Latched on for Life?

Sorry for the lack of posts, but I’ve been sick. Actually, I’m still sick. I’m home from work today because I just can’t freaking breathe and I’m stuffed up beyond belief. So, I figured while I’m home, I could tackle something I’ve been wanting to address since last week.

I watched 20/20 last week because it featured a whole bunch of parenting topics and truthfully, I could probably write a post about any of them. Like the women who collect “Re-born” dolls. These dolls look freakishly lifelike to the point where the collectors take them out in strollers in public and people don’t realize they’re dolls. And the women who own the dolls don’t correct them, they simply play along. Creepy.

But what really got my attention was the bit on extended breastfeeding. Here’s a 5-minute clip if you want to see what I’m talking about:


Yeah…breastfeeding at 7 years old. Now keep in mind, I’m a breastfeeding proponent. I encouraged MJ to breastfeed with Will and she did for 4 months. She would’ve gone longer if not for certain complications beyond her control. And together, we made the decision to breastfeed for a year before weaning him. It wasn’t a hard and fast deadline, but we chose it for several reasons.

First of all, I can’t imagine what it’s like to be a human milkmaid. To be chained to your baby and feed him every hour or every two hours. That’s gotta be draining. And second, we chose a year because we wanted him to start weaning so he wouldn’t be too dependent on MJ for comfort. Besides, with bottle feeding both parents can be involved instead of just the mom getting all the bonding time.

Yet when I espouse these viewpoints — especially on some of my parenting boards — I am scowled at, looked down upon and at one point I was even told that I shouldn’t be allowed an opinion on breastfeeding simply because I’m a man.

First of all, I know breastfeeding is the best thing for a baby. That’s an unassailable fact and I’m not disputing it. There are more benefits in breast milk than anything else, so we can skip that argument right off the bat. And sure, organizations like the WHO recommend breastfeeding until at least 2 and the average age of weaning around the world is 4,but take a look at the kids in that video. They are 5 and 7 and STILL breastfeeding. That’s just creepy and weird. I also think it’ a detriment to the kids socially and developmentally because it means there is way too strong of an attachment to the mother than there should be at that age.

And let’s not look past the effects extended breastfeeding could have on the marriage. The first few months after a child is born is hell on a marriage. There is almost no intimacy between mom and dad because the baby needs mom for sustenance. But as the kids get older and cease their attachment to mom’s boobs (and hopefully stop sleeping in the family bed) that’s supposed to be the time for parent to rekindle their marriage. But how can that happen with a 5-7 year old still suckling mommy’s boobs?

And lastly, while I’m a proponent of breastfeeding I am not a zealot like many other La Leche League fanatics. These are the women who not only support breastfeeding, they tend to look down on others who do not make that choice. And that’s something I just don’t understand.

First of all, breastfeeding is not always a possibility for every woman. And second, some moms just don’t like it. Yet they feel bad about their true feelings because that jackass Dr. Sears and every other breastfeeding zealot out there makes them feel guilty for not feeling like breastfeeding is the most rewarding activity on the planet. And beyond that, it’s obvious some people feel men are not even entitled to an opinion simply because they don’t have working breasts.

It’s a personal choice and people should just relax. Formula is not the Devil’s elixir. A baby can have formula from the get-go and be just as smart and healthy as a breastfed baby. Everyone just needs to relax. And if you’re still breastfeeding your kid at 7…cut the cord already!

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20 thoughts on “Latched on for Life?

  1. I think extended breastfeeding is wonderful. I don’t know how long though it is acutally beneficial. I think that the WHO, World Health Organization says 2 years old? Which I think is totally appropriate. And anyone who choses to breastfeed longer it’s fine by me. It is a little strange (to me) to see an older child breastfeeding like that, and I saw that documentary too. I had major mixed feelings about it.

