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Mar 18

Human milk rules

Posted on Thursday, March 18, 2010 in Family, Philosophy, Strange and Unusual

When I had Laughingboy eight years ago and came face-to-boob with a myriad of problems caused by his developmental delay, I had no idea where to turn.  The nurses in the maternity hospital were less helpful than they were physically violent… it’s a weird thing entirely having your delicate lady lumps viciously man-handled by a bearded nurse, and being woken every two hours to ‘try again’ when I was severely sleep deprived wasn’t very nice.  They put me off the whole idea to be honest.

There are various local groups and enterprises that are there to help in this situation, but the vast range of opinions can be confusing, so I’m delighted to see this new parent-orientated version ‘Friends Of Breastfeeding‘ evolving.

“Friends of Breastfeeding was formed by a group of mothers who met on online parenting forums. Many of these mothers found the internet to be the only place they could access true support and reliable information and advice about breastfeeding. The need for two things was clear to everyone involved – better understanding of breastfeeding across the general public, and improved access to good breastfeeding support in Ireland for women who want to breastfeed their babies.”

Feeding Puppychild was an entirely different, easier and much more lovely experience.  She and I would retreat to a quiet place and she would make the back of my neck tingle as the flow commenced… we would sit there for as long as she needed until her eyelids drooped.  I can’t describe what an addictive feeling that is, it’s a maternal opiate.  They told me when I had tonsillitis that I had to cease breastfeeding while taking antibiotics.  Turns out this was complete bullshit, and the horrendous rip through the sacred bond that followed was totally unnecessary.  I wish parental support and advice could have been around back then.

Now I have a new problem.  Puppychild now realises that this new baby won’t be fed by magic glittery bottle like her doll babies are, rather he or she will get milk from mummy’s boobs.

Puppychild is fine with this.  Her curiosity is encouraging, in fact.  A little too encouraging.

She asks me every now and then if she can have a go, and is perfectly accepting of my reply that there simply isn’t any milk yet, until the baby actually appears.  But, there will be a day when she will be entirely more insistent that she have a go of my boob, straight from the tap as it were.

I’ve never heard of anyone else dealing with that problem before.  I don’t want her to sense my revulsion at the idea, and I definitely don’t want the relationship between Puppychild and her new sibling to be founded on jealousy…  it’s a horribly awkward position to be in, and yet it must be breezed through like a hot knife through butter.

I suppose the problem lies in society.  The YouTube clip below creeps the hell out of me, it makes me gag and retch that a child so old still breastfeeds, but Puppychild wouldn’t flinch.  She’d see it for the natural act that it is.  So – is this my problem or her problem?  I’ve no idea.

Bring on the comments

  1. I saw that documentary, it was like dry heaving central in my gaff. I have nothing against women breast feeding I hear it’s great for kids, it just personally grosses me out. I wonder if I was breast fed?? Babies in general freak me out, I’m never having kids it’s too freaky, like that movie Alien….eek! Ok so that was late night rambling thank you for listening ha ha ha

  2. Well I saw that video on a programme on Channel 4 (I’m guessing, where else?) on Militant Lactivists I think they’re called and found it pretty disturbing. Way too long for even the world’s most “primitive” peoples and goodness knows I know what I’m talking about as I lived and worked in Asia and African rural societies where tribal culture dictated lactation as a child-spacing device(not one I’d advocate but it seems to work if a child demand feeds about 2 hourly round the clock and is permanently attached to mother with a kanga cloth on her back or side- another good contraceptive I suppose…) I digress -I’m a public health nurse (not bearded hopefully) and try to advise mothers as best I can on breast-feeding without being a harridan about it. I would be quite political about bottle-feeding formula companies unethical marketing practices enough to getting involved in the boycott of Nestle back in the 70s and 80s which led to global restrictions backed by legislation on formula marketing.So glad you enjoyed your good BF experience tho’ why some moron told you to quit while on antibiotics is beyond me.
    Good luck with the next one and have fun trying to keep older kid away from the milk bar!
    (Saw your blog when I was surfing other Awards shortlistees – well done too!!)

  3. Brianf says:

    Many moons ago a bandmates wife would breastfeed her 4 year old in public, at the drop of a hat. Absolutely creeped me out. My son was breastfed for a reasonable length of time. I think it was around 9 months we started weaning him off her and on to real food. I would just tell Puppychild that she had her turn and now it’s Babies turn.

