Length of Breastfeeding...

I made this thread so that the “hijackers” could discuss/argue this somewhere else. I’m not in need of any apologies. I didn’t think this constituted a Great Debate though, due to people being shocked by the notion of breastfeeding children until they are 4 or 5.

My personal “opinion” is that it is alright to breastfeed until the child has more teeth than Grandpa has. Why would a child need to suckle for comfort. Isn’t a hug enough. Breastfeeding is for sustenance and a bonding experience between the child and mother at an early age. Once they have the ability to speak, you should be able to comfort and bond with them in another way.

just my 2cents

My two cent’s worth also.

I agree with tubagirl.
Once the kid can walk and talk, it’s time to end the nursing. Just my opinion, of course.

Personal experience: (no real point, just sharing)
As for the health benefits, I’m all for it. I BF’d my two (biological) kids, first one for about 13 months, second one for about 9. Both of my kids were rarely sick, my son had one ear infection during his first three years, my daughter never has never had one. I didn’t even BF my son till he was two days old, (complications from his premature birth) but once we got started, it was fine.
My middle child (step-daughter) was not BF’d by her mother, and she had constant ear infections and colds as a young child. Her mom was one of those who thought BFing was disgusting. Why would she want to do something like “that” when there is formula?

As for BFing an adopted child, umm, well, I guess I’m on the side of those who thought it was a little weird. If someone chooses to do it, hey, more power to them, but it wouldn’t be right for me.

Just to contribute my two cents, the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding until the child is two, as did my local breastfeeding clinic and my doctor. The longest I breastfed was 14 months, and the last 6 months of that was very part time. I personally don’t see a need to breastfeed until the age of 5, but I don’t think that I’d jump down the throat of anyone who chose to breastfeed for so long. Culturally, I don’t think that it’s acceptable to breastfeed beyond toddlerhood at the latest, and I wouldn’t encourage anyone to breastfeed casually in public when the child is five.

When I first heard the story, my main problem was the fact that the woman had no milk. I think once the milk is gone, it’s no longer breastfeeding, as the child is no longer feeding. Also, a child that age might have some negative reaction from their peers when the child is allowed to casually suck on their mother’s empty breast.

I certainly think that the biggest issue is society, and not health, when it comes to breastfeeding for such a long period of time. I certainly don’t feel like my children suffered by not being allowed to breastfeed throughout their entire childhood, regardless of what is acceptable in other countries. It may be normal to breastfeed for a longer period of time in other societies, but I don’t think that makes it the preferred way.

I realize this is the Pit, where the info-to-noise ratio is particularly low (which is generally why I stay out of here), but concerning several of the opinions expressed here, doesn’t anyone see the circular “reasoning” in saying “I feel breast-feeding a toddler is bad because it is unacceptable in our society?”

How long should a mother breastfeed? That should be up to the mother and child, and it’s none of anyone else’s damned business.

I nursed my older son until he was about 32 months old. During the last year, he pretty much just nursed in the morning and at bedtime. I bribed him to give it up at that age because I was trying to get pregnant again, and didn’t want there to be any turf battles later on. (I gave him a sticker on his chart every time he chose to drink a glass of milk instead, and when he got 10 stars on his chart, he got a toy. He was weaned in a week.) My second son nursed until about 18 months, when he wanted to give it up.

Although I don’t find anything wrong with nursing in public, I agree with most of the people here that there is such a social stigma against nursing an older child in public that I wouldn’t recommend it. As was demonstrated by my ability to bribe my older child to stop nursing — if they’re old enough to ask for it, then they’re old enough to understand a “not now, let’s wait until we can get home, (or in the car, etc.)” This could be a good demonstration to the child that not all activities are appropriate at all times and places…

BTW, I used the supplemental nurser device that Cartooniverse referred to. My mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer the day my oldest son was born, and died 16 days later. The stress and grief really played havoc with my milk supply, so this device was a tremendous help in that it let my son keep nursing while I wasn’t capable of providing enough milk to keep him fully nourished. I also received a great deal of help from the Nursing Mothers of Raleigh, a local organization similar to LLL, but not as militant about things. They do a wonderful job of supporting mothers in nursing as long as they want, and not being judgmental if they choose to quit.

