The Other Breastfeeding Shaming Nobody Talks About

January 17th 2016

Laura Donovan

It's no secret that many moms are shamed for breastfeeding their babies in public while advertisements that sexualize breasts receive praise. Mothers who breastfeed their children beyond infancy, however, are often shamed even more for their breastfeeding choices.

Though the World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding up to six months of age, breastfeeding needs vary among different mothers and children. Last year, mother and lactation consultant Wendy Wisner made a case for extended breastfeeding in a Role Reboot post, arguing that it's time to stop policing moms for breastfeeding babies past a certain point.

Crying Baby

RELATED: The Problem with the Way We Talk About Breastfeeding

"Women should be able to choose how long they wish to breastfeed — whether it’s three weeks, or three years," Wisner wrote, adding that mothers who choose not to breastfeed shouldn't be shamed either. "When breastfeeding is going well, breastfeeding feels to mothers like a natural, intuitive way to bond with their babies and toddlers ... It gives them confidence in their bodies and their instincts as mothers. Many women begin to love their bodies while breastfeeding."

The benefits of breastfeeding

Wisner responded to the unfounded claims that breastfeeding mothers are "sick" and "selfish." She wrote that breastmilk is a known benefit for childhood development and can even make children smarter. She added that breastfeeding can also lower a mother's risk of developing certain health issues such as diabetes, among other conditions.

"The shaming of women who choose to continue nursing after whatever arbitrary time they are “supposed” to wean needs to end," Wisner said.

RELATED: People Are Loving Alyssa Milano's Daring Breastfeeding Post

What it's like to remember being breastfed.

Late last year, writer Zoe Ligon published a piece in Refinery29 about having vivid memories of being breastfed until age five. Ligon wrote that her mother faced backlash for her decision but that she didn't care because she loved her daughter so much.


A photo posted by Zoë Ligon (@thongria) on

"My mother says she breastfed me because she loved feeling close to me, and she believed it would help me be a healthy child," Ligon wrote. "I was grateful that she was able to disregard the judgment of so many others in order to do what she believed in. And although many might see breastfeeding your child for so long as odd, it was the right choice for the two of us."

TIME magazine's controversial breastfeeding cover

Several years ago, TIME magazine received immense criticism after it published a controversial cover of mother Jamie Lynne Grumet breastfeeding her 3-year-old son. Grumet said this is part of "attachment parenting" and that her own mother breastfed her for a long time as well.

TIME breastfeeding cover

“There seems to be a war going on between conventional parenting and attachment parenting, and that’s what I want to avoid," Grumet told TIME. "I want everyone to be encouraging. We’re not on opposing teams. We all need to be encouraging to each other, and I don’t think we’re doing a very good job at that."

RELATED: What Happened When a Woman Gave This Breastfeeding Mother a Stare Down

Check out ATTN:'s video below for more information on mothers and breastfeeding shaming:

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Posted by ATTN: on Wednesday, December 16, 2015