  4. Holemaster says:

    Puppychild is big and strong and doesn’t need mammies milk anymore because it’s only for little babies.


    There’s cabbage in.

  5. Jo says:

    I hate that Channel 4 aired that show for National Breastfeeding Week. Typical sensationalist bullshit, so that everyone can assume that extended breastfeeding means feeding your eight year old and lets them all get hysterical. Sigh.

    Look. Extended feeding is not for everyone. Very few people in our culture feed past the first few months. Many are horrified at the idea of feeding a 1 year old. In other cultures, it’s the norm to be feeding a 4/5 year old. I think people need to be more aware of where our cultural sensibilities come from. And maybe our cancer rates…

    Puppychild wanting an exploratory taste is not the same as extended breastfeeding.

    When Bodhi was born, Olivia was curious, though she had no memory of feeding. She asked to try, and I let her, but she’d forgotten how, so it wasn’t effective, and I was all sensitive and twitchy about it so she gave up pretty quick. And that was that.

    So give her a bit on your finger. Or in a cup. Tell her her teeth are too big or whatever. Or that it just works for babies. Or that it’s too sensitive.

    Don’t worry about it. If it makes you sick, don’t do it.

  6. Julie says:

    Hmm, “Bitty”

    What? Davis Walliams always springs to mind when this debate airs, I can’t help it.

    Look, human/loving mammy curiousity makes you wonder if it would be a nice expererience for you, and Pups knows it would be nice for her, so I suggest you do what you feel in you heart is right for YOU and sod everyone else. xx

  7. K8 says:

    Jelly Monster; I’ve got to admit, after an especially heady curry while up the duff, the kickage isn’t unlike a scary scene from Aliens. But, when the kid turns five and learns to fetch me beer, it all falls into place ;-p

    Catherine Rotte-Murray; Welcome and thanks for the comment! I like the progression most formula companies are making on their ad campaigns… I notice they try to mention the benefits of breastfeeding at least once, if only in small print. Now we have breastfeeding dolls! I can’t wait to find out what public opinion will be like in the next decade. Designer breastfeeding pashminas? Who knows. I love the excelleration of public open-mindedness.

    BrianF; 9 months is great!! I think first teeth are nature’s way to make a point. Nibbled nipples do not good nipples make. (Say that ten times fast)

    Holemaster; There’s cabbage in!!! HAHAHA dude you’re a feckin’ genius!!

    Jo; It’s tough getting past the idea that breasts are far more sexual than purposeful in this culture. That’s why the above video is disturbing – it’s too close to incest somehow. That’s a horrible state of mind, one we could do without.

    Julie; Bitty!! *shudder* I reckon Jo has it accurately, it’s the taste the kid’s curious about more than anything else. Rice Crispies and breastmilk… there’s an idea!

  8. It’s an attention thing, too. Tell her she can have some in a cup, but as she has teeth she’s out of luck. You might point out all the things babies can’t have, e.g., chocolate, candy, etc. that she can have.

    I’m not watching the video, I’m nauseous enough at the thought.

  9. Jo says:

    I’ve read that there are women who find bfing pleasurable. I don’t think there’s anything incestuous about that woman and hr eight year old. She’s just overly connected to mothering, and agrees with the idea that the chilren will give up when they’re ready. I’m still feeding my two and a half year old and I can promise you it’s not because I’m a pervert.

    At best, you don’t feel anything. At worse, it can be fucking annoying. But he’s super bonded to it, seems to need it emotionally and part of me worries about the effect of cutting him off. I’ll stop soon, I’m well ready to, but he’s not… I can appreciate that woman’s matternal feelings about it, even if they are a little … excessive.

    I know this is mean, but I have to say, nothing about that film made me feel she was abusing or exploiting her daughters, and I think it’s the people who see it as perverse who are the ones with the weird or twisted perspective.

  10. Roflmao @Julie “Bitty” ha ha ha ha!

  11. Voodoolady says:

    I tend to agree with the idea that when a baby develops teeth it’s time to take them off the boob.

    If a child can walk, talk and use the toliet, I don’t think they should be breastfed.

  12. Baino says:

    I couldn’t agree more with Jo in both her comments although I had to go back to work and weaned Clare at 9 months and Adam at 6 (he bit!). I may have done it longer if I was a stay-at-home mum although I draw the line when they start to walk. I think once fully ambulatory and eating solid foods, there’s no further ‘need’.

