When I did the search on YouTube for the fainting goats, I typed in those two words. Inexplicably, in addition to the fainting goat videos, a whole list of breastfeeding videos also came up. (Note: I did it again and did not get the same results?) There was a video of a mom breastfeeding her son for the first time while the doctor looked on, there was one about toddlers nursing and then there was one about a mother who still nurses her daughter at age 8. That's right...8! That is a second or third grader. I watched part of the video, but when it got to the part where they actually showed the woman nursing her daughter, I had to turn it off because I was so weirded out. I came back later, after I had processed it a little, to watch the full video.
I should reinforce for those that don't know, I am an ardent supporter of breastfeeding. I am still exclusively nursing my 11 month old daughter and plan to continue for the foreseeable future, although I doubt that I would continue past two years. I think it is a natural and healthy thing for both mother and baby. In addition to the obvious nutritional benefits for the baby, it has saved us a ton of money in formula. And on a more emotional level, I personally feel it has created a deep connection between my daughter and myself. I do not criticize those that choose or can not breastfeed their children. I'm a live and let live kind of gal. To anyone considering it, though, I urge you to persevere. The first months are tough, oh man, were they tough, but the rewards later on are great.
So back to this 8 year old. Am I weird that I think this is beyond bizarre? This woman nursed her first child to the age of 5, which I also consider to be too old, and says she will continue to nurse her other daughter until the girl decides she doesn't want to do it anymore. I know that here in the US we have a VERY conservative attitude towards breastfeeding and that less than a third make it to six months with that number going down even further with each passing month thereafter. Breastfeeding beyond two years is called extended breastfeeding and is far more common in the rest of the world. However, I do not think it is normal for women to breastfeed their children through school age in developed countries. I don't even think it is normal in non-developed countries. I keep trying to see this from the other side, that breasts are about nourishment, that the American sexualization of them has created a situation where so few women breastfeed. The truth is, though, that I just can't get past the idea of an 8 year old girl nursing. I am repulsed by it and I feel a little shame at that because I am the gung-ho breastfeeding advocate. All I can think about is the psychological impact of that continued behavior. Would they be strangely dependent? Would they have boob fetishes? Would their peers ostracize them if they found out?
I can't decide if I'm looking for validation that I'm not a bad breastfeeding champion for thinking this is wrong or if I'm looking for people to sell me on the idea of extended breastfeeding. It raises the question for me of how long is too long?