|Do you know how long Nature says is normal to breastfeed?
Answer is below.
Entranced baby breastfeeding
Child reaching for breastmilk
Breast is Best!!
Yes, there are so many reasons for breastfeeding - see below.
Moreover, breastfeeding is one of the most nurturing, caring images we have.
So, why is society so violently opposed to public breastfeeding and to extended breastfeeding, which are both so natural, so instinctive??
And why do only 1 to 2% of UK women exclusively breastfeed till baby is six months?
And why only 0.5% do any breastfeeding after one year?
I believe Sue Ashmore, a director of Unicef's UK Baby Friendly Initiative, pinpoints it when she says that mothers of newborns are "set up to fail". She says "breast is best" is unhelpful when women who want to nurse feel unable to do so openly.
This is because of the hatred, aggression and prejudice that society
often displays when women do breastfeed publicly and/or breastfeed
It also derives from the stranglehold of capitalism: "From a capitalist view
point women's breasts can create profit as long as they are sexualised.
Breastfeeding in public makes women's breasts less sexy, therefore it is not
acceptable." (Victoria Tahmasebi, Toronto University gender studies expert cited at BBC, posted and accessed 30 July 2017)
The conflict of knowing breast is best alongside societal disapproval makes mothers feel really guilty, and deprives babies of a human right, a magic bullet, a health elixir.
This "set up to fail" extends to other areas:-
We need a Culture of Touch,
spearheaded by Attachment Parenting.
- I feel that new mothers are
not supported enough in their community, as nations prioritise GDP and not GNH.
- Women do not see women breastfeed much, and rarely see it with toddlers or older children.
- In the
society that currently dominates the world, the breast is only a sexual
object. But evolutionarily, it is primarily for feeding babies! As the
mother of my children said, it is men fighting babies for
ownership of the boob. The breast is also a symbol of the Feminine, the
Mother. So, there is this massive societal imbalance, where baby,
mother, and the feminine are poorly valued. One way we will know
this has transformed is when it is very normal for women to breastfeed
Interestingly, the percentage of new mothers who breastfeed for long enough is similar to women who home birth,
i.e. very few.
It used to be the opposite with almost all women home birthing, and
almost all women breastfeeding.
At least, we may see that almost
all women can birth safely at home, and that almost all women can
Now we need our society, our culture to embrace this!!
Advantages of Breastfeeding include:-
- WHO ranks baby feeding, in order
of preference: (1) Breastfeeding; (2) Expressed milk of mother; (3)
Breastmilk of another human mother (friend, another tribal mother, wet
nurse); (4) Formula baby milk. So, breastfeeding is number one!
- Creates a strong bond between mother and baby. This is
especially true for extended breastfeeding. This is likely to create
family stability and harmony forever. Mothers are likely to be better
- Child abuse by the mother is more likely when she does not
breastfeed for at least four months. In a study, this was a stronger predictor than
other risk factors: mothers that are single, poorly educated, or binge
drinkers. (Strathearn et al. 2002 in a 14 year longitudinal study of 7,695 mothers, cited in Mothering #115, p.27)
- Baby's poo smells so much nicer than that of formula-fed babies - see here! It stains far less.
- Breastmilk changes continually to suit the needs of the baby. See here.
- Kickstarts the baby's immune system.
- Immunity that science cannot duplicate.
- Protects against major diseases: allergies, colitis,
diabetes, ear infections, sudden infant death syndrome, certain
childhood cancers, colds, asthma). For example, breastmilk contains up
to 700 species of bacteria, which can explain why exclusively breastfed
babies are less likely to be allergic (see here or here, 30m25s).
- Babies are never allergic to breastmilk. Two of the most
common allergens are cow's milk and soy, which are also the two most
common types of formula feed.
- Breastmilk, unlike formula feed, contains beneficial
antibodies, living cells, enzymes, hormones. For example, special
hormones released by suckling stimulate baby's growth and calm baby
(especially useful after a difficult birth).
- Breastfed babies possess an intestinal flora that is
measurably different than formula fed babies. At one-month, population
density of Bifidobacterium
in breastfed babies is ten times that of formula-fed babies. The
presence of such a healthy and robust population in the first years of
life contributes to resisting infection, improving defence systems and
to intestinal physical development. "In short, breastfed babies are
sick less, are less fussy, have fewer and shorter duration of bouts of
diarrhoea, and have more frequent - and softer - bowel movements."
(Jeff Leach, Midwifery Today issue 79)
- Breastmilk is convenient and fresher.
- Breastmilk is easier when travelling.
- Breastfeeding is very soothing for emergencies or crises.
- Breastfeeding is extraordinary for refugees, disasters and
survival. It keeps babies fed, hydrated, and protected from dangerous
- Breastfeeding is cheaper, as no need to buy formula, and far less medical expenses.
- Environmental benefits to nature.
- Bottle-fed babies swallow millions of
microplastics a day.
