Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan

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breastfeeding in Mongolia
Breastfeeding in Mongolia

In Mongolia, there’s an oft-quoted saying that the best wrestlers are breastfed for at least six years—a serious endorsement in a country where wrestling is the national sport. I moved to Mongolia when my first child was four months old, and lived there until he was three.

Raising my son during those early years in a place where attitudes to breastfeeding are so dramatically different from prevailing norms in North America opened my eyes to an entirely different vision of how it all could be. Not only do Mongolians breastfeed for a long time, they do so with more enthusiasm and less inhibition than nearly anyone else I’ve met. In Mongolia, breast milk is not just for babies, it’s not only about nutrition, and it’s definitely not something you need to be discreet about. It’s the stuff Genghis Khan was made of.

Like many first-time mums, I hadn’t given much thought to breastfeeding before I had a child. But minutes after my son, Calum, popped out, he latched on, and for the next four years seemed pretty determined not to let go. I was lucky, for in many ways breastfeeding came easily—never a cracked nipple, rarely an engorged breast. Mentally, things were not quite as simple. As much as I loved my baby and cherished the bond that breastfeeding gave us, it was, at times, overwhelming. I was unprepared for the magnitude of my love for him, and for the intensity of his need for me and me only—for my milk. “Don’t let him turn you into a human pacifier,” a Canadian nurse had cautioned me just days after Calum’s birth, as he sucked for hour after hour. But I would run through all the possible reasons for his crying—gas? wet? understimulation? overstimulation?—and mostly I’d just end up feeding him again. I wondered if I was doing the right thing.

Then I moved away from Canada to Mongolia, where my husband was conducting a wildlife study. There, babies are kept constantly swaddled in layers of thick blankets, tied up with string like packages you don’t want to come apart in the mail. When a package murmurs, a nipple is popped in its mouth. Babies aren’t changed very often and never burped. There aren’t even hands available to thrust a rattle into. Definitely no tummy time. Babies stay wrapped up for at least three months, and every time they make a sound, they’re breastfed.

This was interesting. At three months, Canadian babies are already having social engagements, even swimming. Some are learning to “self-soothe.” I had assumed that there were many reasons a baby might cry, and that my job was to figure out what the reason was and provide the appropriate solution. But in Mongolia, though babies might cry for many reasons, there is only ever one solution: breast milk. I settled down on my butt and followed suit.

A Working Boob Hits the Streets

In Canada, a certain amount of mystique still surrounds breastfeeding. But really, we’re just not very used to it. Breastfeeding happens at home, in baby groups, occasionally in cafes—you seldom see it in public, and we certainly don’t have conscious memories of having been breastfed ourselves. This private activity between mother and child is greeted with a hush and politely averted eyes, and regarded almost in the same way as public displays of intimacy between couples: not taboo, but slightly discomfiting and politely ignored. And when that quiet, angelic newborn grows into an active toddler intent on letting the world know exactly what he’s doing, well, those eyes are averted a bit more quickly and intently, sometimes under frowning brows.

In Mongolia, instead of relegating me to a “Mothers Only” section, breastfeeding in public brought me firmly to center stage. Their universal practice of breastfeeding anywhere, anytime, and the close quarters in which most Mongolians live, mean that everyone is pretty familiar with the sight of a working boob. They were happy to see I was doing things their way (which was, of course, the right way).

When I breastfed in the park, grandmothers would regale me with tales of the dozen children they had fed. When I breastfed in the back of taxis, drivers would give me the thumbs-up in the rearview mirror and assure me that Calum would grow up to be a great wrestler. When I walked through the market cradling my feeding son in my arms, vendors would make a space for me at their stalls and tell him to drink up. Instead of looking away, people would lean right in and kiss Calum on the cheek. If he popped off in response to the attention and left my streaming breast completely exposed, not a beat was missed. No one stared, no one looked away—they just laughed and wiped the milk off their noses.

From the time Calum was four months old until he was three years old, wherever I went, I heard the same thing over and over again: “Breastfeeding is the best thing for your baby, the best thing for you.” The constant approval made me feel that I was doing something important that mattered to everyone—exactly the kind of public applause every new mother needs.

The Lazy Mum’s Secret Weapon

By Calum’s second year, I had fully realized just how useful breastfeeding could be. Nothing gets a child to sleep as quickly, relieves the boredom of a long car journey as well, or calms a breaking storm as swiftly as a little warm milk from mummy. It’s the lazy mother’s most useful parenting aid, and by now I thought I was using it to its maximum effect. But the Mongolians took it one step further.

