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Nursing too long is not the problem

Wow! Everywhere I have gone the last week, someone has asked me about the Time magazine cover photo, Are You Mom Enough? At graduation parties, the grocery store and even my neighbor's front yard. My darling 92-year-old mother-in-law brought the cover to Mother's Day brunch, along with an article from the Omaha World Herald that really gets to the crux of the issue. Nursing too long is NOT the problem. The problem is that too few infants get ENOUGH of their mom's milk.

Why did Time choose to use this photo for their well researched article on Dr. William Sears? Anyone who knows anything about Dr. Sears and his wife, Martha, know that they love kids, they understand how challenging parenthood can be and they believe children need their parents. I expected the article to be extreme and outlandish. Instead it was a pretty good piece of journalism that explored the Sears family and their perspectives on kids and parents.

Maybe this "unusual" breastfeeding photo is actually a good thing. Perhaps people will start to say, "I'm not sure how I feel about a toddler nursing, but it's fine for a baby to nurse for a year." Why is this a good thing? Because ten years ago the general public may NOT have thought it was okay for a baby to nurse for a year, or even nurse at all! That's progress.

Each mom will decide how she will feed her baby and each mom who breastfeeds her baby will decide how long to breastfeed. How cool would it be for mothers to stand up and say, "Yes, I nursed my baby past a year, or two years, or three years. Please, look at my kid all grown up. She has an academic letter, is a member of student council and co-captain of her dance team. She traveled to three developing countries as a young teenager, visited people dieing of AIDS in an African slum, helped build a home for a Honduran family with no running water and rocked abandoned infants in a run down orphanage. Next year she hopes to attend college in New York City or Boston. Is something wrong here?"

Check out how Moms Rising feels about the Time photo cover. There are a lot of serious issues facing moms today. Criticizing moms who are trying their best or starting a mommy war does not seem to be worthy of our attention. Let's let Time magazine know how we feel.

Read more from the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine.