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Extended Breastfeeding.
April 12, 2009 9:55 AM   Subscribe

How old is too old to be breastfed?

"10 good reasons to breastfeed your toddler"
posted by gman (177 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sorry, perhaps NSFW.
posted by gman at 10:00 AM on April 12, 2009


All my siblings were breastfed until they were three or so.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:01 AM on April 12, 2009


My ma's cousin "Tug" wasn't weaned until he was around eight or nine, earning him his nickname. A-course, he'd fallen into an outhouse septic tank when he was about a year and a half, leaving him "not right." He'd grab at women's tits his whole life.

Oh, rural Indiana.
posted by klangklangston at 10:01 AM on April 12, 2009 [13 favorites]


Huh, some kind of UK Onion equivalent?
posted by everichon at 10:01 AM on April 12, 2009


How old was Tom Joad when he got breastfed at the end of Grapes of Wrath?

That's about the upper limit, in my opinion.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:02 AM on April 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


Breastfeeding at 8!? I guess I don't think there's anything morally wrong with it or anything, but it does seem kind of gross to me.
posted by delmoi at 10:04 AM on April 12, 2009


NIH: "AAP [American Academy of Pediatrics] suggests that women try to breastfeed for the first 12 months of life because of the benefits to both mother and baby."

More research by the AAP.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 10:04 AM on April 12, 2009


See also, and tread lightly.
posted by Science! at 10:06 AM on April 12, 2009


Breastfeeding in adulthood: bitty.
posted by forallmankind at 10:11 AM on April 12, 2009 [10 favorites]


It's fine to breastfeed right until they're old enough to be circumcised.
posted by Nelson at 10:13 AM on April 12, 2009 [4 favorites]


How old is too old to be breastfed?

I dunno. When your dentures start making it hard to suckle?
posted by qwip at 10:15 AM on April 12, 2009


I had a friend whose wife nursed until the child was five. I think he probably gave it up when he started school and other kids started humiliating him.

Most people thought it was much too late. My own mother would have been advising her to sprinkle pepper on her nipples before the child reached one..
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:20 AM on April 12, 2009


Once had a friend whose three-year-old son would walk up to his mom, pull up her shirt and start breast feeding.

Seriously, if your child if old enough to self-serve, it's time to switch to moo juice.
posted by bpm140 at 10:21 AM on April 12, 2009 [14 favorites]


I kind of wonder what the point is after they can eat solid food. Not a value judgment or anything, I just have no idea why you would breastfeed a kid who can eat a steak.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 10:21 AM on April 12, 2009


"Late breastfed children" are not these parents' children.

They are these parents' pets.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:22 AM on April 12, 2009 [9 favorites]


This post is making me thirsty.
posted by orme at 10:29 AM on April 12, 2009 [11 favorites]


It may be acceptable in other cultures, but here if you are doing it when the child is old enough to ask for it and old enough to form cognitive memories of it, it puts you well outside the mainstream and can start to create issues with peers.

Breastfeeding a school age child will almost certainly cause more problems than it will prevent if done in the U.S.-- bullying, social rejection, etc. If you have the child keep it secret, that presents a whole other set of issues and could even lead to social services interventions if the child tells.

I'm very curious as to how those English girls fared at school after that documentary was broadcast.
posted by Maias at 10:29 AM on April 12, 2009 [5 favorites]


I would just make breastmilk cheese and feed them that.
posted by DenOfSizer at 10:35 AM on April 12, 2009


Maias: "it puts you well outside the mainstream and can start to create issues with peers."

And it's never too soon to teach the importance of bowing to peer pressure.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:40 AM on April 12, 2009 [15 favorites]


In the interest of um, something or other, I must point out that "TreeHugger Mom," a proponent of extended breastfeeding as I understand it, sells all the stuff you need to do it.

So is this a blog post or an advertisement? Or maybe an advertisement disguised as a blog post (check!).
posted by MarshallPoe at 10:43 AM on April 12, 2009


Yeah, I think my response falls into the "sure you could, but why would you want to?" camp. But of course, I'm a single childless male, so perhaps my opinion doesn't matter so much.

A few specific counterpoints to the "10 good reasons to breastfeed your toddler" article, though :

Convenience

?????? My god. From what I've read, breastfeeding is anything but convenient.... in almost every possible way.

Instant Tantrum tamer

?????? My god... is this really behavior you want to encourage? Throwing tantrums until their mommy sticks a boob in their mouth?

Less Reliance on "Mommy Substitutes"

Weird logic here.... toddlers substitute security blankets for boobs, so give them boobs instead. First off, I have no idea if that's true. And even if it was, wouldn't the security blanket be sort of an intermediary step to weaning the kid off boobs/blankets altogether? Isn't that something that you kinda should be doing anyway?

Delayed Menstruation

Ding dong, the 1960s called, apparently there's this thing called the pill now. Oh wait, sorry, there's a call on the other line, let me see who that is... oh, it's the seventeenth century, apparently they just invented these nifty things called condoms...
posted by Afroblanco at 10:47 AM on April 12, 2009 [11 favorites]


I'm all for breastfeeding little ones, but this just gets weird to me. Also weird? People who don't consider breastfeeding their children in somewhat private manner. I once sat at a front table in a busy NY deli with two close friends whose (new/first) children were acting up. Out of frustration, both girls just whipped out their boobs and started breastfeeding at the table. No blankets, no feeding bra, no modesty whatsoever... they just didn't know how to handle babies yet and wanted the children to stop crying so they frantically whipped out their boobs to get them to shut up. As the single woman sitting between them in this deli, while they fed I gave our orders to the waiter and had the pleasure of witnessing the expressions and eye contact from all of the (male and female, old and young) diners passing by. The place was PACKED and the other diners clearly weren't expecting boobs. One man gave me a really creepy leer after his initial shock, as if to say, "So, you're not gonna pop out yours too? Oh, come onnnnn."

I'm all for the benefits of breastfeeding and I don't consider myself uptight about natural things. But at that moment I really, really, really wanted to be sitting at another table (or at least to run down the street to buy two blankets so they could cover themselves up a smidgen). And if the kids had been eight? I woulda been out the door. Sorry, friends... gotta go.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:01 AM on April 12, 2009


My wife is breastfeeding our son. He's almost a year old now. I think it's been good for both of them, in terms of nutrition and development for him and in terms of bonding for both of them. She'll probably start weaning him soon.

But I have to say, I've been amused and alarmed at how everyone - often people with no children - has strong opinions against breastfeeding, usually based on nothing. It's like some ignorant doink you meet at a barbecue who starts gassing on about investments or philosophy.

I was especially amused by my mother in law who scoffs at it all and doesn't believe in these newfangled ideas. The bottle was good enough for you kids (just like our remotest mammalian ancestors I guess).
posted by fleetmouse at 11:04 AM on April 12, 2009 [15 favorites]


Afroblanco: "Instant Tantrum tamer

?????? My god... is this really behavior you want to encourage? Throwing tantrums until their mommy sticks a boob in their mouth?"



Works for me! Only, umm, strike mother and replace with girlfriend? PLZKTHX...
posted by symbioid at 11:05 AM on April 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Alternatively:
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 11:06 AM on April 12, 2009


The place was PACKED and the other diners clearly weren't expecting boobs. One man gave me a really creepy leer after his initial shock, as if to say, "So, you're not gonna pop out yours too? Oh, come onnnnn."

Yeah, my wife got the same reaction from guys in Malaysia when she and her friend walked around with short sleeves. Hussies!
posted by fleetmouse at 11:06 AM on April 12, 2009 [19 favorites]


Astro Zombie: How old was Tom Joad when he got breastfed at the end of Grapes of Wrath?

Astro, if I remember correctly, it wasn't Tom Joad who was breastfed by, his sister, Rose Of Sharon, but rather a old hobo who was starving to death in an abandoned (?) train car during a massive rainstorm/flood, when they were looking for shelter. Rose of Sharon had been pregnant most of the hard terrible trip out to California from Oklahoma, but had lost the baby. (And the father, who'd joined the Joads out of their town on the trip to CA had abandoned her even before that.)

Also, that's got to be the most equal parts amazing and ridiculous end to a novel ever, but I would bet that any dozen good writers of the 30s had wished they'd come up with it.

Anyhow, the hobo was pretty old as in 50s or 60s or something. So, I guess that there would be that magic upper-age-limit of um...breastfeeding.
posted by Skygazer at 11:12 AM on April 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


MY DIET STARTS TOMORROW
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:14 AM on April 12, 2009


Afroblanco: "But of course, I'm a single childless male, so perhaps my opinion doesn't matter so much."

Yeah, you really could have stopped there.
posted by chihiro at 11:14 AM on April 12, 2009 [4 favorites]


My god. From what I've read, breastfeeding is anything but convenient.... in almost every possible way.

When your child is hungry, and you're broke, or nowhere near any available food, or weren't able to bring any food with you, or don't want to go into the kitchen to warm up a bottle, or ... yeah, breastfeeding is actually very convenient.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:15 AM on April 12, 2009 [13 favorites]


I'm sorry Afroblanco, this was unnecessarily short. It gets wearing having to continually defend certain aspects of breastfeeding to people who haven't gone through it yet. Marisa Stole the Precious Thing said it much more nicely than I did, and I agree with her.

Please accept my apologies for being witchy.
posted by chihiro at 11:21 AM on April 12, 2009


Yeah, you really could have stopped there.

I was being kinda tongue-in-cheek, but it's good to know that you feel that way.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:21 AM on April 12, 2009


Breastfeeding an 8-year-old? Eh, not my business.

Having film crews over to the house and putting it on the television? That I have a problem with.
posted by palliser at 11:23 AM on April 12, 2009 [6 favorites]


Marisa Stole the Precious Thing said it much more nicely than I did, and I agree with her.

Actually, Marisa Stole the Precious Thing is a dude. But I guess if he's single and childless, his opinion doesn't matter either. Or only matters if it agrees with yours.

