Salma Hayek “still” breastfeeding – world can’t decide whether to jerk off or prosecute


This is a montage of images from hyperventilating stories about Salma Hayek “Still”! Breastfeeding! At! 13! Months!

The world has burst into a babblefest of gossip about how bizarre this is. There has been an outpouring of shock and disdain, complete with accusations of perversity and child sexual abuse. Here’s a sampling of the buzz. reports:

Salma Hayek is still breastfeeding her 13 month old daughter Valentina-Paloma, for three reasons:

first because it’s good for her baby’s health, second because she feels she shares a special bond with her daughter, and third because she loves how big her milkers got, trying to pass it off as being addicted to breastfeeding:

“I’m like an alcoholic. It is like, I don’t care if I cry, I don’t care if I am fat, I am just going to do it for one more week, one more month, and then when I see how much good it is doing her and I can’t stop.”

Where does it say there that she feeds for the breast enlargement? She enjoys breastfeeding, and she believes it is good for her daughter. OMG! A woman is happily mothering! Stop the presses!

…Why are the presses stopped? Because Salma Hayek’s breasts are public property, that’s why.

Celeb Amour reports:

Salma Hayek is still breast-feeding her daughter, Valentina, whom she had with French businessman François-Henri Pinault in September 2007. Breast-feeding for an entire year. I have to wonder if that’s not one of the reasons the wedding was called off? Maybe ex-squeeze wanted a little more action than what the kiddo was getting.

Views From A Broad:


From the comments:

As A Licensed Psychiatrist I agree that children should be weaned at about a year old. Beyond that breastfeeding is not necessary and is likely to be some form of child sexual abuse. Clearly once a child is able to eat solids and drink from a cup breastfeeding is not needed. I think some women use it as an excuse in order to fullfill some emotional void in their life or sexual void. Its a lack of maturity on the womans part. It tends to create emotionally damaged children. This children are clearly overly dependent on their mother. They have a lot of issues throughout their lives and require counseling and other things to try to get some normalacy back.

In Other Words–That is Just Plain Fucked UP!!!


What Thom said…after a year, she is definitely doing her daughter a disservice unnecessarily creating potential serious dependency and abandonment issues that could last a lifetime…also I detect a certain sexual, exhibitionist element accompanying the statement that she’s “addicted” to having a 1 year old person suck on her breasts…it’s not like the kid is going to starve without it…Wow Selma, I didn’t realize it was all about YOU and not the kid, ya annoying, attention mongering, self serving bitch…the woman has “issues” and needs to have her head examined.

The Huffington Post comments are a mix of breastfeeding support, colossal ignorance, leering over Hayek’s breasts, and accusations of creepiness and obscenity. A sampling of the negative comments:

If this keeps up, that kid will have to go to a college within 5 miles of home.

Honestly…What kid could give those up?

sooo hot

and people fight to ban breastfeeding in public…

Suddenly , I’m in the mood for chocolate-chip cookies…

It’s obscene! once a kid has TEETH, the breastfeeding can stop! THey can eat mushy food now!

ew. I know new moms who think breastfeeding after 6 months is indecent.

OK guys. Line forms behind me!

I am soooo jealous of that baby!

When a kid can walk over, lift up the mom’s shirt on his own, and say that he wants some…. well that is just plain CREEPY. Breastfeeding should stop at around a year old.

Yeah, TMI but more power to her. I breastfed my oldest son for 15 months. But when they start asking for it, it’s time to stop!

I love you, Salma, but TMI, girl, TMI

When they are old enough to ask, maybe it’s time to wean. That being said, Selma looks wonderful, and I think it is fine that she is breast feeding her 14-month-old.

for the first time in my adult male life I suddenly wish to be a little mexican girl… ; )

I wanna be adopted by her.

Breast Milk is nasty.


Salma, please breastfeed me…

That photo has my mouth watering, and I’m in my thirties.

Here, here… Let’s belly up to the breast, er, bar boys!

She’s is an excellent actress in my opinion, but the boob show is bad. She has milk-swollen breasts being pushed up and really, it’s gross. What is this obsession with women, particularly actresses, having their boobs bulging out like cows?

Man, what can I say? Can I have a snack?

Celebrity Baby Blog to the rescue! Leaving out the weight-loss talk:

Good for her.

It’s wonderful to hear a celeb talking about extended nursing. My son is 16 months and we’re still nursing.

yea for salma! i found that breastfeeding was very hard at first, but i kept at it and am so glad i did. it was effortless after awhile.

I thrill to hear celebrity mothers speak out about extended nursing – it warms my heart.

I think it’s fantastic that she said she would continue nursing no matter what, even if she was fat. That’s HUGE in Hollywood! Kudos to Salma!

I think it is great that Salma is doing what is best for her and her baby. She looks fabulous and her baby is one lucky baby!

So what’s going on here?

It’s not as simple as “The Patriarchy wants women to not breastfeed” or “The Patriarchy wants women to breastfeed”. What The Patriarchy “wants” (if you’ll bear with me on this somewhat teleological train of thought) is to have control over breastfeeding. Sometimes that might involve coercion to breastfeed (while withholding full support), sometimes coercion to not breastfeed, sometimes breastfeeding is a tool to confine women to the domestic environment, sometimes guilt over not breastfeeding is cultivated to sell women more products. Above all, breastfeeding women are reminded day after day after day that their bodies are public property, that breastfeeding isn’t a free pass out of the sex class, and that whatever they do, there will be no shortage of people telling them that they’re doing it wrong.

Australian and USAn societies are down there with the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world. We have developed a peculiarly pernicious mix of:

* half-secularised Puritanism;

* half-baked woman-hating Freudianism;

* toxic capitalism;

* mother-hostile workplace practices;

* social isolation of new mothers;

* a deep-seated fear and suspicion of any bodily intimacy that isn’t sexual;

* and an overwhelming sense of proprietorship of breasts by heterosexual men.

The jealousy thread is the one that’s standing out to me today. (Other days, it’s other things.) CelebAmour brought this home when they blamed Hayek’s relationship breakup on breastfeeding – a common allegation levelled at new mothers. When women use their breasts in ways that don’t centre around men’s desires, women are demonised. And what better way to demonise people than to denounce them for our most despised crime, child sexual abuse?

Physical closeness with a baby can be pleasurable, sensual; and our society is flummoxed by that. We confuse all sensuality and physical pleasure with sexuality. Breasts are seen as a symbol of women’s sexual availability, from Page Three Girls to pornstars to politicians’ cleavage. Combine physical intimacy with the fact that breasts are involved and men are being ignored, and misogynists come out of the woodwork, finger-pointing and gibbering.

Then there’s the biological ignorance. The arguments about teeth, based in biological and evolutionary nonsense, fall at the slightest examination. “Teeth are for food!”, people argue, claiming that once babies grow their first incisors, they are obviously biologically ready for weaning. In fact, we are the only primate to wean that early – others wean around the time that the first permanent molars appear.

Arguments based in linguistic development make even less sense, if that’s possible. “If a baby can ask for it, it’s time to stop!” ignores that fact that babies ask to be fed from birth – many can even latch themselves on with no assistance. Linguistic development varies dramatically between babies, with some developing words as early as six months, and some as late as two years or beyond (or never, of course, for some). Why the timing of the first word should coincide with forced weaning is beyond me.

People parrot stuff from the world around them. My generation is repeating received wisdom from the doctors of our mothers and aunts, at a time when breastfeeding was at its lowest ebb. NASA was putting men on the moon, science was king, and women were told that super-technological “clean”, “healthy”, “modern” formula was the best possible thing for their babies and for them. They were told that if their newborn wanted to feed more than once every three hours, their milk “wasn’t rich enough”. They were told that babies should sleep through the night. They were told that holding babies spoiled them. They were told, with wrinkled nose, that breastfeeding was just for “primitive” people.

