In the very unlikely event that you missed the Time magazine cover with the title, "Are You Mom Enough?" I'll just ask you to google it. The link to the cover itself, will be at the top, followed by Lord knows how many pages of commentary about the controversy it stirred.
Never one to miss a party, I'll throw my comments into the pot, for your stirring pleasure!
I nursed my kids for 3.5 years each. That's right. Well past the "asking for it" stage.
Our pediatrician told me to start on cow milk at 1 year, and it made my baby get hives all over his face and tummy, (anywhere the cow milk had touched his skin), and I was terrified of what it was doing to his insides! We wouldn't be trying that again!
I learned about extended nursing, which I now call "full term nursing" online from a breastfeeding support board, and found Katherine Dettwyler's study, The Natural Age of Weaning.
Both my kids have tested "gifted" so I guess the "promotes brain development" thing, worked out well. Wait. Doesn't that actually mean, instead of my kids being "special" that if all kids were being breast fed full term (years) that all kids might be that smart? Perhaps all kids are "gifted" and society just got brainwashed into thinking they didn't need that gift, and formula was fine.
Furthermore, I can attest to the fact, that breastfeeding continued to support their immunity, because both my kids get over any bug faster than anyone else I know.
Once, when my son was 3 years old, there was a particularly nasty virus going around, that was putting quite a few kids in the hospital with dehydration. My poor baby spiked a scarily high fever, and began throwing up repeatedly for hours. I called the after hours emergency number that our pediatrician used.
The nurse told me not to let him have anything by mouth, not even water, until we could get the vomiting stopped. When I asked if he could still nurse, she was delighted!
She said that breast milk was actually easier to digest than water, and it was the very best thing for him. He kept the breast milk down and did not have to go to the hospital. In fact, he got over it faster than most.
It's also really cool that both my kids remember nursing, because now they talk about the day when their children will get to nurse. This is exactly the way it should be. Breasts, to them, are about nurturing a baby. They won't escape the media, so they'll learn otherwise, but nothing can take this early association away from them.
I think another reason I was so easily convinced to nurse full term, is that when I was in the 5th grade, I attended a wonderful Montessori school. My Spanish teacher nursed her 2.5 year old in class, while she was teaching. I'd never seen nursing before, so of course I was curious.
She answered my questions in a matter-of-fact way and everyone there treated it as completely normal. This exposure was one of the few times I ever saw nursing, yet it profoundly influenced my parenting choices, some 30 years later.
I think people's discomfort in seeing a child breastfeeding, stems from the fact, that in this society, breast have only been seen in the context of sexualized ads or porn. Then, when they see something as pure and innocent as a child, placed into that perceived "sexual" context, they feel repulsed, and alarmed.
They mistakenly believe that the nursing is perverted, when in fact, it is their own associations and feelings that have been perverted, by a culture that has only recently, (in terms of human history), abandoned the natural method of nourishing and nurturing their young.