Tuesday, 26 January 2010

The Food Of Love

I recently attended a talk and slide show by author and cartoonist Kate Evans on her book 'The Food Of Love'. It was hilarious and heartening and the cartoons cover every possible eventuality for the breastfeeding mother. Here is a link to her cartoon on co-sleeping http://www.thefoodoflove.org/breastfeed-in-your-sleep.htm

'The Food of Love' is a new addition to our library too, so you can borrow it if you would like to see more. I also like her 'Mama Sutra' ...

Tuesday, 12 January 2010


CHANGE IN MEETING LOCATION - the meeting tomorrow, Wed 13 Jan, will now be held at Charlie's house:

39 Hamilton Rd, Southville, BS2 1PA

because Lorraine's house is so difficult to reach in the icy conditions. Ring 0117 939 3028 for directions. Same timings: 10.15am to 12pm. See you there! Charlie

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Full term breastfeeding

There was an article in the Guardian yesterday (09.10.10) about breastfeeding beyond babyhood. The article was based on an interview with Ann Sinnott on her new book Breastfeeding Older Children and you can read it here http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/jan/09/breastfeeding-older-children

I felt that the article just focused on a very few extreme cases and perpetuated the usual view in our culture of breastfeeding as an out of control impulse by children that must be quashed by the adults in their lives. It also trotted out the usual myths of women breastfeeding to 'satisfy their own needs' and views of it being distasteful and weird. The author stated that breastfeeding is a biological imperative to feed as often - and as long - as possible. She didn't mention what happens in the vast majority of cases in the normal course of breastfeeding, so I thought I would fill in some of the missing facts. Here is what The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding says on the subject:

'Why do mothers begin worrying about ending breastfeeding almost as soon as they've started? No doubt there are many reasons, but we suspect that not the least among them is the fact that society often expects babies to be weaned early. Mothers and uneasy about the thought that their babies might still be nursing after everyone expects them to be weaned from the breast.

We don't agree with society's attitudes about early weaning. We believe that ideally the breastfeeding relationship should continue until the baby outgrows the need.

One mother who had weaned because of criticsm from others, had this to say about her decision: "I let pressure from people prematurely end one of the most meaningful experiences I have had with my son...I wish I had it to do all over again now that I am more sure of myself." '

The facts are that human milk continues to provide special benefits for a baby as long as he is breastfed. The immunological benefits are matched by the unique way that breastfeeding can satisfy emotional needs. The breastfeeding relationship changes as the child gets older and the role of responding to the child's need for love and affection takes over from a baby's need for food. At some point, usually gradually, the baby's dependence on mother lessens and he takes steps out in to the world. When a baby does not wean by around a year a mother may worry that this means he is too dependent on her and fear that she is stopping him from growing independent. The Womanly Art again:

'But weaning is a step toward growing up and, like walking or talking, a child takes these steps according to his own timetable. All children stop nursing sooner or later. Some have the need to continue the nursing relationship longer than others - but they do grow out of it eventually. And still they do not become overly dependent. We have been reassured on this point many times over because we have observed first hand hundreds of babies who were considered "late weaners".'

The article shows up the prejudices in society that still surround breastfeeding, but hearteningly it also quotes very supportive comments from husbands and partners of the breastfeeding mothers. Also, the comments added to the article online have been overwhelmingly positive and enlightened.

For research on natural weaning age see this article by Katherine Dettwyler: www.kathydettwyler.org/detwean.html Her research is detailed in the book 'Breastfeeding: Biocultural Perspectives' which you can borrow from our library.

To read about the situation from a mother's own persective, see this article written by Annalisa Barbieri about breastfeeding her 4 year old, which was sent to me by Lorraine: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/why-i-still-breastfeed-my-fouryearold-400171.html

My favourite term is 'full term breastfeeding' which seems more approprate than 'extended' or 'long term'. What do you think?

If you are breastfeeding a toddler then come along to our toddler coffee mornings (see Meetings for dates and venues) and share your experiences and views with other mums in the same situation.

Breastfeeding in the snow

Hope you are enjoying the cold snap. Lucas has been sliding down the road outside our house on baking trays and loving it! Lots of the neighbours are out and all the children are playing together. It would be great if they could always play together outside this way. I am thinking of ways of reclaiming the streets for the important job of playing, let me know what you think...

The feeling of being snowed in can be fun for a bit, but there are plenty of scary tales around of friends being stuck in cars with their babies for ages (9hrs in one case). The breastfeeding mums have such an advantage in this case and don't have to deal with the awful situation of a hungry baby. Here is a link to La Leche's advice on breastfeeding in an emergency http://www.llli.org/FAQ/emergency.html