Anyway, I wasn't attacking anybody in my post. I was offering counterpoints to one of the linked articles. Feel free to refute any of my points. I've openly admitted to not being an expert on the subject.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:23 AM on April 12, 2009 [6 favorites]


You know what I find more uncomfortable than schoolchildren breastfeeding? That in 7 years when this girl is 15 and in high school, this video will still be online.
posted by cotterpin at 11:24 AM on April 12, 2009 [6 favorites]


BETTER THAN MANGOS EVEN.
posted by molecicco at 11:39 AM on April 12, 2009 [7 favorites]


i'm also in a currently breastfeeding household. our attitude is that once our son is old enough to ask for it, he's too old to get it.

that said, miss lynnster, i can't overstate to you that when the baby needs to eat, he needs to eat. your prudishness (and the perversion of those waiting to ogle) comes in a distant second behind taking care of a hungry baby. now, i understand you thought your friends (with whom you couldn't discuss this issue?) were feeding only to calm their kids, but i'll tell you that the main reason new babies cry is because they're hungry.

in spite of the fact that the best evidence cited in the post is from some crystals and patchouli group calling itself 'the light party,' the scientific evidence for breastfeeding is overwhelming. but you can't just feed once in a while. without release, the breasts get painfully engorged and leak through whatever you're wearing or, in an extreme case, the milk dries up and you're SOL. so, moms have got to be able to feed when either the breast or the child demands, and that means feeding in some public places.

if every restaurant, grocery store, and pharmacy wants to set aside a room for nursing mothers, then i'm happy to compromise and have feeding restricted to that space (though i will reserve the right to make some obnoxious comments about purdah). in the mean time, suck it up.
posted by 1-2punch at 11:44 AM on April 12, 2009 [16 favorites]


they just didn't know how to handle babies yet and wanted the children to stop crying so they frantically whipped out their boobs to get them to shut up.

This is self-sure, judgmental, and ill-informed. They "just didn't know how to handle babies yet" -- their own babies? You knew better?

Newborns basically have three modes: sleeping, eating, crying. They're more like lower-order primates than like people. So if they're crying, the first thing every mother does -- experienced mothers, new mothers -- is try feeding them. This is because they are probably asking for food. Making them wait is wrong, for reasons ethical and medical.
posted by palliser at 11:45 AM on April 12, 2009 [26 favorites]


I've openly admitted to not being an expert on the subject.

Now I'm curious as to what, exactly, would constitute being an "expert".
posted by adamdschneider at 11:45 AM on April 12, 2009


Having film crews over to the house and putting it on the television? That I have a problem with.

Yeah, the mother seems to be milking this for all it's worth.
posted by gman at 11:46 AM on April 12, 2009 [20 favorites]


A brother and sister in my childhood neighborhood were breastfed into their school-age years, and perhaps later --- my family moved away, so I have no idea how much longer their mother continued to breastfeed.

I mention this only because one day, another child asked the brother, M., "what's it like?"

M. got a far-away look on his face, and intoned dreamily, "It's like heaven."

I can see how some people would cast this as something creepy or off-tone, but I still hear it as I did when I was a child: M. was drifting off and describing something inutterably sweet and dreamlike, if completely unfathomable (and a little offputting) in my little world.

(I have always believed, though I can't remember if he said it or I projected it, that he was describing the bonding experience, not the taste or other tangible aspects.)
posted by Elsa at 11:50 AM on April 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


Oh, gman, really? Did you have to?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:51 AM on April 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Tom Joad didn't get breastfed?

Shit, there goes a pretty big Henry Fonda fantasy for me.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:02 PM on April 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Western culture is WHACK when it comes to breastfeeding. Nursing a baby into toddler-hood goes way beyond nutrition -it's a bond between mother and child. I nursed my daughter until she was 2, and then we cut back to "only at bedtime" until she was 3. World Health Organization has no problems with nursing to 3. Breast milk changes over time to adapt to the needs of the child, nutritionally.

I think that there IS a problem with publicly nursing school age children, but ONLY because of how other folks will react. I don't personally understand wanting to nurse a kid that can ride a bike without training wheels, but I'll take it over a whole bunch of other fucked up shit people do to their kids.
posted by PuppyCat at 12:22 PM on April 12, 2009 [8 favorites]


Breast milk changes over time to adapt to the needs of the child, nutritionally.

It does?
posted by found missing at 12:25 PM on April 12, 2009


that said, miss lynnster, i can't overstate to you that when the baby needs to eat, he needs to eat. your prudishness (and the perversion of those waiting to ogle) comes in a distant second behind taking care of a hungry baby.

I understand that things can be a hot button issue, but really... did you understand a fucking word you read in her comment? I didn't see any objection to breast feeding in there, or even breast feeding in public.

I saw an objection, or at least a perplexity, with people who don't attempt any sort of modesty about it. Is that so weird? Yeah, breastfeeding is perfectly natural and normal and good, but so are defecation, flatulation, and coitus. Not all normal. natural activities belong on full display in a restaurant, and not all social restrictions on normal, natural activities are morally equivalent to purdah.

This is self-sure, judgmental, and ill-informed. They "just didn't know how to handle babies yet" -- their own babies? You knew better?

I know enough to bring a blankie if you have a newborn out, so it seems that I really do know better than them.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:25 PM on April 12, 2009 [9 favorites]


It seems like a desire to breastfeed your child when they're old enough to read and write is more about wanting them to be dependent on you more than anything. I mean, 8 years old? What is an 8 year old getting from breastmilk that s/he's not getting from normal food?
posted by lullaby at 12:33 PM on April 12, 2009


I know enough to bring a blankie if you have a newborn out, so it seems that I really do know better than them.

Bringing a blankie is not part of "handling a baby." Bringing a blankie is part of handling your sensitivities, apparently. But unless miss lynnster's friend is your mother, she doesn't really have to cater to you.
posted by palliser at 12:35 PM on April 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


i went to disneyland and all i got was under mom's t-shirt
posted by pyramid termite at 12:37 PM on April 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


I breastfed until I was around 3 or so. I know many people that were breastfed until three or so and one that was breastfed until 5. I think that the child will wean itself from breastfeeding when ready.
posted by schyler523 at 12:43 PM on April 12, 2009


I saw an objection, or at least a perplexity, with people who don't attempt any sort of modesty about it. Is that so weird? Yeah, breastfeeding is perfectly natural and normal and good, but so are defecation, flatulation, and coitus.

If you're not equating all of these acts with each other on even footing, then I wonder why you brought all these very different acts under one umbrella. Because this is just ... man, seriously?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:00 PM on April 12, 2009


I was breastfed until age 2, but my poor mother never got the hang of discretion... I was then, and am now, a bit of a food-moaner.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:01 PM on April 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


I found the family in the film very sincere and thoughtful. I think that if it at least problematizes breastfeeding and makes us ask, 'what is it for?' and, 'why do I do it?', then surely it's a good thing. Many of the responses here seem to rest on breastfeeding = feeding, or breastfeeding = infantilisation, and though they seem commonsensical to us, they may not actually represent a good understanding of the situation.

How old is too old to be breastfed?

I don't know. But the question reads expectingly, asking us to judge, and hinting that the answer should be expressed as a number.
posted by Sova at 1:05 PM on April 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


...hinting that the answer should be expressed as a number

Agreed! (The real answer is "cupcake")
posted by found missing at 1:06 PM on April 12, 2009


What is an 8 year old getting from breastmilk that s/he's not getting from normal food?

Anti-microbial snot mixed in with a lot of fat and sugar.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:09 PM on April 12, 2009


A family member told me that years ago, a lady in her church breast fed until her son was at least 5. In the church foyer, the boy would pull up her blouse and start feeding as the mom talked to other church-goers.

She swore that his lady's name was Mrs. O'Similac.
posted by The Deej at 1:11 PM on April 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Afroblanco, you are right, you obviously never had any experience with a baby and breastfeeding. As a new father, I can attest of the extreme convenience of breastfeeding:
method a: grab expensive milk-formula (possibly made by multinational corporation -- hope it is not from China), dilute in water if necessary, warm (microwave? better use the oven-but wait! you're on the road!), make sure it's not too warm, feed, repeat if necessary.
method b: breastfeed.

Also, in the article, the delaying of menstruations is proposed "for those women using Natural Family Planning or the Fertility Awareness Method for birth control", which to me, sounds like they already _chose_ not to use the pill, and I don't think this is an antique decision.

As far as breastfeeding 'till they're five, I'd find it ackward, but mostly because of possible social stigmatisation.
posted by ddaavviidd at 1:12 PM on April 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is this the new season of Brasseye?
posted by shakespeherian at 1:24 PM on April 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


What the media won't show you are the plate of cookies off-camera.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:28 PM on April 12, 2009


"did you understand a fucking word you read in her comment? . . . Yeah, breastfeeding is perfectly natural and normal and good, but so are defecation, flatulation, and coitus."

ooh, profanity. you must be right.

but since we're being high and mighty and careful reading, my post was about the urgency that breastfeeding sometimes has owing to both the breast and the child and about the strong scientific support for the practice. no claims were made re: biological functions. anyway, good luck with the trolling.
posted by 1-2punch at 1:30 PM on April 12, 2009


Not a parent myself but a couple of friends of mine who had their first child a couple of years ago talked about how they decided to have the child sleep in bed with them rather than putting her in the crib and said that they came under serious pressure from all quarters for doing that. They said they'd always stand out in a group of parents of newborns because they would obviously have gotten considerably more sleep than the ones who were focused on "weaning" their kids of such things.

So I wonder if, as well as some weird standards about sexuality that are a dimension of this, there's also some tendency to be really proprietary about how other people raise their children that may be at the bottom of it.
posted by XMLicious at 1:33 PM on April 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


she doesn't really have to cater to you.

Have to? No, but catering to others is pretty much the definition of socialization.
posted by adamdschneider at 1:36 PM on April 12, 2009


So I wonder if, as well as some weird standards about sexuality that are a dimension of this, there's also some tendency to be really proprietary about how other people raise their children that may be at the bottom of it.