    But I also think that formula companies encourage bottle feeding formula. New mothers are pressured on all aspects of having babies-to be perfect. Or to do what’s “right.” I believe there are some women who “chose” not to breastfeed for personal reasons and that’s fine, but to make excuses is not fine. If you don’t like to breastfeed then admit it, don’t tell me it hurts, or you got infections etc. Because I did too, I had everything under the sun and I still managed to do it. If it’s just not for you, then says so;)

    It’s whatever is best for baby and if it’s not best for you, then it’s not best for baby. YOU need to be happy to have a happy baby!

  2. I’m semi-biased just because the one child I didn’t breastfeed is the one with asthma and allergies. He was my first and I just couldn’t get the knack of it down. He wouldn’t latch on, he was screaming, I was in tears, dad was frantic. They finally wheeled in this monstrous, medieval torture device they called a breast pump. I had received a breast pump at my shower. THAT thing was NOT a breast pump, lol. That didn’t work either. When all was said and done we gave him a bottle while I sat there hysterical that I couldn’t accomplish the oldest skill a woman is said to have, the most natural thing in the world and all the other ideas that had been drilled into me by those wonderful The Milk (we’re NOT in Mexico!!!) chicks. They make sure you feel like a worthless ass if you choose not to breastfeed but they never show up if you simply can’t breastfeed.

    When I had my other 2 kids neither one of them had any problems and I was ecstatic to be able to finally perform this most ancient of female duties, lol. That shit wore off with lightning speed. I gave them each 2 months. They got their immunities, vitamins and bonding. I did my duty. I would rather stick hot pokers in my eyes than breastfeed for any longer than that. And I’m ok with voicing that opinion. At 2 they have teeth. At 3 and 4 they can request, in full sentences, the boob. At 5 and 6 they are in school!! SCHOOL! Go ahead, show up in the caf and throw a teet in your kids mouth and see what kind of therapy bills that racks up. At 7 they are old enough to play pop warner. Nothin like some of that good ol gridiron breast milk.

    Ugh, I need more coffee. Clearly.

  3. THANK YOU! Finally, someone said it. I wanted to Breastfeed Charlie so badly, but it didn’t work out (if I hear one more person say I didn’t try enough or that I am selfish I am going to freak out). I fed him for 2 weeks exclusivly on the breast, and pumped for 4 weeks after that. But, 2 cases of Mastits and 2 dried up boobies later…I had to move strictly to formula.

    Let me tell you, it was the HARDEST decision I have ever had to make. I agonized and cried over it for weeks. I still got shit about it. But Charlie is happy, and healthy and developmentally perfect for his age. It’s a personal choice made by the Mom and fully supported by the Dad. Everyone else can mind their own fucking business.

  4. HAHA.

    Meri, you know my situation. I wanted to do it more then anything. When Charlie was getting more blood then milk, my doctor and I decided to switch to formula. Please don’t generalize all infections. Unless you have had every infection known to man.

  5. Well, I do know that you wanted to it so bad-but when I got my infections, I got mine in the hospital before I was released and they told me just to keep breastfeeding, we were told too different things. So hence, I wasn’t generalizing. We were in two different circumstances. You were doing what you’re doctors told you.

    And you had many other circumstances aside from mastistis as I recall. You and your doctor made a choice to switch is all I’m saying, and there is nothing wrong with that.

  6. I have been able to breast feed 3 of my five children. Anywhere from 2 to 9 months. I feel no guilt for stopping, or for feeding formula from the start. I can’t stand they holier than thou’s. If you want to breast feed, baby wear, cloth diaper, disposible diaper, CIO, circumcize, or not, etc…….I don’t care. With each child I have to do what is best for them and me.

    I don’t get why anyone thinks it is thier business ?

  7. I agree that breastfeeding is important in the first few months of life. But, I think that at age 8 it is just plain wrong. I was almost physically sick watching that video.

    What is she going to do when that kid hit puberty and gets breasts of her own? Her kids may be smart, but they are going to be sexually confused when they get older.

  8. HI!!! I am such an dork. I didn’t realize that I had a bad link. I just thought you hadn’t been posting all this time. Silly me! Looks like I have some serious catching up to do.

