Friday, January 28, 2011

Breastfeeding a two-year-old?

I have watched this lady's vlogs since I was pregnant. I really like her, I was actually surprised to see she's only 25--she seems much older than that.  I don't always agree with her, but I enjoy her video content.  Her vlog post today really made me think about my opinions on prolonged breastfeeding.  Her son is 20 months and she is still breastfeeding him 3 times a day (morning, nap,and night) and says he nurses throughout the night.  The judgmental side of me at first instantly judged her and thought "lady you're doing it for you, you just don't want to give up doing it" which I can understand.  I LOVED nursing Mimi.  I miss nursing a baby.  I so look forward to nursing my next baby.  My second thought was that based on what she says, it seems like her kid is dependent on nursing to go to sleep, like a 3 year old with a pacifier.  And this whole idea of self-weaning sounds so new age and warm and fuzzy, but really it says to me "I'm going to let my child do whatever it wants so I don't have to feel like the bad guy."  Seriously. There's gauging when your child is "ready" and there's letting your kid rule the house because you don't want your child to perceive you as mean for taking something away that they love.

Also, another thought: What benefits are there to nursing a child past....hmmm...let's say one year?  Besides some warm and fuzzy statement about bonding time. Because that's bullshit. I bond with my daughter every minute I'm with her.  I cuddle her, kiss her, read to her, tickle her, interact with her.  Because after 13 months I stopped letting her pacify herself at my boob when she was tired I'm not bonding with her? I digress.

Okay so let's look at some science...

Fat and Energy Contents of Expressed Human Breast Milk in Prolonged Lactation, Mandel et al. in PEDIATRICS Vol. 116 No. 3 September 2005, pp. e432-e435

Methods. Thirty-four mothers, of term, healthy, growing children, who had been lactating for >1 year (12–39 months) were recruited. Control subjects were 27 mothers, of term infants, who had been lactating for 2 to 6 months. Fat contents of the milk samples were estimated as creamatocrit (CMT) levels. Energy contents of the milk were measured with a bomb calorimeter.

Conclusions. Human milk expressed by mothers who have been lactating for >1 year has significantly increased fat and energy contents, compared with milk expressed by women who have been lactating for shorter periods. During prolonged lactation, the fat energy contribution of breast milk to the infant diet might be significant.


A longitudinal study of prolonged breastfeeding in relation to child undernutrition
Fawzi et al. in Int. J. Epidemiol. (1998) 27 (2): 255-260.

Methods. The relationship between prolonged breastfeeding and child growth was examined prospectively among children under 36 months old who participated in a large cohort study. At baseline and at each of three 6-monthly follow-up visits breastfeeding status was assessed and all subjects were weighed and measured.

Results. Undernourished children were more likely to be breastfed for a longer period of time compared with normal children.


So there are two articles, one stating breastmilk during prolonged lactation has higher caloric content (not surprising however) and the other noting instances of malnutrition in children breastfed past 12 months, up to 36 months.  Even though the fat content, children obviously NEED to have the main source of their nutrition from other sources.  If your child is nursing and filling up throughout the day on high fat content breastmilk, that may deter them from consuming other nutritious food stuffs, right?  


Jess Craig said...

i feel exactly the same as you. seriously.

Racheous said...

Well, not that you would probably care but you just lost a reader and subscriber...

How uninformed and surprisingly narky considering. I don't think anyone is saying you DON'T bond with your toddler if you do not breastfeed beyond one year.

But to answer your question:

In the second year (12-23 months), 448 mL of breastmilk provides:
◦29% of energy requirements
◦43% of protein requirements
◦36% of calcium requirements
◦75% of vitamin A requirements
◦76% of folate requirements
◦94% of vitamin B12 requirements
◦60% of vitamin C requirements
-- Dewey 2001

Breastmilk continues to provide important, bub-specific amounts of anti-bodies. In fact, some of the immune factors in breastmilk increase in concentration during the second year and also during the weaning process.

Elizabeth N. Baldwin, Esq. in "Extended Breastfeeding and the Law" says "Meeting a child's dependency needs is the key to helping that child achieve independence. And children outgrow these needs according to their own unique timetable." Children who achieve independence at their own pace are more secure in that independence then children forced into independence prematurely.

Breastfeeding a two year old is normal. The opinion you are showing, however, is normal in western society too.

I'm certainly not saying breastfeeding is the only way or that anyone is somehow doing wrong by their child if they wean earlier but I think support is needed.

Mums just do what works for them and their babies and that is great. I don't think judging them like this is necessary.

JKL said...

Rachel, I an disappointed to no longer have you as a subscriber. I liked your comment in that you pointed out an article justifying your point. Calling me' nary and uniformed wasn't completely neccesay however. To say that a there exists a person that is 100% non-judgemental is irrirational. As humans we observe situations and instantly judge the situation based on our background, knowledge, upbringing, and values,etc. I don't think being judgmental is horrible. Being judgmental and aggressively rude about it (which I was not) is definitely not a positive trait. So again, I appreciate your comment and truly will look more into the nutritional benefits. Although I have read a lot about the decreasing immunology benefits of breastmilk in prolonged breastfeedimg and would be glad to share my resources.

Laura said...

I agree with you that it is the mother that wants it to continue cause seriously I stopped breast feeding this week and he has never once asked, or made like he missed it.

I know people breast feed much longer then a year or even two and I say to each their own. I understand it but seriously I think it is much easier for those who don't work.

You did great with your breast feeding and all! you should be very proud!

I too can't wait to nurse my next baby!! it will be so awesome to be like a pro breast feeder with a newborn! :)

Laura said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Racheous said...

I feel really shit for attacking you like that. It was my own issues that made me get arched up.

I've been having issues weaning my 13 month old down in breastfeeds so that we can hopefully conceive again (no cycles) and this post just made me feel like my efforts with relactation and now maintaining our breastfeeding relationship aren't worthwhile even though I'm very passionate about it.

So I sincerely apologise. I love your blog and vlogs and should learn to sleep on it before I rant on someone's blog.

Forgive me????