Time Magazine cover stirs debate over breastfeeding, features CO mother

9:23 AM, May 11, 2012   |    comments
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BROOMFIELD, CO (KUSA) - Joanne Beauregard says there is no better time spent than time with her children. She and her husband practice what is called attachment parenting, meaning she spends all her time with them.

The Broomfield resident is one of the mothers profiled in the latest edition of Time magazine. The cover picture has elicited hundreds of thousands of online comments. It shows a mom breastfeeding her 3-year-old son as he stands on stool to reach her.

One of the techniques of attachment parenting is allowing a child to self wean. That means some children breastfeed for four years or longer.

Beauregard has a 10-week-old son, James, and a 22-month-old daughter, Claire.

They both breastfeed and often nurse at the same time. Claire is already able to communicate her desire to be fed.

"She'll say 'milk' when she wants to nurse," Beauregard said.

Under attachment parenting, there are no bottles used to supplement with formula, and a mom does not pump her own breast milk to be used later. That means Beauregard must always be available to the children, 24 hours a day.

"The biggest challenge is that I'm always on call sometimes I feel like a firefighter who is always on duty," she said.

She says it did take some getting used to.

"At first, it was a shock and it was a little stressful, but you settle into a routine and it becomes natural," Beauregard said.

She says it is a joy to have that intimate time with both of her children and she doesn't plan to stop anytime soon.

The principles of attachment parenting include:
- "Baby wearing," or carrying your child in a sling for most of their daytime moments.
- Co-sleeping in the family bed.
- Extended breastfeeding until the child self weans. This can mean years. If there is a new baby in the house, both children are breastfed in a process called tandem nursing.

Under the photo on the latest cover of Time magazine, the text reads: "Are You Mom Enough?" It talks about the founder of attachment parenting.

Beauregard is one of the mothers featured in the article.

"I was honored to promote attachment parenting, because I believe in it," she said.

She knows it comes with some criticism and says she even hears it from people she is close to.

"We do have friends that do not attachment parent and who are kind of against it," Beauregard said. "Some are extremely vocal and opinionated about their views about how I should parent."

There are psychologists who argue that children who are raised this way learn that the whole world revolves around them and do not learn a certain level of self denial or independence.

Clinical Social Worker Heidi Friese specializes in family therapy and attachment issues. She told 9NEWS it's not as much about the amount time spent, as it is being engaged in that time.

"The parent has to be healthy and engaged," Friese said. "In the U.S., it is really taboo, but in many cultures it is the norm and an important part of the connection between mother and child."

The demand on parents who make this choice is significant. They cannot be away from the children for long at all. For Beauregard, both of her children are often up in the night to be fed.

"One of the parents' jobs is to provide limits," Friese said.

She says within the context of this technique, it is important for the parents to take care of their own health and sometimes that may mean a child sleeps in their own space or has to wait a few minutes to eat.

She says if kids are nursing at pre-school age, it is important for parents have to talk openly about why the family has made this choice because it could cause some awkward conversations with their young friends.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breast feeding at least until 6 months and supports extending that to one year.

Beauregard says they are building a family foundation that will not be shaken and she understands every parent has to make the choice that is best for them.

"Follow your heart and your gut. I think a mother knows best," she said.

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