During the Mongolian winters, I spent many afternoons in my friend Tsetsgee’s yurt, escaping the bitter cold outside. It was enlightening to compare our different parenting techniques. Whenever a tussle over toys broke out between our two-year-olds, my first reaction would be to try to restore peace by distracting Calum with another toy while explaining the principle of sharing. But this took a while and had a success rate of only about 50 percent. The other times, when Calum was unwilling to back down and his frustration escalated to near boiling point, I would pick him up and cradle him in my arms for a feed.

Tsetsgee had a different approach. At the first murmur of discord, she would lift her shirt and start waving her boobs around enthusiastically, calling out, “Come here, baby, look what Mama’s got for you!” Her son would look up from the toys to the bull’s-eyes of his mother’s breasts and invariably toddle over.

Success rate? 100 percent.

Not to be outdone, I adopted the same strategy. There we were, two mothers flapping our breasts like competing strippers trying to entice a client. If the grandparents were around, they’d get in on the act. The poor kids wouldn’t know where to look—the reassuring fullness of their own mothers’ breasts, granny’s withered pancake boasting its long experience, or the strange mound of flesh granddad was squeezing up in breast envy. Try as I might, I can’t picture a similar scene at a La Leche League meeting.

When They’re Walking and Talking…and Taking Their Exams?

In my prenatal class in small-town Canada, where Calum was born, breastfeeding had been introduced with a video showing a particularly sporty-looking Swedish mother breastfeeding her toddler while out skiing. A shudder ran through the group: “Sure, it’s great for babies, but by the time they’re walking and talking?” That was pretty much the consensus. I kept my counsel.

It was my turn to be surprised when one of my new Mongolian friends told me she had breastfed until she was nine years old. I was so jaw-dropped, flabbergasted that at first I dismissed it as a joke. Considering my son weaned just after turning four, I’m now a little embarrassed about my adamant disbelief. While nine years is pretty old to be breastfeeding, even by Mongolian standards, it’s not actually off the scale.

Though it wasn’t always easy to fully discuss such concepts as self-weaning with Mongolians because of the language barrier, breastfeeding “to term” seemed to be the norm. I never met anyone who was tandem breastfeeding, which surprised me, but because the intervals between births are fairly long, most kids give up breastfeeding between two and four years of age.

In 2005, according to UNICEF,1 82 percent of children in Mongolia continued to breastfeed at 12 to 15 months, and 65 percent were still doing so at 20 to 23 months. A mother’s last child seems to just keep going, hence the breastfeeding nine-year-old, and if the folk wisdom is right, Mongolia’s renown for wrestling.

As three-year-old Calum was still feeding with the enthusiasm of a newborn and I wondered how weaning would eventually come about, I was curious about what prompted Mongolian children to self-wean. Some mothers said their child had simply lost interest. Others said peer pressure played a part. (I have heard Mongolian teenagers tease each other with, “You want your mommy’s breasts!” in the same way Canadian kids say, “Cry baby!”) More and more often, work commitments force weaning to happen earlier than they would have otherwise occurred; children will often spend the summer in the countryside while a mother stays in the city to work, and during the extended separation her milk dries up. My friend Buana, now 20, explained her gold-medal breastfeeding career to me. “I grew up in a yurt, way out in the countryside. My mom always told me to drink up, that it was good for me. I thought that’s what every nine-year-old was doing. When I went to school, I stopped.” She looked at me with a mischievous twinkle in her eye. “But I still like to drink it sometimes.”

Pass the Milk, Please

For me, weaning from the breast seemed a fairly defined event. I always expected that, at some point, feedings would decrease and continue to taper off until they ceased altogether. My milk would dry up and that would be that. Bar closed.

In Mongolia, that’s not what happens. Discussing breastfeeding with my friend Naraa, I asked her when her daughter, who was then six, had weaned. “At four,” she replied. “I was sad, but she didn’t want to breastfeed anymore.” Then Naraa told me that, just the week before, when her daughter had returned from an extended stay in the countryside with her grandparents and had wanted to breastfeed, Naraa obliged. “I guess she missed me too much,” she said, “and it was nice. Of course, I didn’t have any milk, but she didn’t mind.”

But if weaning means never drinking breast milk again, then Mongolians are never truly weaned – and here’s what surprised me most about breastfeeding in Mongolia. If a woman’s breasts are engorged and her baby is not at hand, she will simply go around and ask a family member, of any age or sex, if they’d like a drink. Often a woman will express a bowlful for her husband as a treat, or leave some in the fridge for anyone to help themselves.