There’s a huge privilege issue in here as well. The only reason some industrialised societies have had the opportunity to develop this overweening “breasts are just for sex!” attitude is because we have the privilege to feed babies modified cows’ milk from a bottle without a huge proportion of them dying. While artificial feeding does carry significant risks even in the best circumstances, artificial feeding causes one and a half million deaths worldwide every year. However, the World Health Organisation’s recommendation that breastfeeding continue to two years and beyond is not limited to countries with unsafe water supplies; it applies wordwide. (More at the ABA and kellymom.)

And, because any post in support of breastfeeding is bound to bring the “You’re just being a big ol’ meanyhead to formula-feeding mums!” comments out, here’s my general approach, as outlined here before:

* Can’t breastfeed? My sympathy if you’re grieving, and the best support, assistance, substitutes (ideally donor human milk) and assistive devices should be available.

* Won’t breastfeed? This is none of my business, on an individual level. It’s your body. My only interest is on a collective level, insofar as patriarchal society is coercing women’s choices, via socialisation, marketing, abuse, social isolation, religious oppression, medical misinformation, workplace practices, and so on.

* When people start leering, demonising, accusing, and excluding women for mothering? I. see. red.

Categories: gender & feminism, health, Science, work and family

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156 replies

  1. Great post. The prurient gaze on Hayek’s choices here is extraordinary, as it the idea of using a snippet from an interview where she was being professionally charming and amusing about an unusual aspect of her life as if it offers some deep insights into her psyche.
    As for the “Licensed Pychiatrist”, if I knew who that was I’d write to the appropriate licensing board suggesting some mandatory education about the realities of breastfeeding. Crikey.

  2. I suspect that the Licensed Psychiatrist…. isn’t.

  3. Which is not to say that many psychiatrist aren’t just as fucked up; just that the language doesn’t ring true to me.

  4. Agreed. It’s just someone playing a Licensed Psychiatrist on the Internet.

  5. Great post. I thought about writing this up myself after hearing Bill Maher make a jack ass comment about her breasts giving him an erection. I find the way that people are trying to discipline her disgusting. In many cultures children get breastfeed past the age of three. You are right to point out the western privilege in this “debate”. Bottom line is, the patriarchy needs to stop controlling womens bodies.
    Renee’s last blog post..The Death Of Duanna Johnson

  6. Ugh, Maher is a disgusting little pig. I remember posting about another set of remarks he made about breastfeeding – ah, yes, here.

  7. This is a great article.
    As far as I’m concerned breastfeeding is the business of two people- the mother and the baby. There are no cut and dried answers about what works best or whats appropriate for each mother and child.
    Good on Salma!

  8. @Lauredhel I went and read that link that you provided..yet another example of what a disgusting, arrogant troll he is. The unhusband and I have been fighting over him for years. I don’t think Maher will ever get a fucking clue.

  9. Great post Lauredhel. I really liked that you didn’t just leave the post with the collective comments, which are pretty hideous, as I really dug the analysis that you offered at the end. It seems you are right, it’s got a lot to do with control of women’s bodies and breastfeeding is so much a damned if you do and damned if you don’t kinda thing as far as patriarchy is concerned.

  10. A child drinking milk from it’s mother is of course absolutely disgusting. Feral. Vile. Much rather that it was sucking the bastardised product of a cow, coming from a tin, and served in a plastic container (with all it’s added BPA goodness) sucked from a rubbery teat. Much healthier.
    And we all know tits are sexual. Therefore, even when they are performing the function of being milk providers as nature intended, they are still sexual. And the mothers MUST be getting some pervy kicks out of it because, well, come on, people! Nipples! Do I have to spell it out?! NIPPLES! Never mind that sex is the very last thing on a lactating mother’s mind and that most would rather shove froze peas up their noses than get their groove on …. NIPPLES!!11!!
    Having three dimes to buy credentials for psychiatry from UC Hyuck Hyuck doesn’t make the ignorant comments of a twerp any less ignorant or twerpish. It just makes them ignorant, twerpish and three dimes poorer.

  11. Is this a peculiarly American obsession? I know the “celebs’ bods are public property” thing is, but I mean about the breastfeeding. I’ve never seen or heard anyone making negative remarks about women breastfeeding beyond twelve months in Australia. I know someone who breastfed her kid till she was two and a half (she was an extremely large child, too) and nobody seemed to mind or even notice.

  12. It does change a bit as the child gets older Pav, but people are in general pretty polite.

    (22 months and counting 😉

  13. Good lord in a life of 80 or 90 years what is a few months one way or the other when it comes to breast feeding. And to call it sexual abuse is asinine! What part of it is sexual and which part is abuse? What do you think boobies are for? Is wiping your kid’s butt sexual abuse??? GTF outa here!

  14. PC: I was told to my face that I was “perverted” for wishing to feed a nine month old. The comments I’ve paraphrased from our “aunts and mothers” are things I was told within my family, or things my family members have been told. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard that babies should be weaned when they can “ask for it”.
    And I consider my circles relatively breastfeeding-positive: all of my siblings/SILs have breastfed (for periods from a few months to 18 months +), and I have friends who have fed to 2-5 years.
    Medical people typically start calling it “still”-breastfeeding somewhere approaching the twelve month mark, which is an indicator that it’s not considered normal. Around 50% of Australian babies are completely weaned by six months, and 75-85% are weaned by the age of 1 (depending which figures you look at). Feeding to the age of 2 is quite uncommon. Here’s a graph from the ABS

    America might take it to more of an extreme, but these attitudes are well and truly entrenched here as well. They’re not universal (here or there), and there is significant resistance, both informal and legal.
    Remember the freakout about Kate Langbroek feeding her baby on The Panel? And the people who said that Kirsty Marshall feeding at work was just the same as someone masturbating or defecating in public?

  15. Pav, people started asking me how the weaning was going at around 10 or 11 months, when I hadn’t said or done anything to suggest that I was weaning. Many of them were the same people who’d talked about how important breastfeeding was at the beginning. There was even a health professional who suggested I wean because “some kids will keep going til they’re five if you don’t do anything”, which didn’t make any sense as a reason to give it away at 18 months, but he obviously thought it did.

  16. … and then there was the woman who had security called on her and was questioned by police for expressing breastmilk behind a curtain in a mother’s room.

  17. Jesus, people, you don’t seem to understand how dreadful it is that Salma Hayek’s breasts are being used for some mere biological function when they could be serving the higher purpose of being an object of masturbatory fantasy for people.
    Next you’ll be telling me she has some kind of personality and ability to make choices regarding her own life!

  18. My daughter turned 2 last month and she is still breastfed. Of course she eats a normal age appropriate diet of solids as well. The sad thing is that I am just waiting for someone to start on me for continuing to nurse her at this age.

  19. This children are clearly overly dependent on their mother.
    This “licensed psychiatrist” are clearly unable to write a sixth-grade level sentence.
    Pav, I remember reading a book about breastfeeding when I was pregnant with M, which described UK mums as very resistant to breastfeeding. The description favoured was “animal” (not in a good way.) Sort of goes with the overall crapness of the food culture. But it might be different these days.

  20. What an analysis! Thanks.

  21. That is just appalling…
    ‘Received wisdom’ at the time I was pregnant was that breastfeeding for the first year was the best way to prevent asthma in one’s child – so I did. For thirteen months, in fact (gradually introducing organic porridge made up with breastmilk, then soft organic baby foods, then mashed ‘grown-up’ organic food, once he was ready – from about ten months) until he kind of gradually stopped by himself. He’s now one of the healthiest 13 year olds I’ve ever met (OK, I know there are other factors involved, but I’m sure it really helped!) who shrugs off illness in a couple of days. Yes, it was inconvenient, especially as he wanted to feed every half an hour for the first couple of months, but if you choose to have kids, as far as I and his dad are concerned you do your absolute best for them (even if you end up a sleep-walking wreck for a bit. It’s finite, you’ll get over it!)
    And it’s no-on else’s effin’ business how long you choose to breastfeed for! I believe, in the vast majority of cases, the child her/himself will let you know when s/he’s ready to stop.