    I had my baby, by the way. HE’S AWESOME!!!!

    Ok bye.

  9. Sus,

    No worries about the link, but I read you everyday. I was one of the hordes of people who left congratulations when Rocket was born. He’s a cutie.

    Just didn’t want you to think I was ignoring you or your blog! =)

  10. Seven’s old. Period. Really old. But having said that, I truly think our disgust has more to do with culture than anything else. If it was culturally acceptable to breastfeed that long, it wouldn’t be damaging to the children or anything, it’s just that I think we all try our best to fit in.

    I object to the idea that this video is physically nauseating, because there are societies where this is okay. We Americans just aren’t used to it, and since it’s not nutritionally necessary, I don’t think we get it either.

    Personally, I think 2 years is nice amount of breastfeeding (and I’m backed up by the World Health Organization and La Leche League on that one). More’s okay, less is okay. It depends on you and your child and what works for your family.

  11. I agree with Miss Grace- I think 2 years is good but so are variations of that. My niece stopped nursing on her own when she was 5 months and my sister was criticized for not trying harder…for what? When the baby refuses what do you do? My own son (18 mo) still nurses once a day (bedtime routine) but that came about because he weaned himself. I am not going to force it. However what really pisses me off is people who criticize me for allowing this once a day ritual because he needs to learn to do without it and comfort himself. Well, you know what? When those same people get their 4 and 5 year olds to stop using a pacifier ALL the time (for the same reason I might add) we’ll talk- until then I think my son is doing just fine.

    Can you tell this is a sore subject?

  12. Yeah, I’ve already covered this subject elsewhere, but what I will say is that if a mother is breastfeeding their kid at eight that it is definitely more about the mother’s needs than the child’s. The child should be eating and drinking all kinds of healthy foods by then, and it has absolutely nothing to do with health and wellness. Mommy just doesn’t want to stop being “needed.”

  13. I breastfed both my kids until they were about 18 months – neither one was all that interested in it at that point. I just didn’t nurse them one day and they never wanted to again and that was that.

    In some societies breastfeeding at age seven IS the only way to get certain nutrients a growing child needs. Not everyone has access to 8 different kinds of safe non-boob milk. So I guess it doesn’t really disgust me that there are people out there who take on extended nursing. But I still wouldn’t choose that for myself or my kids because we DO have other resources available. I have a friend who nursed each of her boys until they were 4-ish and I didn’t really think anything of it one way or another (outside of the fact that I don’t know how she managed… at one point she was nursing 3 different kids during the day!).

  14. I think Lola has something there with the Mommy being ‘needed’ thing-only because when I gave it up we both had heartbreak…we lost a connection there that no one else could provide. Yes, we got both got over it together…but we both benefited from that time alone together (he was 22 months)…he was always comforted by the whole experience and the added benefits of health were there-but I also felt a disconnection when we stopped…we did grow together in other ways. But I did feel like a human pacifier sometimes but I also felt like it was a right of passage…the same exact way I feel about it with my daughter. Only this time, I know i won’t stop because of the pressure I felt, I’ll stop because we are both ready for it.

    David had the stomach bug once at the age of 19 months (around there somewhere) and breastmilk was all he would eat….he was so sick but the Dr’s said Breast is best when he’s sick…it’s water and nutrients and easily digestable. Everything else we gave him he threw up…interesting right?

    I think the pressure to stop breastfeeding and the pressure to breastfeed is what makes it an issue. I know some women who were so tense and anxietal about all these pressures that they couldn’t breastfeed. Their milk wouldn’t let down and then they would dry up. I think Aaron hit the nail on the head when he said everyone needs to relax…it would probably benefit everyone!

  15. Meri,

    I agree wholeheartedly with the bill that Patrick signed. But I want to muzzle the woman from the breastfeeding organization for her holier than thou attitude. By the way it’s about time Massachusetts passed a law such as this one for breastfeeding moms.

  16. I agree-some of the coalitions bother me…I think it should be okay to breastfeed in public, but it’s not necessary to parade it either!

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