The DANGERS of extended breastfeeding, or Look How Bad I Turned Out

My boobalicious profile picture. Hallowe'en.
SBJ is Sir Winston Churchill.
Me? I'm Sir Winston Churchill's mother.

This week, as you may know from every nursing mother's boobalicious profile picture, is the WHO's World Breastfeeding Week. I wanted to write something about 'extended' breastfeeding. 'Extended' breastfeeding is any breastfeeding that happens after the normal time for complete weaning. Yeah, normal, our favorite word here at Mama to Mama. According to Our Babies, Ourselves, the worldwide average age for total weaning is just over four years old. So that could be considered normal.

BUT In America, only about 75% of babies are nursed at all, and most of those are weaned by 6 months. Normal takes a nosedive.

People have all kinds of ideas about what constitutes a good age for weaning: when the child is old enough to ask for it, he's too old to nurse (and those babies who master Baby Sign Language for 'milk' at the age of five months? They're SOL); when mama goes back to work (ummm… in the USA we don't have maternity leave, some mamas go back before their stitches have even healed); and when the infant is ready and willing to eat other food (like, breast milk is this crappy not-food, why deprive your kid of the real chicken mcnugget experience?).

From the other (crunchy, placenta-eating dark-) side, some people prefer to call it 'full term' breastfeeding, to reflect the understanding that infants and children evolved to drink it by the tonne. They like it. They find it comforting. It keeps mama around and can even delay her conception of a pesky younger sibling. Most importantly, kids don't have fully developed immune systems until they're about 6 years old -- which is, not coincidentally, about the time their 'milk teeth' fall out. Breast milk provides all kinds of immunological benefits, which is why when the nuclear apocalypse comes, and everyone's richitic and diseased (thank you, Cormac McCarthy), y'all are going to be lining up to get just a squirt of the milky goodness. 

And it's controversial and Time magazine cover and yadda yadda yadda (more about this later). So I wanted to write something about how mamas who breastfeed for years are not the devil incarnate. But Sweet Baby James isn't quite an extended nurser, yet. He's just a seventeen month-old who loves his la-las more than life itself. Also, I just may be the devil incarnate.

McBride Park playground, Vancouver.
See the blue elephant with a slide for its trunk?
My dad and I campaigned door-to-door for that.
It was my first, and only, triumph in community activism.
And then it dawned on me: ME! Me, I was breastfed for a long, long time. My dad says four years at least, my mom says she doesn't remember. I have a vague memory of getting hurt on the McBride park playground and running to my mom to nurse. So I'm going to put it at about 3.5 years. Following are some of the accusations leveled at mamas who do full-term breastfeeding, and my analysis of whether I turned out as bad as they think. The best ones came from here (http://bethesda.patch.com/articles/poll-is-extended-breastfeeding-a-problem-or-solution).






Objection #1: It leads to spoiled kids


Becky D, RN
4:46 pm on Wednesday, May 16, 2012
...I for one am sick of hearing about extended breastfeeding. It is just what it is, extended past what is recommended. Parenting is about setting limits and boundaries. How backwards to let the child decide...Breast milk is for babies. NOT children.!

And, 
If I relied on my sons to tell me when they were finished breastfeeding, I'd be in real trouble! You can't let an addict decide when it's time to stop!  (Clorissa)

Well. Really.
Am I spoiled? Currently, yes, though I like to think it means something if I know I am. Was I a milk, or any kind of addict as a kid? In a word: no, except that I have always loved sweet milky things. Cheese, yogurt, ice-cream, mascarpone, whipped cream, milk shakes, butter, icing, whole milk… mmmm….

What's better than milk? Milk with strawberries!
In all seriousness, I was such an annoyingly well-behaved kid that it actually cost me friends. As I have told my many therapists many times, I feel like I was born to defer my own pleasure. Case in point: when I was eight years old, we went strawberry picking at one of those you-pick-and-pay-by-the-pound farms. I picked a lot of strawberries. When we all met up at the end of the afternoon, everyone else had red rings around their mouths. I was like, "Wait wait wait -- you guys ate some strawberries?!" It hadn't even crossed my mind. It was, like, stealing or something.




Objections #s 2 and 3: If it's a boy, he's going to be perverted, if it's a girl, she's going to be a lesbian.

