After the furore around the cover of Time magazine, showing a glamorous Californian mum breast-feeding her three year old, what a pleasure to read a news story about celebrity mums, enthusing about breast feeding their babies. Supermodel Gisele Bundchen is so convinced of the importance of breast feeding that she has said it should be made mandatory world wide. Who else is speaking out in favour of breast-feeding? There’s Alicia Silverstone, Hilary Duff, Selma Blair and Gwen Stefani among others.
I’m not in favour of making any laws about anything so personal as how to feed your baby. I think that it should be a matter of education not legislation, so it’s good to see celebrities speaking out about the most natural way of nourishing a baby. It’s definitely preferable to celebrities appearing three weeks post-birth, stick thin having got rid of their ‘baby weight’. They don’t say they are not breast feeding but the only way to lose that amount of weight post-birth is on a very low calorie diet, so I don't think they are eating enough to produce milk to feed their baby.
Like it or not the views of celebrities are very influential. (Personally I don't like it. On principle I switch off whenever I see a so-called celebrity comedian on a serious programme like Question Time.) Celebrity views on having a baby are well publicized; it is universally reported to be the most important and fulfilling thing they have ever done. Little wonder then that young ill-educated girls with few prospects, reading Madonna's view that having a child is the most fulfilling thing she has ever done, think -well I don’t have Madonna’s fame, her talent or her money but I can have one thing she says is the best thing she has, I also can have that all important baby.
Back to the question of prolonged breast feeding: I know a mother who breast-fed her boy until he was four. He’s now grown up, he's healthy and well adjusted and no different from boys who were breast fed for only a few months – or not breast fed at all.
Breast feeding is undoubtedly best for babies and if celebrity endorsement increases the number of mothers who breast feed, so much the better. As far as I know there are no long-term consequences either positive or negative for mother or child from prolonged breast feeding but how long mothers choose to breast-feed is nobody’s business but their own.