  22. Thanks for posting this. I did a course with the ABA before the sprog was born, but full term breastfeeding wasn’t covered. I became interested in the subject after I saw a video on youtube about a woman who was still breastfeeding a 7 year old.
    The paed has recommended I keep breastfeeding him until he is 2, which (given all his other issues) makes it easy for me when questioned. Many people are willing to stick their oar in if they think you are doing the wrong thing, but quote someone with a medical degree, and you’re off the hook.
    Of course, far better if all of us understood and followed WHO guidelines, and women were supported and encouraged on their breastfeeding journey, rather than attacked.
    Great post.

  23. I’ll never understand these reactions to breastfeeding. I was breastfed until I was FIVE, as was my younger brother. And you know what? We turned out just fine, both in university now on academic scholarships. It didn’t mean I didn’t eat solid food or drink out of bottles as well. It isn’t child abuse, it sure as hell isn’t sexual abuse, and I am so disgusted at that suggestion because it shows the people pushing it have no freaking idea what is damaging about sexual abuse! Just because they can’t look at breasts without associating them with sex, doesn’t make breastfeeding a sexual act, either for the mother and especially not for the child. My suspicion is that the menz are just jealous that women have a relationship with their children that they will never, ever share or control. There’s immaturity in all this, but it doesn’t lie with the mother or, strangely, with the toddler. The panicky menz reek of it though.

  24. Helen, I was reading something recently about how breastfeeding in public is still not protected by law in the UK [article on the F-Word over here] and some members of a forum I’m on were discussing how they’ve received “disgusting ” comments when nursing on the Tube and in public parks in the last few months.
    My MIL keeps making excited comments about how I’ll be able to wean my son and “not have to feed him anymore! Anyone else can do it!” now that we’re about to start him on solids. Haaaaaaaah.
    I’ve given up even trying to address the things she states as absolute facts.
    Members of family (blood and extended) have been far less supportive of my breastfeeding than the general public in my experience. I’ve had some nice comments from other mothers, an elderly gentleman actually embarrassed me when I went to visit my great grandmother at her nursing home, talking about how I was doing “the best thing” for my son, and wait staff at the cafes I’ve breastfed at around town have been matter of fact about the fact I was nursing at the table as I spoke to them/they served me.

  25. I have been thinking some more about this and I think that there is also a concomitant trend of making babies grow up very fast. So much ‘baby’ clothing is miniature adult clothing and is either very masculine and very feminine from the smallest sizes. Babies are being turned into children very quickly and their babyhood is being rushed through. So pressure is put on mothers to stop breastfeeding their ‘children’ as that is how babies of, say, around 12 months are being viewed. Hence the ‘stop breastfeeding when they start asking for it’ argument.

  26. L said: “My generation is repeating received wisdom from the doctors of our mothers and aunts, at a time when breastfeeding was at its lowest ebb”.
    I was shocked by the number of women (not just doctors, who in the time of your mums and aunts were mainly male) aged >=50 who berated my daughter for feeding my grandson in a shopping, even though she was being discreet. My daughter would quickly come back with “are you saying my thirsty baby shouldn’t be able to drink in a FOOD HALL?”. I was shocked, thinking women who were old enough to be mums and grandmums should know better.
    And if a mum is prepared to deal with teeth, I dips me lid, having had my thumb bitten hard many times. Even having my thumb exposed to near vacuum WITHOUT teeth involved was painful enough!
    What next? Will the advocates of unnatural behaviour start accusing mums of being oxytocin addicts??

  27. Great post, Lauredhel, very interesting analysis.

    ”The only reason some industrialised societies have had the opportunity to develop this overweening “breasts are just for sex!” attitude is because we have the privilege to feed babies modified cows’ milk from a bottle without a huge proportion of them dying. “

    I truly appreciate you going through this because I never though about it in this terms before. (Yes, this is my privilige as a member of an industrialised society)
    I’m also concerned about how this misogyny stems from the “actions” of the child herself. After all, the baby is sucking, and we know that sucking is for other purposes. Worse still, the baby is having close contact with the breast and enjoying it! OMGz! The baby is practically having SEX! Not to mention that Salma’s baby is a girl. If she had been a HE, the crap thrown at Salma would have been worse.
    But hey, some of the comments on THIS post are hilarious 😀
    Mary Tracy9’s last blog post..Happy Halloween, Feminists!

  28. Yeah I think it says more about the person alleging child abuse than the woman.

    How ridiculous!

  29. Just because they can’t look at breasts without associating them with sex, doesn’t make breastfeeding a sexual act, either for the mother and especially not for the child. My suspicion is that the menz are just jealous that women have a relationship with their children that they will never, ever share or control.

    That’s brilliant, Shira, spot-on. There was a marathon thread at Larvatus Prodeo (sorry, don’t have time to track down the post itself) a couple of months ago about men’s perception of breasts, and it was absolutely staggering to see that even intelligent, well-educated and more or less reconstructed men (much less the others) are simply incapable of comprehending that women regard their breasts as having significance beyond the sexual, no matter how clearly and often it was explained to them. What they basically said was ‘We don’t believe you.’

  30. PC: The Norks Thread of Doom – was here. (Remembered because I referred to it here.)

  31. Great post Lauredhel. I still find this stuff shocking. I was asked to leave a cafe when breastfeeding a tiny baby – who is now a 34-year-old woman – on the basis that she was consuming food that hadn’t been purchased on the premises. It was in fact because the family sitting nearby had been shocked and rivetted by my discreet feeding. I simply refused to move, confident they wouldn’t throw me out with baby attached, and then just walked out without paying. They didn’t have the nerve to stop me.
    If there is one thing that western society is really fucked up about sexually, it’s women’s breasts, as your previous posts about breast cancer awareness have also shown.

  32. I’m so tired of such blatant ignorance.
    It’s definitely a battle I’ve fought before.
    I’d like to think that psychiatrist is a fake, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he wasn’t.
    When my son was around two we took him to his first dental appointment. The dentist told us we need to wean our child. He acted completely shocked and disgusted that we were breastfeeding.
    I wrote him a long pointed letter and attached all kinds of breastfeeding information.
    Fortunately, I was well educated and knew what I was doing was normal and healthy. But another mother might have gone to that dentist, and since he has an impressive title behind his name, she might have rushed home with guilt to wean her child.
    It’s incredibly ignorant and pathetic that this is going on about Salma Hayak. It’s so sad that this is about a thirteen month old! I’ve heard horrible things being said about moms breastfeeding 3-6 year olds. I thought that was ignorant and sad. But a 13 month old!!!??????
    Why are people so dumb?

  33. I cannot believe that we encourage women to breastfeed, encourage them to bottle feed, then make them feel guilty either way. Isn’t it up to the Mother and the Baby as to which feeding option works for them?
    I’d comment on the “licensed prychiatrist’s” comment, but where to start? Where is the evvidence that a child who is breastfed for beyond one year will become a damaged person needing counselling? How exactly is breastfeeding sexually gratifying? Sorry I just don’t get… I breastfed all of my four children for up to two years each. One is still being breastfed on occasion now at four and a half years old. He is a very independent, happy and intelligent child. I doubt that he will need a “licensed psychiatrist” to tell him he is not.
    If Salma wants to breastfeed her child for thirteen months, then maybe we should be looking at her as a role model for pregnant women and other breastfeeding mothers, rather than watching her like hawks for any sign that she is still breastfeeding her child. Good on her for giving her child a great start. And I think it is beautiful that she is addicted to the bond that breastfeeding creates between herself and her child.
    One thing we need to remember is that women are not public property once they have a child. How we give birth, and how we feed our child are personal choices, which nobody’s business any more than how many sexual partners we’ve had, or if we’ve ever had a termination.
    Nobody has any right to intrude on a Mother and Child’s feeding preference. If it works for them, and they’re not asking your opinion, stay out of it!

  34. an interesting post about how society view’s about breastfeeding change about six months when formula can all of a sudden be marketed to infants is here.

  35. Need to add that I fed that child for six motnhs, the next one for nine months and the last one for over three years.

