Thursday, December 14, 2017
Humans are mammals. Mammals are biologically designed to get their nourishment from their mothers. The word mammal is derived from the Latin word "mamma," meaning breast.  Most people feel perfectly secure with seeing a cow or horse or dog or cat nurse their young. Yet, many women face stigma and judgement for feeding their children. I wanted to create a video that not only encourages and promotes breastfeeding but focuses on breastfeeding past infancy- what is typically referred to as extended breastfeeding.  Personally, I'm not a fan of that terminology.  Weaning is a process. Using the word "extended" makes me feel like it's abnormal. There is plenty of evidence supporting the fact that the natural weaning age is anywhere between 2.5 and 7 years of age. 1  I use the wording FULL-TERM because that is what seems like a normal way to describe it.

I called upon my friends to help me make a compilation video of just some mama mammals doing what they do... but before you watch it, a HUGE thank you goes out to them all (in no particular order) Jen, Dawn, Kim, Brittney, Jordan, Chelsea, Krystal, Tabi, Alicia, Ashley, Samantha, Cami, Barbara, Leanne, Valerie, Elizabeth and Kasey!!!

Breastfeeding moms encounter breastfeeding obstacles throughout their breastfeeding journey.  People that interfere often think it's with good intentions, but it's obstructive, rude and very discouraging. Breastfeeding past infancy can be especially trying when it comes to dealing with people like this.
Here are a few examples that interfere and cause unnecessary pressure for a mother to wean a child. I've unfortunately dealt with people saying almost every single one. 

"Isn't that baby too old to nurse?" 
"Why aren't they eating real food now?"
"Don't they have teeth? I bet that hurts!"
"There are no benefits to extended breastfeeding."
"When are you going to wean?"
"That's weird and gross!"
"What a self-righteous mom, she just wants attention."
"Nobody wants to see that! Have some decency and cover up!"
"They're going to end up with buck teeth."
"Bet they'll grow up obsessed with breasts!"

I wonder if people that say these things are just out of touch with all the facts out there.

"WHO recommends mothers worldwide to exclusively breastfeed infants for the child's first six months to achieve optimal growth, development and health. Thereafter, they should be given nutritious complementary foods and continue breastfeeding up to the age of two years or beyond." 2

"The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reaffirms its recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for about the first six months of a baby's life, followed by breastfeeding in combination with the introduction of complementary foods until at least 12 months of age, and continuation of breastfeeding for as long as mutually desired by mother and baby." 3

Breastmilk is incredible, by the way. Read my post 5 Fascinating Breastfeeding Facts. It doesn't -all of a sudden- expire because baby is a certain age.  It continues being beneficial.  It contains all the essential nutrients even beyond the first year of life. has a Breastfeeding Past Infancy: Fact Sheet for more info. 4

According to the World Health Organization's Global Health Observatory Data Repository- Exclusive Breastfeeding Under 6 MonthsData By Country the interactive graph shows 19% of US mothers breastfeed for the first 6 months. A screenshot of this data is provided below.
Human average life expectancy is 79 years. That is .6 of ONE PERCENT average lactation duration for humans in their lifespan. That is pretty pitiful compared to other mammals. What is the lactation duration for other mammals, you ask? Often, they wean at the time their offspring has quadrupled their birth weight. I wanted to show the numbers so you can see the comparison.  If you find my calculations to be incorrect, please let me know. 5
5% average lactation duration in a lifespan for dogs.
4% average lactation duration in a lifespan for a cow and pig.
2% average lactation duration in a lifespan for sheep and horses.
1.5% average lactation duration in a lifespan for goats.
1% average lactation duration in a lifespan for cats.

I breastfed my oldest daughter well past 3, there's an image of her trying to teach her sister how to nurse in the video, actually.  My middle daughter couldn't nurse due to several oral motor issues but we still did latch training while I exclusively pumped for 21 months. Now I am on 18 months with my third daughter and I know I wouldn't have been able to get where I am without the support that I've had along the way.  I have learned so much and I love helping others find confidence in their breastfeeding journey.
We can create a positive environment as a society so that breastfeeding mothers do not have to experience these barriers for doing what is only natural.  I always tell mothers that I see breastfeeding or pumping for their babies THANK YOU!  You can do/say anything to lift them up and let them know what they're doing matters and that you support them.  There is no need to say anything unless it's positive.  Below is an image with 10 things to say to a breastfeeding mom.
Give yourself a pat on the back, mama!  You have made it quite a ways and you are an inspiration. Thank you for doing what your child needs.  Thank you for not giving up.  Thank you for helping to normalize breastfeeding!  You are fabulous ❤

What has your experience been like with your child(ren)!  Did you have support to get you to the end?  What was the best part of it?  The worst?  Leave a comment below!

1- A Time to Wean by Katherine A. Dettwyler, Ph.D
2-  World Health Organization. Exclusive breastfeeding for six months best for babies everywhere.
3- American Academy of Pediatrics. Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk.
4- Kellymom. Breastfeeding Past Infancy: Fact Sheet

1 comment:

  1. Great post ! Really so informative .. Thank you for sharing !


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