As far as letting your kids sleep in bed with you goes, I've heard advice against it when it comes to small babies on the grounds that you might roll over onto the wee nipper and smother her. Also, in an interview with Method Man for Q magazine, he advises against it, saying in part, "If you let them in the bed, you'll never get them out." But when it's 4 a.m., and they just want mom or dad to hold them, I can't really see the harm in it. For safety issues, you can always put them back in their crib once they do fall asleep. But I can see both sides of it - it's important to reinforce the boundaries between parent and child, too, as well as nourish the bond between you. I guess it's a balance you strike feeling your way through, as you go.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:39 PM on April 12, 2009


anyway, good luck with the trolling.

I don't know if it was exactly trolling, and the words chosen were far from profane.

Personally, I am fine with the whole "it's natural & normal" line, and support the right to breastfeed in public, but at the same time it's kinda weird when somebody just pops their boob out as if it were as everyday an occurrence as scratching your balls.

I think the point was that there are perfectly natural, biological functions that are treated as private things by society, and an argument that "it's natural" doesn't necessarily justify just doing it wherever & whenever one pleases.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:40 PM on April 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


[trollishness alert] nicotine addiction is a natural, biological function, and people, societies and governments have no qualms about defining when & where smokers can & cannot scratch that particular itch.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:43 PM on April 12, 2009


Dear hivemind :

I've found a pair of saggy boobs under my mom's t-shirt. While they're still lactating, I find it strange that she offers them to me when I'm hungry and all I want is a glass of milk.

So...should I drink from them?

anonymous
posted by racingjs at 1:44 PM on April 12, 2009


I think the point was that there are perfectly natural, biological functions that are treated as private things by society, and an argument that "it's natural" doesn't necessarily justify just doing it wherever & whenever one pleases.

How about "My child is hungry and needs to eat"?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:47 PM on April 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


Now would be the perfect time to post a link to the breast milk scene from Visitor Q, but alas, I can't find it :(
posted by Saxon Kane at 1:49 PM on April 12, 2009


I think it noteworthy that breastfeeding is/was a form of birth control in a wide variety of cultures. I'm mainly familiar with the practice amongst nomads: pop one out, and then breast feed it until it can walk on its own and provide for itself, which is apparently somewhere between ages five and eight. Given that we're all descended from nomads, it is worthwhile to notice the utility of this approach: it keeps people from creating more children than they can physically care for. Since it is an evolved response, it furthermore says that women may be 'designed' to have children on a 5-eight year cycle. Breastfeeding is healthy and natural and healthy. It's just social mores and the insidious effects of intergenerational advertising that makes anyone think otherwise.
posted by kaibutsu at 1:50 PM on April 12, 2009


How about "My child is hungry and needs to eat"?

That's a perfect justification, just like "My bladder is full and needs to empty itself".
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:52 PM on April 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


as if it were as everyday an occurrence as scratching your balls.

I try not to scratch my balls in public. If I have to, I try to be pretty discreet about it.
posted by Saxon Kane at 1:52 PM on April 12, 2009


ubu: I think it was the "did you understand a fucking word you read in her comment?" part that was being called out for unnecessary profanity.
posted by kaibutsu at 1:53 PM on April 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


That's a perfect justification, just like "My bladder is full and needs to empty itself".

Yes, a perfect equivalent. Feeding your child in public is just like pissing in front of everyone.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:53 PM on April 12, 2009


How old is too old to be breastfed?

1. When your son starts making unfavorable comparisons between your breasts and his girlfriend's.
2. When your daughter turns to you just because the coke machine ate her change.
posted by found missing at 1:54 PM on April 12, 2009 [4 favorites]


This is why I no longer go to restaurants. Having to wade through all the dead infants whose mothers were too shy to breasfeed them at the table, is just too much of a hassle.
posted by Dumsnill at 1:58 PM on April 12, 2009 [8 favorites]


Yes, a perfect equivalent. Feeding your child in public is just like pissing in front of everyone.

I appreciate the irony, because it's actually possible to discreetly breastfeed even in a crowded room, whereas it's not possible to take a wizz in the same situation.

And yet, the approach that some people take to breastfeeding is like the difference between peeing up against a tree, as opposed to standing on the kerb & wizzing out into the traffic.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:58 PM on April 12, 2009 [4 favorites]


So it really comes down to the question of whether:
a) Gross bodily functions should be carried out in public places, and
b) Whether breastfeeding is gross.

Age has no real part in the question.

Defecation is gross because doing just anywhere without regard for sanitation will make people really sick. So there's a good reason for that bodily function to be considered gross. But for breastfeeding (or scratching one's balls), I don't see any good reason to consider it gross. It's social. I would argue that it's more important that breastfeeding be destigmatized than ball-scratching, but YMMV.
posted by kaibutsu at 1:58 PM on April 12, 2009


"I've heard advice against it when it comes to small babies on the grounds that you might roll over onto the wee nipper and smother her."

It was specifically made illegal to sleep in the same bed as your child at some point in European history, in order to prevent the practice of infanticide by smothering a child who was in the same bed - a sort of 'birth control' after the fact. This is the origin of having any arrangement other than parents and child sleeping in the same bed. Closest I could get to a citation.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 2:01 PM on April 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


And yet, the approach that some people take to breastfeeding is like the difference between peeing up against a tree, as opposed to standing on the kerb & wizzing out into the traffic.

Perhaps because people getting weirded out about seeing a woman feed her child is pretty recent thing, and not by any means the case everywhere in the world. There've been pissoirs since ancient Rome, however, so there's obviously been a very old aversion to witnessing a urination. This is why I don't think breastfeeding is in the same ballpark, league or even sport genre as the aforementioned farting, peeing and pooping in public. It's a strange position to take up because the acts are so transparently unsimilar.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:04 PM on April 12, 2009


So it really comes down to the question of whether:
a) Gross bodily functions should be carried out in public places, and
b) Whether breastfeeding is gross.


No, I think it has more to do with the tension between breasts as useful feeding organs vs breasts as sexualised objects, and that's never going to be an easy tension to negotiate.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:10 PM on April 12, 2009


where does nail clipping in public fit in this spectrum of acceptability?
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:12 PM on April 12, 2009


I you're eight years old and still clipping your father's toenails, don't do it in public.
posted by Dumsnill at 2:18 PM on April 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


where does nail clipping in public fit in this spectrum of acceptability?

Doesn't even rank.
posted by gman at 2:19 PM on April 12, 2009


Bringing a blankie is not part of "handling a baby."

Really? I know I should have written "blankie or sickie-cloth or whatever you call them in your family," but I think that having those with you really is a normal, expected part of taking a baby out of the house for more than a few minutes.

my post was about the urgency that breastfeeding sometimes has owing to both the breast and the child

As a childless man, the physiology is a bit beyond me.

Are you saying that the urgency is so demanding that it honestly cannot wait for the few seconds it would take to retrieve a blanket or cloth, or so immediate in its onset that it cannot reasonably be seen coming?

How about "My child is hungry and needs to eat"?

Again, have you seen anyone here objecting to feeding your child in public? All anyone has said here is that it's weird to not cover yourself at all. It's hardly a big deal, but, yeah, that's a weird, somewhat offputting thing to do in a modern American restaurant.

The only real point I wanted to make is that you were attacking whoever the original commenter was as if he/she were saying NOBODY MUST BREASTFEED IN PUBLIC when the actual claims made were vastly milder than that.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:19 PM on April 12, 2009


Doesn't even rank.

wow, masturbating in public is only #24, less gross even than double-dipping.

it's not clear, though, where double-dipping into the mashed potato would fall on that list.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:24 PM on April 12, 2009


It's Easter. Call your Mom.
posted by longsleeves at 2:25 PM on April 12, 2009


Perhaps because people getting weirded out about seeing a woman feed her child is pretty recent thing

Sure, but on the other hand saying "Your social norm is wrong because it is of recent origin" or "Your social norm is wrong because a different society has different norms" is also an odd position to take.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:25 PM on April 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think the point was that there are perfectly natural, biological functions that are treated as private things by society

but I know of no society that includes eating or drinking in these, in fact they are very often social practices.
posted by tallus at 2:29 PM on April 12, 2009


This thread would not be complete without a link to The Sneeze's Steve, don't eat it! Volume 5: Breastmilk.
posted by Killick at 2:31 PM on April 12, 2009


she doesn't really have to cater to you.

Have to? No, but catering to others is pretty much the definition of socialization.


Actually, I think "cater" carries a different implication. What I didn't say, for instance, is "she doesn't owe you anything," because that's not right. We all owe each other civility. I do not think civility requires refraining from breastfeeding in public even if it requires some exposure -- because, say, you forgot the blankie, because there are about 50 other things you have to bring, like diapers and an extra outfit and a burp rag and a pacifier and a baby-carrier and a changing pad and etc. For all the medical reasons 1-2punch mentioned, as well as the ethical one that a small person with no way of satisfying their own needs or remembering the blankie themselves should not be forced to suffer hunger pangs in order to spare adults the momentary sight of a breast (before they turn away, if they wish), the baby should be fed anyway.

And as to whether I'm right, or you're right, about whether social norms require refraining from breastfeeding in public without a blanket: the law does not exactly mirror social norms, but it is some evidence as to social norms. You can't defecate or urinate or have sex in public, but breastfeeding is specifically exempted from the indecent-exposure laws in most states, and in some states (like Pennsylvania), breastfeeding is protected even more fully, in that proprietors are prohibited from asking a breastfeeding mother to leave or cover up.
posted by palliser at 2:32 PM on April 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


The only reason breastfeeding in public and uncovered is a problem is because we have overly sexualised breasts. When a man leers at a breastfeeding woman, the problem lies with the man not the breastfeeder. Likewise when someone feels uncomfortable about public breastfeeding the problem, in my opinion, lies more with messed up societal values than with the fact someone is 'immodestly' feeding their child.