While we’ve all tasted our own breast milk, given some to our partners to try, maybe used a bit in the coffee in an emergency (haven’t we?), I don’t think many of us have actually drunk it very often. But every Mongolian I ever asked told me that he or she liked breast milk. The value of breast milk is so celebrated, so firmly entrenched in their culture, that it’s not considered something that’s only for babies. Breast milk is commonly used medicinally, given to the elderly as a cure-all, and used to treat eye infections, as well as to (reportedly) make the white of the eye whiter and deepen the brown of the iris.

But mostly, I think, Mongolians drink breast milk because they like the taste. A Western friend of mine who pumped breast milk while at work and left the bottle in the company fridge one day found it half empty. She laughed. “Only in Mongolia would I suspect my colleagues of drinking my breast milk!”

Living in another culture always forces you to reevaluate your own. I don’t really know what it would have been like to breastfeed my son during his early years in Canada. The avalanche of positive feedback on breastfeeding I got in Mongolia, and Mongolians’ wholehearted acceptance of public breastfeeding, simply amazed me, and gave me the freedom to raise my child in a way that felt natural. But in addition to all the small differences in our breastfeeding norms, the details of how long and how often, I ended up feeling that there was a bigger divide in our parenting styles.

In North America, we so value independence that it comes through in everything we do. All the talk is about what your baby’s eating now, and how many breastfeedings he’s down to. Even if you’re not the one asking these questions, it’s hard to escape their impact. And there are now so many things for sale that are designed to help your child amuse herself and need you less that the message is clear. But in Mongolia, breastfeeding isn’t equated with dependence, and weaning isn’t a finish line. They know their kids will grow up—in fact, the average Mongolian five-year-old is far more independent than her western counterpart, breastfed or not. There’s no rush to wean.

Probably the most valuable thing about raising my son in Mongolia was that I realized that there are a million different ways to do things, and that I could choose any of them. Throughout my son’s breastfeeding career, I struggled with different issues, and picked up and discarded many ideas and practices, in my search to forge my own style. I’m glad I breastfed Calum as much and as long as I did – it turned out to be four years. I think breastfeeding was the best thing for my son, and that it will have a lasting impact on his personality and on our relationship.

And when he wins that Olympic gold medal in wrestling, I’ll expect him to thank me.

If you liked this article, we think you’ll love Why African Babies Don’t Cry and Breastfeeding around the World. Check them out!

 


1 UNICEF, Monitoring the Situation of Children and Women: Infant and Young Child Feeding (2000-2007).” 2009. http://www.childinfo.org/breastfeeding_countrydata.php

Reprinted with permission of the author. Originally published in Mothering Magazine, issue 155, July-August 2009 as well as The Natural Child.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

90 COMMENTS

  1. Totally brilliant article – the best I’ve ever read about the subject. I’ll be recommending it to everyone I know :))
    Kristina

  2. Brilliant, long live bio-diversity and responsive parenting. I too had the good fortune to work abroad a s a young midwife, with Lao people in N.E. Thailand, so saw & observed how babies were never left to cry; this influenced my breastfeeding style, responsive, when I had my own babies in UK. The only difficullty is that in a non-traditional society, Uk, the support was just not there.
    It was heartwarming to read how many people prized and encouraged your breastfeeding efforts; thanks for this article
    Dana

  3. Fantastic piece of writing. Have shared on Facebook – have several friends who’ll appreciate this 🙂 xx

  4. fantastic, i believe we all have so much to learn about parenting from other cultures. Have shared on facebook. Thank you

  5. Hi Ruth,

    I read this at some stage last year and adopted it as a technique to ward off ‘disagreements’ between my two sons (3 and 1). At the first sign of fighting off the same toys I waggle a breast at them and 90% the younger is distracted and comes for a feed. So for all the peaceful times in our house (which are greatly appreciated by me!!) Thank You!!!

  6. I LOVED this article. I breastfed both my daughters, the eldest to 5 (which was my official cutoff date for her – she cried) and the younger till 4 and a half-ish (she was much less interested at that point and it just dropped off eventually). Absolutely, I used the boob for soothing, for comfort, for getting them to sleep. It was amazing what some nursing time could do! And if anything,my kids were far more capable of doing things on their own than many of their peers. I’ve often felt (and explained it) that, when kids KNOW they have that safety net to return to at any time, they are fearless!

