Friday, May 11, 2012

You Breastfed Your Baby How Long??

Sunday is Mother’s Day, a day that we should all shower our moms with praise.  Well, maybe not the moms in my last post, who obviously should NOT be getting Mother’s Day cards or presents this year.  Those moms should have their mom-licenses taken away from them, actually.  But for all of those good moms out there, the ones that have nurtured us and watched us grow from little babies to the fine and upstanding adults we are today, you all should get a giant THANK YOU!

Even the moms who haven’t been the greatest still deserve your praise.  They did bring you into this world.  Sure, some moms maybe haven’t done the greatest job raising their kids, and others may have fought psychological or emotional or addiction problems and put you a distant second or third on their priorities list.  In those instances, yeah, maybe they don’t deserve the praise that others do.  That’s a decision you have to make for yourself.

But with Mother’s Day springing up this Sunday (I can’t believe it’s the middle of May already!!), how clever was it for Time magazine to post their article on attachment parenting.  If you haven’t a clue what I’m talking about, I have to ask if you even use any of the social networking sites, because the cover of the issue has been posted a gazillion times.  So if you have indeed been living under a rock, here it is:

Now I have yet to actually read this article.  That being said, I’m astounded by some of the comments I’ve seen posted under various online articles pertaining to this and more specifically relating to the subject of breastfeeding itself.  OK, first of all, I get the fact that nearly everyone thinks this kid is way too big to be doing this.  And really, he does look older than 3.  More like 5 or 6.  And the fact that he’s on the cover of a magazine probably isn’t the smartest thing to do.  Yeah, this kid will probably get teased for years over this when he's older.  Maybe Mitt Romney's grand kids will even shave his head.  Perhaps mom should have covered his face, rather than having him pose in such a silly manner.  So yes, I see why the picture could be somewhat disturbing to some people.

What I don’t get, however, is the vile, negative, hate-filled comments that this has spawned regarding the act of breastfeeding itself.  I just have to weigh in on them, because these comments show a side of humanity that is rather detestable, in my opinion.

People are saying that breastfeeding a child this old is child abuse.  Others are trying to sound intelligent by citing science, indicating that the mother is to blame and saying the oxytocin released during breastfeeding is making her not want to stop.  They are saying that kids who are breastfed too long will have separation disorders and psychological problems.  I saw one person say that, if this is natural, animals would be breastfeeding long after they do.  For that guy, just do the math, buddy.  I’ve seen kittens nurse from their mothers for up to six months after they are born, and at least three months is typically recommended.  Considering that a cat’s life expectancy is only 13 years, if you compare them to humans in America with a life expectancy of 77 years, well, kids would stop nursing anywhere from 1.5 years to 3 years old.  That being said, I once had a cat that was nearly a year old that continued to nurse from its mother.  Using that dude’s logic, a six-year-old could still be breastfeeding.  Yeah, check your math at the door, pal.

I just don’t get all of the hysteria about this though.  Why is breastfeeding after the age of twelve months so wrong?  Pediatricians, the World Health Organization, and millions of other experts around the world recommend that a mother breastfeeds at least until the child is a year old.  After that they say it can continue as long as they want.  There is no specific recommended time to wean a child.  Those are the facts, and those are the ONLY recommendations out there given by doctors.

Saying that breastfeeding past the age of two is somehow wrong is inane.  I’ll bet if the Pope or if Ronald Reagan or JFK or Tupac rose from the dead and stated that mothers should breast feed until a child is four-years-old, at least a third of these people spewing vile comments would reverse their opinions.  The fact is, it just seems wrong to them because they haven’t done it or seen it.  It’s just like people’s intolerance toward different races and cultures and homosexuals and the Dutch.  Yeah, baby!  They’re different, so they are wrong.  Yeah, and what makes you so right?  Your charming good looks?

And for all of those people that say that breastfeeding has some sort of sexual connotation to it, you have quite the imaginations.  Sure, like in that movie Shoot ‘Em Up, there are some people out there that have breastfeeding fetishes.  There are also some people out there that have fetishes about fully-clothed women getting stuck in the mud.  Or wearing full-body casts.  The point is rather moot if you look at it that way.  These are most likely the same people that don’t want women breastfeeding in public.  As if the sight of a woman’s breast is just unholy.  Really?  I hate to break it to you, people, but half the population has them (over half if you count all the obese people), and nothing is going to change that.  Some of these people also probably don’t think Muslim women should wear burkas.  So you want women covered up, but not so much that you can’t see any part of them except for their eyes?  Which is it, folks?  Make up your minds!

Obviously the kid in the picture above isn’t breastfeeding for nutrition.  He's probably doing it for comfort more than anything.  He eats solid food unless he has some medical problem we don’t know about.  That being said, you have to wonder if the obesity epidemic in America is related to so many people’s negative impressions of breastfeeding into toddler-hood.  We give MANUFACTURED formula and start shoving food into the mouths of our children when they are so young, it just makes you wonder if we are training our kids at an early age to eat Eat EAT.  Maybe we’ve got this all wrong.  Maybe if we did exclusively breastfeed children until they were eighteen months old, they’d grow up with a different perspective of food.  I was never breastfed, and I’ve been a bigger guy most of my adult life.  I look at my Vietnamese in-laws, who are as thin as can be, and I see them only eating rice and fresh meats and fruits and vegetables.  When we visit them, I’m always craving chips or cookies or something to snack on, which is a rarity in their house.  I don’t know if they were breastfed or not—not really the kind of question you ask someone, especially your mother and father-in-law—but I can assume that Similac and Gerber weren’t readily available in Vietnam in the 60s.  It really makes you wonder about the state of our society when people are in an uproar about breastfeeding children too long.

Finally, I just have to say this.  I’m proud of all the moms out there who stick to their guns and breastfeed as long as they can.  Frankly, it’s nobody’s business but yours, your child, and your doctor.  If you’re all cool with it, do it.  And if you are one of these people that has a problem with it, keep your opinions to yourself.  Feed your kids crap when they are a year old and watch them have obesity-related health problems later in life.  Then just don’t complain about the state of our Medicare and Medicaid and government programs that are stretched to the limits by people whose belts are, you got it, stretched to the limits.

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