Of course, contradicting that immediately, I'm weirded out by older kids breastfeeding. Not sure what age it becomes strange for me, but I certainly know it when I see it.
posted by knapah at 2:36 PM on April 12, 2009


1. As a product of our society, we learn that boobs are a portion of our private parts and that they are sexual objects. When I wear a low-cut, v-neck shirt, the intent is to get men to take notice of the sneak-peek of my private area.... yet pull one out and put a baby to it and people are supposed to have no reaction besides a mom-positive thumbs up. Now, I am completely in favor of any woman being able to breastfeed when her child needs it but, you have to admit, having your cake and eating it, too, is difficult.

2. Deciding to not concede to social norms and breastfeed your school-age child? You had better teach them some karate and how to be an emotional rock because, speaking as childhood non-conformer, life is going to get rough. I like to pick my battles and this would be a concession for me. When is it too old to breastfeed? When my kid can actually use karate to defend against kids making fun of them for breastfeeding.
posted by Foam Pants at 2:38 PM on April 12, 2009 [4 favorites]


but I know of no society that includes eating or drinking in these, in fact they are very often social practices.

and yet, eating & drinking are subject to all kinds of rules, from society to society & community to community.

to give just one of many examples: travelling in the south of india one time, at the base of my guesthouse was a busy restaurant. the weather was stinking hot & me being a cashed-up whitey & all, i naturally decided that the aircon "special dining room" was the place i wanted to eat, hang the extra 50c that it would cost me.

"sorry, sir, not possible" *head wiggle*

the special room was for brahmins only, because of their requirement to not be polluted by using dishes or cutlery touched by lower castes. as a non-hindu, i was lumped in with the untermenschen who had to eat in the regular dining section, sans A/C and with polluting cutlery.

i also suspect that the lime pickle we were served was probably inferior.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:39 PM on April 12, 2009


?????? My god. From what I've read, breastfeeding is anything but convenient.... in almost every possible way.

One child gave up on breastfeeding early, and the other gave up reluctantly at age 2, so we experienced both. Although as the father, I never breastfed the kids, I managed to convince a new-mother colleague to breastfeed her child after she used the convenience argument with this description of a simple trip to the park:

Bottle fed:
Get the bottle pack. Are the bottles clean? Sterilized? (depending on the germ phobia of the parents) If not, boil water, and sterilize them. Put carefully measured amount of water into each bottle. Pack the convenient packet size powder. You're out? Stop at the drug store on the way. (By the way, it's goes fast and is very expensive, despite not being nearly as nutritious). Carry heavy pack with several bottles of water and powders with you, in addition to the diaper bag you are already carrying.
Baby hungry? Find a store that will let you warm up the water in their microwave. If not, go back home. Check the temperature on your wrist. If too hot, wait. Put the powder in. Mix it up. Feed baby.

Breast fed:
Got your boobs? Blanket? Lets go. Child hungry? Whip-em out. Cover with blanket.
posted by eye of newt at 2:39 PM on April 12, 2009


an argument that "it's natural" doesn't necessarily justify just doing it wherever & whenever one pleases.

No one made this argument. It was a straw man set up by ROU_Xenophobe. 1-2punch made a completely different argument, which was that the baby needs to be fed, and the breast emptied of milk, very frequently and immediately upon the baby's showing signs of hunger, and that these needs outweigh an adult's preference for a public sphere free of all unexpected sightings of breasts.
posted by palliser at 2:39 PM on April 12, 2009


Should have previewed, I had that sitting there ready to post for a while.
posted by knapah at 2:40 PM on April 12, 2009


From the video:

"Veronica believes that the children should decide when they're ready to stop breastfeeding."

What a wonderful approach to raising children.

When should my five year old go to bed? Let him decide. Should he eat dinner or candy? Let him decide. How much TV should he watch? Let him decide.

I'm really not sure when a mother should stop breastfeeding but the mom and eight year old daughter in that video are clearly on the wrong side of that line.
posted by cjets at 2:41 PM on April 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


I knew a kid in grade school who was breast fed until he was 14. Nice kid, but walking up to Mom and saying, "Hey, I'm hungry" then tunneling under her shirt is a bit much . . . When the child can orally request it, I think it may be time to stop breast feeding.
posted by Maztec at 2:43 PM on April 12, 2009


Should he eat dinner or candy? Let him decide.

Actually, my understanding is that in experiments if children are given the option of eating as much as they want of anything they want, including as much candy as they want, they actually on average do end up eating healthily. I'm not so confident that these sort of things (like making children go to bed at a certain time, particularly) are really for the benefit of the children - it seems quite possible to me that they're primarily for the benefit of the adults.
posted by XMLicious at 2:53 PM on April 12, 2009


Bringing a blankie is not part of "handling a baby." Bringing a blankie is part of handling your sensitivities, apparently.

No, bringing a blankie is just being prepared. I'm the dad of a 10 month old and a five year old. We bring a diaper bag with the baby everywhere she goes. Everywhere.

The diaper bag has all the necessities, including a blankie. My wife breastfeeds, often in public and she prefers, both for herself and for others, to cover up.

We are occasionally out with other moms who are of the "whip out your boob" style of public breastfeeding. It annoys me but it really annoys my breastfeeding wife who thinks that any breastfeeding mom can take the twenty seconds to show a little modesty.
posted by cjets at 2:55 PM on April 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Again, have you seen anyone here objecting to feeding your child in public? All anyone has said here is that it's weird to not cover yourself at all. It's hardly a big deal, but, yeah, that's a weird, somewhat offputting thing to do in a modern American restaurant.

No, what's weird and off-putting is not being able to keep from staring at a woman feeding her child. A woman feeding her child - even brazenly, with the breast exposed and everything! - is probably the farthest thing from odd in human history.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:57 PM on April 12, 2009 [8 favorites]


"Also weird? People who don't consider breastfeeding their children in somewhat private manner. I once sat at a front table in a busy NY deli with two close friends whose (new/first) children were acting up. Out of frustration, both girls just whipped out their boobs and started breastfeeding at the table."

Was it one of those Jewish Deli's where you can't mix milk products and meat? Otherwise I don't see the problem.
posted by Mitheral at 2:57 PM on April 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


The only real point I wanted to make is that you were attacking whoever the original commenter was as if he/she were saying NOBODY MUST BREASTFEED IN PUBLIC when the actual claims made were vastly milder than that.

"Milder"?! Let's do a close-reading, shall we?

I once sat at a front table in a busy NY deli with two close friends whose (new/first) children were acting up.

"Acting up" is a crazy phrase to use for a newborn. It implies some behavioral problem, when in fact a newborn has absolutely no agency. Crying is not "acting up"; it means only "I'm miserable/I'm hungry/this hurts/I'm tired."

Out of frustration, both girls just whipped out their boobs and started breastfeeding at the table.

Off-topic, but "girls"? Really?

no modesty whatsoever...

How does she know this? Maybe they were embarrassed but had a lot of trouble breastfeeding, as many new mothers do, and couldn't do it with a blanket over the breast, because they couldn't see to latch the baby on properly. It's a difficult trick to master.

they just didn't know how to handle babies yet and wanted the children to stop crying so they frantically whipped out their boobs to get them to shut up.

This is where she goes to eleven. She's saying that there must have been some other way to quiet the babies, other than feeding them, and these new moms were just trying to "shut them up." She is wrong. Not newborns, no way. This is not a child tantruming, and the mom needs to "just say no." This is a hungry baby, and the baby needs to be fed.
posted by palliser at 3:02 PM on April 12, 2009 [11 favorites]


Actually, my understanding is that in experiments if children are given the option of eating as much as they want of anything they want, including as much candy as they want, they actually on average do end up eating healthily. I'm not so confident that these sort of things (like making children go to bed at a certain time, particularly) are really for the benefit of the children

I couldn't disagree with you more. On both counts.

Most kids I know, including my son, will pig out on snack foods and candy instead of healthy foods. If yo don't believe me, find any kid you know and offer them green vegetables in one bowl and M&M's in another bowl. See which bowl gets emptied first. I thought so.

As far as the sleeping, here's an excerpt from Kid's Health:

Lack of sleep for kids can cause irritable or hyper types of behavior and can also make a condition like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) worse.

Five year olds need 10-12 hours per night. These are growing children and it is always obvious to me (and everyone else) when my son doesn't get the sleep he needs. Or just check out a pre-K classroom after a late night. Teachers just dread these days because a kid who doesn't get his sleep is a cranky difficult kid.
posted by cjets at 3:05 PM on April 12, 2009


Was it one of those Jewish Deli's where you can't mix milk products and meat?

Who knew?
posted by gman at 3:07 PM on April 12, 2009


miss lynster:One man gave me a really creepy leer after his initial shock, as if to say, "So, you're not gonna pop out yours too? Oh, come onnnnn."

Sorry about that.
posted by dr_dank at 3:11 PM on April 12, 2009


I wouldn't whip out my boobs in public, and having a baby won't change that. Maybe I'm just a prude, or too susceptible to social peer pressure, but I guess that's my cross to bear.
posted by amro at 3:13 PM on April 12, 2009


As many of you may, or may not know, it has been legal in Ontario for women to walk around topless in public for about 12 years now. The only time I've seen it is at Gay Pride. Then again, I rarely see men walk around topless in Toronto either.
posted by gman at 3:15 PM on April 12, 2009


Actually, my understanding is that in experiments if children are given the option of eating as much as they want of anything they want, including as much candy as they want, they actually on average do end up eating healthily.

Also, I guess you didn't hear about the obesity epidemic in kids.
posted by cjets at 3:16 PM on April 12, 2009


No, bringing a blankie is just being prepared. I'm the dad of a 10 month old and a five year old. We bring a diaper bag with the baby everywhere she goes. Everywhere.

The diaper bag has all the necessities, including a blankie. My wife breastfeeds, often in public and she prefers, both for herself and for others, to cover up.

We are occasionally out with other moms who are of the "whip out your boob" style of public breastfeeding. It annoys me but it really annoys my breastfeeding wife who thinks that any breastfeeding mom can take the twenty seconds to show a little modesty.


1) As you say, the blankie is "for [your wife] and for others." Not for the baby, so not part of "handling a baby."