    I had some helpful support from my husband, my family is pretty bohemian to begin with, and I had a great group of online breastfeeding communities, but what made the biggest difference by far was meeting a girl who, at 11, walked up and commented that “she remembered doing that” when she saw me nursing my younger one. The older one was 2 1/2 at the time, and I was really starting to wonder if she was getting “too old”, but when this lovely 11yo told me she nursed till 4 1/2 (“my mom had to stop me!”), I realized that HELL YEAH my kids would be fine if I nursed them till 5. (It didn’t hurt any that this 11yo was the epitome of the girl you want your 11yo daughter to be!)

    I got a chance to thank her (she’s now 17) the other day, and I was happy to hear later that it *made* her night. 🙂

  7. Great article! I’ve enjoyed it so much! Approval and encouragement are so important when you breastfeed and you definitely had enough!

  8. Thank you for sharing this!
    We’re still going strong with our bubs at nearly two and people here in Australia are generally shocked he still breastfeeds.
    Support and encouragement like that would be simply Utopian for mums!

  9. Wow, I think I need to move to Mongolia! I live in Pennsylvania and still nurse my son at 14 months. I get a lot of strange looks and disbelief when I share that he’s still breastfed. What disturbed me the most was when the Nurse Practitioner at my Pediatrician’s office told me to stop nursing at 12 months. Uh, no thanks. 🙂

  10. Here Here! Still feeding my 2 and a half year old third child and so wish I had fed my first two for longer than the accepted idea of 12 months!

  11. Thanks for sharing such an amazing experience.Not only living in Mongolia for 3 years but being able to communicate on such a level with other mothers and parents. Babies and love are the universal language.

  12. Excellent article Ruth, a really good read. One I will be sharing with everyone I can! Would you mind if I posted a link to this on my blog?
    I was going to say how lucky you were to get such encouragement and support but it wasn’t luck it was as it should be.
    Maybe a stint in Mongolia should be compulsory for all health professionals…. maybe include this in secondary education too!
    Thank you for sharing this

    Ema

  13. […] Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan I think you will enjoy this article about breastfeeding culture in Mongolia. “The value of breast milk is so celebrated, so firmly entrenched in their culture, that it’s not considered something that’s only for babies. Breast milk is commonly used medicinally, given to the elderly as a cure-all, and used to treat eye infections, as well as to (reportedly) make the white of the eye whiter and deepen the brown of the iris.” […]

  14. LOVE THIS! Oh, how I wish the US could be even a little more like Mongolia when it comes to breastfeeding. Makes me want to start looking for my yurt in the countryside 🙂

  15. Great article! Thank you for sharing! I bf my son for 4,5yrs, I’m looking forward to his wrestling career 😉

  16. I FREAKIN LOVE this article. ::high five::
    Or boob slap. Whichever is more appropriate. 😉
    Katt…who is nursing her almost 19m old.

  17. Laughable. The reason for which Mongolian women breastfeed for so long is the scarcity of food. That’s pretty much it. Loved how her sheltered Canadian mind couln’t even entertain the notion that they couldn’t aford feeding the child. I come from a society in which people can’t aford to buy kid food, so, guess what …. tada, they breastfeed as much as possible. Breast milk decreases in quality over time, plus there is the mental scarrign factor so yuck!

  18. Very nice article, so interesting, so rich. Thanks a lot for sharing this with us. Julie, from France, went on holidays in Mongolia and foud its culture very inspiring.

  19. I am still breastfeeding my 31/2 year old and am faced with so much critism. It is so nice and refreshing to read such an honest and unusual article that has a positive view on it. I live in England and am 22, I would love for people to be so open-minded and upfront about it here. I feel very much in the minority (especially among fellow young mothers) I would love for it to be as socially acceptable here to have the freedom to be open about my breastfeeding my son at what is considered such an ‘old’ age. Thank you so much for a fantastic article!

  20. Fantastic article and very well written. I love reading about breastfeeding from the perspective of other cultures

  21. LOVED YOUR ARTICLE! in reading the part about the normalcy with which everyone takes part in drinking breast milk i found myself saying that it makes much more sense to drink the milk from a person as a human being than the milk of a cow if you think about it. The disgust associated with breast feeding and breast milk is really sad. This really made a couple of valuable points. thank you!

  22. This private activity between mother and child is greeted with a hush and politely averted eyes, and regarded almost in the same way as public displays of intimacy between couples: not taboo, but slightly discomfiting and politely ignored. !!!

