Extraordinary breastfeeding

Will be back with a review when it’s finished – anyone else watching it now?

And I’m back 🙂

Well, got to say that was pretty much what was expected. (Why did I keep wanting to describe it as Extreme breastfeeding??) The program focussed on 4 different women, two of whom weren’t completely British (I mention that only to point out that it meant they had different cultural expectations of breastfeeding) and only one of whom was anywhere near normal. (And I use normal advisedly, but let’s face it, still breastfeeding at the age of 7 isn’t normal in this country.) So you had mum of 2 year old twins, Portuguese mother of nearly 4 year old adopting chinese toddler, 20 year old mum Kirsty with one 18 month old baby and then the mother still feeding her 7 year old.

I did find the pictures of that slightly uncomfortable, will have to ponder on why. I really can’t think it will help anyone considering breastfeeding to give it a go, especially having heard that in breastfeeding families, even dad joins in. Not in this one – I’ll leave Tim to express his own opinion on the matter. Tbh though, it was the cold turkey weaning of the two year old twins that tugged at my heart strings. I think probably I was lucky, Small weaned himself, but it also seemed possible to me that those children had been taught to expect breastmilk at every possible opportunity – there didn’t ever seem to be a cuddle with mum that didn’t involve popping a breast (or two) out. I don’t know, I don’t have that much experience but surely you don’t have to go from 20 or so feeds a day to nothing the next day?

Really liked Kirsty (20 year old) and the Little Angels (group of mothers breastfeeding *older* ie above 6 month old babies!) though, they seemed to be the best chance this program had of convincing ppl that it *is* a normal thing to do. Particularly enjoyed an exchange with a complete idiot in a shopping centre – “Strong as an ox and all bottle fed” said the bloke. Kirsty’s response was that she preferred her child to be “as intelligent as a human”. Gotta love that woman.

(Note this was the bloke who said it wasn’t right to be doing it out in public, ‘cos it’s a weird town in a weird world, and there’s all those peadophidlias (sic) to worry about. Oh dear….)

And then the other family, Dolores. I liked her. Her cultural experience was explained as it being normal to breastfeed up to around the age of 4, so adopting a child from China at the age of 18 months, obviously she’d want to try breastfeeding her. Her belief in the importance of breastmilk really shone through, and just fitted with her, her family and their life.

So, as anticipated, it wasn’t a balanced introduction to breastfeeding above the age of 6 months. It was obviously aiming to court controversy, rather than debate. It isn’t, imo, going to further the aims of those trying to promote breastfeeding in our society. Although it did spark a fair bit of debate in this household, but nothing particularly new – more kind of poke to get rant.

One thing though, did anyone else pick up on the frequent comments about the new law that’s coming to protect women breastfeeding? There didn’t seem to be any hint that it might not arrive, certainly didn’t pick up on any need to send in support . Touching faith in our government that I’m not sure I share. 🙁

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  1. Hey, good summary, thanks for covering this.

    Linked to you from the Lactivist so folks can come see how it went. 😉

  2. I watched it. Was disappointed that there wasn’t a proper examination of the reasons why people feed longer than ‘normal’. And was most surprised about the husband joining in – good grief!!!! Sadly as you say it won’t particularly promote or encourage breastfeeding in general, let alone extended.

  3. have to agree about the blurgh factor with the dad (dh totally grossed out by that too) and also the twins. That made me sniffle I’m afraid, I just couldnt do it 🙁

    Yep, dont think it will help somehow. Was also thankful that the connection between extended BFers and HE wasn’t mentioned – apparently it was on radio 2 this morning :-/

  4. I agree – only caught snippets of it but your review sounds spot on to me, Jax.

  5. Unless there was a desparate reason to do it, 20 to none in a day is terrible.

    20 to none is very hard on the mom as well. She’d be in quite serious risk of mastitus (caused by milk souring inside the milk glands/sacks).

  6. I watched it expecting it to be poorly handled and maybe I’ve just gotten used to different people doing things their way but I thought it was quite sensibly done really. I thought the narration was very matter of fact, there was no real coercsion to get the viewer to think it was odd or weird and it seemed like they really did let the four women speak for themselves rather than do a clever edit job.

    Like you I found Dolores to be different certainly but also able to completely explain and justify herself in such a way that you found yourself agreeing – the statistic worldwide babies are bf to age four made her seem utterly normal just living in a different culture.

    I also thought Kirsty was a very good ‘advertisement’ for bf generally and liked that fact that the only real anti-bf in public views they showed so clearly came from idiots with plenty of their own hangups.

    The woman bf the 7yo I’m undecided about really – It didn’t find it as strange to watch as I thought I would, possibly because the little girls seemed very young for her age so I found myself thinking or her as 4 or 5 rather than nearly 8. I thought the whole breast inspired art and naming of the womans breasts was a little odd. I really thought those two girls might be HE and I’m glad they didn’t mention that as I don’t think they’d have done ‘the cause’ any favours….

    The twins. Hmm. I think she was neglecting her older children and her marriage by bf them ‘as often as every half an hour’ ‘up to 20 times a day’. The older children wanted it to stop, her husband wanted it to stop and I think it had long since stopped being about breast*feeding* and far more about comfort – which would have been fine if they were all happy with it. I thought going from 20 to none was extreme, although it seemed to be her who was feeling the fall out most. I doubt it would have any lasting effect on the twins but wonder if it could have been easier to reduce feeds to something like bedtime only or something more gradual.

    Personally I don’t think it made me any more or less likely to extend bf any theoretical additional children I might have (and as none are coming it probably doesn’t matter much!). I like the idea of bfing longer than I did (4 months and 8 months) but certainly the concept of bfing even my 3 yo now let alone my 5yo would feel very odd indeed.

  7. interesting programme… I felt that the nerly 8 year old was *different* from any other girls I know that age, I do think I know 5 and 6 year old girls who are a lot more articulate and rational but then I also know a few teens who act worse than her so who know! Tim, however, didn’t really see a problem with this or comment on how the girls were so maybe I just judge little girls by high standards 😉

    Tim giggled somewhat nervously about daddy joining in being “normal” in breastfeeding homes…. but then again, what’s “normal” for us may be totally way out to someone else anyway.

    I loved Kirsty, I want her at my bedside beating off midwives with cups of formula if I ever have another child!

    I did really feel for Dolores, there was someone who desperately wanted her “new baby” to take valuable food from her but the poor mite just had no idea how. At least they made a point of saying that she was continuing to express for the child even if she can’t/won’t suckle and there was a “every drop is doing some good” which makes me as a “failed” exclusive bf-er feel better!

    I’m not sure that these sorts of programmes really sway many people one way or the other, they merely indulge us in being nosey about otehr peoples’ lives. I think the only way of swaying people is by “proffessionals” explaining and supporting rather than doing the “breast is best but hey, if it doesn’t work have this formula cheap from the baby clinic”

  8. Didn’t watch it – but bleurgh to the dad thing.

    The first HEer i ever met was bfing a 7 year old – i dunno, it didn’t sit right with me then and it wouldn’t now.

    (She says, looking ruefully at the 15 month of i thought was weaning and who has now started pulling up my top and shouting “MINE!!!!”)

  9. Little Angels is a fantastic thing which I think should be implemented country wide. A friend of mine, who is involved with them, was telling me the other day that you get an angel assigned to you in hospital and they are with you through to the end of your breastfeeding *career*. They’re all mums who have breastfed, or still are, so you get proper advice/help/support. It’s a service I think all new mums should have access too, because really, how successful you are is down to the support you get, IMO. Maybe David Kidney and any other pro BF MPs could be approached to bring attention to the idea?

  10. It’s no good, i keep coming back to this in my head… did she really mean it is normal for a dad to have a breastfeed?

    Is it? Have i missed something? I can’t honestly imagine Max thinking this was normal!!!??!!!

  11. Ah, I think there may be many more people bf 6/7 year olds than we ever know about, as it’s pretty much driven underground by toddlerhood. I bet there could easily be people we know, maybe even think we know well, who are breatfeeding older kids, and don’t tell us, as even in pretty alternative circles, I think there is often an intake of breath about it before everyone recovers. The oldest someone has told me they breastfeed is a girl of 9. We were talking about extended breastfeeding one day, and the mother said she’s never really stopped. She did say on thinking about it, that the last time she’d done it had been about 3 months previously when the child had a crack on the head with a swing at the playpark, and the gap before that had been about 4 weeks. But she didn’t consider it stopped, as she would do it again if asked.

  12. I guess it’s all relative as well, as I don’t see feeding a two year old as extended really. I wouldn’t have fancied doing it 20 days a day by that stage though. I do like the line “intelligent as a human” LOL

  13. Guess you will just have to force him, Merry. 😐

  14. But – talking of the partner having some milk too – this might just *happen* in the normal course of things, mightn’t it? And then if the partner liked the taste, lol, and the woman didn’t feel it was odd, they might carry on. *shrug* I don’t think it’s that big a deal really. And there are plenty of milk fetishists out there too – I don’t think it’s a completely unheard of idea. This isn’t from personal experience btw – can imagine you all sitting there with raised eyebrows 😉 – I just don’t find the thought of it strange. Well, I’d find it strange if he was coming home from work and instead of having a coffee or a beer he snuggled up for a feed, but I don’t find it strange in a sexual context!

    7-8 years ago, I was surprised at the number of women feeding toddlers and two year olds that I gradually discovered (including women I saw at least twice a week) – I bet there are loads of people bfing over-5’s out there really.

  15. Well, yes i can imagine that happening perhaps… hmmm… not here i suspect though 😀

    I was given pills to keep my milk going with Fran and i remember my friend offering to flog them on the black market to some of the girls who worked with her!

  16. The implication was rather more that he was coming home from work and snuggling up for a feed I thought, *and* that that was perfectly normal in breastfeeding families.

    As to the just happening in the normal swing of things – dare say it could, and I’ve read about milk fetishists too 🙂

    I was very interested in the idea that a child naturally loses the ability to suckle at around the age of 7 and therefore will naturally wean. I would be surprised if there are many ppl still breastfeeding children at nursery or school, but then again, I’m frequently surprised by all sorts of thing 😀

  17. I didn’t see this but have been very interested in all the comments. When we were in Redhill we knew an extended bf-er whose 5-6 year old was in school. I think, by that age, it was just an occasional comfort thing, but it was the first time I had come across it.

    I remember reading once that if compared to other primates, and taking into account things like lenght of gestation, length of time chidren stay with the parents, length of life, etc, one would expect humans to breastfeed to about 7 years.

    The Little Angels thing sounds great.

  18. I was so disgusted from the program, iam not saying breatfeeding is bad, but breatfeeding a 8 year old and breatfeeding in public is just sick. to many sexual connataions involved. To many perverts about in todays society, but if the mother likes the attention and does not mind there child being perved at them i suppose its a free world!!

  19. kathy dettwyler’s an anthropologist who’s done stuff about weaning ages. She did a fab presentation on cultural blockages to breastfeeding, marketing etc, including stuff about breast cancer, which she’d not long been given the all-clear from at the time, and her take on the marketing of breast cancer drugs was fascinating, though I can’t remember the details now, doh.

    Didn’t watch the show, presume it’ll be on E4 or some-such at some point, might try to catch it.

    An aside re a comment elsewhere about being distraught about seeing babies bottle-fed… I do feel upset/sad/frustrated to see bottlefeeding, for many many reasons. They’re my reasons though and I rarely express them to the mother. I’m comfy where I am with that, iykwim.

  20. When i see a baby being bottlefed, it mainly reminds me how judgemental i’ve become, as i quite often find myself thinknig “didn’t you even TRY!” before remembering that my first two were totally or mainly breastfed!

    I’ve turned into the people i hated back then!

  21. totally or mainly bottlefed, i mean 🙄

  22. M still occasionally asks to try BFing while I am feeding L at bedtime, but he says it tastes too sweet now and I don’t think he’s really sure how to suck anymore. He still liked to have a short comfort suck in bed (don’t think there was milk there he was doing it so infrequently at the end) til he was 6 though. When you’re doing it it doesn’t seem strange. Still haven’t watched the programme but I videoed it.

  23. Yeah, I can totally see how it’s not strange when you’re doing it. I couldnt ever imagine co-sleeping and thought it a bit of a wierd thing to do, but now it seems the most normal thing in the world, and cots in a separate room seems bizarre!

    I just dont understand this idea that its sick to BF a baby in public, surely its sicker to leave the child to starve until you get home, having to listen to them scream inconsolably, or perhaps all nursing mums should be locked away at home? Very weird ideas some people have.

  24. I don’t understand it either, and I thought carefully about letting the comment above through, but felt that if ppl have gone to the trouble to come over here, and state their opinion, then it was reasonable of me to allow it to be seen.

    I googled this program earlier on, and apart from a small blush at discovering my blog on the first page of google ;), I found it very depressing to read around some of the other forums I found. It would appear that the vast majority of the public discussing this program consider extended breastfeeding to be anything past a couple of months old, and definitely only to be done in private. Sigh.

  25. FIKRIYE, mums don’t breastfeed in public so that the public can watch them, but because their child has a need for food and comfort and breastfeeding meets it quickly and easily. As a BF mum I cannot help what sick people are around in public thinking sick thoughts about me and my children, but any problem with breastfeeding is in their head, not mine. Who knows how many paedophiles might be looking at my kids when we’re out, even when they’re not being BF.

    Similarly to thec anti-BF public there are people who hate to see mixed race couples, or homosexuals, or muslims in headscarves, or 101 other things they choose to find offensive – in this country you’re not allowed to discriminate against them and couldn’t ban them from a restaurant and so on. Breastfed babies and children shouldn’t be discriminated against either.

  26. I must echo your dismay at the other threads that I’ve read on this…everyone focused on the 9 yr old. *sigh* Do people even pay attention???

    I’m glad your blog showed up on the first page of google…that’s how I found this.

    You said that there were two ‘not completely british’ ladies. I’m American and didn’t pick up on the second one. Dolores was obviously one of them. Who was the other one?

    I was surprised at how many people were shocked and angered by Dolores’ wanting to breastfeed her adopted baby. All I can think is that they think she’s getting a cheap thrill from it. I guess it shows how ignorant people are of the value of breastfeeding.

    I wish they’d left off the most disagreeable family…they didn’t do anything for the cause. I could be considered an extraordinary breastfeeder (that term makes me chuckle!) and my husband and I joke around a whole lot. Those jokes shouldn’t be shared with a world that’s hostile to the idea of breastfeeding even babies, though.

    I had read somewhere that Viktoria is the editor of motheringbritain magazine or something? I’ll bet they’re vegans, too!!! Call out Social Services!!! Everyone claims to be so worried at how screwed up their kids are going to be. They won’t be screwed up

    I’ve nursed an almost-5 year old and it does make me uncomortable to see even my best friend nurse *her* almost-5 yr old. It’s just not a sight that we’re used to seeing. It doesn’t mean that it’s wrong for us to nurse those kids…just that it can make others uncomfortable to watch it.

  27. Jenny Lesley says:

    I didn’t watch the programme because I didn’t think it was going to be good for my blood pressure and because I didn’t think it could tell me anything I didn’t already know about breastfeeding and public attitudes to anything over 6 months (or earlier in some cases). I just find it very sad that we don’t have a society where any breastfeeding is considered normal and unremarkable and thus so many women suffer through lack of support and knowledge of how to overcome problems. I was just reading a post on a bf list about a woman in Prague who said that basically everyone breastfeeds because there is no Formula for sale, its only available on prescription. So they have a 98% bf rate. Amazing. Anyway, I’m still feeding F, mostly mornings only but he still wants and needs it and I’m still happy to do it so by mutual consent we carry on 🙂

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