  36. I’ve always been astonished by this kind of stuff. I feel very fortunate that none of my family or friends and indeed no strangers that I ever encountered seemed to have any issues with me breastfeeding. I went to 12 months, 14 months and 14 months with my three.

  37. I get a lot of pleasure watching my wife breastfeed our one year old. No, not some weird sexual pleasure, the far more enriching pleasure of seeing the joy and adoration on both of their faces.

  38. A dad:
    But what if you did find sexual pleasure in it? Would that be so horrible? I think if a man gets some sexual pleasure when seeing his wife’s breasts during the act of breastfeeding, who cares? Just because he’s aroused doesn’t mean the baby is being sexually abused or exploited.
    That being said, I think it might be easier on all parties if the man is not aroused….just because the daddy might want to constantly cut the nursing sessions short.
    But if he has good self control, I don’t think it’s something to worry about.

  39. What really bugs me about these kinds of stories is just how long my list of “things I may have to punch people for saying/doing when pregnant/childrearing”.

  40. Michelle,
    I agree with you. People judge mothers way too much over breastfeeding. Each child is different. Each mother is different. For some moms and babies, it’s a miracle they were able to breastfeed for six weeks. For other kids, it’s a huge struggle to wean then before they’re five.
    My feeling is moms should try it and give it their best. If it doesn’t work out, they’re still awesome moms. They’ll make up for the lack of breast milk in other wonderful ways.
    If the breastfeeding lasts into the preschool years, I’m not sure there’s any definite evidence that there are huge benefits to this. But I definitely think it IS natural and not harmful. If no extraordinary good is being done, than at the very least we can say no harm is done.

  41. I was commended by a doctor for still b’feeding my son when he was 11 mths old and had a bad case of gastro/vomiting. And I knew several other women who continued b’feeding up to four years. Still, once my son was over 3.5, I basically kept our b’feeding relationship a domestic secret and even though it is now over 4 years since he self-weaned at age 5.5, I am careful about who I tell. There is clearly such incredible prejudice and hostility to extended breastfeeding in our culture that it’s hard to be open about having done it, even when I know it had only a positive impact on him (and me).

  42. “If the breastfeeding lasts into the preschool years, I’m not sure there’s any definite evidence that there are huge benefits to this. ”
    There are actually well-documented and established benefits to extended breastfeeding.

  43. But even if there weren’t any benefits (NB: I’m running a counter-factual here), if the mother is happy, and the child is happy, then everyone else can just butt out.
    Deborah’s last blog post..Serendipity

  44. Rebeckka,
    I agree there are benefits to extended breastfeeding.
    I just don’t know if there are HUGE benefits to breastfeeding a preschool child–at least ones that have been documented. I don’t think many studies have been done yet. I think there actually was one…or there’s an ongoing one being done in Australia. If I remember correctly. ????
    Oh and by preschool…..I mean a child who has passed the toddler age. Children above the age of three. I think a child that age would benefit from breastfeeding, but I am guessing it’s less important/beneficial than breastfeeding a 1-3 year-old.
    Who knows though? Maybe eventually scientists WILL find huge benefits for children who consume breast milk. I remember reading about some Asian country where mothers put breast milk in their school children’s hot cereal. Maybe one day, more of us will be doing that. Maybe people will start buying and selling breast milk. Perhaps one day we’ll realize that this liquid that grosses most people out is more valuable than all the stuff sold at our local health stores.
    Regardless though. At the very least, I’d like to see mothers not attacked for sustained breastfeeding. If we’re not going to commend them for being wonderful, than at least don’t ignorantly attack them. They’re probably doing something amazing for their children. If not that, they’re definitely NOT doing any harm.

  45. Typically terrific post Lauredhel. For me the take-home part is the insight that the bottom line for patriarchy w/r/t breastfeeding is not how long or how much or in what circumstances – thost things change over time and place – the constant is that patriarchy controls it and calls the shots.
    I am aware that I keep going on about Mary McCarthy’s novel The Group, but in this context I will mention it again for the brilliant chapter about Priss Hartshorn, married to a fashionable and ambitious paedriatrician, cajoled and browbeaten by him into breastfeeding her first baby despite her discomfort and reluctance (it’s set in the 30s) as a kind of advertisement for her husband’s professional innovations. The way that childbearing and mothering gets co-opted by capitalism is really brilliantly skewered.

  46. oh, this too –

    ””Roman Charity” by Johan Zoffany.
    This story involves an old man in prison, awaiting execution and was not given food. His daughter visited him and suckled him at her own breast like a child. “

  47. “Oh and by preschool…..I mean a child who has passed the toddler age. Children above the age of three. I think a child that age would benefit from breastfeeding, but I am guessing it’s less important/beneficial than breastfeeding a 1-3 year-old. ”
    As I understand it, there’s evidence that breastfeeding through the toddler years and beyond continues to provide immune factors and leptin – two things that are enough in themselves to encourage the process! And yes, it’s probably *more* important when they’re younger, but there is at least one analysis that has shown that the cognitive developmental benefits of breastfeeding increase with duration [emphasis mine].

  48. But as a general thing, you’re absolutely right – not enough research has been done on the topic.

  49. The benefits to the mother (if you’ll excuse my un-Weissingerised language for a moment) continue to accrue also. Breast cancer risk drops in a “dose-response” type relationship as total lifetime duration of lactation increases.

  50. Australian researcher Karleen Gribble was the first to publish research asking children about breastfeeding.
    ’As good as chocolate’ and ‘better than ice cream’: How toddler, and older, breastfeeders experience breastfeeding
    More details in the press release, here.

  51. Laura, I was thinking about The Group, too, along the same lines. That and the painting have also reminded me of the amazing scene at the end of The Grapes of Wrath.

  52. “I just don’t know if there are HUGE benefits to breastfeeding a preschool child–at least ones that have been documented. I don’t think many studies have been done yet.”
    This is looking at it purely in physical health terms. But the benefits in terms of the relationship between mother and child and also the child’s feelings about themselves and the world are huge. There are some suggestions, for example, that the “terrible twos” are entirely a Western construct which result from weaning babies too early ie. breastfeeding can be enormously soothing to a toddler and preschooler and makes them happy. The breast is their security object. I doubt very much whether many or any kids who b’feed into toddlerdom etc use a dummy or suck their thumbs to any extent.

  53. Congratulations Salma!! What a wonderful role model you are to breastfeeding mothers!

    Shame about the uneducated comments and some of the responses, however, THANK YOU to those of you who followed up with researched and reasoned advice !!

  54. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Salma still breastfeeding after a year old, there are plenty of case studies where this is in fact better for children, than ripping children off their mother’s breast milk too early, some mother’s have breastfed for much longer, and their children are in fact, much healthier, more well adjusted, and contrary to the “dependant” belief, less dependant and more well adjusted in general than other children. I fear people who think Salma is doing the wrong thing, find breastfeeding in public disgusting, or couldn’t breastfeed for very long, either way, just because its not right for you, does not mean its wrong for someone else. It could hardly be considered child abuse either, as a mother who didn’t actually care about her children and went about harming them, would not go to the effort (and possibly more self pain), to only nourish them!

  55. I often think that the people who have problems with someone breastfeeding a five-year-old, two-year-old, or thirteen month old would also not be happy about someone breastfeeding an infant over six-months-old. And even that they’d find a bit uncomfortable and disgusting.
    My cousin’s wife came to our house when my son was about four months old. She talked about how she had heard on the radio that someone was breastfeeding a two-year-old. She talked about how wrong and disgusting this was. At the same time, she was very uncomfortable with me breastfeeding my son. She didn’t say anything against it, but would never sit with me when I fed him. It was like the whole thing disturbed her.
    I am sure there are people who are fine with breastfeeding a baby, but are weary of anything over the age of one.
    But for people who act VERY vocal and disgusted about breastfeeding a child over a year….I’m betting a lot of them would be uncomfortable with ANY breastfeeding period.
    In my own family, the person who acted most disgusted with our sustained breastfeeding….a pediatric nurse! She was also the only one who complained when I was breastfed at my grandfather’s Shiva. There was a bunch of people around me and no one seemed bothered at all. She quietly suggested I go upstairs and do that privately. This was when my son was nine months.

