I know I am late to this convo but wanted to chime in. I practice what is called child-led weaning, which just means nursing until the child has outgrown it (and believe me, despite common cultural myth, they all do outgrow it, they will not & actually physically cannot nurse forever). For more info on a "Natural Age of Weaning" and what I am talking about you can read here by Dr. Kathryn Dettwyler Phd: http://www.kathydettwyler.org/detwean.html
Anyway, I have definitely heard my fair share of criticisms, had plenty said behind my back & read a lot of things online about "moms like me" and the funny thing is, I am not sure what a "mom like me" is even supposed to be like. Apparently (according to online posts/rants) we have "unresolved issues", are overindulgent to our kids, the milk has "no nutritional value" , etc, etc,
I worked 6 weeks after I had my 1st and nursed. I have a tattoo, my nose pierced, am feminine, wear makeup & dress nice most days (even now that I a SAHM). I worked in an industrial, male dominanated office, wearing a business suit, etc, etc. People think they have some idea about what a mom "is like" when she is a child led nurser. All I can say is a mom who does that isn't someone you can pick out on the steet, believe me. The only thing I can even say with any certainty is that she is probably well educated on the benefits of continued nursing for her child and herself & what is biologically normal behavior for humans AND she very likely has a backbone and has grown thick enough skin so she can put her family's well being ahead of social comforts and familia pressures most times AND that she is definitely VERY patient (lol). Because that is all I have ever seen out of any mom that I have known that has practiced child led weaning. Other than that - they seem as diverse as they come.
It is probably (socially) the hardest of all feeding paths to take. I quit talking about nursing or any reference to pumping at work at around a year when everyone assumed I would (should) wean. I then went to pumping in my car on lunch (wearing a cape) rather than deal with people's ideas/thoughts on it (since I had basically been told a number of times already that I *should* wean, "before he had teeth", "before he got too attached", whatever other reasons you can come up with).
Very few people IRL even know I nursed my 1st to 3 1/2 yrs old or that I am nursing a two year old now. I am not ashamed of it. You do however have to be aware that people might say rude or inappropraite things to me in front of my very bright & perceptive preschooler & he might internalize that. they may also be so bold as to say things to him like "You're too big for that" which my own fathe rsaid once to my son who asked to nursed & he was only 2 1/2 yrs old. My dad thought he meant well & said it merely like you might say to a 3yr old who suddenly asked to wear diapers after being potty trained for a year. My son immediately acted ashamed. I think there are a lot more "closet" nursers than people realize - and there are more moms trying REALLY hard to not upset anyone than people think too. there are even suggestions on how to teach childrne code words to ask to nurse while in public so mom or child doens't ahve to deal with unneeded social awkwardness. I just want to do the best I can by my kids. It is undoubtably the healthiest thing you can do for your child biologically (look at any study on long term nursing). Now granted, a child that age isn't generally nursing in public nearly ever - but even then, on occassion a child may want to or mom may need to (maybe they have been out all day & haven't had a chance yet) or the child may get hurt & ask to and I think overall it is sad that you have far more to fear in rude comments if you were to nurse your three year old after he hit his head, even very discreetly, in public then you do if you were to publicly pour Mt Dew into a bottle & hand it to a 10 month old for no reason at all. That is completely NO joke or exaggeration.
I loved the article about nursing in the land of Ghengis Khan - I read it back when it came out. I was nursing then & am still nursing now. It makes me wish that it could be like that here. It would make mothering a nursing baby & toddler a whole lot easier.
When people put restrictions on nursing moms (such as "as long as she is discreet enough")that really isn't true support for nursing. Supporting nursing is just that, support. By definition, support means to carry some or all of the load/lessen another's load - and putting outside people's various definitions of "discreet enough" onto a mother isn't actually supportive. It places the BURDEN on mom to have to somehow manage to make those around her & her baby comfortable with nursing.
Some people literally think that no moms should nurse anywhere even with a cover (those types suggest your home, your car, a bathroom or a nursing room ONLY), some think for sure a cover & then it's fine but any time you can see the baby's head that isn't discreet, some are fine as long as nothing on mom is showing, but babies head doesn't have to be covered, etc.
If you want to suppoort nursing moms, support a mom who nurses in being able to do so with as little problem as possible and that is real support. Putting the burden on mom to do anything other than what makes HER best able to feed the baby isn't support, it is restriction, and at worst at times it is a deterrent. If mom feels that those around her are uncomfortable AND she feels like she must take that responsibility to work around that, that often leads to moms supplementing with formula (which can lead to supply issues & other problems) or staying home more than they should (isolation) or not nursing at all due to social discomforts. Shy nursing moms are literally further discouraged by the occassional write you hear about a nursing momma being kicked out of some place for nursing.
These attitudes discourage nursing & anything externally put upon the mother that makes her not want to nurse or makes nursing harder IS not support. Read the article if you haven't. It totally explains what I mean. Mongolians DO actually truly support nursing, and so much so they actually embrace it & celebrate it, rather than shun it away into nursing rooms & under patterned special ridiculously named "hooter hiders" & such. Funny too we call them hooter hiders, after all many people consider Hooters a family restaurant.
Any time you say "I support you as long as", you may as well say "I support you, but" which everyone knows means ignore the first part of what I said & pay attention to whatever I say after the "but". I FULLY support a woman using a cover, or a nursing room or whatever she needs to make HERSELF comfortable. I would argue though that just as often what makes a a mom uncomfortable aren't her own feelings about nursing in public but her perception of how she might be viewed, the kinds of looks she may get or the comments she may recieve & THAT is the part I find rather ridiculous within our culture. If a woman just wants to use one & would use one even in Mongolia - then more power to her. If she feels she needs to use one due to cultural hangups - that is unfortunate. I used my car or nursing rooms at times too - especially at naptimes. It is nice to get away to a quiet place sometimes.
I also have travelled enough (sadly not since I have had my children) that I have seen women nurse in other countries. I can't speak for France, but I find it odd if they have issue with it since everywhere else I have been in Europe women nursed very openly. Perhaps they don't in France & I just didn't notice? It was a really weird, eye opening & great experience for me. It helped me, who comes from an area of low nursing rates, to see that it didn't have to be as weird as it is in the US. I was forunate to do this travel before I had kids, so I was able to get over any weirdness I had ever felt about it as well. Feeling weird about it is normal when you grow up here, using that as a reason to put pressure on nursing moms is where it crosses a line. I feel weird about lots of things, I don't expect anyone else to change what they do so I don't have to feel weird anymore. LOL
Anyway - sorry to get so long winded. I adore Woot & am excited to actually find the forums AND then to find a topic so near & dear to me (obviously). Thanks for allowing me to put in my perspective! Sorry if I was a tad too serious - I have just done so much reading & research on it & find it fascinating. ***please don't kick me out of woot for being so wordy*** lol
spending my kid's college funds one woot off at a time