Teresa Palmer has had enough of the whispers, the dirty looks, the bullying that come with breastfeeding a toddler.
Penning a passionate post on her blog, Your Zen Mama, the Australian actress said she won’t bow to social pressure to wean her 2.5-year-old son Bodhi Rain off breastmilk.
“Some believe that when solids are introduced that breastfeeding is no longer calorically [sic] required and therefore are pressured to wean,” she wrote.
“To me just because Bodhi’s caloric need is being met does not mean I am willing to negate my sons [sic] yearning for emotional comfort, which is just as real and important a need.”
In fact, the 30-year-old, who is pregnant with her second child, wrote that the decision to switch entirely to solids will be entirely his to make.
“I am personally really inspired by the idea of letting Bodhi choose how long he breastfeeds,” she wrote. “Right now I can’t imagine stopping breastfeeding, in fact thinking about our breastfeeding journey ending makes me feel really sad.”
As well as citing the World Health Organisation’s recommendation to breastfeed infants to age two and beyond, Palmer argued that she and her husband, actor Mark Webber, have found it to be crucial for their son’s emotional stability.
“If he is getting fussy then having a quick 5 minute check in on the boob is all he needs to find his centre, get a boost of confidence and continue on,” she wrote.
“For us it’s actually made parenting that much easier.”
Yet still, she argues, women – including her – are being forced to defend and explain their choice to practise so-called ‘extended breastfeeding’.
“The social discrimination against woman who breastfeed their older toddler can be immense. I know women who won’t feed their 2 year old in public for this reason. From dirty looks, to whispers and nasty comments, it is downright bullying,” she wrote.
“The sad fact is that until breastfeeding ceases to be sexualized [sic] we will be fighting this battle.”
Palmer’s solution? For women to find confidence and empowerment by arming themselves with facts about the benefits of the practise.
“Breastfeeding is a beautiful, natural, biological thing,” wrote Palmer, “and if you’re a woman who is lucky enough to be able to breastfeed I hope that the naysayers and those who pass judgement don’t affect your breastfeeding journey.
“Keep listening to your mama voice and allow that to be the loudest voice you hear.”