My sister-in-laws mother breastfed 4 of her adopted children (She has 6 adopted, two natural)even after she had stopped lactating. It was not a concerted effort on her part, but a natural reaction to babies for her. After her first child was born she continued to be able to “lactate on demand” when needed. Would she have done it if it included hormonal therapy? Hell NO! She does it because it comes naturally.

OTOH, several of my friends and reletives have tried extremely hard to breastfeed, and have been unsuccessful. The breastfeeder consultants come swooping after you, declaring you an unfit mother because you deny your child natural sustenence.

I deem it personal choice on wether you do it, and how long you do it.

St. Attila I could care less how old someone is that sucks your breast. I was getting pissed that a good thread was completely going south. I thought of doing what tubagirl did, but decided to push your button. Push. Push. Damn elevator.

What about breastpumping, so that mom and dad can BOTH feed the child? The attachment thing, from what I understand is often because many parents will just shove a bottle at the baby while Baby is in the crib or swing, rather than HOLDING the baby and feeding him properly.
I think I would prefer breast pumping so my future husband and I can feed our future child together. That way, our child will have a bond with BOTH Mom and Dad.

Although, there are problems. Like me, I’m on medication. That’s probably not a good condition for breastfeeding. And I can’t stop taking it-I’m on Paxil and I would be courting a nervous breakdown possibly, as I have obsessive compulsive disorder.
Another thing-what about a child who is lactose intolerant? My sister had to be on special prescription only formula.

I thought that lactose-intolerance (unlike milk allergy) didn’t manifest itself for several years. Mine didn’t appear until I was in grammar school. Given its prevalence around the world, I’d be surprised if it really interfered significantly with infant nutrition; it seems like evolution would take care of it pretty quickly if it did.

Not to say that your nephew/niece didn’t need prescription formula, but was it really for lactose intolerance?

On the medication front, talk to your doctor about it. Mine has told me that it should be ok to go without during pregnancy, because the hormones are likely to keep me going, and that they could probably monitor very carefully for a few weeks or months after giving birth to allow me to breastfeed for a little while before going back on it. But I don’t have the same condition or the same medication, so it may well be different.

Originally posted by Phobia

What’s the world coming to when a guy can’t hijack a thread without fear of his button being assaulted?

*Originally posted by tubagirl *

** WOW !!! **. How very cool for your SIL. I must admit, I’ve never met anyone who was successful. Your SIL, on the other hand, seems to be equipped with glands that won’t quit, as long as there is a need. How wonderful. :slight_smile:


You know, I didn’t preview that posting. I’m guilty of the classic server-hog problem : I copied in a HUGE quote, and made a small comment after it. Sorry…bad form. I could have done with a sentence or two, just as well as a quote.

Live and learn. ** Preview Is My Friend :smiley: **

No, my SISTER is the one who was lactose intolerant. I don’t have any nieces or nephews-only one sibling and she’s just barely 16. And she says she’s never having kids.

No, my sister was allergic to milk as a baby. They put her on formula. She was allergic to that. Tried something for babies who are allergic. She was allergic to THAT. Then, the doctor prescribed Pergestimil, or something like that. Stunk to high heaven and my mom was able to get it through WIC for some reason or another.

For the record, Sis can eat some things with milk, but not alot. Lactose intolerance runs in the family-somehow, it skipped me-thank god! Me loves milk!

I don’t plan on getting pregnant for a long time, so I don’t have to worry. I still don’t see what’s wrong with pumping and bottle feeding. You get the breast milk and both parents can share in the feeding. I frankly don’t think I’m a patient enough person to breastfeed. And I’m not a very discplined person either.

*Originally posted by Guinastasia *
**No, my SISTER is the one who was lactose intolerant. I don’t have any nieces or nephews-only one sibling and she’s just barely 16. And she says she’s never having kids. **

snicker That’s what I said when I was 16 . :slight_smile: I have 2 kids, breastfed the first until almost age 4, and am still nursing the baby who is 13 months old. I am also a volunteer breastfeeding counselor and have completed almost 1000 hours of training in the field.

