Health Advisory

Nothing within this blog should be considered as medical advice and you should always consult your preferred medical professional.

Search This Blog

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Four Years Breastfeeding

Last month I featured in a guest blog on Anything Baby, the post was initially my status update. It was a very hard status update to write. Some of my close friends knew I still breastfed my eldest son but very few of my non parental friends had any idea and many of them had already expressed disgust at the idea of a mother breastfeeding her child beyond (insert arbitrary age here).

This morning on my newsfeed a TIME magazine cover appeared, popping up on parenting page feeds all over the place. It was of a woman standing and breastfeeding her 3 year old son who was standing on a stool. At first I thought 'Oh great! Breastfeeding gets a front cover!' Then I quickly realised that this cover wasn't about normalising breastfeeding, it was about pointing out how 'extreme' full term breastfeeders were and with a caption like 'Are you Mom enough?' it became painfully obvious that this was simply the media getting on board the 'pit parents against each other' train again. I've had enough. 

So rather than get on board the mama bashing bandwagon I'm just going to re blog my guest post. When this post was published it went viral in a low key manner. When it popped up on the news feed of 'Conscience Parenting' it was pointed out that perhaps it would be good to see the data behind my claims. So without link spamming - here is the same blog, but with a little data.

I have been breastfeeding for almost 4 years now, some of you think this is great, for some of you this is a surprise, for some of you this is a shock and some of you will be feeling disgust.
Before you decide that I am a weird extremist you should consider a few things.
1. The world median for breastfeeding is 4 years, the W.H.O recommend breastfeeding until at least 2 years and beyond.
When I initially published this first point I had stated 'average' instead of median. Thanks to a helpful poster I was directed to this useful article from the lactivist. the world average is of course much lower with many people not initiating breastfeeding or ceasing within the first 6 weeks. However the average age range for natural weaning is from 2.5 months to 7 years and the median is 4.5yrs. This is well supported by the average age of weaning in cultures where breastfeeding is not considered out of the ordinary. If you want some fun facts on breastfeeding then look here.
2. Many people suggest a good time to wean is when your baby has teeth/can walk/can talk. My boy teethed at 3months, walked at 9 months and was talking by 12 months. Some babies are born with teeth. Some babies don’t have a full set of teeth until 33months and beyond.
3. Many people assume that because I have chosen to full term breastfeed that I judge other mothers and feel superior. I feel happy in my decision and everyone else should feel happy in theirs. My decision is not a reflection on anyone elses parenting
4. Some people think that feeding beyond an arbitrary age is deviant/kinky/perverted or sexual. If you think this then you either A: Think my sons are thinking sexual thoughts about me B: Think I am thinking sexual thoughts about my children or C: Have some sexual hang ups of your own. I can confirm that A and B are not correct.
5. If my son wasn’t drinking human breastmilk he would be drinking cows breastmilk. Cows breastmilk costs us money and is nutritionally inferior. Human breastmilk is free and has the added benefit of burning 500 calories a day.
6. From a physiological perspective we stop producing lactase in large quantities from 4-6 years of age, this is also when we lose our deciduous or ‘milk’ teeth and our jaw starts to fill out making nursing difficult. Anthropologically we breastfeed for a very short time when we look at our ancestors.
7. Breastfeeding is a normal thing for human mammals to be doing. By breastfeeding I help keep my risk of cancer neutral and give my son a better risk profile in terms of diabetes, obesity and other disease. The longer I breastfeed the better these risk ratios are and the better his development is.
8. This is the right decision for us and I am sick of having other people assume they know better than we do when it comes to raising our children. It is not okay to casually talk about how perverted, sick, clingy, neurotic and weird women are when they breastfeed beyond an arbitrary date.
9. Some of you think my sons will become clingy mamas boys. If you have met my children then you will be aware that this is farcical.
And before you dismiss me as one more breastfeeding nazi extremist with weird sexual leanings and hippy tendencies please imagine for a second that I am a homosexual friend of yours who has decided to come out of the closet and with that in mind you should extend your respect, kindness and acceptance.


  1. Thanks guys! I was worried I'd log in this evening to a slew of breastfeeding critics but your kind words give me hope!

  2. I'm bookmarking this for when my nursling gets older and I need encouragement.

  3. thanks for sharing amazing article....when did you introduce doing both going strong

  4. Thank you so much for sharing so eloquently. I wish they had put this up in Time instead of the nonsense that was on the cover!

  5. I saw heaps of diddle-heads posting that image on facebook and saying things like 'bitty' and how that child will be messed up and other stuff and it really pissed me off! I shall now link them this article. You rule (write a book on motherhood already).

  6. rofl! Diddleheads!!


    2359 Audi, I introduced solids at approximately 5.8 months for both of them, when they indicated all signs of being ready. =o)

  7. It is the fact that you do not judge other mothers and that when you make your point you have strong evidence to support you that makes me applaud you. I may be medically unable to breast feed, but I hold nothing against those who choose to and who choose to do it for an extended time frame.

  8. I don't have kids. I have always believed in breast feeding and like many people out there I used to believe breastfeeding beyond a certain age was "wrong" I couldn't tell you why back then. Then I read that same W.H.O article and when I thought about it realised how perverted my thinking had been. (not sexually perverted, but perverted from what is right and natural.) If you go to countries that are worse off they still breastfeed their kids to older ages and as you were saying about milk teeth. They're called milk teeth for a reason.

    This is typical patriarchal thinking. Men find breasts sexually attractive and many of them can't separate that thinking from the fact the breasts are primarily a source of food and nutrition to babies and yes, children too and women have been caught up in this thinking because we live in an age where society is saturated with sex and and it is becoming hard to distinguish a car from a hard on. (pardon the language I feel quite strongly about this.)

    If JP and I do have kids I'll be breastfeeding and whether JP likes it or not I will be following W.H.O recommendations because this is what is best for MY children and that is what we should all be striving to do.

    Bravo on this post, if anyone comments to me again in future I will be pointing out both this post and the W.H.O article.

  9. woooow, I breastfed my boy three years and a half, and he decided it was enough because I got pregnant and probably milk's taste has changed... Now with my 10 months old baby and his 4 and a half elder brother....sometimes we do the tandem and it is amazing!!!!! I love my motherhood and breastfeeding!