- Breastfeeding teaches sustainability, connection, caring for all.
- Higher IQ for baby. The breastfed show better school performance in late adolescence and young adulthood.
- Higher EQ and SQ for baby, i.e. better emotional and spiritual intelligence.
- Better dental health. Lactose is the simple sugar found in breastmilk, and is the only
sugar a baby needs. Sucrose in formula feed and added to processed
foods harms teeth and the rest of the body.
- In breastfeeding, unlike bottle feeding, baby's jaw and
mouth muscles are active. This can reduce the need for orthodontic
work. Proper jaw development means speech is improved.
- Baby also develops: good eye contact and eye muscles; good neck muscles (from change of position).
- The need for a vitamin K injection is greatly reduced.
- Breastfeeding reduces exposure to harmful chemicals in plastic nipples and bottles.
- Breastfeeding on cue (NOT on demand) teaches that the
Universe supplies what you need. This can affect your whole life,
creating trust in Life. For example, see Jamie Lynne Grumet and Mayim Bialik, PhD, here.
- Allows baby to have a sense of well-being and trust in its own body.
- Well-being of mother improved. There are physical and emotional benefits. For example, nursing burns more calories.
- After birth, breastfeeding contracts the womb, thereby
helping expel the placenta and effortlessly beginning to
return body to its pre-birth state.
- Cultivates optimism.
- Slows down the woman, teaching empathy, how to serve the
World. Her body produces special hormones that calm her. Her brainwave
state is lowered. This can produce a deep, meditative state conducive
to meditation, problem solving, creativity, etc.
- Breastfeeding helps minimise the use of formula feed.
Formula feed manufacturers have a record of unscrupulous pursuit of
money. They have killed millions of babies in third world countries.
There can be bad batches of formula milk, e.g. between 1982-1994 in the
USA, there were 22 major recalls.
- Breastfeeding reverses the idea that bottle feeding is normal. Breastfeeding is normal and natural.
- When first or rich world countries prefer breastfeeding,
the rest of the world will surely follow. The poor world has already
been brainwashed into the idea that formula is best. But, for them,
there are even worse consequences than in the rich world, as they are
generally poorer, illiterate, have unclean water, lack of
sterilisation, lack of refrigeration, limited medical care.
- Creates a more balanced view of human sexuality and
relationships, where the breast's primary function is breastfeeding,
its secondary function is sexual.
- Babies regularly breastfed have a 52% reduced risk of
coeliac disease when first encountering foods with gluten. This may be
linked to the aforementioned better gastrointestinal health and/or
improved immune system. (David Perlmutter, MD, in Grain Brain)
- Children breastfed for four months or more develop fewer behavioural problems, say Oxford researchers (BBC, posted and accessed 10 May 2011).
They also mention: less illness, lower rates of infection, less obesity
later in life. They also say that there are many factors affecting
child development, and the most important thing is to provide a
positive, supportive environment - so those unable to breastfeed, or
who did not, need not feel guilty. Indeed, this is similar to what I
say about Natural Family Living and Attachment Parenting = Do what you can! Do your best!
- Breastfeeding is great for handling toddler tantrums. Very often, nursing soothes and calms, ending the tantrum immediately.
- Breastfeeding is brilliant for reconnecting with a tired, hungry, frustrated, or lonely munchkin.
- Breastfeeding is a natural contraceptive for the first six
months after-birth. It is 98% effective, but only if you exclusively
breastfeed on cue, and have no period. See here. Besides, the pill can decrease milk supply/flow.
- Average length of cessation of menstruation is 18 months.
This can be a relief for many women, and also brings the benefit to mum
of reduced risk of anaemia.
- Breastfeeding with child-led weaning is likely to ensure optimal
spacing of children, due to the effects of this natural contraception.
Babies will tend to be at least three years apart, which helps avoid
daily and extremely stressful sibling rivalry.
- Exclusive breastfeeding (breastmilk only) is the best food and
drink for baby in the first six months. After this, breastmilk
alongside other foods is best.
- Exclusive breastfeeding for at least six months lowers
rates of infections during infancy. It also lessens the severity of any
infections contracted. This is true for both poor world and rich world
countries. See 'Research' cited here.
- Exclusive breastfeeding for at least six months reduces mother's chance of breast, ovarian or uterine cancer.
- The longer a woman breastfeeds, the greater the protection
from breast cancer. A UK or USA woman has a 12% chance of breast cancer
over her lifetime, and there is a 4% reduction in risk for every 12
months of breastfeeding (BBC, posted and accessed 18 May 2013).
- A substance in breastmilk kills cancer cells without harming healthy cells. See here.
- Breastmilk + Baby Saliva = Hydrogen Peroxide (kills harmful bacteria). See here.
- Mother has reduced chance of osteoporosis.
- Extended breastfeeding is like a magic potion that deeply protects baby's health.
- Breastfed people are healthier for life. They have lower
blood pressure, lower mean cholesterol in adulthood. They are less
likely to have type-2 diabetes, less likely to be overweight or obese.
- As only 0.5% of one year old UK babies get some breastmilk, moderate
increases in breastfeeding could save the NHS up to £40 million a
year through fewer GP consultations and hospital admissions (Unicef research cited by BBC, posted and accessed 1 August 2017).
- Breastfeeding is a statement against patriarchy and
capitalism, as both these seek to claim the breast for their own gains,
whether sex or money or whatever.
- Yet breastfeeding is still sexy!! The presence of
breastfeeding women makes childless women feel sexual. Also, many
breastfeeding women can experience sexual arousal. Nature is telling us
it is safe to have babies. It is all healthy and natural! See Breastfeeding & Sexual Arousal.
- Breastfeeding is or should be empowering for the mother.
You embody the Great Mother, creator and sustainer of life! The
flat-chested get a boost, whilst the fuller-bosomed finally put it to
good use, says Amy Scott.
- The mother or breastfeeder can convey so much positive
energy to the child in breastfeeding. Michelangelo said that the reason
he became a sculptor was because his wet nurse came from a part of
Italy where marble was quarried, where it was their lifestyle. She
transferred this love or life of marble to him through her breastmilk,
her nurturing, her aura, her love. O.M.
Aïvanhov called this 'spiritual galvanoplasty', and its
practice in pregnancy and breastfeeding is of immense importance to the
future of humanity.
Anthropology says the best length to breastfeed for is till age two to seven. Fascinating
is that adult immune system competence is around age six,
suggesting that evolution needs the immunity provided by breastmilk to be available till
Primate comparisons give an absolute minimum weaning age of 2½ and an apparent upper
limit of around 7 years. Natural, reasonable, appropriate is age three
recommends exclusive breastfeeding till six months, and continued
breastfeeding with complementary foods until at least age two.
The worldwide average for weaning is about age four, whilst another
source gives age six. My two children were weaned around ages 4½ and 3.
However, only 34% of UK babies get some breastmilk at six months (49% USA, 71% Norway), and only 0.5% at one year (The Lancet cited at BBC, posted and accessed 1 August 2017).
is the lucky child who still breastfeeds past two years old."
(Former US Surgeon
General Dr. C. Everett Koop)
Most babies will instinctively feed within 30-60
minutes of birth.
More on Instinctive Breastfeeding in Breastfeeding & Sexual Arousal; Biological
Nurturing: The Laid-back Breastfeeding Revolution (Suzanne Colson).
- Video showing how breastfeeding is instinctive.
- Video showing breast crawl
after birth. Baby also shows instinctive use of smell, nipple
stimulation and suckling.
Tips for Breastfeeding
Support and Instinct are surely key? This especially means a supportive society/culture. But also
support online, from friends, family, and lactation consultants (which
seem to be in short supply). This especially means listening to your instincts by avoiding rigid systems.
- Rest, i.e. ensure you are rested. Rest when baby rests.
- Eat and drink healthily.
- Have water nearby when breastfeeding.
- Be prepared, be available, on cue.
- Assume an instinctual laid-back position - see here.
- Enjoy it. You need to be relaxed and supported by those around you.
- Natural Breastfeeding by Peggy O'Mara.
- Perfect Poop for Beginners by Peggy O'Mara.
- Breastfeeding in an Emergency by Peggy O'Mara.
- Breastfeeding Soothers by Peggy O'Mara.
- Breastfeeding Aversion and Agitation by Zainab Yate.
- UK 'world's worst' at breastfeeding (BBC, 2016).
- Picture of human milk ducts goes viral (BBC, 2019).
- Teach pupils about breastfeeding, say Royal College doctors (BBC, 2017). [But we must also address the hyper-sexualised, capitalist, patriarchal culture...]
- Women who breastfeed their toddlers say they are either branded "hippy earth mothers" or seen as "weird and disgusting" - see BBC (2017).
- Leonardo's breastfeeding Madonna puts today's cover-up to shame (The Guardian, 2011).
Nurturing: The Laid-back Breastfeeding Revolution (Suzanne Colson) [The maternal body is not only specifically designed for pregnancy and
spontaneous birth, but also instinctive latching/breastfeeding!]
- Story of Chelsey Luger (Well for Culture, 2019). [Highly informative.]
- A Natural Age of Weaning by Katherine Dettwyler, PhD.
- Letter for Court Cases
(in support of extended breastfeeding) by Katherine Dettwyler, PhD.
- Bottle-fed babies swallow millions of
microplastics a day (The Guardian, 2020).
- Breastfeeding - 111 Benefits.
- Breastfeeding Attacked.
- Breastfeeding & Sexual Arousal.
Websites & Organisations
Breastfeeding - 111 Benefits
Breastfeeding & Sexual Arousal
Culture of Touch
Magic Bullets for Babies
Natural Family Living
Women & Failure