Monday, 9 January 2012

STILL breastfeeding?

'Are you STILL feeding that baby?'

'Teeth are God's way of telling you it's time to stop'
(a doctor once said this to me...)

'There are no benefits to breastfeeding past 6m/1yr'




Dear Friends*,

You've made it to about 6 months or beyond, and hopefully breastfeeding is going well.  

Your baby is probably starting to eat solids and still breastfeeds.  

You are probably enjoying feeding - maybe you're even starting to reconsider your original goals.  6 months might be becoming 1 year, or maybe you've decided you now want to breastfeed until your child self-weans.  

You're just living your life, minding your own business and feeding your baby, and then someone - and it might be someone close to you - SOMEONE starts making *those* comments.

Apart from a rather ballsy 'what's it got to do with you?'  Or a (perhaps slightly cannier) 'what makes you say/think that?'), what can a mum say when the comments start?

Well, there are plenty of reasonable things you could say in response - but of course you never remember the best retorts until it's too late (or is that just me?).  

You could trot out the obvious 'the WHO recommend two years or beyond'; but even in the C21st many people seem to think that those recommendations only really apply to third world countries....  

You could ask them why they think cow breast milk is better for a human being that human breast milk?  

You could just say 'because s/he likes it and so do I' - but I think it likely that someone who will directly question how you feed your baby will also be the type of person who thinks that LIKING breastfeeding makes you a bit odd...

So I have a few suggestions to make about things you might store away for when the comments come....  (I realise that this list far from exhaustive!)

And because it always staggers me that women don't shout more about the protection longer term breastfeeding affords them - tell those pesky breastfeeding saboteurs that:

As I said - this list is far from exhaustive...  

Many of the 'benefits' of breastfeeding are dose specific.  The longer you do do it for, the healthier for you and your child - simple.  
I like to think of this as Mother Nature's reward ;)

So, lovely mums:

If you like breastfeeding, and your child still wants to breastfeed, let the only people to have a say in when you stop breastfeeding be you and your child. 

(*you know who you are)

Links and further reading:


Mental Health:

Ovarian Cancer:

Blood Pressure:

Better Overall Health for mothers:


  1. Thank you for this! Most frustrating to me was when I took my daughter to a new pediatrician and SHE tried to tell me it's relly pointless and non-beneficial past a year, and kept directing me to the AAP website. I couldn't remember it was WHO with the 2 year recommendation, I was just shocked at this doctor for telling me I was only making it more difficult to wean my daughter in the long run (she is 17 months, btw) which is something I have no intention of doing! Very frustrating especially considering what a struggle it has been to continue nursing through being pregnant with #2, but here we are, she is 18 months and I am 32 weeks pregnant, and it's still our special time together. I am so thankful I know so many well educated supportive people who backed me and shared their experiences nursing through pregnancies/tandem nursing, it really helped ease my mind after that doctors appointment!

  2. YES! Thank you for a well researched-based article, cuz unfortunately all them haters need "proof" (aside from a healthy, happy, well-adjusted baby) that extended breastfeeding is necessary!!
    I will be bookmarking this one for future reference!
    Still going strong with my 38 month old, she will decide when she is finished :)

  3. "All of the so-called 'benefits' to continued breastfeeding could also - and probably SHOULD also - be classed as increased risks should you decide to stop breastfeeding"

    This is how I think of it. Breastfeeding is normal, helps the immune system of mother and baby so to stop just doesn;t make sense when its working out just fine. I am tandem feeding my 3yo and 8mth old. I am amazed that people think its wrong or even illegal to feed past 2 yeaars.You can't force a latch, my babies benefit from it more than I can quanitfy.

  4. Bridget: This has made me cry happy-tears! My 20 month old monkeys sure love them some magic-mummy-milk a few times a day (respectively called 'dew'(??) and 'mas' (more in spanish) by them. I'm feeling the heat and I know I am doing the right thing. I am going to print this out (if that's ok) and carry a copy or two. Totally. Thank you once again!!