2) Glad to hear you never forget anything. I guess us imperfect humans have to make hard choices sometimes, like "Shit, I forgot the blanket, but the baby is crying; well, it's not ideal for me to breastfeed right now, but it's not fair to let the baby suffer because I screwed up."

3) Once you're a veteran, it's hard to remember what it's like being a new nursing mother of a first child. You or your wife may remember how hard it is to get the baby to latch, and how it's near-impossible when you can't see anything because there's a blanket over the baby.

I'm personally of the modest camp; I prefer it for myself. But I vividly remember forgetting the blankie one day, and being in a cafeteria-style restaurant with a friend, and the baby had woken up while we were still in line for food and had already been crying for 5 minutes or so by the time we sat down. There was no way I was going to make her wait until we got home, nor was I going to nurse in a toilet stall.

And as it turned out, nobody batted an eye. They were, like, eating their lunches and shit; what the hell did they care about me? I guess Pittsburgh is more cosmopolitan than NY. Either that, or the original commenter thinks more people are staring at her than are. (I'm going with the latter.)
posted by palliser at 3:17 PM on April 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Five year olds need 10-12 hours per night. These are growing children and it is always obvious to me (and everyone else) when my son doesn't get the sleep he needs. Or just check out a pre-K classroom after a late night. Teachers just dread these days because a kid who doesn't get his sleep is a cranky difficult kid.

Growth hormones are released in sleep as well. So there's that, too.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:22 PM on April 12, 2009


Most kids I know, including my son, will pig out on snack foods and candy instead of healthy foods. If yo don't believe me, find any kid you know and offer them green vegetables in one bowl and M&M's in another bowl. See which bowl gets emptied first. I thought so.

That's exactly the experiment I've seen done: every day the kid is offered twenty or thirty bowls filled with various foods and if they finish the bowl it gets refilled. I think that one of the candies in question was indeed M&M's. Yeah, at first they go after whatever they've been taught is the "forbidden fruit" but after a short time they start eating a variety of things - mostly vegetables.

It isn't somehow inborn that children go after things like M&M's; it's a cultural thing. A friend of mine who was a teacher in Japan, who now lives in the States and hosts exchange students all the time, says that Japanese kids who come over here hate the food because they find everything sickeningly sweet.

Five year olds need 10-12 hours per night.

I didn't say anything about sleep-depriving children - I said that getting the kids to go to bed at a certain time is for the adult's sake, not because kids have some natural need to go to sleep at a certain time. Just like waking them up in the morning and carting them off to daycare or kindergarten or something is probably at best indirectly in their interests. Obviously parents' financial situation might make not doing so impractical (might - I know some couples who object to the compromises in their own lives that would arise from someone having to stay home, rather than have a real financial need for daycare) but my point is that many of these details of child care have to do with the needs of the adults rather than the needs of the children.
posted by XMLicious at 3:28 PM on April 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


1) As you say, the blankie is "for [your wife] and for others." Not for the baby, so not part of "handling a baby."

No, the blankie is for the baby. The baby can use it as a (wait for it) blanket, or to sit on, or as a wipe if all else fails. Sometimes the baby just likes holding the blankie. And yes, my wife can use it as well.

2) Glad to hear you never forget anything. I guess us imperfect humans have to make hard choices sometimes, like "Shit, I forgot the blanket, but the baby is crying; well, it's not ideal for me to breastfeed right now, but it's not fair to let the baby suffer because I screwed up."

Please spare me the snark and don't put words in my mouth. I certainly never said don't feed the baby. Just try and be prepared. Unfortunately, there are certain people who are either perpetually unprepared, want to show off, or have an agenda/entitlement about breastfeeding in public (something along the lines of "How dare other people ask me to cover up my beautiful breasts when I feed my beautiful baby"). My anecdata suggests that most moms who do this do not forget. They just choose not to for one of the reasons mentioned above.

3) Once you're a veteran, it's hard to remember what it's like being a new nursing mother of a first child. You or your wife may remember how hard it is to get the baby to latch, and how it's near-impossible when you can't see anything because there's a blanket over the baby.

A baby should not be in public for the first four to six weeks or longer. So the latching issue should be solved by then. And if breastfeeding continues to be an issue then maybe the parent should consider formula or not going out until the baby can breastfeed comfortably.

I'm personally of the modest camp; I prefer it for myself. But I vividly remember forgetting the blankie one day, and being in a cafeteria-style restaurant with a friend, and the baby had woken up while we were still in line for food and had already been crying for 5 minutes or so by the time we sat down. There was no way I was going to make her wait until we got home, nor was I going to nurse in a toilet stall.

If feeding the baby is so urgent, why did you continue to wait in line for five minutes?

All snark aside, we seem to be in agreement. You want modest. We want modest. I'm not trying to criticize someone who forgets their blankie once or twice. I'm criticizing people who choose not to be modest, either as part of an agenda or who are too thoughtless/lazy to bring a blankie or something like it.

What would you think of a parent who continually forgot to bring diapers for their baby?
posted by cjets at 3:32 PM on April 12, 2009


I'm one of those kids who was allowed to eat whatever I wanted, when I wanted. I also grew up with a number of freedoms that the majority of Americans consider "bad parenting". Most of the children I grew up with also enjoyed these freedoms. (There are plenty of families who believe children are far more capable than traditional wisdom might suggest of knowing what they need to thrive. These people don't subscribe to the view that children don't know what's good for them - they're called radical unschoolers.)

Here's the catch: you can't just let a child choose between candy and carrots once, see that he or she makes the "wrong" choice, and decide that the child is incapable of making healthy decisions. You can't even just do it twice. You really have to trust the kid - who, of course, has likely internalized your opinion of his or her inability to make good choices . The child may eat ice cream for dinner for a week (or longer - kids are pretty seriously controlled, and everybody knows that people who have been controlled go hog wild for a bit before settling down - college freshmen anyone?) before he or she realizes that you're serious about letting her decide what foods are best for her. At that point, when some trust has been established, you can teach him or her what you know about good nutrition and healthy eating, and then the child can make a real decision.

Having family relationships based on trust in this way are NOT negligent - they take a huge amount of work, thought, and communication. They can be scary - I'm sure every parent who goes this route (remember, I've only been the kid in this equation) freaks out once in a while when their child spends a week eating only toast or worse, chips - but I have NEVER seen it fail. The people I know who have grown up this way are a joyful, smart bunch who know themselves and know what they need. We all enjoy a sweet treat now and then, but the fact is that crappy food does not make a person feel good, and if a child is allowed to discover this fact in a truly shame-free and control-free environment, they come to the conclusion that takes many people DECADES: good food tastes good and makes you healthy. And even better, they haven't grown up with their sense of self-worth attached to whether or not they eat the correct foods, so they're far less likely to develop issues related to food. I know I sound like I'm giving a sales pitch, but I'm serious - respect works, and I appreciated it as a child, and I appreciate it even more in retrospect.

This has gone slightly off topic (sorry I'm so long-winded), but in my mind it's very related to the extended breastfeeding issue. I really couldn't tell you what the situation is with the children in that video, and I don't think anybody can guess from watching it, but I think that makes all the difference. I don't have any issue whatsoever with breasfeeding 2 and 3 year olds. Like others, I'm a little "huh?" as regards breastfeeding 8 year olds, but honestly, it's not my decision, it sure isn't hurting me, and I seriously doubt it's hurting the kids (8 year olds: not yet obsessed with sex)... quibbling about whether or not it's ok for some random person to be doing this seems a bit pointless.
posted by Cygnet at 3:38 PM on April 12, 2009 [12 favorites]


From what I recall, I believe it was in Czarist Russia (though it may have been practiced elsewhere, perhaps I'm confusing it with Medieval Europe), it was common to breastfeed children until they were 7 or 8 because that meant one less mouth to feed with actual food. After that, they could at least work to earn their keep.
posted by champthom at 3:41 PM on April 12, 2009


I didn't say anything about sleep-depriving children - I said that getting the kids to go to bed at a certain time is for the adult's sake, not because kids have some natural need to go to sleep at a certain time.

I'm not really sure what the point is here. My son has pre-K that begins at 9 AM. That's not for my benefit, that's for his. It is to prepare him for Kindergarten, which starts at 8:15 AM starting this fall. I need to put him down at 8 PM to get enough sleep for school and related after school activities (again for his benefit.)

I suppose I could just let him go to sleep whenever he wants and wake up whenever he wants but how is that preparing him for kindergarten? Or for life for that matter?

Children thrive on predictability and consistency. That, and a good night's sleep is what I am trying to provide for both of my kids.
posted by cjets at 3:44 PM on April 12, 2009


Wow, none of you must live in Seattle. I see 2, 3, 4 year olds breastfeeding all the time, but then again, my friends are kinda hippies.

One family also co-sleeps all 4 to the bed with the 5 and 7 year old. Go figure.
posted by tristeza at 3:48 PM on April 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Children thrive on predictability and consistency. That, and a good night's sleep is what I am trying to provide for both of my kids.

That's a bit of a different tune from what you were saying here, which is what I was responding to. At that point you appeared to be saying that it's completely absurd and outrageous for children to be permitted to decide any of those things for themselves. And you sarcastically said What a wonderful approach to raising children - as though there's something wrong with raising children that way.

The point is that the difference between raising children that way, and raising children the way you are raising yours (which I am not criticizing) probably has more to do with differences in the needs of the adults involved.
posted by XMLicious at 3:53 PM on April 12, 2009


And if breastfeeding continues to be an issue then maybe the parent should consider formula or not going out until the baby can breastfeed comfortably.

These solutions -- stay home or switch to formula -- seem to me vastly more burdensome than the initial problem: that a mother may need to be exposed just long enough to get the baby latched properly. If you're just a regular person going about your business, you see a breastfeeding mom exposing a breast for a second or two -- how often? Once a month, maybe? I never noticed it before having children, so my guess is it can't be that often. Whereas staying home all the time, or switching to formula, are big changes in family life. I think the relative burdens speak for people just looking away and moving on.

