NEWS: Mothers who breastfeed beyond babyhood

Community Leader
Registered: 10-01-2010
NEWS: Mothers who breastfeed beyond babyhood
20
Sat, 07-21-2012 - 12:05am
Mothers who breastfeed beyond babyhood

 

Mothers who breastfeed beyond babyhood

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

Ann Sinnott Breastfeeding Older Children
Ann Sinnott, author of Breastfeeding Older Children. Photograph: Graham Turner

Few mothering habits, it seems, are guaranteed to provoke quite such a reaction as breastfeeding beyond babyhood. When I told anyone who happened to be interested that I was interviewing Ann Sinnott, a mother who had breastfed her daughter for over six years and has now written a book on the subject, reactions ranged from discreet grimaces to outright revulsion. If I'd said I was about to meet someone who believed swearing at children was to be encouraged along with smacking them daily, the disapproval could not have been greater.

"It's obviously about her own needs, not her child's," a few mothers said, while one or two men, more predictably, homed in on the sexual potential. "She probably gets turned on by it." My seven-year-old son (keen breastfeeder for seven months) wasn't exactly neutral. "Yuck. Imagine me coming home from school and saying, 'OK, Mum, can I suck from your bosoms now?' It's weird."

If we find it weird, argues Sinnott, it's simply because we're not used to it. When was the last time you noticed a mother breastfeeding her eight-year-old in the local park? In public, at least, it isn't done. "But children aren't cultural creatures like us," says Sinnott. "Their biological imperatives are intact." Such an imperative is to feed as often – and as long – as possible, whether that be to two years old, eight or well beyond. In other cultures it is completely natural to respond to such needs, Sinnott claims, with three and four-year-olds continuing to breastfeed in Greenland, five-year-olds in Hawaii and seven-year-olds among the Inuit.

We know from a wealth of research the health advantages of long-term breastfeeding. The World Health Organisation (WHO) now recommends breastfeeding with "appropriate complementary foods" for up to two years or beyond. But what about that key word "beyond"? Physiologically, there is no research, as yet, to suggest that breastfeeding for longer than two years is significantly beneficial. As the WHO says: "We don't know. There is no evidence either way."

Sinnott is, however, passionate about the advantages, even though the evidence she cites is overwhelmingly anecdotal, and personal. "A child who has been breastfed to their heart's content ... has a basic sunny aspect to their nature," she says. "They are amazing; self-confident and outgoing but not in a brash way – the anecdotal evidence is overwhelming."

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

 

Read more: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/jan/09/breastfeeding-older-children?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487

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iVillage Member
Registered: 10-06-2010
Re: NEWS: Mothers who breastfeed beyond babyhood
Wed, 07-25-2012 - 3:14pm
witch_power wrote:

 

It is definitely NOT a new concept. It is an age-old concept - as in from the beginning of time.

It was commonplace to breastfeed up to 3-5 years old (sometimes even longer), right up into the 1920's. Somewhere around then, when people started using formula, weaning started happening much sooner than the norm.

Until it became the new "norm" to wean early. However, even in the 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's, there were women who were still breastfeeding their children at 3-6 years old (and sometimes even longer).

I can honestly say I didn't realize that.  I mean, I guess it makes sense, given formula wasn't around in the "beginning of time" that most mothers probably bf'd their children for 'extended' periods....but in my head since the original recommendation was for 1 year (now 2 years from WHO) I just thought that was the "norm."

I still think a majority of the population probably doesn't consider things done back in the 1800's or early 1900's when determining if the concept is new or not. They tend to think more limitedly.....and more recently this is certainly a new concept.

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-06-2010
Re: NEWS: Mothers who breastfeed beyond babyhood
Wed, 07-25-2012 - 3:21pm
charleen2008 wrote:

I don't see the goal of getting most moms to BF for even 6 months then a year as requiring us stop advocating BF'ing beyond a year. Part of the goal in advocating BF'ing beyond a year is to convince moms who make it to a year that it's beneficial to BF longer. We also want to improve tolerance towards moms who do BF longer. The focus with promoting ext. BF'ing is not so much on moms who are planning to BF or just starting out BF'ing but those that wean at a year simply becuase they are mislead in to believing is has no value or is harmful.