    Really ? public display of affection is like breast feeding in public ???…… this is either silly or just super conservative stupidity

  23. I just finished reading an article about how women feel browbeaten into breastfeeding, how their babies are starving due to inadequate milk production and how ultimately relieved they feel to finally go over to the bottle. I can’t help feeling that all these problems breastfeeding are ultimately linked to a culture that still does not really accept the practice. I doubt the percentage of unsuccessful breastfeeding moms in Mongolia is 1/1000th as high as it is here in North America. There has to be a cultural element at play here. It’s not just “the milk drying up, not coming in, baby wouldn’t latch” etc.

    I did not have perhaps quite as easy a time when I started breastfeeding my first child, but after six weeks we made a pretty good team and I cried the first time I had to give him a bottle when he was about 8 months old. I had become severely hyperthyroid and desperately needed medication. I had no choice but to wean my baby but it was tough psychologically.

    My second son weaned himself at about ten months, an incredibly short time by Mongolian standards, but not too shabby here in Canada.

    Thank you for this article, for giving me a good laugh (stolen breastmilk from the company fridge!) and for taking me back to a wonderful time in my life!

  24. I would love to have that level of support! We are going till she loses interest, and it’s very strong at 2.5. Thanks for sharing. I’ll be thinking of Mongolian women the next time the extended BFing topic or pressure not to do so comes my way. It helps to see BFing from other perspectives!!

  25. Thank you so much for writing this article Ruth! It made me feel good about the chooses I am making for my 7 month old and to not think about the question that everyone inevitably asks, “how long do you plan to breastfeed.”

    You have a great sense of humor! I love the part that the co-workers drake the women’s breast milk! I feel like my co-workers wince when they just see the little 2 oz bottles of breast milk in the fridge or when they see me cleaning my pumping supplies in the kitchen!

  26. ITS a wonderful article i love every word of it my son breast feed till he was six and his dad took over when he went to school

  27. Twenty years ago I nursed my baby until he was 2 1/2. Geez, the comments I got from people who felt entitled to tell me off about doing so! However, my baby was a very healthy, happy, and confident baby and toddler who grew up to be a healthy, happy, adventurous and responsible young adult (unlike some of the fretful anxious babies I saw at the time who grew up to be insecure unhappy teenagers with risky behaviours). Perhaps mothers who breastfeed, even for just a short period, turn out to be better parents because they trust themselves to make better parenting decisions for their kids, rather than just following the fad technique of the day.

  28. This is such a great article! I would love to visit a place like that for a month or so at least. My son is almost six months old and will continue breastfeeding as long as he wants to 🙂 I would really like to know more about how to increase the brown in your iris with breastmilk lol

  29. This was passed on to me by another breastfeeding mom that I talk to a lot but this is a great story. My son is 17 months old and I love in nj and get people that tell me my son is too old and give me funny looks when they hear I still breast feed. My sons pediatrician told me just the other day I need to stop breastfeeding my son it no longer has any nutrition for him. I asked him why does wic encourage people to breastfeed until at least 2 years old and longer he told me he don’t know. This Dr pissed me off but let’s say we will not be seeing him again thanks this helps me a lot

  30. Hi Ruth, I think this article would stand true only in the countryside in Mongolia. Born and raised in the city I certainly don’t believe all Mongolians are comfortable breastfeeding in public. Whilst I agree that majority of people are for breastfeeding not everyone “likes the taste of breastmilk” and definitely no co-worker of mine would ever steal my breastmilk from the fridge had they known it was breastmilk.

  31. Brilliant!!! Love to hear the cultural perspective! Hmmm… might be more willing to let my three year old at it more often! Tandem feeding with her little sister, I go bonkers sometimes!

  32. My son weaned shortly after turning 5 and he is 15 now and is, in fact, a great wrestler! So funny, I’m going to show him the article tomorrow. I’m in the USA, so he was breastfed much longer than the norm.

