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Do you know how long Nature says is normal to breastfeed?

Answer is below.


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Photo Credits:-

Breastfeeding graphic
(Fanette, Pixabay)

Breastfeeding Sun
(Bruce Mitchell)

Breastfeeding fantasy
(efes, Pixabay)

Breastfeeding Smile
(jessicaerichsenkent, Pixabay)

Entranced baby breastfeeding
(Bruce Mitchell)

Market breastfeeding
(clarita, MorgueFile)

Breastfeeding Mary
by Leonardo
(janeb13, Pixabay)

Mohawk breastfeeding
(chrisvg, Pixabay)

(WerbeFabrik, Pixabay)

Public breastfeeding
(ValeriaRodrigues, Pixabay)

Child reaching for breastmilk
(Bruce Mitchell)

Breastfeeding Child
(fr_golay, Pixabay)

Breast Crawl
(WerbeFabrik, Pixabay)

Breastfeeding statue
(NadineDoerle, Pixabay)

Breastfeeding graphic
(Fanette, Pixabay)


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.

Breastfeeding Sun

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 older children.
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.

Breastfeeding fantasy

This "set up to fail" extends to other areas:-

  • 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 patriarchal 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 Great Mother. So, there is this massive societal imbalance, where baby, mother, and the feminine are poorly valued. One way we will know that this has transformed is when it is very normal for women to breastfeed openly.
We need a Culture of Touch, spearheaded by Attachment Parenting.

Breastfeeding Smile

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 breastfeed.
Now we need our society, our culture to embrace this!!

Breastfeeding Advantages

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 mothers.
  • 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). 
A woman, possibly indigenous from Ecuador, is seated and breastfeeding her toddler daughter. The mother seems to be at a market, selling indigenous crafts.
  • 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 nutrients are crucial to normal brain development and behavior. Human breastmilk contains some 400 biochemical nutrients compared to about 30 in infant formula milk and contains numerous vital nutrients for normal brain and immunological development of the infant/child that are not present in infant formula milk. One significant example is tryptophan, an amino acid richly present in colostrum and breastmilk but absent in formula milk. Tryptophan is converted to brain serotonin, deficits of which, results in depression and violence. See James W. Prescott PhD.
  • 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 pathogens.
  • 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.
Breastfeeding Mary (Madonna Litta)
  • 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 is less dependent on world crises. We are in a Climate and Ecological Emergency and it looks like we will soon be going into societal collapse. Breastfeeding, once established, will not go into short supply or be unobtainable. If you are suddenly forced to move, due to floods or fires - or even to become a refugee - your breastmilk is always available. Surely nature knows best? You have a superpower. Why not do everything you can to learn how?
In sepia, a toddler boy with a mohawk is breastfeeding from a seated mum
  • 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. 
  • If your only option is formula, what will you do when there are formula shortages? This happened in the USA in 2022. These types of crisis will only increase as the Climate & Ecological Emergency accelerates hard.
  • 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. 
  • Breastfeeding reverses the idea that bottle feeding is normal. Breastfeeding is normal and natural. 
  • 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).
An African woman is seated at a meeting, listening to the presentation alongside many others, whilst she breastfeeds her toddler son. The boy looks at the camera. She wears a red headscarf with large yellow dots. She also wears a green sash, which may be a sling?
  • 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. 
Child reaching for breastmilk
Instinctive Breastfeeding

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 then.
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 to seven.
WHO 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 
and 3.
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).

"It is the lucky child who still breastfeeds past two years old."
(Former US Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop)

Toddler breastfeeding, India

Most babies will instinctively feed within 30-60 minutes of birth.
  • Video showing how breastfeeding is instinctive.
  • Video showing breast crawl after birth. Baby also shows instinctive use of smell, nipple stimulation and suckling.
More on Instinctive Breastfeeding in Breastfeeding & Sexual Arousal; Biological Nurturing: The Laid-back Breastfeeding Revolution (Suzanne Colson).

Breast crawl

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Tips for Breastfeeding
  • 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.
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.

Breastfeeding statue


Formula & Baby Foods
Breastfeeding graphic
Also see:-

Breastfeeding - 111 Benefits

Breastfeeding & Sexual Arousal

Breastfeeding articles

Culture of Touch

Magic Bullets for Babies

Attachment Parenting

Natural Family Living

Women & Failure

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© Bruce Mitchell 2017-Now. All rights reserved.
Page last updated: 25 May 2022.