Monday, January 25, 2010

Full-term breastfeeding posts and pages

Welcome to the January Carnival of Breastfeeding: favorite posts and pages

This month, we're sharing the best breastfeeding blog posts and website pages we've found on specific topics. Be sure to check out the links at the end for the other participants' excellent posts! I'll be adding more throughout the day Jan. 25.


I've decided to collect a few posts about the breastfeeding topic that currently occupies my days: breastfeeding a toddler.

A note on the terminology: Some people call nursing beyond infancy "extended" breastfeeding, as I have in the past. I now prefer the term full-term breastfeeding, because "extended" suggests beyond the norm, when really the biological and historical norm for breastfeeding is well past any arbitrary modern cut-off of one year of age. I actually wanted to link to a post or webpage to summarize that line of thought on the terminology and haven't yet found one, so point me to it if you know of one so I can link up!

Here's a selection of some of my favorite posts and webpages on full-term breastfeeding:

From Hobo Mama, here are some of my own favorite posts on breastfeeding a toddler:
Here's my collection of full-term nursing posts in Hobo Mama's breastfeeding posts by category! You can also read a selection of posts on topics such as newborn nursing, book reviews, lactivism, humor in breastfeeding, pumping and supplemental feeding, product reviews, and art in breastfeeding. I'd intended to have it fully updated before this carnival but, alas, it is not. But it's a good way to delve into the archives if you're curious about a specific subject.

Finally, here are some of my favorite breastfeeding blogs. Feel free to click on over to search for any full-term breastfeeding goodness. I picked ones that had a lot to do with breastfeeding, though there are plenty more I read where breastfeeding plays a role. Check out my blogroll for more!

This is just a small sampling, and I'd hate to miss any other great articles, so I'll turn it over to you. What are your own favorite posts and most inspiring websites on the subject of full-term breastfeeding?


Enjoy these posts from our other carnival participants:

Photo courtesy Women's Health Action Trust in New Zealand,
a poster that was the subject of its own controversy
as outlined in "Storm in a D cup"


Dionna @ Code Name: Mama said...

What a great post! And thank you for calling it full-term bf'ing :)
And LOL - my son likes to snuggle up and say "big mama milk!"
I think our two would get along ;)

~Dionna @ Code Name: Mama

TopHat said...

Wow. That picture is full of win! And I'm sad I missed out on the Breastfeeding Carnival this month. Oh well. There's always next month! Thanks for this.

Unknown said...

I love that Kathy Dettwyler link! I love the comparisons to other primates since I think we go a long way to not be the animals we are as a society. I'm going to have to blog some of that information! Great resources - thanks so much.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link! I must say, you have one of my favourite breastfeeding blogs, too. :)

Bibliomama said...

Well I've just lost an hour reading breastfeeding articles, and I haven't nursed in five years. These articles are really good. Either that or I'm just really lazy and easily distracted. (The kids who says 'yum' every time he passes the bras in Target? Priceless. My daughter still hugs me and says "my face is stuck in your boobies that I used to drink out of")

Dr Sarah said...

Thanks for a great list of links! With regard to the terminology, what would you think of 'post-infancy breastfeeding'? The problem I have with 'full-term breastfeeding' is that it implies that there's something wrong/inadequate about *not* nursing past infancy, and I don't like that idea. I certainly do want it to become much more widely known and accepted that it's perfectly OK to nurse for as long as mother and child are both happy to do so, including well into childhood if that's what suits them; but I really don't like the idea of that being held up as yet another ideal for mothers to aim for rather than just a possible option that might or might not be what an individual mother prefers.

Lauren Wayne said...

Dionna: I keep thinking the same thing, that our boys could probably be good friends!

tophat: Isn't it a great poster? And the story behind it made it sound like it was just complete serendipity. I'm always forgetting breastfeeding carnivals and actually did this one completely wrong at first and then had to correct it at the last minute. There's a story behind that, too, see... :)

Paige: I know, I love the animal comparisons! I know some people don't because they don't want to be thought of as animalistic, but it really helps me understand us better. And, hey, it's true!

Amber: Why, thank you!

Bibliomama: Too funny! I'm glad to have distracted you. I am totally trying not to lol about "my face is stuck in your boobies that I used to drink out of" because I'm in Starbucks and I might get strange looks. But hilarious!

