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Thread: Help me understand the range of attitudes out there

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
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    Default Help me understand the range of attitudes out there

    Hi, I am getting ready for my annual trip up to see family and friends in the US. I am "still" nursing my son 16 months + and just want to be ready for what kinds of reactions I might get or attitudes. I am very confident in my decision to keep nursing for as long as we want at this point. On the other had, I feel culturally out of it and I don't want to offend people outright (I mean if our very existence offends someone, then so be it! but I don't want to do it without knowing) Is a 16 -17 month old BF an issue for lots of folks? Some? Will it be a problem on the airplane? (I know he will be asking for it, he doesn't like to fly). How would you characterize the general public's reaction to toddler BFing? (I am going to Minnesota... Twin Cities and suburbs) Thanks for your thoughts!

  2. #2
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    Aug 2006
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    Default Re: Help me understand the range of attitudes out there

    I'd say many people in the U.S. are not totally comfortable with seeing a 16-17 mo. old nursing, but most have the good sense and tact to live and let live. There have been recent reports of some mothers taking ***** for breastfeeding on airplanes. Maybe call and find out ahead of time what their policy is so you have that info ready if you are confronted by an attendant. If you want to avoid confrontation, have your own blanket or cover with you in case they insist on it and you have no option. (Not trying to freak you out-I hope you aren't given any trouble but it's a possibility).
    My advice is to nurse your LO proudly and try not to worry about who might choose to be offended (ridiculously). I think the Twin Cities area is pretty progressive/tolerant generally.
    I hope you have a wonderful trip!

    Molly

    Loving mama to JP (DS, 1/03 ~ nursed 6 mos), EL (DD1, 9/05 ~ nursed 4 yrs), EJ (DD2, 3/08 ~ nursed 3 yrs 9 mos), and
    JM (DD3, 6/12 ~ currently nursing), all born naturally
    Devoted wife to SAHD P, my hero
    A few of my favorite things that I've discovered on the forum: co-sleeping, baby-wearing, tandem nursing, baby-led solids, cloth diapering, APing, selective vaccination...the list goes on

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    833

    Default Re: Help me understand the range of attitudes out there

    I had a long run at NIP but it ended a couple of months ago when DD just got too distractible. It was tense for me wondering when she was going to pull off and leave me swingin' in the breeze. But, even though I don't nurse in public anymore, pretty much everyone I know is aware that we're still nursing, and reactions have run the gamut. A few other mothers wanted to tell me old wive's tales about emotionally stunted children, and others about how when they could "ask" then they're too old, whatever. Come to think of it, no one has ever told me it's a good thing. I just know it is, and that's what's most important although I definitely didn't like being criticized for doing something so good.

    I think I remember seeing a LLL page that was about dealing with criticism, maybe you could just plan out how you're going to handle any situation that might come up. Not that it will happen, but just to put your mind at ease.
    Erin (32), breastfeeding CLW, knitting cloth-diapering crocheting, heirloom tomato-growing philosophizing poker-playing feminist artist mama to my 19 month old daughter! Baby #2 due January 2009.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    1,551

    Default Re: Help me understand the range of attitudes out there

    Hi nutria,
    I hope you have a great trip north. I'm not sure there is a general reaction you might expect. It's really going to vary person to person and situation to situation. It's hard to predict!
    Here are two articles about handling criticism, if that's what you encounter.

    http://www.llli.org/FAQ/criticism.html
    http://www.llli.org/NB/NBJulAug99p116.html

    Bravo for your confidence in the choice that works for you.

    Mary
    p.s. I traveled by plane to Washington D.C. for the '05 LLL International Conference. I nursed my 2 yr old on the plane both ways and had no problems. Some may have realized what we were doing, and some may have thought she was simply dozing comfortably in my arms.
    Last edited by @llli*LLLMaryP; November 5th, 2007 at 06:45 PM. Reason: add more

  5. #5
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    Mar 2006
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    Default Re: Help me understand the range of attitudes out there

    I am here in the midwest US and nursed my child until three years old. While it certainly isn't normal, and people's eyes would bug out when they learned she was still nursing, everyone, even my mother and even my husband to some degree, understood that it was between me and my daughter. And at 16 months it wasn't bad at all. He's still very young. You may get looks and even a comment, but you probably won't get attacked or insulted for nursing a toddler. I've gotten some very nice comments.. one from an older woman who was proud to have nursed all her kids until 2. I was almost embarrassed to talk about it in front of her and then she said that. Many folks just smiled encouragingly. But others would look away very quickly or just go when they hear that she "still" nursed.

