Thursday, January 21, 2010

More on "Extended" Breastfeeding

It appears that this is the current hot topic, though I wasn't aware of it. It just happens to coincide with the fact that now I am nursing an "older" baby.

I would like to share a link to an article from The Mommy Files from earlier this month.

Moms who breastfeed until their kids are 4, 5, 6...

"Breastfeeding a child until he is age 4 is unusual in the United States. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for about the first six months and support for nursing for the first year and beyond, as long as mutually desired by mother and child. But only 23 percent of women in the U.S. make it until age 1, according to the Centers for Disease Control. It's simply not part of American culture to nurse a toddler."

"If you are old enough to ask for it, you are too old for it."

"that insane. kids that are 2-5 years are too old to be breastfed."

"Sounds like Social Services should investigate!"

"When exactly does it stop being necessary and start being weird and borderline abuse?"

"Sounds like the mothers are putting their needs to be soothed and close to their kid above the kid's own welfare."

"I think when the kid is old enough to climb up on Mommy's lap and help himself or herself with no assistance from Mommy, it's enough."

" Show me somebody breast feeding past 1.5 years old, and I'll show you a parent who will overindulge their child for life."

"yes, are these moms addicts or what? unsuction the teat and seek professional help."

"As this article shows, late breastfeeding is mainly to meet the emotional needs of the mother. yuck."

Many comments were directed at the mother in the article who felt it was necessary to only nurse her older child in public and tell him to not discuss it in public. These people, perhaps due to the slight undertone of the article admonishing extending breastfeeding, perhaps due to illiteracy, didn't seem to understand that the mother was not keeping the breastfeeding secret because she was ashamed of it or that it was wrong, but because she feared the social backlash. Based on the comments following this article, it sounds like she was right... they only proved her point!

I have felt the same way about co-sleeping, afraid to admit it to my son's former pediatrician who insists babies should be isolated in a crib in their own room. I would also refrain from telling him that I fed on demand, since he insisted babies must be on schedules. His outdated parenting advice conflicted virtually everything I believed in about bonding and attachment, hence the "former" title.

The fact that she felt she had to hide is supposed to point out how American society is messed up, not that the practice of extended breastfeeding is messed up. I do agree with some of the comments that her doing so, telling her son to keep it a secret, was probably not the healthiest decision in the world for her son. But I've made plenty of mistakes with my kids, and I'm sure I will make more. Hopefully she has the knowledge now that she will explain to her son why she felt that they had to hide, and I have a feeling that the kid will understand when he is older and won't be as "harmed" by it as some people posted.
As far as the concerns about extended breastfeeding being unhealthy from a psychological standpoint, perhaps we should be researching this. It appears that there are many redundant studies which waste resources trying to prove that formula is just as good as breastmilk. Maybe more focus should be on the benefits of extended breastfeeding, an area where it is obvious America needs to improve in order to increase breastfeeding rates, which is supposed to be our national goal. I believe that American society is pretty screwed up, with mental illnesses increasing exponentially in the last generation. The rest of the world doesn't seem to be as screwed up as we are. In fact, the cultures with the highest breastfeeding rates extending over the longest periods of times seem to be the most emotionally sound societies. Would studies prove my theory sound?

Zane, 6 months & 13 months

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