I can see the point you are making about the focus of promoting ext BFing being on those that wean at a year simply because they are mislead, but I think all the advocacy gets muddled together and may be a turn off to some moms who are just starting out.  I mean if a mom starts out breastfeeding thinking I am going to do this for 3-6-9-?? months and I can handle that, but then she has all this information/advocacy being thrown at her for extended breastfeeding it may become overwhelming. 

I'm not saying the extended bfing advocacy needs to stop, I'm just saying that I think there are more important things to focus on right now - like the number of mom's who even attempt BFing, or the number of mom's who make it to 6 months, or the number of hospitals that provide QUALITY BF support, etc.  Once we get a good education/support system in place then perhaps we can focus on encouraging women to bf for longer periods of time.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-20-2008
Thu, 07-26-2012 - 1:48am
<<I'm not saying the extended bfing advocacy needs to stop, I'm just saying that I think there are more important things to focus on right now - like the number of mom's who even attempt BFing, or the number of mom's who make it to 6 months, or the number of hospitals that provide QUALITY BF support, etc. Once we get a good education/support system in place then perhaps we can focus on encouraging women to bf for longer periods of time.>>

In some forums such as this one we speak towards a general audience interested in BF vs FF. Some of the readers of this board are moms-to-be, some are are BF''rs of infants, some are Ext. BF'rs, some FF'rs, some are no longer no longer BF'ing/FF'ing, and some are not moms nor PG yet and may even in be dads/men in a few cases. Only a small percentage of the readers of this board actively post with most just lurking. That means that discussions on this board are cover a wide range of BF & FF advocacy, defense, and debate topics. There are of course other parenting/BF forums in the Internet where such a wide audience reads such topics. So it's to be expected in forums like that you will find a both topics on supporting BF'ing in the early weeks/months and supporting/promoting ext. BF'ing or at least advocating tolerance towards moms who choose ext. BF. Now in some forums you would indeed want to focus on BF support in the early weeks/months since moms planning to BF or just starting out with BF would be your audience. The same would apply to certain real life encounters. I wouldn't push to ext. BF on a mom-to-be just yet who ask me about BF'ing but focus more on the benefits of BF and the early weeks of BF at that time. But while it may be true that some readers of this or similar forums be turned off by hearing advocacy for ext. BF others will be turn on to ext. BF. To me, the moms who might be turned off to our message on ext. BF on this forum and leave are not moms I'm too worried about. They likely are not going to be that committed to BF'ing or they are hopefully they will get support elsewhere as where not really a support board. They can to the BF support board if they have questions and will get answers without having ext. BF pushed on them, unless they are all-ready have a baby close to year and are considering weaning then we might provide some info on the benefits of BF'ing beyond a year but we leave it up to them to decide.

Now in terms of what BF advocacy groups, governments, and pediatric health groups (AAP, WHO, etc) do when it comes to promotion, I agree that resources should be focus should be on promoting and supporting moms BF'ing for at least six months exclusively (whenever possible) and that spending less energy on ext. BF promotion makes sense for them. I don't think however this means they should change the recommended minimum BF duration to 6 months until we get most moms BF'ing until at least 6 months, for anyone who might advocate that. I also don't think it means they shouldn't support EBF in anyway, just that it should not be a main focus.

I think you may have an exaggerated sense of just what resources are being used to promote ext. BF. It not as much of a focus as you seem to think. We discuss it on this board from time to time and other health/BF support groups/agencies mention from time to time but I don't think it's as large of a focus as you think.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 12-16-2004
Thu, 07-26-2012 - 7:42am

 Back then they had wetnurses. One of my relatives back then was a wetnurse, she  kept feeding her child until 5 just to keep the milk flowning, the rich kids were only feed until 1 or 1½, she  got paid more  for nursing first borns then  nr 2 or 3.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-13-2008
Thu, 07-26-2012 - 4:56pm

That's interesting. 

