8 November 2011

Full-Term Breastfeeding is Normal, not Sexual/Abusive/Weird

One of these days I'll learn not to read the comments under stories online.  I keep telling myself that, but it hasn't happened yet.  I saw someone else post a link to a bit about whether breastfeeding helps with bonding.  I'd thought that was pretty much settled by the science of breastfeeding, to be honest (that's not to say that those who bottle-feed don't bond with their children, especially when they incorporate lots of cuddles/skin-to-skin with it, as my mother did, but we do know that breastfeeding releases oxytocin which is linked to that bonding).  I was happy to see that the video was respectful and dealt with this fairly well given the time limits.

But then I read through some of the comments, and I was appalled!  There were so many declaring that breastfeeding past the age of x (it varied) was solely for the mother, had no benefit for the child, was actually child abuse and/or incestuous!  Oh my word!  First, I'd really like to meet these mothers who force their over-two-year old children to breastfeed, because I don't know how they'd do it.  If Charlotte (age 19 months) doesn't want to breastfeed, it would be nigh impossible to make her do so.  I certainly can't see getting Kieran to breastfeed if he didn't want!

And incestuous?!  Really?!  Breastfeeding isn't sexual (in that context of the word)!  Yes, oxytocin is released, but this doesn't mean the mother gets all hot and bothered when breastfeeding!  Nor does it mean she's addicted to it or breastfeeding just to get a "fix".  Yes, I saw someone claim that.  I'll be honest - I don't really enjoy breastfeeding that much right now.  Charlotte's teething and therefore wanting to be latched on more; Kieran's still adjusting to being in a different house/country and wanting the comfort, though he is starting to ask to snuggle more.

I really don't see how it could be labeled as abusive, either.  The argument for that went like this: the mother is forcing the child to remain a baby and stunting his emotional growth.  Never mind that it's nigh impossible to force the child to continue breastfeeding if he's ready to stop and that full-term breastfeeding actually has been a positive effect on the emotional health for the child.

I guess the frustrating thing is really that these myths are still believed and perpetuated.  It just seems incredible given all the information out there on the benefits and normality of breastfeeding.


  1. Our culture really does hate motherhood and the family, I'm convinced.