Extended Breastfeeding, My
There's a small number of mothers in the United States who are
continuing to breastfeed their children long past babyhood and into
toddlerhood and even when their children are school-age. These mothers
defended by a vocal group of supporters. It's natural the mothers and
their supporters claim. It used to be the norm to breastfeed until
children are older because of nutrition and as a natural birth
control they tell us. The United States sexualize the breasts too
much; we should recognize that the purpose of breasts is to feed
children. Breastfeeding soothes children. Breast milk is best they
lecture. To sum up, they're doing this for the well-being of their
children because it's the child's best interest they proudly and
I have one question for these women: If you're doing this
because you believe that human breast milk is the best milk for your
don't you pump, put the milk in a cup and let your child drink it that
way? Your child would still be getting all the benefits
that you think breast milk has. That you don't pump and let
your child drink out of a cup is because this is about your
psychological needs, not your child's.
You could make an argument that teaching an infant to control his/her
bladder and bowels is not in the best interest of the child. Maybe it
causes constipation and urinary infections to hold the waste material.
It causes accidents which can be humiliating and embarrassing to the
child damaging them psychologically. So why not keep the children in
diapers so they can go whenever they need to go? Why not?
Because changing the diapers on a five year old doesn't
give the mothers any psychological satisfaction. If it did,
you'd better believe there would still be some healthy, school-age
children running around in diapers.
So taking a look at each of those arguments in favor of extended
breastfeeding, here's my rebuttal...........
REASONS AGAINST EXTENDED BREASTFEEDING
feeding is natural.
is not controlling your bowels and bladder. Both breastfeeding and
diapers have their place in a baby's life. And then the child outgrows
that stage. All mammals stop breastfeeding their offspring and some of
those mammals get quite forceful about it, even kicking or shoving
old offspring when they continue to try to breastfeed.
used to be the norm to breastfeed older children both to supply
nutrition and as it's a natural form of birth control.
But you are not a medieval serf. Nor are you living in a tribe of
primitive hunter/gatherers. (I'm quite sure they don't have internet.)
This is 21st century America. There are plenty of other forms of
nutrition that are available. (The women in the US who do extended
breastfeeding are not poor women whose children are in danger
of not getting enough food.) And there are definitely more effective
methods of birth control now readily available.
By the way, if you think that the way things were done back then is
what we should be doing now because it was "more natural" and so was
better for children,
you should compare the historical infant mortality rate of 140 out of 1000 live births
to today's rate of 6 out of 1000 live births. And the
data I could find on primitive hunter/gatherer tribes was about a 20% infant mortality rate, that's
200 out of 1000 live births.
U.S. over sexualizes the female breast. The purpose of the breast is to
wake up! The human female breast is
sexualized. That's what they've evolved to be; it's why we have them
year round and not just when we're lactating. Back before we learned to
walk upright it was the butt that was sexualized. Then when we stood up
and walked on two feet, we needed a new sexual signal and that's why
females get enlarged breasts as a part of puberty..........because breasts spend the vast
majority of their lifespan as a sexual signal and are only used for
breastfeeding a percentage of the time. In fact,
some breasts are never
used for breastfeeding, yet they're still enlarged.
does being cuddled. Fathers cuddle and soothe their children without
breastfeeding. No one's saying you, the mother, can't cuddle your child
anymore. But if
you have to cuddle your child while he/she sucks on your teat, that's
needs, not the child's.
So hug your kid. Rock your kid. Sing to your kid. Give your kid a kiss
and stroke their forehead. Feed your kid a bowl
of ice cream. Do any of the many
other ways there are to soothe your
child, because older children do need soothing. What they don't need is
continuing to think soothing requires having your nipple in their mouth.
milk is best
you really believe that, then put it in a cup for the child to drink.
Breast milk doesn't have to be drunk directly from the breast.
is for the well-being of the children because it's the child's best
interest to be breastfed.
know what's for the well-being of a child? Raising that child within
the norms of the society you live in. If you're a !Kung San of the Kalahari, then breastfeed
until the kid is 4 or 5. If you're an Aché of Paraguay, you
can breastfeed until age 3.
But this is the United
States and breastfeeding a child old enough to ride a bicycle
isn't the best interest of a child in 21st America. It's going to
damage that child's childhood. Because when the child's schoolmates see
or find out about it, there's a good chance you, the doting,
over-protective mother, just ruined your kid's school
through high school graduation. The child will be teased and bullied
about it until s/he moves away. I can see the child as an adult
the breastfeeding trauma in therapy. And it will be all your
fault. So do
what's actually in the best interest of the child and stop
children when they stop being babies.
And to all the supporters of mothers who do extended breastfeeding, stop enabling.
For more my take on childrearing, there's "When
You Think God's Light Shines Out of Your Kid's Asshole.........You're
Raising a Brat (And Why It's Not Doing Your Kid Any Favors)," "Truly Odd Parents: Parents Who Take a Hard
Job and Make It Harder" and "The Importance of Being Bored (in
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