  56. Suze,
    I try to avoid that kind of assumptions. I’m not sure how much of it is based on real research, and how much is it reactionary against all the crap we hear against sustained breastfeeding.
    I do have a very wonderful and close relationship with my son. But I don’t think I can know for sure that the sustained breastfeeding is what made us so close.
    And I feel it’s insulting towards mothers who wean earlier. Who is to say that a mother that weans at 9 months is not going to have a wonderful close relationship with her child? And what about mothers who don’t breastfeed at all?
    Has there been any studies that prove that breastfeeding mothers have better relationships with their children and that the longer the breastfeeding lasts, the better the relationship?
    Even if there are some proven psychological advantages, I still hesitate putting too much emphasis on them. I think the goal should be to make mothers who continue breastfeeding feel positive and comfortable with their choice. But I think we have to be careful that we don’t end up hurting mothers who have chosen to wean earlier.
    I weaned my son at 4.5 I was given guilt about this by a woman breastfeeding her seven-year-old. This really changed my perception about things and made me sensitive about how we judge other mothers.

  57. “I weaned my son at 4.5 I was given guilt about this by a woman breastfeeding her seven-year-old.”
    Good on you Dina for breastfeeding until you and your son were ready to stop. Personally I would have told the woman feeding her 7 year old that they were your breasts and you could stop breastfeeding whenever you bloody liked. I don’t have a problem with her continuing to breastfeed her child as long as she likes, but I have a big problem with anyone telling me what I should do with my own breasts (apart from a breastfeeding toddler demanding boobie).

  58. “Even if there are some proven psychological advantages, I still hesitate putting too much emphasis on them. I think the goal should be to make mothers who continue breastfeeding feel positive and comfortable with their choice. But I think we have to be careful that we don’t end up hurting mothers who have chosen to wean earlier. ”
    I find this interesting. It seems to be a common theme in feminist discussions about birth, breastfeeding and parenting that, even when there are proven and definite benefits to one option over another, we have to be “careful” that we don’t push anything too hard because women who’ve chosen something different might “feel bad”.
    But not in other feminist discussions. No-one suggests that we shouldn’t push the concept of “my body, my choice” when it comes to abortion, because it might make women who’ve chosen to continue pregnancies feel bad. Or that we shouldn’t push the concept of equal pay, because it might make women who’ve chosen to take jobs that don’t pay well feel bad, or that we shouldn’t argue that patriarchal beauty ideals are screwed up, because it might make women who read Cosmo feel bad.
    But when it comes to birth/breastfeeding/parenting, suddenly even when one option is demonstrably superior, we have to tippytoe around that. Even if it’s absolutely clear that we blame the patriarchy for restricting women’s choices and/or trying to control women, and not the women who are ‘chosing’ between unequal options, often without optimal information, within the patriarchy.

  59. Just to clarify, I am not suggesting that as feminists we should tell women that they *must* breastfeed.

  60. If it’s nutritive and not interfering with normal development than stay out of it. A 13 m/o will still benefit while a 5 y/o will have to take a hall pass out of kindergarten to snack. Less convenient.

  61. Jasi: most five-year-old nursers in our society feed maybe once or twice a day. I’ve not heard of any taking time out from kindy to breastfeed (though it wasn’t unheard of a few decades ago.)

  62. I’ve been avoiding coming back here to read any posts as I am extremely frustrated and annoyed at some of the less educated, and fear based, opinions.
    Four and five year old breastfed children, or preschoolers, do not commonly need “hall passes” for breastfeeding. That assumption is taking it to the extreme and you know it. My son turns five in March. He breastfeeds in bed with me in the morning, or on the sofa in the late afternoon. He does not attend preschool or childcare, but when he does start preschool next year for two days per week, I doubt that our breastfeeding will be a problem.
    I am shocked at how many people have such a problem with breastfeeding past one year. Why are you so scared of a Mother and her Child having a relationhip that you think is wrong? If you feel this way, then maybe you have some sexual problems yourself which you should sort out? Do you have genuine concern for children who are breatfed beyond one year? Maybe you should do some research and find out the facts, then come back here with an edcuated opinion.

  63. Wha…? Michelle, are you commenting on the right thread? I don’t see the “hall pass” comment and the overwhelming number of comments here are fiercely pro.

  64. Helen, the Hall Pass comment is two above Michelle’s. Lauredhel has answered it.
    Michelle, there are a few ignorant comments, but in general the comments here have been very supportive of breastfeeding toddlers and children. You can’t expect everyone to agree with you, or to know as much as you clearly do about this if you don’t participate and tell them what it means to you.
    M-H’s last blog post..Knitting grafitti

  65. There were a few sarcastic comments above. They might have been taken literally.
    It’s a very sensitive topic. I think any mother who has breastfed a child over a year is used to be attacked. I can understand if Michelle got confused and felt defensive. I think a lot of times, we’re on guard…..waiting for the attack to come. So sometimes we might see it when it’s not really there. Unfortunately, it often IS there. It can get confusing.

  66. I was trying to puzzle that out, but you may have got it, Dina. Michelle, comments 10 and 17 are sarcastic. Every single commenter is supportive of breastfeeding past infancy. There might be a little lack of detailed knowledge by some of the ins and outs of breastfeeding through preschool age and beyond, but that’s hardly unexpected, and this is an opportunity to educate and discuss.

  67. Nice post. I agree with just about everything you’ve said.
    As sorry as I am to see this sort of exposure bring the dunderheads out of the woodwork and despite “Shock, Horror!” attitude of so many I am happy to see this sort of thing out there in the media. The reason I’m happy about it is that it lets plenty of mums know that somewhere out there there’s a celebrity who’s happily breastfeeding their toddler and doesn’t see any reason to stop just because of the child’s age or the opinions of others. Insofar as celebrities are role models, this must surely mean that there are some mums now who will think, “If Selma can keep feeding, then so can I”, so good on Selma for doing what feels right for her not being cowed by the ignorant.
    Lara @22, I’ve participated in those courses ( ABA Breastfeeding Education Course) and I must say that I like to mention the concept as an aside, but IME, if you get in peoples’ faces with it, it can freak them out. I think the concept of feeding children (as opposed to babies) is so unusual in our culture, that some people can’t get past the shock of being presented with it. My wife was a little shocked the first time she saw a toddler breastfeed, but it soon became ‘normal’ and none of our kids have stopped before they were 4.

  68. It’s funny, but I don’t even think of 13 months as extended breastfeeding. My second daughter very decisively self weaned at 14 months and I thought ‘but she’s too young!’ I’d been hoping to get to at least 2. I think I’m in that demographic though, middle class right on pinko lefty greeny demographic.
    I think there’s a deep discomfort with bodies at play here too. My kids come to the toilet with me, have showers and baths with us (since we have a tank we need to make the most of our water), my husband and I sleep in the nude and the 5yo and 3yo nearly always end up in bed with us, and when me and my oldest daughter were travelling OS together recently my 5 year old asked to breastfeed (she also self-weaned, at about 2 when I became pregnant with her sister) and was disappointed when I told her there was no milk left – but I certainly wasn’t horrified by the idea of it (though I did draw the line when my then two year old asked at a party if she could show everybody my boobies). I still think skin to skin is the best comfort there is, if my kids are sick or sad, even though we don’t breastfeed anymore. To me being unembarrassed about nudity while the kids still feel comfortable with it is one of the ways I want to promote healthy sexuality and a free dialogue between us about bodies and sex – I know a lot of other people would think we’re crossing all sorts of boundaries. (Probably the same people who aren’t talking to their teenagers about sex.)
    I remember being quite nervous about the boundaries between sexuality and parenting when I was pregnant the first time. My boobs had always been my ‘sexy funbags’ and I felt strange about them having a new function. At first I thought the new function would have to override the old – they couldn’t be for breastfeeding and be an erogenous zone. A lot of this ‘debate’ is about the fear that Salma breastfeeding will bring about a frenzy of dysfunctional sexuality in adults, when in fact like Dina says (and I’ve really appreciated the intelligent comments on this post from Dina and Rebekka et al as well as your original post Lauredhel), you can breastfeed and still enjoy healthy adult sexual playfulness without the world crashing down. Who knew?

  69. Hey Penni, I felt the same with my son. He had his last feed on Christmas Eve when he was fourteen months. He was so excited by Christmas the next day that he didn’t seem interested in a feed, and never requested one again.
    I was shocked. Starting breastfeeding was so hard, but I wasn’t ready to let go when he was. I got over it though. But heavens, I missed that emergency source of sustenance when we were out of the house. Like Mimbles, I never had a negative reaction to feeding my baby at any age, or anywhere. I fed him in cafes, supermarket benches, buses, ferries and parks. I was very, very lucky I think, after hearing so many comments about criticism and negativity.

  70. wonderful post. The WHO and NHMRC both recommend that breast feeding be sustained up to and beyond 2 years of age. its a no brainer really!

  71. Thanks for a great post, but also thanks to the all who have commented. I’m not a mother (yet) and I find it so fascinating to see the theory discussed right along with the real life experience. It makes a world of difference hearing the wealth of experiences that real women go through when making such critical decisions as these.

  72. For those following this conversation around, the Pandatariat has its teeth into it. (Be warned – the conversation is not that dissimilar from HuffPo, except that both the misogynists and the feminists are more eloquent.)

  73. Who the hell is the licensed psychiatrist?
    “As A Licensed Psychiatrist I agree that children should be weaned at about a year old. ”
    who goes on
    “I think some women use it as an excuse in order to fullfill some emotional void in their life or sexual void.”
    Firstly you would think someone with all those qualifications they’d be able to spell fulfill. Secondly as a woman I think psychiatrists with nasty misogynist views like that should be thrown out of their jobs immediately before they spread their noxious ideas any further.
    Cruella’s last blog post..Hey Facebook, Hands Off My Self-Esteem!

  74. Thoughtful and well-constructed post. I especially loved:
    It’s not as simple as “The Patriarchy wants women to not breastfeed” or “The Patriarchy wants women to breastfeed”. What The Patriarchy “wants” (if you’ll bear with me on this somewhat teleological train of thought) is to have control over breastfeeding. Sometimes that might involve coercion to breastfeed (while withholding full support), sometimes coercion to not breastfeed, sometimes breastfeeding is a tool to confine women to the domestic environment, sometimes guilt over not breastfeeding is cultivated to sell women more products. Above all, breastfeeding women are reminded day after day after day that their bodies are public property, that breastfeeding isn’t a free pass out of the sex class, and that whatever they do, there will be no shortage of people telling them that they’re doing it wrong.
    I recently got myself into a bit of a tizz over on another web site about discussion about breastfeeding, by people who were only one teeny tiny step away from using phrases like “breastfeeding nazis” so it is so refreshing to come hear and read a paragraph like that.
    And it’s so great to hear someone mention Wiessinger and Gribble on a feminist web site.
    And yes my nineteen month old is “still” breastfeeding.
    Ruth Moss’s last blog post..How Anti-Abortion Measures Threaten All Women

  75. Hi Ruth – I get right sick of the “nazi” talk too. Feminazis, breastfeeding nazis, it’s a great way to dismiss what someone has to say. If you’re a screaming douchebag, that is.

    And it’s so great to hear someone mention Wiessinger and Gribble on a feminist web site.

    Stick around, I might just do it again.

  76. I was weaned after about eight months, and from what my mother tells me I just refused to take the boob after I saw another baby using a bottle. I guess some kids just know what they want!

  77. Hazel, you didn’t know you wanted a bottle until you saw one. Which is kinda the point of supporting breastfeeding accross the population.

  78. Except it’s impossible to actually get rid of bottle feeding. After a time it may be possible to lessen the stigma of extended feeding, but whether it be inconvenience, or an inability to lactate (through hormone imbalance or all-out mastectomy), or if the mother has HIV, or what have you, bottles and formula will always be around. It’s a matter of what the child wants and likes. I don’t see why you’re taking issue with me leaving the boob at a young age when it clearly wasn’t by my mother’s effort.

  79. Out of curiosity, is it possible for a mother to be charged with child abuse if she knowingly has HIV and passes it along to her otherwise-uninfected baby through breastfeeding?

  80. I’m not convinced this is an appropriate thread to be speculating about “abusive” mothers deliberately infecting their infants via breastfeeding. Perhaps take it to the current Open thread?

  81. I don’t see why you’re taking issue with me leaving the boob at a young age when it clearly wasn’t by my mother’s effort.

    Taken issue? Pointing out that you wouldn’t have wanted a bottle at that age if you had never seen one around you is “taking issue”?
    Aren’t you the fragile flower?

  82. Obviously I’m a fragile flower since I wasn’t breastfed for long enough.
    The point of my anecdote was that there was something I evidently disliked about breastfeeding that made me want to switch so readily as an infant. The prevalence of bottles has very little to do with it; I would have seen a bottle even if everyone knew how amazing prolonged breastfeeding is.

  83. It is amazing the way throwaway lines become family Truth. According to my mum, I couldn’t breastfeed because she had mastitis (once); I never ever cried as a baby – not once, ever; and I was living primarily on polony and Kraft processed cheese product by the age of six months. (Actually, that last may be true.)
    Infant want all kinds of things that parents can say “no” to. My kid wanted to eat sharpened skewers, dog poo, and beer at eight months. Eight to nine months is a quite common age for a temporary nursing strike, possibly because of all the other developmental stuff and the expanding horizons. Nursing strikes can generally be quite readily worked through if there is information and support around (as well as motivation) instead of a normalised-bottlefeeding/early-weaning culture. Newborns can starve themselves and “fade” in some situations with feeding problems, but a healthy child of that age won’t.
    If anyone here is dealing with a nursing strike situation, has some great background reading and ideas, and the Australian Breastfeeding Association is available for more support; or a certified lactation consultant if things are particularly complicated.

  84. Ah, I hadn’t thought about it that way. Thanks for clarifying!

  85. Oh… I was just about to say “possible nursing strike” and you took the words right out of my very mouth!
    Re: HIV and breastfeeding – the situation is more complicated that some people realise.
    In countries where formula feeding is almost always a death sentence, it is far better that the baby is breastfed *exclusively* for as long as possible (recommended six months) as this minimises the chances of HIV infection.
    In the UK, where formula feeding is less risky, it is a slightly different situation. Sadly, one of the problems we have is that mothers who are seeking asylum and are HIV+ are often told to formula feed because it’s “safer”. (This may or may not be true, but it’s certainly safer in the UK than in some countries in the developing world). If the asylum application is rejected and the mother is deported, she is sent back to a place where formula feeding is incredibly risky indeed, not to mention the equivalent of holding up a sign saying “I am HIV positive” which in certain areas still has a huge, huge stigma attached.
    The problem is, we have two risky situations here – formula feeding, and breastfeeding when HIV+. It is a matter of weighing up which is riskier. The answer may be different in different situations. However, many people still don’t think of formula feeding as having any risks at all attached.
    In actual fact, for mothers who are HIV+ and have access to clean water, the least risky option would be to express their own breastmilk and be shown how to pasturise it, or to have donor milk, where mother’s own milk is in short supply (as exclusive pumping can in some cases limit supply).
    But because we don’t see formula feeding as having any risks, we don’t see the real need for milk banks or support to breastfeed / pump.
    Ruth Moss’s last blog post..How Anti-Abortion Measures Threaten All Women

  86. do not get upset that why god gave woman breast so that feed
    her baby go for

  87. “It is amazing the way throwaway lines become family Truth. According to my mum, I couldn’t breastfeed because she had mastitis (once); I never ever cried as a baby – not once, ever; and I was living primarily on polony and Kraft processed cheese product by the age of six months. (Actually, that last may be true.)”
    According to my mum, labour didn’t hurt (it was just a “very strong sensation”), I never cried as a baby, slept through the night at six weeks, and she breastfed me exclusively for ten months, because she found baby food so repulsive (my brother for even longer, around 12 months, at which stage he helped himself to a whole plateful of spaghetti marinara while he was sitting on her lap and she was engrossed in coversation).
    There is some kind of weird amnesia going on, methinks.