  33. I loved this article! My little sister is birthing her first baby in the summer and between me and her oiler sister nursing long term I hope she feels like she has great support.I sent this article to her, hopefully it will comfort her

  34. Living in Oaxaca, Mexico, a large urban center, I see mothers breast feeding in public everywhere, on buses, in restaurants, in the parks, in the markets. At first, as a as white male raised in the USA, I felt I should look away, but I’ve come to realize nobody even cares what I do or don’t do. I’m irrelevant

  35. Just what my heart knows but is so hard to drowned out the loud disinformation…always follow your heart. Learn how and you will be empowered, this is where you begin, with breastfeeding & birth. This is when you are born as a woman, embrace it, revel in the water of learning who your authentic self is. We have strayed so far from her…but you can easily tap in like Ruth Kamnitzer did. Now I want a yurt! Love you for sharing this:)

  36. […] you to do as much as they can for you. There is very little that cannot wait.    Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Han When I breastfed in the park, grandmothers would regale me with tales of the dozen children they […]

  37. I disagree. My eldest was born 2004 and we breastfed everywhere! As did the subsequent children.
    I’m thrilled to see more and more moms doing so. I always wanted someone to say something to me or give me a bad look. I was ready with the law and a temper to boot

  38. This was a lovely write-up. I stopped when my kid was one. Breast milk had become an evening snack by 9 months and then, he just forgot. Two days in a row he went off to play with his cousins, and that was the end of it. I let him be. No regrets, no ill-feeling Reading this somehow makes me feel whole again.

  39. Love this article much, and completely envious! What a good start for you and your baby. I breast fed my son till 4 & half, my daughter currently 22months and still going strong but the social attitudes around breast feeding in public have done nothing butmade me feel ashamed asthough I should hide away under a cover and in a corner. I’ve always challenged it but the western world doesn’t get how backwards it’s being in its prudishness over such a simple life nourishing act.

  40. great article. I am still going with my 3 and a half year old – but just at night and when he awakens in the morning. I do however, limit who I tell this to as it is not the norm here in New Zealand to BF that long!

  41. I absolutley Love this entire article! I am reading it now as i breastfeed my two year old. I would devour a whole book of your experience if you were to write one. Thank you for sharing! ×0×

  42. Hi! I am wondering when you breastfeed your baby that long.. 4 years or so.. Do you ever introduce solids to them? Or so they just drink breast milk until age 4?

  43. Thank you SOO much for sharing!!!! I have breastfed my twins for 3 years now and still going. It has been a struggle, especially with family members like my mother in law who wished I weaned at 2 months. It has been the hardest thing of my life dealing with criticism when you know in your heart that this is the best for your baby. If it were not for your article I would not feel so validated. Unfortunately people are in cultures that are unsupportive. It is truly sad. I have decided to change my career as a teacher to become a lactation consultant. It is truly my calling. Babies deserve the best in life. I am in awe of the 9 year old. That is awesome!!! I felt like I had to wean my twins down just to get past the criticism from my mother in law when we visited China. You are amazing and thank you again for posting!!!

  44. For quite some whenever there was articles circulated on the internet concerning whether it is appropriate to breastfeed in public. As a Mongolian, I was so shocked that some countries considered it inappropriate. In my country, Mongolia, breastfeeding mothers are seen as pure, loving, and caring. It has always had this beautiful connotations and never once met a single person seeing breastfeeding mothers otherwise. Breastfeeding is a beautiful act of nurturing and loving. You see mothers breastfeeding just about anywhere in Mongolia and it is completely normal. In fact, people see it as beautiful and it should be the same elsewhere.

  45. For quite sometime, whenever there were articles that surfaced the internet concerning whether it was appropriate to breastfeed in public, I was so baffled. As a Mongolian, I was so shocked that some countries considered it inappropriate. In my country, Mongolia, breastfeeding mothers are seen as pure, loving, and caring. It has always had this beautiful connotations and never once met a single person seeing breastfeeding mothers otherwise. Breastfeeding is a beautiful act of nurturing and loving. You see mothers breastfeeding just about anywhere in Mongolia and it is completely normal. In fact, people see it as beautiful and it should be the same elsewhere.

  46. As a first time Mongolian mom living in France, I knew what I had to do, and that was to breastfeed my baby girl till she weans by her choise not by anyone else’s. I was a bit cautious about what the others would think, but to my surprise bf is encouraged here and my dr advised to bf my baby until at least the age of 12 months and continue as i choose. I go on with my life as i did before the birth, and we could be anywhere when my now 3 month old decides to bf so i just make ourselves confortable and bf. Okay, people don’t encourage or offer a their experiences which is fine by me, but they do smile when i catch the occasional looks.

  47. I remember my partner who is from Europe had awkwarded himself (i only noticed) when my sister-in-law was breasfeeding in front of him while whole family visited us to greet. Then none of my family showed any question mark, he relaxed. Later I explained that this considered in mongolia like next to religous rutual. So many songs are about sacred milk of mother and mother’s love as a nature.

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