Sarah V: Very valid point. I will have to think about this further. In some ways, "post-infancy breastfeeding" is neutral, but in other ways it could suggest, in our (my) culture that thinks breastfeeding is only for infancy, still some sort of abnormal infant feeding if it extends past infancy. Let me think about this a little more, and bounce it around with some others. I guess, too, that while I think it's valid for women to decide not to breastfeed past infancy, that it is the biological norm to do so, whether or not they choose to stop early (early in a biological, anthropological sense). Maybe "child-determined breastfeeding" or something? But then that suggests that mother-led weaning would be unacceptable. I guess everything's a potential minefield of offensiveness. I was going to wait to reply until I'd had more time to think this out, but I think I need to think it through out loud!

Rhiana said...

What a great post! I'm currently nursing my almost 13 month old and had no idea anyone considered out of the realm if normalcy to nurse to age 2. Thanks so much for the fab links and your eternal support if breastfeeding moms.

Dionna @ Code Name: Mama said...

I agree with Lauren - "post-infancy" implies that anything past infancy is akin to abnormal.
And why shouldn't we have an "ideal"? Breastfeeding is "ideal," but many mothers still prefer not to do it. For that matter, why is it a matter of what mothers "prefer"? Why aren't we doing what is best for our babies? Isn't that ideal too?
The fact is, breastfeeding continues to give very important benefits to mom and baby for the life of the breastfeeding relationship - 5 months, 1 year, 3 years, etc. I personally would not want to use the term "infancy" in relation to the "proper" length of time for a breastfeeding pair, because that automatically sets a certain expectation.

I just spent an hour and a half putting Kieran to sleep, so I apologize if this comment came across as either snippy or incoherent - I'm feeling a little bit of both.

Unknown said...

I tweeted this but I"m just too wordy for twitter sometimes!

I don't like post-infancy for the reason Dionna gave plus I think it is important that premature weaning (infant weaning) is in fact inadequate. Not that it is wrong but we shouldn't shy away from the fact that premature weaning has negative consequences (see: Just like we wouldn't shy away from "Breast is Best." That doesn't mean that women who don't breastfeed are bad but that we should focus on normalizing breastfeeding, full-term breastfeeding, and support services to help mothers achieve both.

Unknown said...

Sorry I'm going to post another comment but I thought of another reason I like child-led breastfeeding: It describes more than just the term. We also feed on demand based on the child's needs - I think child-led breastfeeding could be a term that encompasses multiple aspects of attached/natural breastfeeding.

Also - we usually hear child-led in relation to weaning but I believe that "weaning" has different meaning around the world. In the US (in my experience) weaning means the process of stopping bfing while in other countries (the UK movement of baby-led weaning for introduction of solids comes to mind) clearly includes the whole process of moving from 100% bm to 0% bm. So, IMO, child-led breastfeeding has a nicer connotation that child-led weaning.


molly said...

Hi, Lauren, just wanted to thank you for this post. (And very interested discussion on terminology, too -- I think I'd have to vote for "child-led breastfeeding" b/c that could refer to the length as well as the quantity throughout, and time of day, etc. I cannot tell you HOW MANY TIMES I've heard "oh, you're still breastfeeding at 17 mo? Just the night feeding, right?")

But, anyway, I didn't really comment to add my 2 cents (except I just did) as much as I wanted to say it's taking me FOR-EV-ER to get through all these links because Eden is teething or something and cries and nurses and refuses sleep all night. I'm at my wits end. But these posts all help me feel better about it; about nursing her even when she's being a pill, and about being a full-term-child-led-whatever-you-call-it nursing mom who is very glad she has all the support she does online because otherwise she JUST MIGHT GO CRAZY. :)

(Sorry for the rant. I'm sure you understand my frame of mind...I hope?....) ;)

Anonymous said...

I am so glad I found your blog. I plan to read every link you have posted on "full-term breastfeeding". It would take a year or more to give you our background story. My little Rebecca is 18months old. She taught me about "attachment parenting", and "full-term breastfeeding". Having suffered with postpartum depression and struggling with breastfeeding for her first couple of months. I never thought she would still be nursing today. With no end in sight, and we are both enjoying it=). Thank you so much for sharing.

Betsy B. Honest said...

Full-term breastfeeding is perfect. Love it.

Dr Sarah said...

(Sorry for the length of this - started writing down my thoughts and it turned into an epic)

I think this raises some pretty thought-provoking questions about how we think about the whole idea of being different from others, and whether we automatically see that in negative terms (as with the concept that 'different' equates to 'abnormal', a very negative, pejorative way of describing differences), or neutral, or indeed positive terms. But if I start rambling about that right now, it'll take more time than I've got... maybe I'll find time to comment more on that later (yeah, right, that'll happen!)

