom08

    Love it! Can’t wait to read the HuffPo article!

  5. Amen. I wish Tmw hadn’t spun it that way, but nothing to be done about that now except what you are already doing.

  6. Sarah

    Beautiful and brave way to stand up for what you believe. I am in awe.

  7. Abby   tweettwitwut

    Just listened to your interview with Afentra and Danny Boi on 96.5 – you did GREAT! I wish your attitude and philosophy was what sold magazines. Thanks for putting a positive and respectable face on a lifestyle so many find contentious :)

  8. Violetsouffle

    I am very proud of you for taking part in the photo shoot. The picture of you nursing your babies is beautiful. I do sort of wish they’d used the one of you that you Posted above. Seeing Kierans sweet face in it is so much better than seeing the back of his head!
    Also, I HAVE nursed T while she stands on a chair before, during one of those “I’m an acrobatic toddler” phases, I have also nursed her in the pool, in an airplane, on the couch, at the library…etc. the chair shot was dramatic but not completely unrealistic. If my baby is standing on a chair&wants milkies, I will probably comply. Though it is more likely se would be standing in a learning tower. They’re safer ;) lol

  9. Breastfeeding, co-sleeping, carrying your children: extreme?! How does that make sense to anyone? Travel back in time 300 years or farther, and tell everyone (who isn’t royalty) that they way they are raising their children is extreme.

    “you do not need to be thin or white in order to breastfeed your child. I wish Time would have done more to make the families selected for the photo shoot less homogeneous.”

    I had the same thought. Some diversity would have been nice. It also would have been nice to see some double D’s. ;D

    It sounds like overall you had a good experience, and I’m glad you did it. Like you said, it got people talking.

  10. Jill

    Dionna- I am so impressed with how you’ve maintained your grace and dignity throughout all of this process with the media. I know all this attention to a cause you truly support must be simultaneously exciting and extremely disruptive to the normal life you lead! The way you handle yourself makes me proud to call you “friend”.

  11. Holly N.

    I was reading the article and looking at the pics through a different link and saw your pic. I was like “hey I know that lady”. So awesome to see you in such a well known mag. Many thanks for representing. You are awesome as always!!

  12. Angela Morgan

    Okay, that video just gave me the biggest smiles! How sweet and adorable, and what wonderful memories you have captured on film! Love it :)

  13. Gal   galpod

    I respect your choice to nurse your toddler, and I think normalizing breastfeeding is a great goal. My kids weaned themselves around 11 months. What I wonder is, can you be your child’s warm and safe place without nursing? I think you can. I know I am doing my best.
    Also, a nitpicking point, I think that the estimation of weaning between 2 and 7 years includes countries in which nutrition is a struggle, and kids who get a boost of nursing have better survival chances. As this is not the case in North America, I’m pretty sure the lower average age of weaning is not just because “it is not the norm”, there are probably also nutritional reasons.

  14. Thank you for standing up for us mothers who choose to breastfeed our toddlers. The Time cover was obviously to sell. I fully respect any type of parenting as long a there is love yet am looking forward to reading the full article and reading more about your thoughts on extended breastfeeding. Yes! As a Latina I sure wish there was more color in those photo shoots!

  15. teresa   momgrooves

    I thought the photo of your family was so beautiful. I had the same feeling about the cover and title as you. I assumed some things about the cover mom by that photo that were not even close to who she was either (as I just happened to see her speak on the Today show this morning.)It is really an unfortunate thing that Time fanned the flames of misunderstanding among moms. I, myself, tried so hard to breast feed and couldn’t get enough for her. I finally quit after 3 very long months of pumping every couple hours just to give her some. I ended up so much more exhausted and I couldn’t even feed her most of the time. I was hooked up to a machine while her dad fed her breast milk from a bottle. No fun.
    So… that is my biggest grief about motherhood so far. I remember all the time that my healthy child and our close bond is all that matters… and it is.
    I feel the openness and lack of judgement you and so many other breastfeeding mothers have for all choices, but I know how it might make someone feel defensive or like they need to take a side. Maybe even just so they don’t feel awful that they didn’t do it for thier child.
    Anyway, I love your insights and what you wrote at HuffPo.
    I admire what you and your husband have created so much and I try to incorporate as much as I can into our lives.
    xoxoxoxo

  16. Tat   muminsearch

    The cover may have sent controversial messages, but at least it started a conversation. Everyone is talking about it and pretty much all blogs that I’ve visited are all saying the same thing. Extended breastfeeding is great, but it’s your personal choice and it doesn’t make you more or less of a mum. All these voices will have to be heard.

  17. You’re a brave soul. I appreciate you putting yourself out there where others would fear to tread. When our children and our grandchildren have a much easier, less-judged time of attachment parenting, it will be thanks to wonderful spokesMamas like you.

  18. Jessica

    Way to go. People should not be telling others when to stop nursing. Just because they have a child, it does not make them an expert on yours. Breastfeeding is healthy and natural. It is a bonding experience, not a sexual one. My child has a milk allergy, so I plan on nursing longer. Breast milk is so much better on her stomach.

  19. Erin

    I cannot express how happy it makes me to read all of the wonderful, supportive comments that you all have left. After reading all of the nasty things people have to say about extended breastfeeding, I began to think the world had lost its mind. Thank you thank you thank you!!

  20. Vidya Sury   vidyasury

    Women have been doing it for centuries :-) I am so glad you’re spreading this important message about breastfeeding. That was a great post at the HuffPo, Dionna!

    Happy Mother’s Day to you, more than anyone else I know. I always look forward to your posts by email and love the photos you post of Kieran and Ailia. Bless them.

    Love, Vidya

  21. I nursed my daughter for 2.5 years… took a break for 6 months… then nursed my son for 2.5 years. That is one of the best things I’ve done as a MOM so far. Now my babies are 21 and 24. Time flies. Enjoy every minute. Happy Mother’s Day!

  22. Polly

    Thank you for doing this. I have been feeling a little isolated, of late. I know what I do is not mainstream, but it’s not THAT weird.

  23. Beautiful video! Every time I start to feel pressured into pushing DS to wean…someone like you reminds me that I’m not alone!

  24. Andrea   talesofgoodness

    I just wanted to say “thank you” for this. It only takes a few brave moms to start a change and open up a world of options for the more timid among us. Well done.

  25. Cady

    I was thrilled to click on a link from Kelly Mom and discover you were part of the cover shoot and article, Dionna. I find your views on the subject informative, well-thought out and well-written, loving, and non-judgemental. Overall, this has been quite a crazy time I’m sure, but I am SO THANKFUL to you and the other mothers who participated in the TIME piece for attempting to normalize the nursing relationship I personally share with my 2.5 year old son and KNOW in my BONES to be the right thing for us. I don’t know anyone in person who has nursed this long (including my local LLLI leader) so please know that it helps TREMENDOUSLY to read your blog when you feature the topic (I’m thinking of your series of guest posts on breastfeeding past infancy), and to see the TIME cover and read more about your and the other mothers’ opinion(s) on the subject. It is amazing and comforting and encouraging to know I’m not actually alone in this, even though I may be physically isolated from others who share my experience (and heck, likely there are others in my area, they just probably don’t feel comfortable nursing their older children in public, hence the need for that cover photo, no matter the magazine’s intentions behind running it!). So basically, KUDOS to you and THANK YOU!!!

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