Teresa

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-16-2004
Sun, 08-05-2012 - 4:42pm

When my  Little one turn 4 month, then she will be allowed to taste test food, about 1/8 teaspoon at a time and then at 6 month she gets to slowly start eating food while breast feeding and over the next 6 month she will learn to eat different foods and it depends on her willingness to eat when I stop  breastfeeding.

And at age 9 month  she should have at least 5 meals a day, well she should have that  from 6 months but if she wants more milk she can.

After 2 years unless you live in extreme environment  where  food is rare or high fat is needed to survive  then breastmilk isn't needed as food.

Community Leader
Registered: 06-10-2008
Do you think every 6-9 month old should have 5 meals per day? In that scenario, do you still feel like breastmilk is their primary source of nutrition?

Is breastmilk's only value as food in your opinion?
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iVillage Member
Registered: 12-16-2004
Sun, 08-05-2012 - 5:41pm

This is what we strive to  reach at 8 months and I qoute the Swedish health standards book How to live with children, it takes up both formula and breastmilk.

Breakfast:  Breastmilk or formula

Lunch: Pure of potato, vegitables and meat, poultry or fish  and dessert fruit or berry mash  and to drinlk breastmilk, water or formula.

Dinner: Porridge, fruit or berry mash,  a tablespoon of   full fat cow milk

Evening meal  Breastmilk or formula.

Snack during the day Breastmilk or forumla or fruit.

So we start with  meals at 6 months and slowely  introduce more meals over the next 2 months until we reach the goal.

 

For a child under 1 year, using breastmilk or forumla as a comforter is oki how ever after that, you should  be able  to comfort the child with out using food,  comforting eating isnt something a child should do.

And  yes breast milk is food otherwise we wouldnt  produce it for our offspring.

Community Leader
Registered: 06-10-2008
Oh, I thought you meant that an 8 month old should have 5 SOLID meals per day which felt like quite a bit. 2 solid meals in addition to breastmilk or formula seems more reasonable. 4 breastfeedings per day feels a little light to me for an 8 month old but that's just my opinion. Are those 4 feedings per day intended as a minimum or a maximum? What does that publication propose if the baby still chooses to nurse 8 times a day as many babies do? Is that permitted?

My question wasn't is breastmilk food. My question was "Is breastmilk's only value as food in your opinion?" If you feel like breastmilk's ONLY value is as food then sure, it makes sense that as soon as you can wean to cow's milk and solids, you should do so. However, do you feel like breastfeeding has value after the 12 month mark in terms of immunological, developmental and bonding benefits?
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iVillage Member
Registered: 12-16-2004
Mon, 08-06-2012 - 4:31am

The snack is the fifth meal but can also be a 6, 7. 8 , 9 or 10 meal of the day, the baby decided how much it wants and the mother supply. 

According to health standards here and  they are based on facts, breast milk after 2 years has very little positive effect. By 12 months the child should have a good immune system and  all the  colds and sneezes  that comes along trains the immune system. A Child doesn't need breastmilk to bond, yes does help but a good parent can comfort, love and bond to its child with out breast milk, that is what the fathers  do here.  They are very close to their offspring and seeing a man  comforting a young  child isn't rare here , its normal. A child develops through interaction  more then through breastmilk, most children don't have their own room until they are 2 here , they sleep beside the parents in a cot  and when they are awake, they tend to be with the parents.

You and I  come from two very different cultures, in your world  breastfeeding is something to boast about, something that isn't  taken for granted and  some people tend to over do it too show they are better then others.   In my culture it is a normal bodily function, yes we have all the support to make it happen, but normal.  No child here  graduates from breastfeeding, they  just grow up. There is no flashmobs of breastfeeding mommies or lactivistas here,it just  normal.

For example, little one was hungry when we went into Pizza hut this weekend, the waitress said , Oh  take the tables  over There, they are much more comfortable for breastfeeding and the low lights don't hurt the child's eyes.   Do you need a pillow?   

I don't think that would happen in your culture yet.

 

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