Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Extended breastfeeding in the Mail on Sunday

There is an interesting article on extended breastfeeding in the Mail on Sunday, profiling Stella Onions. You can read the article at:

Stella's children are three and five years old. Although extended breastfeeding is common in some cultures, it is certainly not common in the UK, where less than half of all children are being breastfeed at 6 weeks of age. The World Health Organisation recommendation is exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months followed by the introduction of complementary foods with continued breastfeeding into the second year of life and beyond.

The headline is the most sensational part of the article: "'Mummy milk': The mother who insists on breastfeeding her children aged FIVE and THREE."

Insists, in the sense of not being dictated to by society. As the article states:

---extract begins
Julie Dean, of breastfeeding support group La Leche League, said: 'Toddler-feeding is not the norm but it has become more popular.

'Studies have shown that it is extremely beneficial for children as they grow up. It doesn't stop a child from becoming independent.

In fact they are probably better adjusted than other children because they can stop in their own time rather than when the mother thinks it's right.'
---extract ends

Reading some of the comments on the article gives a different impression, however. Here is one: "Sorry but this is obscene and I wonder how the parents of the friends feel! I am a little concerned that she is enjoying this more than the children!" and "I think this says more about the needs of the mother than the needs of her children."

Infant feeding can give rise to strong feelings, usually from mothers who felt they were not supported with breastfeeding or feel criticised to for not breastfeeding. Clearly some will also be criticised for breastfeeding for what some feel is too long.

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