And if they do see it, there's really no way to know what situation the mother is in, or what kind of statement she may be trying to make. The original commenter was out-of-line in the assumptions she was making about her friends (no modesty whatsoever) and about their capability as mothers (didn't know how to handle their babies and so just breastfed to shut them up). I feel comfortable calling her on it, and also pointing out some of the various scenarios in which even "modest" women may be called upon to breastfeed in public, uncovered.

Finally, I don't see anything morally wrong with the "my breast is beautiful, and my nursing baby is, too" attitude. It's not mine, but it's not disgusting, and it's certainly not like shitting in public.
posted by palliser at 4:04 PM on April 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


it was common to breastfeed children until they were 7 or 8 because that meant one less mouth to feed with actual food.

I guess it was also common to not be acquainted with the various laws of thermodynamics...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:07 PM on April 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


If feeding the baby is so urgent, why did you continue to wait in line for five minutes?

If you were concerned about the baby: I didn't wait in line; I had my friend order for both of us, and I took the newborn and her one-and-a-half-year-old brother to the table. But by the time I had carried a high chair for him to the table, and had him safely buckled in it, and her out of her on-the-body carrier, it had been about 5 minutes.
posted by palliser at 4:08 PM on April 12, 2009


I'm really shocked that so many people here (of all places) are offended by a breast-feeding mother. I never would have imagined that anyone would compare breastfeeding to smoking or public urination. I hope you're equally repelled and indignant about people who chew with their mouths open and men who walk around topless showing off their (gasp) nipples.

Personally, I have absolutely no problem with women breastfeeding uncovered. Breasts to not need to be covered by law anyway, and there's nothing indecent about breastfeeding. If you think there is, you may need to consider that you have some deeply-rooted misogyny rattling around in there.

Everyone around these parts is pretty quick to point out how other kinds of mandatory female covering is problematic and/or misogynist: the burqini comes to mind. But a breastfeeding mother, trying to get out of the house once in a while before she goes crazy, causes so much upset? Surreal.

Just look away, alright? You don't need to stare at her breasts. Now grow up.
posted by Hildegarde at 4:11 PM on April 12, 2009 [38 favorites]



Maias: "it puts you well outside the mainstream and can start to create issues with peers."

And it's never too soon to teach the importance of bowing to peer pressure.


There's bowing to peer pressure and then there's acting within the norms of a culture. If you are going to act outside the norms of a culture, you are likely to be ostracized and rejected-- as a parent, making a choice like this for your child, to me, is problematic.

If you choose to set your child up for such things by, for example, making them dress extremely differently from the others (always covered head to toe, for example) or by breastfeeding when they are 8, your child is going to feel like an outsider.

Schools can and should work hard to get children to accept difference and respect other cultures and practices but as a child that was relentlessly bullied for being different and who thought everyone should just accept me as I am rather than making any attempt to learn the cues and cultural norms that would have made my life a lot easier, I personally would prefer not to create a situation that would exacerbate these problems for my child.

Lots of people here feel a gut revulsion when they watch that woman with the huge child lying across the couch sucking on her breast-- setting your child up to gross other people out is not a good way to help them do well with peers.
posted by Maias at 4:14 PM on April 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


I love how in the video the girl says "I'd rather have breast milk than a million melons." I'm thinking, can't you have both?
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:18 PM on April 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


The breastfeeding is not a big deal, it's totally natural. However, I bet those kids grow up with oral fixations more so than those who aren't breastfed for such a long period.
posted by Flex1970 at 4:19 PM on April 12, 2009


That's a bit of a different tune from what you were saying here, which is what I was responding to. At that point you appeared to be saying that it's completely absurd and outrageous for children to be permitted to decide any of those things for themselves. And you sarcastically said What a wonderful approach to raising children - as though there's something wrong with raising children that way.

The point is that the difference between raising children that way, and raising children the way you are raising yours (which I am not criticizing) probably has more to do with differences in the needs of the adults involved.


First of all, I don't see any inconsistencies is what I am saying. The predictability, consistency and good night's sleep are good for our child. It makes my life harder not easier to provide him with that consistency and predictability.

We sacrifice a lot to have a nanny watch our kids (vacations, new cars, clothes, etc.) so that they don't have to be at child care from 8 - 6. That makes it harder, not easier for us, the parents.

The differences you mention do not have to do with what is good for the adult. It is insulting to suggest that. Children need to learn to go to sleep at a normal hour so they can get up for school. Do you consider school to be for the adult or for child?

It is absurd and outrageous for kids to be making the decisions I mentioned above. It is not for a child to determine when they go to sleep or what they eat, or if they go to school, etc. A child should be encouraged to begin to make decisions such as which healthy meal they want but a parent is there to teach a child how to behave in so many different ways.
posted by cjets at 4:27 PM on April 12, 2009


Wow, I'm glad I was out of here for a while.

This is self-sure, judgmental, and ill-informed. They "just didn't know how to handle babies yet" -- their own babies? You knew better?

I said that because this is both what they SAID AT THE TIME. That is WHY they both started breastfeeding and they SAID EXACTLY AS MUCH. And I was just talking to one of those friends today who remembers it exactly the same way. She still laughs about how I was sandwiched between them and how people reacted and this happened seven years ago.

Honestly, I'm not prudish and I know a hell of a lot more about babies than apparently a few of you are assuming I do. I'm not a moron. So I'm sorry I told that story, as clearly I didn't describe the situation well enough to paint an accurate picture. Either that or people are just so biased they rush to judge what I was saying as OMIGODBOOBSIMACLUELESSPRUDEWHOKNOWSNOTHINABOUTPARENTING. Which is a pretty obnoxious assumption. But it doesn't really matter.
posted by miss lynnster at 4:45 PM on April 12, 2009


Malcom-X John Lennon come on in and dig your mother...
posted by Confess, Fletch at 4:53 PM on April 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm really shocked that so many people here (of all places) are offended by a breast-feeding mother.

Has anybody said that they are? I've noted that there's a mild taboo against it in current American society; its existence seems pretty incontrovertible but I'm open to convincing that it doesn't really exist. That says nothing about how I feel about it; as it happens I don't care but also don't think that people who it makes uncomfortable are somehow wrong for feeling so.

The thing that annoyed me was the drearily predictable leaping down the throat of the first person to say anything negative about breastfeeding, even when she didn't even say that public breastfeeding was bad.

OMIGODBOOBSIMAC

Not more AppleFilter. Please.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:03 PM on April 12, 2009


The thing that annoyed me was the drearily predictable leaping down the throat of the first person to say anything negative about breastfeeding, even when she didn't even say that public breastfeeding was bad.

Honestly, if her comment had read differently, the simple fact of her being uncomfortable with mothers nursing in public, uncovered, would not have bothered me. It's not like there have been calls in this thread for banning it as indecent exposure or something. But I really think there was a lot more to her initial comment, especially in phrases like "acting up," "just whipped out their boobs," "no modesty whatsoever," "just didn't know how to handle babies yet," "whipped out their boobs to get them to shut up."

Also, I understand your comparison to public defecation was merely meant to illustrate that "natural" doesn't necessarily mean "acceptable in public." But it's something that you see in very ugly comments about breastfeeding, and that makes it a comparison that is going to anger people.

Finally, I do think the fact that breastfeeding is widely protected by law indicates that the social norm against public breastfeeding is dying out. Certainly most people shocked by it tend to be older folks for whom formula-feeding was the norm.
posted by palliser at 5:25 PM on April 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


One more thing, as I clearly have not commented on this thread enough: The comparison to the burqini reminded me of a story my brother-in-law told me. He's a pediatric specialist, and when he was working in Houston he saw several patients whose families were from Gulf nations. One such patient was a young infant, and when he went into the patient's room, the baby was nursing under his mother's abaya. My brother-in-law started to apologize and leave, but the father said, "No, no, come in, it's fine." My brother-in-law started into the room again, but when the mother started to lift her robes, he said again he'd come back later. But again the father said, "No, no, examine him while he's eating, it will be more comfortable for him."

Nobody is less comfortable with breastfeeding than Americans.
posted by palliser at 5:42 PM on April 12, 2009 [8 favorites]


the social norm against public breastfeeding is dying out

Nobody is less comfortable with breastfeeding than Americans.

Now I don't know which of the two of you to believe.
posted by found missing at 5:56 PM on April 12, 2009


cjets:

I disagree that it's "absurd and outrageous" for children to make decisions about what to eat, and so on. It sounds as though we disagree about what is moral and ethical as regards raising children, and of course it would be silly to argue which one of our opinions is Correct, since I think we both feel fairly strongly. But if you consider it "absurd and outrageous" to let children make the aforementioned choices because you believe it is the same thing is neglecting the needs of a child, or neglecting to teach the child important things - I think you are misunderstanding the position. The idea is not to turn the child out to pasture and stop giving him or her guidance or care - it is to educate the child to the best of one's ability and then trust that he or she WILL figure out what is best for himself or herself. It's not entirely obvious that this approach works, and I understand why some may view it as irresponsible, but I speak from experience when I say that it leads to meaningful learning and genuinely good decisions based on self respect. Of course there are going to be rough patches - but that's a given no matter what!
posted by Cygnet at 6:01 PM on April 12, 2009


I bet those kids grow up with oral fixations more so than those who aren't breastfed for such a long period.

Yeah, it'd be very detrimental to them, not to follow the standard progression through the anal, phallic & genital phases like the other kids their age.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:06 PM on April 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


(Er, more succinctly, I think I could have just said that I think the role of the parent is more to model good behavior, rather than demand it of the child. And that the point is not to force the child to experience terrible consequences of a bad choice - we all need a rescue now and then, and it's certainly not as if 2-year-olds are going to be allowed to discover the dangers of kitchen chemicals on their own - but to let them experiment as widely as possible without limitations, but WITH lots of support.)
posted by Cygnet at 6:07 PM on April 12, 2009


Yeah, breastfeeding eating is perfectly natural and normal and good"

Fixed that for ya!