My mother also said that my daughter might grow up to prefer women over men b/c she breast fed so long. I dont' see that and I really hope that's not true. (Kendra)

The perverted part, folks, is 100% true.

And for those who find this concerning, let it be known that I am a married SAHM, in a monogamous relationship with a man, who was born with a penis. In case you thought that was your business or something.



Objection #4: It means the mama is perverted.

Karl Schuub
3:47 pm on Friday, May 11, 2012
That woman has issues that have little to do with being a mom. Sorry only a sick freak would nurse a kid that can verbalize they're hungry.

My mom is a lot of things. 'Sick freak' is not one of them. She is a very nice woman, with a lot of opinions. She's comfortable with her body and has a terribly wholesome view of sexuality (please note: if you're reading this, and you've had sex with my mom, I prefer to remain deluded).



Objections #s 5 and 6: It will cause co-dependency and it's only fulfilling the mother's needs

Ashley
8:29 pm on Friday, May 11, 2012
I have no problem with women breastfeeding babies. Babies are mean't to be breastfed, toddlers are not….I feel like if they continue to breastfeed after the kid is a toddler it's not as much for the benefit of the kid (I actually believe it will cause co-dependency) but more for some sick need the mother needs to fulfill in herself.

It's true that I do love intimate relationships, and I do love my mom. But I also happily spend time alone, like the time I spent three months traveling through Sri Lanka while the civil war was still happening, and stayed in noble-silence meditation in an isolated Buddhist nunnery, bitches. As a kid, I walked alone to and from school every day, babysat my sister, and had my first job at age 11. 

And fulfilling the mother's needs… What needs might these be? There's a hint of something sexual ("little to do with being a mom"), but nobody ever really pinpoints it. If there's a "my child nursing me" fetish, I have yet to come across it. Maybe it's more about closeness: mother has a need for physical contact for which she is using her child when she could be using more appropriate sources, like her MAN (who has a penis). I can't answer for my mom, but she seemed pretty happy in the ten years she spent without a significant other. She never seemed starved for affection, and I never felt it was my responsibility to fulfill her. Sometimes men would ask her out and she'd be like, "I dunno… do you play scrabble?"

Sexy Scrabble
from Julierivard, flickr

From my perspective, it's like this: I like cuddling my mom. I wish I could cuddle her more. Maternal touch helps to calm the autonomic nervous system, and decreases the risk of all kinds of chronic health conditions (e.g. those related to stress: eczema, asthma, insomnia, etc.), most of which I had anyway. Plus, I was basically the cutest kid ever. My mother's need to hold me makes perfect sense to me.



Objection #5: Breastfeeding isn't sexy. 

Sean Tully
8:58 pm on Friday, May 11, 2012
Breast feeding really isn't the issue. Time's cover is. As mentioned above, it is exploiting the issue and trying to sex it up. Breast feeding really isn't that sexy.

First, I disagree with this sentiment – in the sense that breastfeeding is beautiful and demonstrates the wonders of the human body, it is sexy. This is not to say that you, Sean Tully, are entitled, simply by virtue of your manhood, to a world full of women (including my mother!) whose only aim in life is to give you a popped fly. And guess what? She totally could. My mom is the hottest sixty-something I know. She could give Yoko Ono a run for her money, she looks that good in a miniskirt.

I love this woman so much, I named my son after her.

Objection #6: It's child abuse.

Get Real
12:15 am on Saturday, May 12, 2012
This is sick and disturbing on so many levels, it is borderline child abuse.

This is really just a variation of earlier accusations, but it's so egregious that it deserves its own column. Fuck off, child abuse?! Get real, Get Real. My mom could have BF'd me until I moved out at eighteen and it never would have come close to any of the crappy, crappy things that happened to me as a kid.

As Svea Boyda-Vikander, I feel that I am the authority on abusive experiences in Svea Boyda-Vikander's life. Extended breastfeeding? Not one of them. 



Objection #7: It's impossible to wean an older child.

Another problem is that it is often very difficult to wean an older child. He understands that your breasts are available – they have been available for as long as he remembers – so why stop now? He does not understand or want to relinquish that special relationship between you and him. Unlike babies, an older child is more verbose and can whine, argue, and negotiate for days and days. Some children can be bribed. For example, he will stop nursing and in exchange you will buy him a substantial toy that he has wanted for a long time.  (http://www.breastfeeding-mom.com/extended-breastfeeding.html)

I don't remember my mom weaning me, and she doesn't either. Obviously, it wasn't too traumatic for either of us. To this day, I await my substantial toy. Whatever that is.


Objection #8: It's going to raise a child who objectifies women.

Children who experience prolonged breastfeeding also tend to view their mothers, and often women in general, as mere objects who provide, not as people. (http://www.circleofmoms.com/breastfeeding-moms/breastfeeding-at-8-139114#_)

Yes… I definitely see my mother, and women in general (including myself) as mere objects. Who provide. Milk, optimally. I believe women should just put out (milk) or get out (of the fridge). I am... at a loss here.

Aside from the fact that my favorite joke is, "How many feminists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?" (answer: That's not funny), I am a REALLY FUCKING SERIOUS FEMINIST. I believe in the value of women's subjectivity, stories, experience and empowerment.

The author of that comment goes on to say, 
If its okay to see, touch, and suck mommy's breast, why can't i do the same to other women? And as they get older, why isn't it okay for others to do the same to me? And I know that girl said no, but If she loved me…

This has to be the craziest one yet. It's so full of baseless fears and assumptions about male sexuality, I don't even want to touch it with a ten-foot pole. Which is why I'm going to devote an entire blog post to it someday soon.


Objection #9: There is no nutritional value in breast milk past one year.

Brings back so many memories...
I don't really know how to assess the nutritional benefits of my full-term BFing, but I do know that I was a relatively healthy kid. I had shiny hair and strong nails. I did lots of climbing trees and wandering the woods, but I never broke a bone. Except for that time in college when I survived off canned beans my roommate had scammed from the foodbank, I've always eaten well.

There is plenty of nutritional and immunological value in breast milk, which is why those most vulnerable members of our species are hardwired to want it (newborn babies will literally crawl to find the breast. Thing is, newborn babies don't even know how to crawl! Encroyable!). People with autoimmune deficiencies can be found on milk-bank forums, willing to pay good money for this 'liquid gold' (...white gold). And come on. Do we really have to argue about this one? This is, like, the one thing everybody knows. As my fb friend Sasha says, "breast is best, and all that jazz."



Objection #10: It will rot your kid's teeth. And/or it will wreck your nipples, because she has teeth. And other strange things about teeth.

If the kid has teeth it should be eating solid food. This picture is disgusting. (Ashley, above)
...from a dentists perspective a baby should never nurse that long ever. (belltree, relating her sister's statement, http://www.mothering.com/community/t/1284792/nursing-a-toddler-bad-for-teeth)

People say that extended breastfeeding will magically rot your child's teeth (you know, the ones that are going to fall out anyway), and Whoopie Goldberg said that she wouldn't nurse her newborn because she was born with a tooth. I got my one and only semi-cavity (I kind of think the dentist was just trying to sell me some sealant treatment) at the age of 21. I didn't go back to the dentist until my then-fiancĂ© paid for it when I was 25. The hygienist was all, "Your teeth are great, you make my job so easy", so we just talked about my wedding plans for the greater part of the hour. 

And about the rest of it? I could be wrong, but as far as I know, my mother's nipples are just fine.


Objection #11: It's bad for the child's social standing.

Donna
10:27 pm on Friday, May 11, 2012
I feel so sorry for this boy. He'll probably run away, dye his hair, and change his name first chance he gets. Can't say I blame him if he does.

Nobody ever made fun of me for being Milktastic Svea or anything like that. They had more obvious targets, like my pixie haircut and the fact that my mother rode around town on an oversized tricycle.

This is the same argument that's been made against LGBTQ people raising children, and people with physical disabilities raising children, and basically anybody else who doesn't fit the boring norm, and it's bullshit. If you think you can magically do everything right so that your kid never gets made fun of, never gets picked on, never gets left out, you're deluding yourself. 

Instead of trying to fit in, try this: think about the society you want to live in. Then act like you're part of it. That's how change happens. 


Milktastically yours,

Svea B-V

34 comments:

  1. You rule. I'm nursing a toddler (20 months today!) and have started to run across some of these objections. I love this post! Great read!

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  2. I'm nursing a 17-month old, and when they find out, people look at me as if I'm some sort of cave woman. Yesterday a friend said that extended bf does nothing for my little one, and will ruin my health as the child will use up all the nutrients that my body needs. I seriously doubt that is true if I maintain a healthy diet, especially since our paediatrician told me to go on as long as possible since it's great for both the child's and my own health. I just find this attitude women have so sad. And I'm a bit angry at how nosy and judgmental people are. Most of my friends went straight for the bottle, having hardly even tried to bf, and I never criticized anyone.

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  3. Our kid is 2 years and 4 months. He is addicted to "titty before sleep". Literally, he won't go to sleep without it. I checked your list of arguments voiced by opponents against breastfeeding past 2 and none of these seem any scientific. I got one scientific argument for breastfeeding though: it has been done for 5 million years or more. Animals or early humans had no concept of "weaning by design". I see no reason why we should combat nature. If the kid says he needs it, why deny?

    Your case study is particularly interesting. We got lots of research and data. For me, all those colorful individual success stories are very convincing and important.

    Our kid is thriving health-wise too. So I do research the subject "just in case". We have no intent to improve upon nature.

    Thank your for fun reading!

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  4. this article made me smile, Im still nursing my almost 5 year old, and the only reason Ive thought about stopping is because of stupid social pressures. When we are nursing, and its just us in the that beautiful quiet moment, there is nothing "weird" about it. i wish more people understood, its so frustrating that something so personal is something that that others who have nothing to do with my daughter and I have such harsh opinions. so preach it sister!

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    1. your fucking disgusting when your kid turns out a spoiled socially aqward brat then have fun raising them you'll likely be doing it alone freak.

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    2. Great job mama. I love how other people like to worry about what you do with your breasts. I'm currently still nursing my 2 year old & I am letting him wean himself when he's ready. Anonymous, breastfed children are actually very well adjusted. I don't know where you got your information of it causing social awkwardness, or making children spoiled brats.

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    3. @Anonymous: Not only do you not know what you're (not "your") talking about, but you're (as in "you are") barely literate. "Aqward". You should educate yourself more, and judge less.

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    4. totally wrong to breastfeed that long, i know a girl who still feeds her 5 year old, it's due to her having breast size issues, she feels better them being full of milk, sick.

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    5. Wow! I am currently bf 5m old baby girl. Would like to continue as long as possible. Just worried if it would get difficult for baby to wean later? How did you manage your baby to self wean after 5 years? How did you manage baby demand in public

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  5. I just went to the paediatrician with my 25 months old child, and she told me to stop BF because it makes my girl anaemic and is endangering my health. I wanted to ask her if her comment comes after she breastfed her child for 10 years or after she did 50 years of exhaustive researches. But I said nothing. Instead, this is the first and last time I take my child to her. How can such persons have a licence to practice medicine?

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    1. That's funny. You probably call those who don't agree with EBF ignorant or something of the like, but when a TRAINED PROFESSIONAL doesn't share YOUR opinion you write them off as incompetent and refuse to go back. I guess you prefer a DR. who will agree with you, even if it's detrimental to you and your toddler's health. I didn't know children could BF other children.

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    2. Your pediatrician is out of touch with the AAP recommendations and findings - your 25 month old should be getting enough iron from her solid food intake at this point, but the iron in your milk is also of value to her - it is the only perfectly bioavailable source for humans, so unlike food or supplementally sourced iron, a child can absorb and use it all, instead of most of it passing unused through the body as it does from non-breastmilk sources. And your milk serves functions that are poorly replaced by other sources. Follow your gut, mama, you're right on the money.

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  6. Yoko is widely regarded as the ugliest wife of a musician in history. She single - handedly helped Lennon go from a respected musician to an arrogant, blabbing old man who lost the respect of millions of fans towards the end. Only in his death did those millions of fans give the respect back. I've never known ANY woman who would ever want to be compared to her. But, it's always good to hear someone having a great realtionship with a parent (s), even if there is a little delusion sprinkled throughout the article. Plus, NO single mom is ever truly honest about the number of dates she accepts due to a natural feeling that it helps protect their children. And only a blind man would want to play Scrabble with Yoko, and they can't see sooooo.........

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    1. Considering that before Yoko, Lennon was a nasty womanizing wife beater, she probably did the world some good.

      Truth- it's a double edged sword that can but both ways, especially when you choose to only tell half of the truth to make your sexist point about Yoko Ono. John Lennon was a garbage human before she met him.

      Read a biography if you want to confirm what I said. Lennon was doing just fine. He was a big boy.

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  7. My child was born at home, co-sleeps and breastfeeds still (18m). I'm his Dad. I was supportive to all this and can see the benefits for people in solid relationships.

    However
    His mother is a self centred, aggressive lunatic who split up with me last month because I refused to be bullied any longer and dared stick up for myself for once. (she’d harass you constantly over completely ridiculous things, then she’d wait for you to finally respond and then she’d kick off and scream and shout)

    She doesn't care about his contact with me. "Kids don't need Dads" (apart from the full time job I've held down, all the rent, clothes, food, toys, cots, prams etc etc I could provide for her whilst she exercised her 'entitlement' to further education whilst contributing nothing to the household) She doesn't care that I can't comfort him when he's upset, she doesn't care that he cries all the time, that he's clingy, doesn't sleep at night (she's now decided she's fed up with feeding him at night, so from 630pm everything is down to me, I go to him when he wakes, I spend all night up with him because he's upset, then go to work like a zombie the next day whilst she farts around at college for a few hours and sticks him nursery for the rest (which I have to pay for). I would have killed for the chance to be a stay at home dad.

    She's now leaving my house, has managed to screw me out of thousands of pounds and for some reason seems to think that she can leave me barely being able to pay the rent whilst she gets everything paid for and has a few grand in the bank to get back on her feet. She’s off to Uni to study midwifery (alarm bells ringing there, she’s the last person your average expecting mother wants) and I’m fricking stuck in a crap job.

    What does this have to do with extended breastfeeding? Everything. She uses it as a control measure. If we were in a solid relationship it'd be fine and the benefits would be obvious, but we're not.

    What I've seen from Attachment parenting/science aware natural parenting and so on, is often pure selfishness, obnoxiousness and pure disregard for anyone with any kind of 'conventional' view on birth. A smug, patronising air about them, always ready to brag about how fucking great they.

    My ex partner spent most of her time complaining about how people had no right to say things like "you're making a rod for your own back" or "have you got in a routine with him yet?"" Oh my gosh, such horrible people..yet, whilst slightly ignorant maybe, they're only trying to help.
    She's permanently miserable, incredibly ungrateful for any of life's blessings and seems to have no clue about how all this will effect our son. BUt she's still breastfeeding...(she even says "aww, you're superior aren't you" as she feeds him).. so it's all okay. Nevermind his Dad being close to breakdown, never mind the abuse she gives that will eventually be aimed at my son Ted.

    Despite all this, she knows better that any doctor, nurse, mid wife or medical professional. She swerves medical advice with a smug "I know better grin" and she's generally just rude and horrible to be around unless you happen to be a baby wearing hippie. (Oh god, don't put him in the pram!!!)
    I've seen this from so many people who extol the benefits of natural parenting. It's like they close their ears when anyone has anything to say about what they're doing...but by god they never shut their mouths (I don't mean everyone, but plenty of people I've met are like this).
    It's not all roses and loveliness, this kind of parenting takes dedication and hard work.

    A good life balance, happy relationship and happy parents are far more beneficial to a child than any other practise.

    P.s Yoko isn’t a very nice person, never was, never will be.

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  8. Loved this, felt very encouraged about continuing what my soon to be 4 year old and I are doing.

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  9. Do you let your child potty train them selves, or do you encourage them that they are big kids now and can use the big potty? Do you let your child bite other kids or is that just something they will out grow? Nursing I believe in. Extended I don't. Look at other animals that wean their your cats dogs. Do you see them nursing until they are 5 yrs? Your child learns from you the parent. They learn right from wrong, morals, wisdom, love, caring etc...Your breast does not do that for them you do as a mother. The connection you have with your child is because you make it not your breasts. We have 3 children. I breast fed them all and they are all smart, educated, some in college and one a college grad. They are healthy, respectful, and very productive members of society. Extended breast feeding didn't do that. Parenting did

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    1. Yeah well, in the wild dogs for instance only wean at 4 months minimum which is like 7 to 8 human years. Chimps wean at an average of 4.7 yrs.. which in human years prob higher. Please dont assume that your prejudices are facts. This article.. meant to combat ignorant opinions like yours.. is clearly lost on you!!

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  10. You can still give your child breastmilk by pumping it. After one year I feel like the mother is breastfeeding for their own pleasure. It's a beautiful thing but don't stunt your child's mental development by breastfeeding for too long.

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    1. What you feel is not fact. Just remember that. I weaned my son at 3yrs 6months and I am not a perv the way you imply. Let me tell you it was part of life and even annoying sometimes; never pleasure

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    2. Fact is that breastfeeding releases Oxytocin and Prolactin which do cause subtle psychological and behavioural changes in women during motherhood. You do get pleasure from Oxytocin and therefore you saying it was never pleasure is your denial of your own feelings. I see this in the mother of my child too with the rampant and total disregard for the father or any other 'interfering' in their motherhood. The issue is the mothers change psychologically and yet do not see this in themselves, it is very hard to be with someone who has gone from the love of your life to a narcissistic, selfish, angry and aggressive, hormonally charged animal.
      Family is about sharing and compromise and I am afraid a lot of you are missing that here in your own need to follow your own path. I am all for equality and believe that men and women compliment each other with their strengths and weaknesses, but this is a double edged sword and I feel strongly that the decision should be discussed by both parents calmly.
      In my case as I work away from the home for extended periods I find that when I return I am left alone most of the time and if my wife does go out and I have our little one to get to bed on my own I struggle. She even says "daddy doesn't have boobie", I feel the continued breastfeeding is detrimental to both my relationship with my daughter; who resents me for not being able to comfort and feed her like her mother; and with my wife who I never seem to see as she is working or in bed breastfeeding it seems to me.
      I am all for anyones right to choose anything they wish, but they should understand the effects it may have on others close to them too and be able to make an informed decision - that is difficult with the hormones effects on the minds of breastfeeding mothers.

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    3. Parents, especially mothers, and especially breastfeeding mothers, are exhausted, stressed, hormonal and totally worn out physically, mentally and emotionally. That is a recipe for a grumpy, angry parent who might snap at anyone at anytime. There are reasons breastfeeding releases the hormones it does, and it seems like at least one of them would be to calm the storm. These hormones balance mom out a little. Plus...the World Health Organization and The American Academy of Pediatrics disagree with you. It is exceptionally healthy for mother and child.
      http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/extended-breastfeeding/art-20046962

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  11. ummm, why ON EARTH would I pump it, put it in a bottle, then wash and dry the bottle, and - to please you- probably leave her alone with the plastic bottle and walk away - when I can use my breast? 'Own pleasure' -> are you hinting at something sexual?

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  12. Thanks for this.. I am a mother of two. My now almost-twelve-year-old stopped on her own when she was 18 months. My 3yr 7 month old son actually just stopped a month ago.. that is to say, stopped being so insistent... So, I weaned him. I am in India but I stopped telling people I was still feeding him a year ago as a lot of people from the play school, teachers, and even my own sister seemed shocked and /or disgusted ( its actually the poor who feed up to 4 years.. the middle class people have an attitude similar to tgat of most Western people). They all gave me weaning tips including pytting chilli powder or bitter neem on my nipples but I never did any of that.. Luckily, I work out of the house 40hrs a week so I could do the extended thing.. My little cuddle bucket needed it I think because he was mild IUGR and had classic neonatal hypoglycemia for 5 days.. hopefully this helped him though the doctors said he did not seem affected when we left the hospital..

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  13. Please can someone who does extended breastfeeding answer me a question? My wife is breastfeeding our 3 week old and finding it very painful an difficult. For those of you who do extended breastfeeding- did you find it painful at the beginning or did you always enjoy it? It strikes me as strange that there can be so much difference between one mum who finds it excruciating and another mum who enjoys it so much they continue for years out of choice!!