True lactose intolerance in infants is incredibly rare - like one in 100,000 infants or even fewer. What IS common is an allergy to the protein in cow’s milk, which can and does pass through to breastmilk. Babies who have a cow’s milk protein allergy often are allergic to soy as well (in the neighborhood of ~60%) and thus the only alternative if they are not breastfed (with mom eliminating all dairy/soy from her diet) is a predigested formula like Nutramigen, which is very expensive - about 2.5 times the cost of cow’s milk based formulas like Similac or Enfamil.
**I don’t plan on getting pregnant for a long time, so I don’t have to worry. I still don’t see what’s wrong with pumping and bottle feeding. You get the breast milk and both parents can share in the feeding. I frankly don’t think I’m a patient enough person to breastfeed. And I’m not a very discplined person either. **

Well, if you aren’t disciplined, pumping is going to be a bitch. Sorry. Not every woman has good luck pumping. I’ve met many who can feed their babies directly just fine, but can’t squeeze out a half ounce in a half hour on a pump. Pumping and bottlefeeding adds a hell of a lot more work to the whole business as well. The moms I know who do this generally did NOT start out deliberately on that path. Some had babies with cleft lips or palates who couldn’t latch. Others had preemies or babies w/ medical problems who were separated from mom for days after birth, by which point the baby did not go back to the breast (though with work, many babies who are separated from mom in the hospital can nurse, but not all succeed).

As someone who has worked w/ many breastfeeding moms, the ones who pumped exclusively so that their husband can share in the feedings almost always wound up with a dad who maybe gave a bottle a week, and moms did the rest. A lot of effort for one feeding! Maybe pump once a day, if dad HAS to give a bottle, but my husband never did give my daughter (13 months now) one and she is a complete daddy’s girl. He does a lot of diaper changes, plays with the kids, takes them to the park, bathes them - they are certainly not hurting because he didn’t feed them. Dad can always do the solid food feedings (about 5-6 months of age or so) if he has to feed the baby.

Guin, I WAS you when I was 16-18 years old. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be the kind of mother (and person) that I have become. Just because you feel this way now, you don’t have to stay that way as you continue growing up. :slight_smile:


This is bullshit. I talked in sentences at 6 months and walked quite early too. I do not see how walking and talking mean a child should not breastfeed. A child should stop breastfeeding when either the child or the mother wish to end it. Breastfeeding should be supplemented as the child grows at some point, but that is not determined by the verbal ability of the child. What is wrong with a child that can walk and talk breastfeeding? Does it make you squeamish? If so don’t look. Something as important as when to breastfeed and when not to should be based on something other than a strange’s potential squeamishness.

lee, I’m glad to meet yet another early talker. When I mention that my sister spoke in full sentences when she was 9 months old few people believe it.

Well, I read this and my first reaction was “What the fuck?” I don’t know what lactation consultants are like where you are from, or how many of them you’ve spoken with, but the dozen or so I’ve heard of would never express such sentiments. Frankly, I don’t know how they could be licensed and do that.

I never breastfed full-time. However, since I wanted the BF I did do to be successful, I saw a LC in the hospital, paid another to come help me at home, attended meetings for months with LLL, and consulted with others on the internet as needed. Yeah, they swooped because I asked them to, but none of them expressed any concern that I was an unfit mother because of the natural sustenance I was denying Cranky Jr. Who better than a lactation consultant knows how damned hard nursing is for some people? God, they’d be the last people I’d expect to place blame.

I pumped, too, to jump in on that conversation, and for me it didn’t work as well as it has for others. I kept it up, of course, but my breasts and my letdown reflex just preferred the efficiency of a baby’s mouth and the stimulus of seeing him in person. I got paltry amounts, but I kept it up, because without out my supply would have plummeted even worse. Hats off to those moms who keep it up for longer than I did or had to. I fucking hated cleaning those pump horns in the office bathroom, and schlepping the containers of breastmilk around.

I have a number of friends who are still nursing their offspring. Some of them past the age of three–of course, their kids get the vast majority of their sustenance from solids, but nursing continues on a part-time basis. They’re not freaks, hippies, weirdos, or unaware of the power of hugs as a source of comfort. If Cranky Jr hadn’t lost interest, I’d still be nursing and he’s nearly two. I think it is no one’s business.