(I've heard of a mother who carries a blanket with her. If someone makes a comment like yours, she offers them the blanket to put over their head while the baby eats!)
posted by Jaybo at 6:08 PM on April 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


If Veronika (the mum in the video) feels so strongly that breast milk is the healthiest natural food for her eight-year-old, then she could certainly pump it and give it to her in a cup. But the way she goes on about how much more "satisfying" it is to breastfeed now because her daughters are able to articulate how much they enjoy it, and how they don't notice any sagging or stretch marks, definitely brings some sort of weird sexual aspect to the whole picture. Especially since in the original, unedited video (which I can't find online at the moment) it showed her husband nursing right along with one of the girls. And Bethany mentioned that she couldn't wait to grow breasts so that she could suckle them.

Maybe I'm weired, but I tend to think when a child is just a few years away from puberty in her own right, and has been noshing on solid foods for four or five years, it's time to wean.
posted by Oriole Adams at 6:20 PM on April 12, 2009


*weird", that is.
posted by Oriole Adams at 6:20 PM on April 12, 2009


But it's something that you see in very ugly comments about breastfeeding

I had no idea. Sorry.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:41 PM on April 12, 2009


cjets: First of all, I don't see any inconsistencies is what I am saying.

I didn't say anything about inconsistencies. By "different tune" I mean that you went from broadly criticizing other people's parenting techniques to trying to make this all about you and your children and talking about what a good parent you are.

The predictability, consistency and good night's sleep are good for our child.

I didn't say they weren't. It's just that you don't have some sort of special knowledge about the One Correct Way to Raise Children. Again, this isn't about you - it's about the rationale behind your criticisms of other people's parenting.

The differences you mention do not have to do with what is good for the adult. It is insulting to suggest that.

Insulting or not, different parents are going to parent differently. And parents' needs and desires definitely do affect their children.

Besides that - even if I was criticizing your parenting style, which I am not - you aren't exactly in a great position to be all outraged about parenting styles being criticized in an insulting fashion.

Children need to learn to go to sleep at a normal hour so they can get up for school. Do you consider school to be for the adult or for child?

It's great that you've got this whole "normal" idea for how you want your child's life to be but the way you want to live isn't the only way to live.

And just like I didn't suggest that children ought to be sleep-deprived, I didn't suggest that children shouldn't go to school.

Again - this all has to do with the needs of the adults, not the needs of the children. The reason that school starts early in the morning and runs until the afternoon and repeats the same schedule every day is because of the needs of the adults involved - not because there's some fundamental principle of biology or the universe that says that eight-year-olds derive benefit from that. So it's poseur and baseless to be all outraged and condescending because someone else isn't raising their children the same way you do.

I'm probably going offline shortly and so won't be posting again any time soon.
posted by XMLicious at 6:54 PM on April 12, 2009


Meh.

1. Breastfeeding is good; anyone who says otherwise (no one here, btw) is just ignorant
2. Modesty as it regards typically-covered body parts is good
3. #1 and #2 can co-exist quite easily
4. I don't know the exact age where it becomes "too old", but 8 is "too old"
5. Letting kids "do whatever they want" is lunacy
6. Raising children to be completely unaware of societal and cultural norms is neglect
7. Breastfeeding beyond 3 is not about nutrition

Note that all of the above is my opinion. Others may have other opinions.

But they'd be wrong...

At least according to me.

Which doesn't matter.

Except to me.
posted by Ynoxas at 7:39 PM on April 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


How old is too old to be breastfed?

How old was that dying dude in The Grapes of Wrath?
posted by Brian B. at 7:41 PM on April 12, 2009


Breast-fed boyfriends are the best-fed boyfriends.
posted by jonp72 at 7:45 PM on April 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


the social norm against public breastfeeding is dying out

Nobody is less comfortable with breastfeeding than Americans.

Now I don't know which of the two of you to believe.

Well, the two statements are not necessarily inconsistent -- the norm could be dying out but still be stronger here than elsewhere.

i suppose what I mean is that we could talk about some ratio of comfort-with-public-exposure-of-body-parts to comfort-with-breastfeeding, and in America, that ratio is high. Given that it's exposure with a purpose, the exposure associated with breastfeeding might be seen as less of an immodesty than other exposures, but it seems that the opposite is true here -- the exposure associated with breastfeeding is viewed as more of an immodesty. In other words, we can see as much of a breast in a print ad, or when someone bends over in a loose-necked top, and not be taken aback, but when it's breastfeeding, it's much more arresting. I think Americans find the act especially oogy, although obviously we're not the culture most opposed to public exposure to female body parts.
posted by palliser at 7:52 PM on April 12, 2009


IMACLUELESSPRUDEWHOKNOWSNOTHINABOUTPARENTING. Which is a pretty obnoxious assumption.

You discussed breastfeeding in relation to your own comfort, you implied you knew more about someone else's babies than their own mothers, and you questioned the parenting skills of your "close friends" on a public blog. What did you think people were going to think?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:08 PM on April 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


But if you consider it "absurd and outrageous" to let children make the aforementioned choices because you believe it is the same thing is neglecting the needs of a child, or neglecting to teach the child important things - I think you are misunderstanding the position. The idea is not to turn the child out to pasture and stop giving him or her guidance or care - it is to educate the child to the best of one's ability and then trust that he or she WILL figure out what is best for himself or herself.

I certainly agree with the idea of educating the child. I just don't think that a five year old has the mental faculties to make sound decisions even when you educate him or her to the best of your abilities. If you are talking about a twelve or thirteen year old, I might be more apt to agree with you. But give me a few years.

I think I could have just said that I think the role of the parent is more to model good behavior, rather than demand it of the child.

Again, I couldn't agree more with the notion of modeling good behavior. I've always said that being a parent has made me a better person. I also agree with allowing kids to experiment. The goal, of course, is to develop an independent, self sufficient individual. I just think that kids need guidelines and that they function better with guidelines.
posted by cjets at 8:18 PM on April 12, 2009


By "different tune" I mean that you went from broadly criticizing other people's parenting techniques to trying to make this all about you and your children and talking about what a good parent you are.

By broadly criticizing other parents I assume you mean that I criticized the woman in the video. Because she was the only person I criticized.

I didn't say they weren't. It's just that you don't have some sort of special knowledge about the One Correct Way to Raise Children. Again, this isn't about you - it's about the rationale behind your criticisms of other people's parenting.

Once again, you're twisting my words to make some conclusion that I never made. I never said that I have the one correct way to parent. I said that allowing a kid to make all the choices is not a good way of parenting. There are a great range of parenting styles to choose from that do not allow the kid to make all the choices.

I believe that a child needs guidance, structure and rules from their parents. That's my rationale.

Children need to learn to go to sleep at a normal hour so they can get up for school. Do you consider school to be for the adult or for child?

It's great that you've got this whole "normal" idea for how you want your child's life to be but the way you want to live isn't the only way to live.


Yes, this whole "normal" idea of wanting my kids to sleep through the night and go to school in the morning. Sorry I'm not as groovy as you sending my kids to night owl school and letting them sleep all day.
posted by cjets at 8:46 PM on April 12, 2009


Damn, a topic I am an expert on and I have to miss the discussion because I am nursing my baby.

I have spent most of the past nine years nursing, in public, without a blanket over either my or my baby's head and it hasn't been a problem. Maybe that is because I am in Canada where toplessness and public breastfeeding is a right or maybe because I live and work in a area that is dominated by New Canadians who consider breastfeeding natural or maybe my own "I'm cool with this, you should be cool too" attitude calms people down. I nursed my children until they were around three (formal school begins around three and a half here) with the full support of my doctor (chief of paediatrics at the hospital). I didn't get flack from anybody - well except my mother, but she criticises me as a hobby.

When I wear a low-cut, v-neck shirt, the intent is to get men to take notice of the sneak-peek of my private area.... yet pull one out and put a baby to it and people are supposed to have no reaction besides a mom-positive thumbs up.

How hetro-normative of you. When I have cleavage showing it is because my breasts are so big nothing short of a turtleneck will cover them completely (and then they look even bigger so you probably think I am doing that for even more male attention - look at my boobs! Better hide your husband). If a bit of my breast shows when I am nursing, so what? Nursing is what breasts are for, not secondary to the need for men to gawp at any exposed breast that comes their way (not that I think that but you seem to believe men are entitled and it is women that should change their behaviour).

Even with my breast being bigger than my baby's head I am still able to nurse with discretion (showing less than the average swimsuit/revealing top) because her head covers up the most taboo part of the breast - the nipple. Even if a little nip is seen it would be an accident, look away while the mother arranges herself. If you saw a piper trip ass-over-teakettle would you think "Bollocks, I hope he is okay" or would you moralise about his choice of attire and lack of foresight in predicting every eventuality?

What the heck is it about public nursing that drives so many Americans crazy? The US media and advertising is full of breasts but breast-feeding and the women that are brazen and attention-whorish to do it in public without a blanket are so demonised. It is funny that men and women from cultures that are far more repressive to women in so many ways chat with me and smile at the natural sight of a baby being fed but the Americans I meet are embarrassed for me.
posted by saucysault at 8:51 PM on April 12, 2009 [8 favorites]


What the heck is it about public nursing that drives so many Americans crazy?

Where does any taboo or social norm come from? At some level they're all of them beyond reason and just are, until they aren't.

It is funny that men and women from cultures that are far more repressive to women in so many ways chat with me and smile at the natural sight of a baby being fed

How is that funny or weird? People brought up with very traditional gender roles are likely to be more comfortable with a woman behaving in closer accordance with those very traditional gender roles than one who isn't.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:14 PM on April 12, 2009


When they can start to abstract their experiences about breastfeeding, it's time to take them off the boob.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:28 PM on April 12, 2009


I have a 7 month old and looooove breastfeeding. It is such a happy place for both of us. I have no idea when I want to stop...I stopped with my first when she got teeth and began to pull..at about 7 months. But this is my last kid and I don't want to stop. That said, I think when they can walk up and lift up the shirt, that's too old. When they can ask for it, that's too old. But that's me.

I'll stop when it feels right to stop. Luckily I live in the Bay Area where its pretty open-minded. But I"m always sure to cover up as best I can...just makes everyone feel more comfortable.

