If you had told me when my son was a few weeks old that I would still be breastfeeding him at 22 months, I would have laughed hysterically. And then I probably would have cried. Or possibly done both at the same time. Like many moms out there, I had didn't love breastfeeding at first. For me, breastfeeding was challenging and stressful. Much of the angst I felt stemmed from major nursing challenges that were frantically and tearfully dealt with in those early weeks. I was determined to make it happen, and even now, I’m not quite sure I could fully explain just why that was. My best guess is that a lot of it had to do with the fact that it was a very black-or-white problem that I could overcome as a shaky new mom, when everything else felt uncomfortably gray. Was my baby happy? Was he thriving? Was I doing OK? Was my partner feeling all right? There wasn’t really much information available to us with which to form answers. But breastfeeding? That was a yes or no answer. To me, at the time, that was a clear problem that needed fixing and I was determined to fix it.
The very fact that this was a conscious choice I could make speaks to the inherently feminist aspects of breastfeeding: It was my body, and my decision to share it in whatever way I felt inclined to share it. In other places, in other eras, with fewer options, it might've certainly felt like less of a choice, but nowadays, with technology and formula on our side, moms can decide what’s best for them and for their families. That said, there's something about offering up your body (especially the oft-objectified, sometimes contentious boob-zone of your body) for use by another person in a way that, for most women, doesn't yield any real personal benefit to the woman who's literally being milked for all she's worth... Well, it's a tough gulp to swallow for some people, from a feminist standpoint, and like, I get it. But I also disagree with the idea that breastfeeding is anything other than a completely feminist act, and here's why: