Long-term Breastfeeding is My Reality

A friend on Twitter posted a story about a reality show about breastfeeding beyond infancy. The production company is responsible for shows like Dance Moms and American Stuffers. This comes soon after the infamous Time magazine cover about attachment parenting, which featured a mom breastfeeding her three year old son.

This also comes after Massachusetts becomes the second state nationwide to eliminate formula from hospital bags and Mayor Bloomberg wants New York City hospitals to be certified Baby Friendly. While I am thankful that there has been a lot of support for breastfeeding, I do not think this show is a good way to promote it.

The general public is not comfortable with breastfeeding, especially while in public. There have been numerous examples of moms being ridiculed or told to cover up/go to the bathroom/be "discrete" when they're feeding their children. Even other breastfeeding moms offer unsupportive advice. What's more public than being on TV? Add long-term breastfeeding to that equation. I cringe when thinking about some of the conversations going on while people watch these mothers nurse their toddlers.

Don't get me wrong, I am sure that the moms who are doing this show believe that long-term breastfeeding is not weird or gross. What I'm not sure I believe is that it will be portrayed in a positive light. The production company seems to feature subjects that are a little out there, maybe even a little outrageous. While these moms are going in with the best intentions, their actions can easily be turned against them with editing and inaccurate portrayals of long-term breastfeeding.

My initial reaction to reading the article on the show was there's no way this will end well, but after thinking about it for a while, I wonder if it will be similar to the Time cover and article. The AP and breastfeeding communities really stepped up to debunk misconceptions and offer education and support. Will there be more educational conversations on long-term breastfeeding or breastfeeding in general after this show airs? I'd like to hope so, but I doubt it. A more realistic (albeit pessimistic) view is that these mother-child relationships will be shown negatively, which will lead to negative and unsupportive conversations.

I know I will tune in to see how extended breastfeeding is portrayed. In fact, I'll probably be nursing my 19 month old while I watch. The remote will be kept nearby, because I have a feeling long-term breastfeeders will be portrayed as freak shows and only the "extremes" will be shown. Long-term breastfeeding is my reality, and I don't trust television to depict it accurately.

What do you think of this show?