Man, do I love breastfeeding. I'm not a crunchy granola-hippie, but I LOVE it. Its one of the greatest things in the world. I know the baby likes it too because when she sleeps, she makes sucking motions with her lips and smiles. Awesome.
posted by aacheson at 9:42 PM on April 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


I was hoping a for a more nuanced reason for the regionalised social taboo than they "just are". American culture is remarkably similair to Canadian, British, Australian etc culture but seems to be the anomaly when it comes to public breastfeeding. It can't be blamed on the puritans because they shamed women who didn't breastfeed.

To be more clear on my statement you seem to have misunderstood, it is funny to me that people raised in a culture that look at the exposed skin of a woman as inciting men's sexual desire and something to be ashamed of see an exposed breast as non-sexual when it is feeding an infant, whereas some Americans see that that same breast as something to be celebrated unless it is feeding a child, at which point it is something to be ashamed of. Americans are very comfortable with women performing in traditional gender roles, there is hardly a big movement against women remaining in those gendered roles in female-dominated professions, or waiting for the man to ask the woman out on a date or for her hand in marriage. I could see your point if breast-feeding was outside the traditional gender role for women, but I would say there are very few traditional female roles that American women would be publicly dissuaded against beyond breast-feeding.
posted by saucysault at 9:49 PM on April 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


but I would say there are very few traditional female roles that American women would be publicly dissuaded against beyond breast-feeding.

True, American women are encouraged to be F-15 pilots and what have you, but public breastfeeding still is not without its taboos. I don't think there is really a strong linkage between the two. It's more that Americans are just squeamish about bodies, and breastfeeding makes them acutely aware that they have a body that came from another body. The thing the US needs to move beyond this is for high school students to get a full year of sex ed rather than the 6 weeks they get from the high school gym coach/health teacher.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:54 PM on April 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wikipedia has an article about attitudes around the world towards public breastfeeding and that page has a link to another site where people can submit their own stories and experiences about public breastfeeding in various countries around the world.
posted by Jaybo at 10:17 PM on April 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Breast milk changes over time to adapt to the needs of the child, nutritionally."

But what about my needs, Linda? What about my needs?!
posted by Eideteker at 10:39 PM on April 12, 2009


I thought the post was about breastfeeding older children, now it's almost entirely about public breastfeeding. Let's really turn it into a mommy board and start a fight about sleep training, too.
posted by HopperFan at 11:04 PM on April 12, 2009


Oh, and I thought the universally agreed upon time for kids is when the teeth start coming in.
posted by Eideteker at 11:12 PM on April 12, 2009


American women are encouraged to be F-15 pilots

Actually, F/A-18 pilots, apparently.
posted by Netzapper at 11:46 PM on April 12, 2009


Oh, and I thought the universally agreed upon time for kids is when the teeth start coming in.

not if you get your kids de-toothed.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:18 AM on April 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


What is with the false dichotomy going on in this thread that seems to be between "you are 100% comfortable with breastfeeding everywhere, anytime, at any age" and "you're a lecherous prick who loves to ogle breastfeeding mothers"? I see a lot of casual and well-reasoned arguments getting responses like "grow up" and "don't stare at my tits pervert".
posted by tehloki at 12:32 AM on April 13, 2009


I'm actually just shocked the mother still produces a significant amount of milk 8 years after pregnancy. I'm completely ignorant of how this stuff works, and I'd appreciate it if someone could clue me in. Mothers start producing milk during pregnancy, and pretty much need to breastfeed, but I always thought it petered out after a year or two. Can you just breastfeed continuously? Do you even need to be pregnant to start?
posted by heathkit at 12:36 AM on April 13, 2009


American culture is remarkably similair to Canadian, British, Australian etc culture but seems to be the anomaly when it comes to public breastfeeding.

I'll say. I've never even *heard* of this whole 'blankie' business before.

From what I recall of my wife publicly breastfeeding our own kids, it went something like this: The shirt covered the top of the tit, the babies head covered the bottom of the tit. The only way you could actually get to *see*anything is if you snuck around for a sideview and tried really, really hard.

Oh sure, you might get a half second flash as it locked on and locked off, but so what? Get over yourself. If it bothers you, look away.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:52 AM on April 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


that's exactly the attitude one might have when having sex in public. from what i have heard.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:29 AM on April 13, 2009


I really have no opinion about breastfeeding an 8 year old. If it works for them, more power to them.

I personally don't believe there is a "well-reasoned" response that expresses a desire for women to be "modest" about breastfeeding.
posted by Hildegarde at 5:29 AM on April 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


I really have no opinion about breastfeeding an 8 year old. If it works for them, more power to them.

If the 8 year old is drawing pictures of her mother's breasts, complete with idealized longer nipples, then there really is some kind of breakdown occurring.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:27 AM on April 13, 2009


I appreciate the irony, because it's actually possible to discreetly breastfeed even in a crowded room, whereas it's not possible to take a wizz in the same situation.

What, you have never heard of the stadium pal?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:33 AM on April 13, 2009


If this kid is still breastfed after she gets her period, things are going to get confusing fast.
posted by goatgirl at 7:42 AM on April 13, 2009


I was hoping a for a more nuanced reason for the regionalised social taboo than they "just are"

If I had to guess, I'd suggest that it acquired some class-marker characteristics during the decades when it was rare among middle-class wasps.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:53 AM on April 13, 2009


"Mothers start producing milk during pregnancy, and pretty much need to breastfeed, but I always thought it petered out after a year or two. Can you just breastfeed continuously?"

In most cases milk production continues as long as the mother continues breastfeeding.
posted by Mitheral at 8:27 AM on April 13, 2009


The whole kerfuffle about public breastfeeding seems to be new and it baffles me. I breastfed both my kids until they were about 15 months old - one in 1983/4 and one in 1991/2. It never even occurred to me that I was supposed to wrap myself in a burqa blanket to do that. As several people have pointed out, how the hell is anyone seeing all that much anyway? I pulled up one side of my shirt, put baby on breast, and voila, there's nothing there but a baby's head and maybe as much of a breast as might be exposed in a bikini. The other breast was still under my shirt although if it was a tight shirt, you might have gotten a glimpse of my stomach, oooh la la. Sigh. I did this in public areas all over the eastern seaboard from Charleston, SC to New York - very possibly in downtown delis without a murmur from anyone - to Vermont and back again and nobody ever seemed surprised, shocked, startled or made a comment. Then sometime in the last five years I started seeing threads like this one. A mom in my granola hippie community got asked to feed her baby in the bathroom at the public swimming pool and there was a big fuss. Another mother here got kicked out of a Denny's for nursing and again, giant fuss.

Here's a quick primer on breastfeeding: You don't start producing milk in pregnancy - the milk comes in some 36 or so hours after the baby is born as a response to the baby's sucking. The first "milk" is actually colostrum and it also is extremely good for babies. The breasts will continue producing milk more or less indefinitely after that as long as the suckling stimulus continues. Not nursing or expressing milk from a nursing breast is quite painful at first and then the milk dries up. Ideally, you gradually nurse less and less and the breasts produce less and less milk until it finally just stops.

The only breastfeeding trouble I encountered was when I developed mastitis in 1992. I ended up at the emergency room with earnest doctors telling me that I couldn't nurse on that side; the baby would get sick and so on, just throw the milk away, etc. This isn't good to hear when you're already running a high fever and in considerable pain. Those were young American doctors. Luckily, an older doctor from India than walked into the room. "Don't listen to them," he said, "They have never seen a nursing breast. Americans are not taught this in their medical schools." He told me to nurse a lot on that side. I did. We all survived just fine.

So, yes, Americans don't learn about breastfeeding; they suddenly, in the last five years in my experience, are horrified by seeing it in public; they demand "modesty" and all in all I'm not sure what has changed in the last 20 years but I'm not seeing it as a positive.
posted by mygothlaundry at 8:44 AM on April 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh and to get back to the original subject of the FPP - how old is too old? I stopped when the whole thing started to get on my nerves and I'd been bitten once or twice. I would recommend that as the answer for any nursing mother. I doubt nursing for twenty years is really going to cause anyone any lasting harm although, yes, it might be tough to explain to a prom date.
posted by mygothlaundry at 8:48 AM on April 13, 2009


Eideteker
Babies get teeth as young as 5 months, 6 months is standard, so no, thats not when you stop, generally.
posted by aacheson at 9:26 AM on April 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Maybe it's just me, but when discussions follow a pattern of "I feel this way and anyone who feels otherwise is ridiculous" it sure makes them seem less interesting and enlightening... whether it's religion, politics, or breastfeeding. YMMV.

But hey, let's get back to the original topic, shall we?
posted by miss lynnster at 10:50 AM on April 13, 2009


Oh, and I thought the universally agreed upon time for kids is when the teeth start coming in.

My brother was a week old when he got his first tooth. Mom said she squirted it into a bowl and fed him that way.

Each of my kids was nursed for two and a half years - bascially about as long as I could stand it. As MGL says, when it gets on your nerves because they're restless or they bite or wander on and off your lap during (a.k.a. "gymnurstics"), it's time to taper off and bond some other way.

As for "asking for it", we did baby sign language, and they could ask when they were six months old. In fact, that was my name for the longest time. Not "mama" verbally, but "milk" in sign language.

The cutest thing I ever encountered was Older Boy picking up one of the nursing horns out of the dishrack and trying to fit it under his shirt. Fortunately for him I don't have a pic
posted by lysdexic at 11:30 AM on April 13, 2009


that's exactly the attitude one might have when having sex in public.

Then you're doing sex wrong.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:04 PM on April 13, 2009


Maybe it's just me, but when discussions follow a pattern of "I feel this way and anyone who feels otherwise is ridiculous" it sure makes them seem less interesting and enlightening...

Actually, I should clarify. This does not apply if the topic is cilantro. Which kicks ass.
posted by miss lynnster at 1:19 PM on April 13, 2009


The Case Against Breastfeeding.
posted by agregoli at 12:58 PM on April 14, 2009


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