  88. I too have a friend who says she didn’t experience pain in labour – “just really hard work”.
    Daughter was always an enthusiastic nurser, but son went on feeding strike as a newborn and started to fade. One thing that’s not mentioned here is the idea that was prevalent in the 80s-90s that if you gave a baby a bottle it would never. breastfeed. again. All your milk just go pouf. I’m sure that’s led to many people giving up BF erroneously. We found that a midday formula snack kind of beefed him up and gave him energy to try sucking again. So he was always kind of 90%BF. I wish the baby book writers had not made it seem so either/or.
    I must find and publish a picture of the fading boychild, who looked like ET, along with a picture a year later when he looks like a rugby front row forward. Now he’s bony again but muscular- he’s survived well.

  89. I have an 11 month old son and I’m still breastfeeding. My son is exceptionally smart and much more advanced than other children his age. Also….the United States seems to be the only place where nursing is taboo. Existing studies show that breastfeeding for up to two years may create smarter children. A fatty acid found in mother’s milk, called DHA, is linked with brain development. Since a child’s brain is dramatically growing during the first few years – not just months – of life, some believe that this could account for the differences in IQ between breastfed and bottle-fed children. Numerous studies show that breastfeeding boosts IQ in children regardless of the income or educational status of their mothers. The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding – that is, no fluid or food other than breastmilk – for the first four to six months of life. WHO also recommends that children continue to be breastfed at least until they are two. So…I can’t help but think… much more intelligent all of these ignorant people would be had they been breastfed, lol. Stop being so afraid of mentally and emotionally damaging your children, and do what you were programmed to do!!

  90. Jessica, I don’t think it’s accurate to say that there are “numerous studies” on the IQ issue at all – and there are certainly not numerous quality studies. There is one randomised study done with NICU babies that is oft-quoted; all others are unable to account for all possible confounders.
    If you have lots of others to hand, I’ve love to see them.
    Please don’t insult individuals with the “you must not have been breastfed” line. It’s unnecessary, disrespectful, and inaccurate. Play the ball, not the person, please.

  91. Jessica, I would also like to say that aiming for your children to have ‘high IQ’ may not be a useful end in itself. It is quite worrying to me how focused a minority of parents seem to be on their child’s intelligence, as if it isn’t possible to lead a fulfilling life if you don’t have a high IQ – whatever that is! In this, as in all things, balance and moderation will usually be more satisfying than a focus on one small part of a child’s develoment.
    M-H’s last blog post..Timing is everything

  92. Here’s another unverified statistic – I wonder what percentage of parents secretly think their 11 month old is much more advanced than all the other kids around.

  93. Just to add, you can see some of the studies here:
    I am not medically trained so please take this with a small dose of salt, but it looks to me as though the evidence is not all that clear cut.
    Even if it is the case that those who are not breastfed are at risk of slightly lower IQs than those that are, a couple fewer IQ points aren’t going to make a huge difference to the vast majority of people. “Not having been breastfed” therefore certainly wouldn’t account for the ignorance of some of the comments on the Huffington Post!
    And also, early meeting of developmental milestones does not go hand in hand with intelligence. Most children catch up eventually and as adults you won’t be able to tell who could walk at nine months and who could walk at eighteen months.
    Comparing your child’s development with that of other children might make you happy when your child is “ahead” but as soon as your child gets “behind” with something it can cause heartache and worry. When my child could sit without support at four months I thought he was a little genius. When he “still” couldn’t crawl at ten months I was worried. But by the time he was walking I just accepted he was who he was and would develop at his own rate and I’m much happier as a result!
    Ruth Moss’s last blog post..Breastfeeding a toddler – sexist reactions

  94. I’m sorry I couldn’t read through all the commentary, but I did want to add something I’ve often said in relation to the opposition to breastfeeding in public:
    ”Breasts are for feeding children. If you can’t use your breasts for the purpose in which they’re intended in public, then you shouldn’t be able to walk on your feet in public.”
    It’s the pathology of the person imagining the sexual context, rather than the woman breastfeeding, wearing shoes with buckles, etc.

  95. Our six year old grandson is still breastfeeding from his mother. She was breast fed into her teen years and we see nothing wrong with what she wants for our grandson.

  96. quotations are “not” the way to add emphasis to words. After reading your title I immediately don’t want to read the post.

  97. And they’re not used as emphasis here, court. Do you have a point, or just a modem and time on your hands?

  98. ”Do you have a point, or just a modem and time on your hands?”

  99. There is no such thing as “still” breast feeding–true. There can also be no time limit. Each mother-baby situation is different. No one-not even a doctor-can tell you to “wean” (a term for animals, not people) or “stop” nursing at X number of months. For the uninducted–breast feeding a 3-year-old is completely different than nursing a 3-week-old or a 3-month-old ! You might wipe a counter or help dress your other child-while nursing your 2-year-old, but can only stare and sigh and coo when nursing your 2-week-old. Breast feeders rarely think about “ooh, am I exposing myself?”

  100. This is from Grandma. There is no cut off time period. If not stopped by the mother, the kids wean themselves. I never saw a kid in kindergarden that wanted to nurse. At one time, Women all over the world breastfed until their children were 2 or 3 years old. Many women used breastfeeding as birth control. (This is when husbands and wives wanted to have sex but did not have chemicals to prevent pregnacy… the times women were nursing were often the most fun.) Most women do not ovulate until they stop fulltime breastfeeding. All my kids nursed well past 1 year. I believed it helped space the kids out. (Part Luck…so in today’s world have a 2nd means of pregancy prevention.) My kids are now grown and have their own children. My kids are sane, smart, and sucessful. I am not sure if breastfeeding helped them, but it sure did not hurt them. You go girl. Only YOU know what is best for you and your baby.

  101. I can not believe how ignorant people are. There are so many benefits for baby breastfeeding past the first year as there are when they are newborns. BREAST MILK is WHOLE MILK, not to mention is also as ORGANIC as it can get, and to think people throw away money thinking they are getting the best for their babies by buying them a POWDER REPLICA OF THE REAL THING (formula). It really saddens me how us women are manipulated and looked as sexual objects in this society. To all of those ignorants out there please educate your selves before you post a comment . Salma is very rich woman that could get breast implants if she wanted them bigger. Her reasons for breastfeeding, I’m sure, go far beyond how her looks.

  102. PS. I’m not trying to make any mother feel bad or guilty about not being able to breastfeed, instead, I am encouraging all those mommys out there to do whats best for their babies. WAY TO SALMA!!!!

  103. “Grandma”, that was a great comment, thank you.

  104. As a feminist, you would think that I would think about breastfeeding as empowerment for women. However, as women, specifically mothers, we need to think about it another way. Why is American media pushing breastfeeding on us so heavily for the last few years? Suddenly, if a woman chooses not to breastfeed, she is told that she is not a good mother. Where is choice? Women have been struggling for equal rights for many years, and you know what, we are still not equal. Sexism still exists significantly. I believe that American society believes that women have forgotten about their fight for equality and by pushing breastfeeding on women, they are just enforcing the notion of women as nothing but children and milk-producing animals, like cows. Until women have rejected popular notions of society and broken out of their “normal” duties such as breastfeeding, will we ever be taken seriously, as intelligent individuals. Do not listen to everything society tells you to do. Be revolutionary and see that breast is not always best.

  105. Rhonda, have you read anything I’ve written on breastfeeding? On feminism? Try the “Related Posts”, for a start, and then perhaps the front page and down from there.
    Where are you from? Do you realise that we’re not in America? Are you a mother? What kind of industry do you work in? Does it bother you that you sound exactly like the formula company “social media” PR people sent out to promote their expensive mass-produced product as “empowerment”?
    “Sexism still exists significantly.” Head. Desk.