    That saying that some folks say.. I hate to admit that I said it at one point many years ago.. that if they are old enough to ask for it, they are too old. So if your child is talking to someone and then walks over to you and disappears under your shirt, that person he was talking to will probably blush and become uncomfortable. But they won't need to stop eating or anything. They can handle it.

    Also, while people aren't used to seeing older nurslings around here, we've all seen them in National Geographic and other media. So the fact that you are "foreign" may help you out a little. Those who are ignorant about extended nursing may just write it off as a cultural difference. But maybe that won't be of much help since you are visiting family. I don't know.

    Again, 16 months may seem a LITTLE old to some, but he's still pretty tiny. Or maybe it just seems that way to me because my child toilet trained and learned to read her own name before weaning. "If they can ask for it..." Silly me..

  6. #6
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    Aug 2006
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    Default Re: Help me understand the range of attitudes out there

    Thank you all for your thoughtful answers. I get the impression we should just try to be a bit more discreet? Any ideas on how to teach him to stay under cover in public?? He's sure not used to it... I have a couple of weeks to get ready.

  7. #7
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    Mar 2006
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    Default Re: Help me understand the range of attitudes out there

    Good luck with that one.
    I started to tell my daughter, "You may only nurse if you keep mama covered."

    And work on that while in a setting where you feel comfortable having him have a tantrum when you tell him he CAN'T nurse because he's NOT keeping you covered. Once you're in a less than comfortable situation, it's almost better to just do it and get it over with than to cause a scene first.

    My issue with my daughter was that she used both sides while nursing - one for her mouth, the other for her hand. Plus there was the fact that if I brought my shirt to her cheek, she'd get annoyed and shove it way up. Blankets were anything but discreet. We just STOPPED nursing in public for a short time; she'd ask and I'd take her to a different room or give her snacks instead. But a month or so later when I told her she COULD NIP if she respected mommy's privacy, she was great. It just took her some time before she could understand that I was only comfortable showing my breasts to her, daddy and my LLL friends. But not the rest of the world. Even though I was proud to nurse her. Once she got it and understood it as something that was ONLY for her, she was pretty good at keeping it discrete. It's bringing back memories of her finishing up and carefully lowering my shirt and straightening it in a large park in Washington DC. She was very sweet about it. And only months earlier it was a fight just to get her to stop twiddling.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Help me understand the range of attitudes out there

    If he'll let you keep your shirt down, I think you'll be fine. I wouldn't worry about trying to cover up beyond that.

  9. #9
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    Nov 2006
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    19

    Default Re: Help me understand the range of attitudes out there

    I have breastfed my oldest son on flights when he was 17 months and 21 months. We flew from FL to MN the second time and he nursed the entire time and no one ever said anything. I don't think anyone even noticed. They probably noticed that he did NOT cry and fuss the entire time and was quite content. I personally would rather have him nurse and be content and secure rather than crying and throwing a fit! I like to think that most people either:
    A. Don't even realize you are nursing
    B. Realize you are nursing and are ambivalent or happy to see it (like me, I get a "warm fuzzy" feeling whenever I see someone nursing in public because I love the bonding feeling that I get so I imagine they like it too!)
    C. Are just glad your baby is quiet!

    I would definately not go into it with worries about others reactions because you may get nervous and your LO might pick up on this.
    Enjoy the flight!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    Default Re: Help me understand the range of attitudes out there

    Quote Originally Posted by Lilahsmama View Post
    I Come to think of it, no one has ever told me it's a good thing. I just know it is, and that's what's most important although I definitely didn't like being criticized for doing something so good.
    ITS A GOOD THING!

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