Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Extraordinary Breastfeeding - But What About the Kids?

After my now compulsory fix of 'Professional Masterchef' (how did I never discover 'Masterchef' before?!) I managed to catch a chunk of the 'Extraordinary Breasfeeding' documentary. I'm sure I heard rumblings about this portrayal of parents that breastfeed past the age of two in the UK, though I'd never seen the film myself. I'm also sure the content has previously given ample fodder to the blogging and journalistic world and beyond, but here are my two cents as a pro-breastfeeding woman.

I appreciate the benefits, and in my case with LLC the relative ease of breastfeeding, and respect those that choose to do it just as I respect those who can't or don't. Bottom line it's a personal choice in my view.

Having breastfed I also appreciate how it comes to strike a real emotional and bonding chord, whether this is invited / expected or not. I definitely felt a sense of loss when I stopped feeding LLC, but at the same time I felt confident it was the right time for the both of us.

I'm sure many who viewed this documentary found it "disgusting" or "unsettling" by virtue of the fact it showed children up to 8 years old still feeding and a father admitting jealously of his kids as he also liked to be breastfed (and indeed sometimes still did - it was a family activity!).

What I'm in a quandary about is the impact of this well into childhood feeding on the children themselves. I stopped feeding LLC around the time she turned 1 and I do appreciate that for some it's preferable to feed longer until 2 or just after. But once you reach a point where your children actively discuss and will remember the act, for me, it's time to pull the plug.

Children are so impressionable, and I expect the later a mother leaves it to stop breastfeeding, the harder it may become to wean her child off the breast. I'm less concerned that toddler and child feeding breaks social norms, but more curious at how it may lead to unhealthy attachment issues between mother / child. I question whether mothers feeding this late are largely swayed by their own selfish sense of loss at stopping rather than truly acting in their child's own interest.

Once children grow mature enough to no longer request feeding (unless a case of 'Bitty' ensues), how will they feel about the late feeding? Will it just be their norm, or could it really disturb them a bit and make them feel some boundaries were violated. I'm not saying it would definitely be the latter, but it likely could.

It's a sensitive topic and these are only my views. I'm not saying others should feel the same, but I wonder what your thoughts are on the subject?
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