Before I get started I want to make it clear that I do not have any problem with people who need to use formula for whatever reason. I do not even have a problem with people who choose to use formula for any reason, so long as it is an informed choice, made with the knowledge of the difference between breast milk and formula. This is not intended to beat up those mums at all (but I will look at mummy wars in postings to come).
Lily is now a little over 8 months old and I continue to breastfeed. It is easy - free (bonus for a SAHM) and works well for us.
What I am finding interesting is that breastfeeding support follows something like this:
Pre-birth: 'Oh you are going to breast feed, aren't you, it is the best for the baby...'
Birth: 'It is so great that you are giving breast feeding a good go, it is the best for the baby...'
3 months: 'Great that breast feeding is working so well for you, it is the best for the baby. So, when do you think you might introduce a bottle - it will help baby sleep through, give you a break...'
6 months: 'Wow, you have been so good with breastfeeding. So when are you going to start weaning?'
8 months: 'Oh, still feeding then, will you stop at a year?
1 year: *uncomfortable silence*
Why does this happen? Why is it great to start feeding your baby, but then have to move onto a formula so that other people feel comfortable? And why do some people feel uncomfortable about such a thing anyway?
For the record, I used to think it was a bit icky when people fed past 2 years. I still don't think it is a choice i would make, but now I can see why they might choose to feed. Not to mention the longer you feed, the better the health benefits are for the mother!
I think that it is no coincidence that the general societal acceptance of weaning onto formula at around 6 months occurs at the same time that formula is allowed to be advertised. Currently formula companies cannot advertise new born products. Most maternity carers are very limited in the information they give so they can push breast feeding. That means that many people who need advice on formula early on, when their milk supply is low or non existent for example, cannot access information easily.
Then at 6 months they suddenly come out of the woodwork - ta da! Formula time! So it becomes more normal to give formula than to breastfeed.
There is even an ad for a 'follow-on' formula for babies over a year - so you can be sure as to give your child all the nutrients they need.
Perhaps their parents haven't heard of food? You know, vegetables and fruit and well balanced meals? Why are they guilting parents into getting something they don't actually need?
So, next time you see someone feeding past 6 months, a year, 2 years... stop and think about why you feel the way you do, especially if it is negative. Chances are that the feelings are created by advertising, rather than from something you really believe.