BTW, my more credible written sources have declined to give an “average age of weaning” and I’ll bet it’s for reasons cited in the other thread: who can really tell? However, they offer some extreme and not-so-extreme examples from populations around the world. They cite that many cultures don’t wean until after two. Since culture is such a factor, some have suggested we look to other mammals to get a guess as to when it “should” happen biologically. You can go by gestation length (as is true in some mammals) which would suggest 9-12 months. The extra three months comes because human babies are born so much more helpless than most other mammals, leading some to say they’re born (comparatively) too soon. Another standard might be 3-4 times birth weight. That’d be one year or more. Eruption of permanent molars could also be a standard, which would put ideal weaning age at 5 years. After weighing several factors and considering our size and where we fall in comparison with other primates, some feel that the most realistic weaning age could be anywhere from 2 1/2 to 7 years. I’m plagiarizing/paraphrasing all this from anthropologist Karen Dettwyler, as quoted in another book I have.

I challenge anyone who has actually researched breastfeeding to offer a good sound scientific reason why a mom should wean if she and her toddler or preschooler both still find it a mutually satsifying thing. Our ideas about it being “wrong” or “sick” or “weird” are totally cultural. That’s a good argument for not whipping out titty on the playground, but it’s not a good argument for ending something that is so beneficial. If I had a still-nursing 4-yr-old, I’d teach him it’s rude to yank my shirt up to go for it, that’s for sure.

Cranky, without trying to speak for her, what I took tubagirl to mean was the self-appointed breastfeed consultants. The people who don’t know you but think they have the right to intervene in your family’s way of life because they have strong ideas. They’ll call you on dummies (you might call them pacifiers), playpens, or harnesses (the kind toddlers sometimes are put into). The harpies who are always right and you’re always wrong. They also like to say “do you know how many calories/grams of fat/much cholesterol is in that?” while you’re eating. The spoilers. Happy with their choices and determined to spread unhappiness everywhere else.

They also work the other way. Here in Melbourne Oz, sometimes a stuffy town, women have been asked to leave a restaurant because they discreetly breastfed a child and other diners complained. The cigar smokers were allowed to stay, I assume.

Surely there’s enough room in the world we privileged ones live in for a wide range of approaches to child raising. And for the breast/bottle police on both sides to be told to mind their own business. The important things for children are to be secure and feel loved. Everything else can be sorted out later.

I have enjoyed reading what all of you have said. As I would expect from Dopers, plenty of pragmatic, sensible tolerant thoughts. Sound basis for being a good mother, I’d say.

[sub]Have I actually posted in the Pit? I didn’t think I’d ever be here…[/sub]

I am not squeamish at all.
Ok, I should have said once the kid can actually say, “I want to nurse” it may be time to give it up. Just my opinion, of course. I’m all in favor of breastfeeding, but you have to end it sometime. Yes, there is a social stigma that goes with nursing a 4 or 5 year old, and as someone else mentioned, a better alternative (in public) may be to say, “Wait till we get home” rather than Mom whipping her shirt up for a past-toddler-age child.
Just FTR, I was asked to leave the mall once for BFing my child. I was on a bench, out of the way, and had pulled my shirt up (rather than unbutton it from the top), had a blanket over her and no one could see anything. I was asked to go to the bathroom…no lounge, but a bathroom. What was I supposed to do, sit on the toilet? Would YOU want to eat your lunch in the smelly bathroom?

I couldn’t pump, either. I had no problem actually nursing, but when I pumped, like you said, I’d get about an ounce or so after an hour’s work. My son was a preemie, and I was not able to nurse him till he was two days old. It was hard at first, but we managed.

Just to throw in another “breastfeeding is a heck of a lot easier than bottle feeding” opinion…If you decide to pump and bottle feed you will spend just as much time pumping as you would nursing, plus the time spent cleaning and preparing the bottles and pump. And as far as being disciplined goes, if you nurse on demand, your baby will tell you when it is time to feed. If you pump, you will have to make a schedule and stick to it in order to keep up your milk supply. Really, nursing is the lazy person’s method of choice. It’s a lot cheaper, too.

While occasional bottles probably won’t hurt anything (though you want to hold off for a while to avoid nipple confusion) there are health benefits to actual nursing that aren’t available when the baby uses a bottle. I quote from The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding:

Another fascinating finding related to human milk’s immune properties was the discovery that the breast can deliver a particular antibody in response to a new germ in baby’s environment. A chain of events begins when the fully breastfed baby is beset with a new germ. As he continues to nurse, perhaps even more often than usual because he is not feeling well, the offending organism is passed from baby to mother. The breast produces the needed immunoglobulin on site, locally, and sends the protective element along to the baby in the milk.

Isn’t it cool what our bodies can do?