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    1. My daughter is almost two. Yes, it hurt very much in the beginning but stopping was never an option so I pressed on. I'm not continuing now solely because I enjoy it. In fact, sometimes I wish I could stop because it limits my free time for self and husband. But I'll keep at it because of the health benefits and because it is kinda hard to stop when she keeps wanting it lol. But I know I'll miss it when it finally comes to an end. Tell your wife to hang in there. The pain will go, if it hasn't already.

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    2. It hurt for the first month or even 6 weeks with both of mine, but it goes away. I've read it could have been them latching wrong; I have no idea, I just remember toe curling pain every time they latched on. If gets much easier, I promise!

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    3. BF was awful at first for me. Without my overly supportive boyfriend, I would've given up days into it. My nipples were scabbed and bleeding. It was intense torture and I dreaded it. Day 6 my boyfriend called a lactation specialist (cost me $50 for an hour, I would've paid 1000.00) she told me to stop nursing since it was so painful and to pump every 2-3 hours for 48 hours to keep my milk supply up. She came over 2 days later and we found out that my daughters top lip was tucked under, causing my nipples to bleed. Don't get me wrong, it took about 3 weeks to really get the hang of it. 3 weeks on an infant feeding schedule feels like a lifetime. It was a bit uncomfortable the first few seconds but after that it was okay. She is now 3 months old and breastfeeding is a breeze. I've considered extended breastfeeding but will decide when the time comes. I never understood the "support system" part until I had her. Every time I wanted to give up, my boyfriend would help me thru it. I also got used to pumping, so at night he was able to feed her and be a part of it too.

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    4. It was excruciating in the beginning with my first. Almost 4 months before we got it right, but I stuck it out because it was what was best for her and I could. I think that's partly why I kept nursing her for so long in the beginning. Then, once I did some research on weaning process and timing, I found out it was actually SUPER healthy for both of us to continue and the WHO recommends nursing for AT LEAST 2 years. When my son was born a few months ago, just short of her 2nd birthday, it was easy because they weren't sensitive anymore. She really nurses only 2-3 times a day, now, but it helped keep het healthy through some rough times. We tried to wean during my pregnancy, ans while she handled it fine, she stopped gaining weight properly. As soon as my son was born and my milk came back, I let her start nursing again and she bounced back. Now she's thriving, but weaning her at 18 months was bad for her. Babies (which is what they are until 2 years of age...) are designed to live off mothers milk. Its not different, in the beginning her breasts will be sore from the constant ebb and flow, fill and release of milk, and her nipples will get chapped and cracked like your lips during a BAD cold. Its painful, but so is pregnancy and childbirth. The "4th trimester" (as they call the first 3 months out of the womb) is just that. One more period of growth and adjustment for mother and baby. Bottom line is, "extended" or full - term breastfeeding is good for a toddler, but what's good for the whole family has to be taken into account, as well. Today's society caters to convenience, so there are options.
      http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/extended-breastfeeding/art-20046962

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  14. Yes, very painful for the first month. I have two children & was VERY close to quitting both times but stuck to it only because of my husbands support. He was my much needed cheerleader & by the end of 2nd month there was no pain at all. I nursed my son until he was 18 months & plan on doing the same with my daughter. My son is almost 7 yrs & daughter is 10 months.

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  15. I breastfeed my almost 4yo 1x/day at night/bedtime. He is a very energetic, emotional child. He never asks to nurse during the day. Yet, when it is bedtime (7ish pm) he nurses for ~10 min and then is sound asleep. I have tried other options at bedtime but he gets so upset/resistant. I have allowed him to continue this 1x/day routine. I am at peace, he is at peace. My question to other extended breastfeeding mamas is: do you know of any long term negative health effects on the mother? I do not desire any more children (have 3 total!). Could it cause ovarian problems? One mother reported Ovarian cysts from the ovaries being confused. There is really barely any research on the effects of extended breastfeeding on the mother.

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    1. There are actually very positive health benefits.
      http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/extended-breastfeeding/art-20046962

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  16. Love Yoko Ono-she makes great art and is a great musician-
    On another note: Through all human history breastmilk has been imperative to human development, is only until recent centuries with class and 2oth century formula that mothers do not feed their babies...
    sad that people think is abnormal to breastfeed a child past age 3, look at Africa, can you imagine not breastfeeding after 3???.
    Applausive article, quite charming and human-very warm and lovely-- THAnk you!

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