It all started as a conversation with my friends. We were sort of comparing notes about the so-called “extended breastfeeding”. I really dislike the term, but OK, let’s stick with that for a lack of a better option. I’m a sociologist by training, so I’m always trying to dig behind the “social norm”. There are lots of things that we consider “normal” and just act certain way because “this is the way things are”. But when you start poking around and checking a bit it’s often enough to uncover some historical background to see that we consider the norm for a behavior is really quite a recent invention. Or go for a trip to a different country to discover that our “normal” is somebody else’s “crazy”. It’s exactly like that with breastfeeding. What is considered “normal” in our Western culture is breastfeeding up to sometimes around baby’s first birthday. Everything beyond that is usually considered weird, at the very least. And if it ever is discussed in the media it’s in a form of a total freak show. Remember the TIME magazine cover from last year? Now, I breastfed my daughter for 3 years and for the life of me I couldn’t imagine how this position would be comfortable for anyone. Crazy. And of course that leads moms to breastfeed their toddlers “in the closet” sort to say. All because of a fear of negative reaction and judgement. At the same time the rest of the world is happily letting their children wean by themselves- which usually happens naturally between three and four years of age. Plus of course this was exactly what was happening in our culture, before certain historical changes took place. Well, breastfeeding “up to two years and beyond” it’s even recommended by the World Health Organization.
Breastfeeding a toddler is just such a beautiful, nurturing relationship. It’s not a freak show. It’s not mothers fulfilling their needs. It’s good, healthy and normal. For both mother and the toddler. I would like to contribute to changing this social norm. So that more people see this as something beautiful. My weapon of choice is camera of course. I decided to start a personal project- a series of short photo essays on breastfed toddlers. I don’t know where this will take me. I have big hopes and dreams. But for now, I’m sharing the first essay. My friend Nienke and her adorable daughter Isabel.
Are you breastfeeding a toddler/ preschooler? Tandem breastfeeding?
I would love you to be a part of this project!
I am making a collection of breastfeeding images which I hope will help normalize breastfeeding children beyond the first year.
Things to consider:
You will need to live in or around Helsinki, Finland or Wroclaw, Poland.
The complete project will be made public on the internet and potentially in other mediums. So this means you will need to sign a model release stating you are OK with this. Mothers who take part in the project will receive a photograph of their nursing relationship.
If you are not a nursing mother but know someone who is – please pass this on!
If you would like to take part please contact me at karolina@halituli. com with the subject title Milk for Toddlers.