Anyway, in answer to Diona’s comment: I think that, yes, we should have ideals where there’s good evidence that one way of doing things is better than another (as with breastfeeding during infancy), but, where there isn’t any clear-cut evidence, we should leave it up to personal preference. As far as the effects of post-infancy breastfeeding in developed countries are concerned, I haven’t been able to find a lot of evidence. I did get a stack of articles from the references on the toddler breastfeeding page on Kellymom & from articles like Kyra Steinkraus’ article and Kathy Dettwyler’s work – what I’ve looked for is studies that a) compared children who continue nursing post-infancy with children who don’t, and b) were done in a First World setting. There were actually very few that fit both those criteria. (There were *loads* of articles cited on those pages that turned out, when I got hold of them and read them, to be about the effects of infant breastfeeding rather than post-infancy breastfeeding, or other things not directly relevant to the effects of post-infancy breastfeeding, but there just weren’t many that were on the topic.) Of the ones I did find, one found slight differences in rates of conduct disorder that the researchers thought were more likely to be due to confounding factors (i.e. general differences in parenting styles rather than the breastfeeding itself), and the others didn’t show any difference.

So, currently, there doesn’t seem to be any hard evidence that continuing breastfeeding after infancy has any objective health benefits for children. That’s why I think it should be a matter for personal preference. Obviously, if any future studies show definite benefits for post-infancy breastfeeding than that should change! But, if we don’t have evidence that one way of doing things is actually better than another, we shouldn’t hold it up as an ideal. Some mothers love breastfeeding for much longer and find it a beautiful experience; some hate it and want to stop as soon as possible; and, of course, children also vary hugely in their interest levels in nursing and the ages at which they lose interest. I’d like to see a society in which all these differences were accepted and, better still, welcomed as evidence of our individuality as humans, one in which we could celebrate the fact that different people make different choices in life and accept different decisions about post-infancy breastfeeding as a personal choice for each breastfeeding dyad. Not one in which the answer to the attitude of “You should wean at age X!” is a blanket “No! You should all continue nursing past age Y instead!”

Dr Sarah said...

(I don't mean to take over your comments here, but I thought of a couple of other things...)

I was thinking about Dionna's comment that the term 'post-infancy breastfeeding' 'sets a certain expectation'. To me, it actually feels the other way round, in that 'full-term breastfeeding' comes across as having more of an expectation attached to it. 'Post-infancy' is pretty open-ended – after all, it could refer to any time in the rest of a child's entire life! But 'full-term' implies that there's a relatively narrow window of 'correct' time periods for which to nurse, with anything before that being 'premature' and anything after that being 'postmature' or 'past term' or otherwise implying 'overtime'. To me, at least, it feels a lot more proscriptive than 'post-infancy breastfeeding', which leaves it up to each dyad to work out what time period best suits them.

The other reason I dislike 'full-term breastfeeding', with its implication of any weaning before that being 'premature'/somehow inadequate, is that it may well backfire in terms of breastfeeding advocacy. So many women can barely get their heads round the idea of nursing at all – the bigger a job we make it sound, the more likely we are to put them off. If a woman who's reluctant to nurse nevertheless manages to do so for six months, or six weeks, or even six days, she's still provided her baby with major health benefits. But the 'full-term' designation makes it sound as though all those are somehow inadequate, not good enough – and, really, what incentive does it leave a woman who doesn't want to nurse to try to do so if she's being given the impression that the kind of time periods she can see herself for maybe nursing for just aren't good enough? I'd like to see the focus on the fact that *any* amount of breastfeeding is beneficial – the more, the better, but if you can only stand the thought of nursing your baby for a short while then that is WELL worth trying. Terms like 'full-term' breastfeeding work actively against that message, and, as such, could do a lot more harm than good.

Hmmm... what about 'bonus breastfeeding' to stress the positive side?

Anonymous said...

I need to talk to my La Leche League group about changing the name from extended to full-term.

Thanks for the mention!

Anonymous said...

just wanted to send a belated thank you for the linkage! wonderful post. i need to get hip to your carnival's i guess :)

Hyacynth said...

Just found your blog! So glad to be in the company of other breastfeeding moms. Love it here. :)

The Mayor! said...

Jack Newman rocks, so glad to see you posting his links! I solely breastfed all 4 kids til 8 or 9 mnths...when they began teething...the teething process kick starts their digestive system to be able to begin handling solids...frankly I could give a damn what anyone else thought when I would tell them this, being accused of "starving" my kids that often outweighed theirs LOL....I also engaged in natural weaning, but I think the longest one only went until about 2 & 1/2....but this also led me into natural sibling spacing....when a child is prepared for a sibling, they will slow down on the nursing enough for your cycles to begin again, & have the next baby, so the theory goes. Certainly held true for me, as I was one of those lucky ones who typically went a year or more without cycles while nursing! Fab info, keep it up!! :-D

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