  5. my almost 3 year old still has mummy milk, and I've only had these comments once or twice. I think I must be lucky to be surrounded by such supportive people. It's nice to have these comments ready though for if someone does challenge me :-)

  6. I plan to breastfeed as long as possible but I don't do it for the benefits and it bugs me when people use them like they are certaintys. My Grandma breastfed two children in total of 5 years, didn't stop her getting breast cancer.

  7. Anon - I don't believe this piece is claiming any 'certainties'? It is referring (as the studies do), to a statistical likelihood. In the same way that vaccinating your child doesn't *guarantee* that they will never get the illness against which they were vaccinated. I'm sorry about your gran. X Anne

  8. Thankyou for posting this.

  9. Fantastic informative article! I plan to learn one advantage per day as I plan to continue to ebf my 4.5 month old way past six months even when I return to work in 6 weeks part time and will be pumping and storing at work so no doubt will get a lot of questions. I love the further explanation of the statistical likelihood based on studies. This is fantastic support at a time when it is needed ! kerri

  10. I am all for breastfeeding but don't see the need for articles lke this. If you want to breastfeed a child who is eating a well balanced diet then go ahead but it will not benefit them as it is purely a comfort like sucking a dummy and having a bottle. I have just got my 4 year old off the dummy because it is not good for her at that age. I would not be leaving it until she decided she didn't want it anymore a it could go on for years and I personally believe a child of 4 years old should not be breastfed. No other animal/species would be suckling their mother at this age and you are purely letting your child continue with a habit which cannot go on forever and which is no longer benefitting them. Also with the health benefits, yes you can use them as an excuse but if yiu wanted to reduce your risk of heart attack you woukd be eating a healthy diet, watching your weight, taking regular exercise and avoiding alcohol/smoking etc not breastfeeding.

  11. "Anonymous" "I am all for breastfeeding but" ... your information is wrong, it is not true that breast milk has no benefit to a child who is eating a well balanced diet,it is not just for comfort, it is nothing like sucking a piece of plastic, there are loads and LOADS of benefits, read the artical properly, google it, do some research if you don't believe it. Sucking a dummy will not lessen your childs probability of being obese or having health problems later in life such as diabetese, extended breastfeeding will. Breastmilk benefits a child for as long as the child still wants it, there is not cut off point when it stops benefiting your child, and as for letting them self wean, this has been practiced throughout history and I've never heard or seen anyone in there 30's breastfeeding have you? and as for choosing to live a healthy lifestyle to prevent heart attacks whats wrong with doing both? especially as it's so good for baby?

  12. Another benefit - I don't have to worry quite as much if my child is ill. The last time mason was ill (then age 3), he wasn't keen on food or water, but would nurse, so I didn't have to worry bout him being hydrated. He also bounced back really quickly.

  13. How can you compare a plastic replica to the real thing. A dummy is nothing compared to breastfeeding.

  14. Actually, the normal age of weaning for primates would lead us to believe that humans would naturally wean sometime between 2.5 and 7 years old. But you are right, it cannot go on for ever. When the milk teeth drop out and the adult ones grow, a child can no longer suckle effectively.

    See for a simple rundown of the facts.

  15. Yes, yes, yes! And as for the teeth thing, my daughter had teeth at 4 months - what about those babies that are born with teeth?? Why bother giving them breastmilk at all?

  16. I don't think the autism comment is right (#4 on your list). Autism is increasingly becoming clear that there is a genetic predisposition - the breastfeeding is probably an association or a consequence, not a causative factor. Most Autism spectrum babies have feeding problems which lead to early weaning - it isn't that longer breastfeeding relationships reduce the risk of autism.

    I'm totally in favour of breastfeeding and extended breastfeeding, but the information needs to be accurate.

  17. Hi there - please click on the red (explanatory) writing under each point to go to the study link. X anne

  18. Quite happy to read this. My LO is 15 months and we had a well baby check up this past Saturday. I told her pediatrician that we were still nursing and she said as long and mom and baby are okay with it. It's her comfort and I have no reason to take it away from her without a valid reason (which, there really aren't any).


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