  106. Rhonda, you might want to look up the definition of “mammal”. Because we are actually “milk-producing animals, like cows”.

  107. I actually found breastfeeding very empowering. “Yes, I am pulling out my breast in public and putting it in this baby’s mouth, because that’s what it’s for not just a lump of flesh for someone to look at and comment upon.

  108. Lauredhel @ 97, oh SNAP. Man, Court, doesn’t it SUCK when you’re trying to be haughty and condescending and it backfires cos it turns out you’re a fool who didn’t read it properly in the first place?
    fuckpoliteness’s last blog post..No, I don’t think I *will* cheer on the ‘big boys’ thanks

  109. I’m sorry for talking about America, but I do not think it is funny to make sexism seem as if it is insignificant, LauredHel. Take your head off your desk and wake up. Look around you. See how women face so many challenges everyday. Read about postcolonial feminism if it can help you get in touch with the pain that so many women feel today. Yes, women produce milk for their infants, but personally, I do not believe women are actually cows. Women are intelligent beings, and I believe that each one of us should see each other for the goddesses that we are. Mindy, I am very happy you find it empowering. My message to all is simply to think about things differently. Not everything is what it seems. Society has been creating ideas and rules for centuries. We have to think outside of the box. We have to ask ourselves if we are really doing the things that we want to do or if we are doing the things people tell us to.

  110. Well that’s told me. We’re sticking to the three comment rule, right?

  111. Rhonda, I really suggest you stop and read the rest of the blog before going any further. And read this actual post again, to see if you can figure out what it’s actually about.
    I’d also like an answer to this, please, before you say anything more here: “What kind of industry do you work in? “

  112. Hi Rhonda…
    I guess I hear you – I’m just a bit puzzled. If you read the other posts on this (obviously this is one where you have a disagreement) I think you’ll find that this blog thinks differently, questions rules, thinks outside the box etc. Whatever else you might think of it, this is *not* a place where women’s pain at oppression is mocked.
    I believe the *headdesk* was over the fact that this blog is all about sexism existing significantly, so more over you pointing out the premise of the entire blog to its moderators who have spent so much time and energy discussing exactly that.

  113. @Rhonda: we’re swimming in irony. A concern troll comes onto a thread for a blog post all about how women are treated unfairly when it comes to breast feeding, and accuses the author of ignoring how women are treated unfairly when it comes to breast feeding. That’s why we’re doing headdesks. You’re not paying attention.
    Aerik’s last blog post..Failings and Flailing of feminist Allies

  114. personally, I do not believe women are actually cows
    I disagree! We are all clearly great big cows. And it behooves me to say that I am udderly opposed to so-called feminists milking this issue, just because they have a beef with animal comparisons. It’s time that this argument should be put out to pasture, and we mooved on. I’ll defend my bovine rights until I come home.

  115. Just beautiful AK. I found that really mooving.

  116. What can I say; I’m out-standing in my field.

  117. Maybe if we all pull together, we can teatch Rhonda a thing or two.

  118. Don’t be sorry, we should milk this for all it’s worth.

  119. I think you need to beef up the comments policy.
    Rebekka’s last blog post..Where’s Jules?

  120. I think you need to beef up the comments policy.

    There’s already a comprehensive cattlelogue of moos and don’ts, and Rhonda’s made mince-meat of them so far. But vea’l play with her a bit longer, no matter how cheesy it might get.

  121. I think we are all abreast of the situation now. I’m finding this udderly amusing.

  122. We’re milking it for all it’s worth…

  123. Although I fear Rhonda’s opinions may turn out to be immoovable, despite our high-steaks humour.

  124. She’s probably feeling a little bailed-up right now. Maybe she is ruminating.

  125. Ewes are incowrrigible.
    Penni’s last blog post..First Day

  126. Oh no, we’re not incowrigible, we’re coming up with very mooving arguments.
    Rebekka’s last blog post..Where’s Jules?

  127. *groans*
    … oh, sorry, i meant *moos*

  128. It behooves me to keep this thread going. (I’ve been saving that one since last night).

  129. We could keep this up til the cows come home.
    Rebekka’s last blog post..Where’s Jules?

  130. I’m glad this thread has got life in it still. It’s getting be quite a meaty topic now.

  131. Your jokes are so funny I camembert it.
    Chally’s last blog post..Fancy that, did you know, FYI

  132. This moohaha is most amoosing, but seriously, there’s a lot at steak here. Think of the calves, won’t somebody think of the calves?

  133. Just an udder day with the Hoydens.
    Rebekka’s last blog post..Let me eat cake

  134. I love that people suggest that breast feeding should stop at “around” a year old. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t a year and one month “around” a year?

  135. Eli: yes, a year and a month is “around” a year, yes. But the larger point is that there is absolutely no reason breastfeeding should stop there, it should be none of anyone else’s business when it doesn’t, there are physiological reasons why breastfeeding for much longer is appropriate, and this particular issue shouldn’t serve as a touchstone for every misogynist piece of shit out there to put their two cents in.

  136. Of course the guideline isn’t that it should stop at around a year. It’s that it should continue for *at least* a year!

  137. P.S. Best blog post title ever.

  138. Liz: The World Health Organisation recommendations are that it should continue to two years and beyond, as I say in the post. There’s no reason the AAP guidelines – an organisation sponsored by a number of infant formula companies – should take precedence over that.

  139. Thanks for this blog. It’s wonderful and it’s exactly how I feel about the whole issue. I need to introduce my husband to it because I know he’s going to be difficult about breastfeeding past a year when we have children and you are so much more eloquent than I. Thanks again. Love the comments too.

  140. can i just say w/o causing controversy that if i had Salma’s glorious glands i too would breastfeed for as long as possible?!!! As it is, me and my 2 1/2 yo will plod along “making do” with my mom-of-three-breastfed-babies-boobies and enjoy every minute of it although apparently i will need to start saving now for some serious therapy later in life….sigh…
    i must live in such a bubble that i didn’t realize that the reports about SH breastfeeding were negative and derogatory until i read this post and i was so sad because i just thought it was the most beautiful thing that she was able to nurture that precious little guy as well as her own baby. And the real problem seems to be that her baby is 13!Months!Old!
    How ridiculous…i mean really – aren’t there real issues in the world (like the baby she was feeding, his mother was too ill to make milk for him most likely because of a contaminated water supply) that could be debated… what a place.

  141. I think it’s sickening that someone would suggest that anyone who breastfeeds after a year, is bein sexually abusive to the baby. What would those people have to say to wet nurses? Lactating women who donate thier milk and even sometimes thier breast to a child who’s mother is unable to breastfeed. I guess those people are sick and demented too. I am a mother of two and i’m a statistic, a mother who simply didn’t produce anywhere near enough milk to feed wither of my kids…If i had the chance to breastfeed i would have done it for at the very least a year for many reasons, there are so many possitives as far as health for mother and child including lowers the chance of breast cancer for both, and thats only one health reason. There also convenience, not having to run around trying to warm a bottle in public, not having to mix formula, not having to try to find which formula works best for ur baby, the cost of formula. I look at how much i spend each month on formula for my son and i am shocked. I think every woman has the right to do what selma is doing and shouldn’t be critisized for it, in other countries it’s just normal for babies to nurse beyond a year. There is of course a line where realisticly a baby should not be nursing but 13 months is definately not it…The only demented people i’ve read on here so far are the ones critisizing and calling her sick for doing so

  142. The WHO recommends two years. They’re not just pulling numbers out of thin air. It’s frustrating to see people react against breast-feeding past a year (the CDC recommendation) without bothering to find out facts.
    And for the crowd who think that if the baby no longer depends on his/her mother’s milk for survival, they should be cut off? One of the women in my church continued breast-feeding on demand. Her two year old could climb up in her lap and ask for the breast. Do you know what that little one learned? He learned that if he needed comfort, he could ask and he would be comforted. I think that’s a better lesson than learning that asking means you get cut off.


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