    Let her have a sample to sate her curiosity, then explain that it’s for the baby because he/she can’t eat regular food yet. She’s had her moment in the sun. As for feeding 8 year olds, bloody ridiculous. If their friend’s knew they’d cop a hammering.

    As for the video, I don’t think those children are particularly well adjusted, just indulged and Mum obviously isn’t prepared to disconnect just yet.

    We forget what boobs are for! And they’re not just for the pleasure of men!

  13. Jo says:

    It’s worth actually looking into the effects and values of extended feeding – there’s quite a lot to counter the random idea that children who are old enough to walk don’t benefit from breastmilk. What’s the correlation?

  14. Warrior says:

    I have two kids, they were breastfed. My bro has 5 or 6 all breastfed, don’t see the problem or the issue. We are the only animal on the planet that takes another animals milk and gives it to our own, and yet you are all creeping out about humans drinking human milk. Can’t you see how perverse our society is when we are creeped out by that. As for the ‘primitive cultures’? Teach me what is more civilised, feeding your child cows milk through a plastic bottle, our feeding your child your own milk and creating a strong spiritual emotional supportive bond? You can be sure that kid won’t be looking to join an army and kill sand monkies in the middle east.

  15. Warrior says:

    What connection does having a piss have to how you feed?

  16. unstranger says:

    Isn’t it amazing that people the world over still haven’t a clue?
    Breastfeeding carries no restrictions accept that of supply. Demand for milk is always met, a perfect functioning system that works regardless.
    Issues that people have are for them to resolve.
    Feeding a child for as long as the child requires is wholly a matter for the mother: no one else.
    Opinions are of no consequence unless the mother allows them entry. (including my own)

  17. unstranger says:

    p.s. Best of luck in Galway.

  18. K8 says:

    Fat Sparrow- I robbed your chocolate idea yesterday, it was a point well taken! Nice one :)

    Jo- If it’s not a perverse thing though, why on earth do most people find this video revolting? I can’t figure it out! It’s disturbing on some level, even to those who love the idea of breastfeeding. I’d love to know why.

    Voodoolady- Technically though, you could say that a talking kid would benefit more from not drinking from a bottle… their speech development would benefit from the boob, given the extra need for facial muscle workouts. It makes sense, but it’s just weird in this society.

    Baino- I do feel very sorry for the woman in that clip. Letting go of that connection is extremely difficult and in some ways I don’t blame her at all. Her poor boobs must be in ribbons, though.

    Warrior- I’m a huge believer in ‘milk is for baby cows’ all right. I don’t trust farmers not to be lacing their cattle with hormones. I figure this disassociation stems from the 50’s when powdered milk first appeared and you were scorned if you couldn’t afford it. It’s all just a nasty throwback.

    Unstranger- Excellent point. I can’t help but wonder if yer wan is now mortified that she did that interview, given the response. It really is each to their own.

  19. Children can, upon occasion, be reasoned with ;) Just occasionally, mind. Glad the chocolate thing worked.

    The Fledgling got told that if she continued to bite, no more boob. She was speaking in sentences at 9 months, so there was no doubt she understood and was just being perverse, the little bugger. I was crushed when the Nestling wouldn’t breastfeed, what with him being a preemie and Special Needs and Sensory Affective and all that, we barely managed to get any nutrients down his neck, let alone breast milk. Breast feeding was brilliant for weight loss, though, I lost 60 lbs. in 6 weeks after giving birth to the Fledgling, thanks to breast feeding. Yes I did gain 70 lbs. whilst pregnant with her, I was fucking well hungry.

  20. K8 says:

    I thought it such a shame that there’s no support for special needs babies and boobmilk… even if you could express it and add powdered nutrients somehow it’d be better than that awful bottled gunk.

    I hear ya on the weight loss! I’m counting on it. My Wii Fit said nasty things to me last time I got up on it and made me cry. :-p

  21. Jo says:

    I don’t think wii fits understand pregnancy though, do they?

    People are disgusted by the vid because we live in a society where nobody breastfeeds older children.

    Plenty of people in this country feel just as disgusted at looking at a three day or three month old being fed…

    I think the issue with that woman is the obvious emotional dependency involved. I don’t see anything perverse in it, just… unfortunate.

  22. K8 says:

    What struck me most about the video is that the children seem so intelligent… also that they’re obviously growing up with a healthy attitude towards the female body. That’s a very good, very rare thing.

    The great thing about the Wii fit thing is that I can commit to realistically losing about 7lbs before the end of next month! Ha.

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