Thursday, 11 September 2008

Breastfeeding longer

Over at Blogher I read this post last night.

I liked this paragraph in particular, from the Eureka Alert

Longer duration of breastfeeding was also associated with better infant
development, especially at 18 months. Breastmilk also contains omega-3 fatty
acids. The benefit of fish consumption was similar among infants breastfed
for shorter or longer durations.

I am both excited and frustrated to see this latest news. Excited as breastfeeding and its infinite qualities are being confirmed and talked about all over the world.

Frustrated because I don't believe there needs to be ongoing research and studies into the best source of nutrition for our babies and children. Every other mammal in the world is left to feed their young as nature intended. No one questions that each mammal produces a specific milk for its young that is perfect in every way. Furthermore each mammal can feed from her or his mother until they are ready to wean.

Why then do humans, have this urge to analyze and pull apart everything about feeding our young? Can't we just come out of the closet already and say yes, human breastmilk is best for babies and children. Each child should have breastmilk for as little or long as they like with the full support of all.

WHO tells us that "Breastmilk is the natural first food for babies, it provides all the energy and nutrients that the infant needs for the first months of life, and it continues to provide up to half or more of a child’s nutritional needs during the second half of the first year, and up to one-third during the second year of life." Also something that is rarely spoken about, to which I think should be shouted at the highest rooftops

Breastfeeding contributes to the health and well-being of mothers, it helps to
space children, reduces the risk of ovarian cancer and breast cancer, increases
family and national resources, is a secure way of feeding and is safe for the

For some reason some people cover their own ignorance and discomfort by telling us we shouldn't push breastfeeding, as those mothers who can't or couldn't will be made to feel guilty. I am yet to meet a mother who felt guilty because she could not feed her baby. Grief yes, but not guilt. Pinky McKay talks about this with better articulation then myself. Her article titled No Guilt is posted here.

Not long ago I spoke with an elderly woman about breastfeeding in 'her day' and was surprised to here her mention that no one ever discriminated against a nursing mother. She told me how no matter where she was if her babies needed a feed, she fed them, and that was that. It was a given that babies could feed whenever and wherever they wanted. In a shop, in the street, on a park bench. It was the norm. There was no law, as there didn't need to be. She also spoke about women's bodies being treated with greater respect back then. Nowadays women's bodies are sexualised at almost every street corner on a poster or billboard.

As wonderful and perfect as breastfeeding is, it is also normal. And frankly if the sight of seeing a baby being nourished by the perfect blend of nutrients bothers you, I urge you to have a good think about why that is so. Maybe something you can ponder with a blanket over your own head :)

Just two mammas feeding their babies :)


Cinnamon said...

Great pic! How cute! (Great post, by the way too.)

Lith said...

Awesome post! And I LOVE that photo!