"I'm 13 and still breastfeeding" - How long is too long?

Community Leader
Registered: 10-01-2010
"I'm 13 and still breastfeeding" - How long is too long?
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Tue, 12-13-2011 - 6:00pm

Would you breastfeed your child till he or she was 13 years old? She says her brother and dad breastfeed too.

This was posted in Sugar magazine - Sugar was a British magazine for teenage girls. Its content focused on boys, fashion, celebrities, real-life stories about teenagers and other similar matters.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-13-2008

I am wondering if this article is an example of 'sensationalism sells'. It makes me think this magazine is a bit like those cheap tabloid newspapers that write all sorts of things to get sales.

Teresa

Community Leader
Registered: 10-01-2010

Here is the cover of that issue - it gives you an idea of what type of magazine it is. I have been trying to track down the full article, but no luck so far.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 05-20-2008
I find this story a little hard to believe. If an actual 13 yo. was really still BF'ing, I doubt she would agree to have heard story printed in a major British Teen magazine and subject herself to the major ridicule that she would redoubtably suffer, though maybe if the price was high enough their might be some teen girl who would agree to that. Also, I think this story is likely fictitious because of the fact that normal human children loose the ability to properly BF generally before puberty. Proper BF'ing requires a special coordination the mouth and tongue that is generally lost by the time the child reaches about 7 or 8 yo., if there even still BF'ing by that time. The few documented cases of children being BF'd beyond that age all involved developmentally delayed children who likely took longer to loose the ability to BF then a normal child would. It's possible that this young women was simply simulating BF'ing as some adults men (and women) have been known to do (often as part of a sexual fetish) but from what i understand these people generally report that they can't properly suckle milk the way a baby can. Having not read the actually article, since there is no access to it on the web, I wonder if she was really actually still nursing at the breast or just consuming pumped BM in a cup, which some might call "breastfeeding", though I call it "breastmilk feeding", which IMO is more accurate and less confusing. To me this whole story reeks of a "National Enquirer" style fake article. For those of you not in the U.S., the National Enquirer is U.S. tabloid newspaper know for containing stories of dubious authenticity.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-13-2008

I had similar thoughts myself Charleen. A teenager would undoubtedly want to fit in with peers as a priority, and as you say, this story would likely subject her to ridicule, if there was any truth to it.

The cover of the magazine leads me to believe even more it is just one of those things written to gain attention and sales.

Community Leader
Registered: 10-01-2010

It's quite possible that the story was made up just for the sensationalism, though there is a picture of the girl and her mother - so she will be known to her peers, whether the story is true or not.

But I do recall reading about the Little Emperor who was breastfeed till he was 12 or 13, and of a bride that came home to breastfeed when her husband rejected her. I don't know that they would lose their ability to BF past 7-8 years old - how many children nowadays have BF past that point that they could study and prove that?

Community Leader
Registered: 10-01-2010

The movie "The Last Emperor," shows the young Chinese emperor (circa 1906) had a wet nurse for almost twelve years. Why twelve years? Royal families knew that breastfeeding would make their offspring healthier, taller and stronger than the average

Community Leader
Registered: 10-01-2010

Can breastfeeding really be good for older children? Emma Cook meets mothers who keep going up to school age and beyond

At one point she mentions a 16-year-old boy who was regularly fed by his mother and cites examples of even older children. She says breastfeeding adolescents isn't a practice she would dismiss out of hand.

...cites a historical example she found during her research, of a daughter in her early 20s, "suckled" by her mother for "comfort" during a bereavement.

...also cited historical instances of adolescent bfdg (King William Island and ancient Japan).

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/jan/09/breastfeeding-older-children

Community Leader
Registered: 10-01-2010

Merlynn posted: I fed my 16 year old until age 9 and my nearly 9 year old is showing little signs of stopping, although the supply seems to be on the wane now (I've had enough, there's nothing coming out now) this may be due to my age (50), I'm not sure what the upward age limit of lactation is.

smuglyfrombrazil posted: I knew a guy whose mum used to come over to school during break to breastfeed him. He was 15.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/jan/09/breastfeeding-older-children?commentpage=2#start-of-comments

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-06-2005

I generally believe in child-led weaning, and did that with my last four children, but I think breastfeeding an adolescent is quite a bit farther than I would take that, unless there were special circumstances . Three of my kids were two, give or take a few months, when they weaned. The other kept nursing, occasionally, until he was four. I felt that he had a special need to nurse that long, but I had started encouraging him to wean and he was only nursing like once or twice a week.. I, personally, would not go anywhere near 13 years, but I know that it has been done in some cultures. It also used to be common for lactating mothers to breastfeed their elderly grandparents, in some cultures, too.

There are also a few children who cannot take any food but human milk until they are almost grown. I know of a young woman who was fed breast milk until she was well into her teens, when a few foods were found that her body didn't react to. She didn't nurse a breast, all that time, though. Pumped milk was donated by many different mothers. When she was in school, while her classmates went to the cafeteria for lunch, she went to the office and ate her human milk popsicle.

I don't think there is any age limit on lactating. At least, I know menopause doesn't prevent it. I know several women who couldn't get pregnant because of early menopause, either spontaneous or surgically induced, who breastfed adopted children and did at least as well as those of us who breastfed adopted children while still having normal cycles. In some cultures, it is still common for grandmothers to help breastfeed their grandchildren, which I think would be wonderful!

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-20-2008
I did a little research into the article and it appears that it was only appeared in the UK in a magazine no longer published and that was never available to U.S. Readers, unless they got someone from the UK to mail them a copy. The BF'ing teen in question supposedly came from the state of Nevada. That would mean that it's unlikely that any of the teen girls peers would have read about her BF'ing, assuming the story is real, though they may end up seeing the image of the first page of article with her picture on it now that's it's circulation on the web. So maybe if the story is indeed true, she thought she was safe to share her story since only British readers would read it and they likely paid her a nice fee.

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