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Posts Tagged ‘Jay Gordon’


I’ve been sitting on my hands, not wanting to open this can of worms. I find, however, that I really kinda need to vent and get it out. It’s such a polarizing issue, though, and I’ve stayed away from this topic as a means of avoiding the mommy wars.

You can, however, thank Time Magazine for this little jaunt into the fracas. It’s been all abuzz with my friends, many of whom I know from my work in years past as a breastfeeding counselor.

What did Time Magazine do?  Here’s what:

I don’t take exception to the theme of the picture at all (and I’ll explain why). I DO, however, take exception to the caption. What the crap is that? If a mother doesn’t participate in extended breastfeeding she is not “mother enough?”

I’ve been reading my friend’s posts, many of which link to their (yes, I mean that) replies in the media.

Let’s start with my friend, Nancy Mohrbacher. Nancy is a well-known expert in the lactation world. She’s the author of titles like Breastfeeding Answers Made Simple and The Breastfeeding Answer Book.

Nancy’s reply in a Chicago Tribune article states in part,

“Nancy Mohrbacher, an officer with the Chicago Area Breastfeeding Coalition, said the cover has sparked the wrong questions.

‘The question is not are you mom enough, but is our culture family friendly enough,” Mohrbacher said. “The question is not how should we parent, but how do we support and value parenting in our society.’ “

My friend in the great white north (Canada) Teresa Pitman, spent part of yesterday doing media interviews. She’s coauthored 14 books, mostly about breastfeeding and childbirth, like The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (8th edition), The Latch and Other Keys to Breastfeeding Success, and The Ultimate Book of Breastfeeding Answers (with Dr. Jay Gordon). She says,

“I initially didn’t have much reaction. Three-year-old nursing, ho hum, see it every day. But I really disliked the headline – only possible point of that is trying to stir up “Mommy wars.”

And when I look at …the photo, it’s awkward and unnatural looking – and has the effect of making breastfeeding an older child seem awkward and unnatural. The mother and little boy aren’t touching anywhere except at the breast.

I think many of the comments suggest that this is extreme or weird, but the fact is that the CPS, AAP and WHO all recommend breastfeeding for two years and beyond. They’re pretty mainstream.”

Part of my past-life’s work was counseling women on weaning, which seriously has become one of my more warm hot-buttons, so to speak. Why do people- particulary those not IN the actual relationship- feel they have the right to judge?

As an adopted breastfed baby who nursed into kindergarten {yes, you’re reading that right} and the daughter of another breastfeeding counselor with over 40 years experience, I have to confess that even I didn’t get this concept at first.

You can pretty firmly count me in the camp {and embarrassingly so, I was verbal about it, too} of one who thought it was weird and gross for a baby with teeth who was walking to also be nursing. Babies a year and younger (even if they were walking and had teeth) were fine.

But, I absolutely could not imagine nursing a child that was old enough to ask for it, with real words. And I was pretty solid with that perspective until I had a baby; who subsequently sprouted teeth, could walk and talk, eat solid food and yet still had a need to nurse.

That need wasn’t for nutrition, obviously.

What a lot of people don’t understand is that breastfeeding isn’t just food delivery. Nope. It’s not.

And yet, the argument against extended  biologically natural breastfeeding often revolves around that concept.

Or, the argument turns sexual. By the way- the breastfeeding of children {of any age} isn’t sexual, either. I’m making that distinction to shut down the argument that it’s not just children breastfeeding.

So let me put this in terms most people can understand:

Adults sexualize breasts; children do not.

Believe it or not, children don’t develop sexual awareness until they are school age (4-6). Before that, they just know there are body parts that are different and may “discover that touching certain body parts feels nice.” Around this age, they begin to notice that boys and girls have different parts. And, they may begin to ask more questions about things like where babies come from. But that curiosity isn’t sexual in the terms that adults view breasts and mouths on breasts.

So go ahead and throw that argument out the window, because it doesn’t wash. Society teaches; society judges; society HARMS. It’s not the mother and child in the extended normal breastfeeding relationship that have the problem- it’s those that are ignorant and actively seek to condemn.

When I saw the magazine cover, I thought, “Great. Here we go again.” For as long as I’ve been an adult, to breastfeed or not has been a hugely polarizing topic. I’ve seen friendships between women go south and get nasty because of breastfeeding. I’ve seen marriages have difficulty because of disagreement on this issue. I’ve seen a marriage end because a father tried to force weaning on a child (and mother) who wasn’t ready, and the mother was left to deal with the fall-out.

That Time Magazine cover doesn’t accurately depict any kind of extended breastfeeding relationship that I have ever encountered. I believe it was staged to be polarizing and to get a negative reaction from people.

It’s amazing to me how breastfeeding and weaning continues to be such a topic of hotly contested debate, even despite all scientific evidence. It always seems to me that we forget that babies have rights. Babies aren’t pets and don’t deserve to live off the scraps of what we parents are willing to give them. That’s just my two cents, and you are free to disagree. But I do think that babies deserve to have parents who are engaged and committed.

So, I’ve been reading along, sitting on my hands, seeing comments from people who have nasty opinions about this cover. The mommy wars continue, and we, as a species, continue to blast others and tear each other down for other people’s parenting decisions which we have no right to judge.

After all, we’re not talking about whether or not to use a car seat (although there are those that compare the formula campaign to those cigarette campaigns years ago, which I’m inclined personally to see the similarities in) or even nutritional content of infant nourishment; we’re talking about relationship. We are talking about parenting.

Back in my counseling days, weaning, as it is now, was a hot topic. New mothers were unsure of who to listen to; unsure of what the truth was.

I had one mother, no kidding, tell me her pediatrician told her she had to stop nursing when her baby turned a year old, if not before. She asked why, and was told “Because your milk will turn blue.”

Honestly. I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.

And through the years, one of the articles I routinely referred to was A Natural Age of Weaning, by anthropologist Dr. Katherine Dettwyler, PhD.  She wrote,

“In societies where children are allowed to nurse “as long as they want” they usually self-wean, with no arguments or emotional trauma, between 3 and 4 years of age. This interest also stemmed from the realization that other animals have “natural” ages of weaning, around 8 weeks for dogs, 8-12 months for horses, etc. Presumably these animals don’t have cultural beliefs about when it would be appropriate. “

More recently, she wrote a comment in response to Brian Palmer’s Slate.com’s article, titled Breast-feeding in Prehistoric Times:

“Brian — After all the time I spent talking to you on the phone trying to educate you and provide you with actual research data to help you understand the biology and physiology of modern humans, and this is what you come up with? I’m quite disappointed.

My research suggests 2.5 to 7.0 years as the range of a natural/normal/typical duration of breastfeeding for modern humans. Most human children around the world, if allowed to nurse as long as they want, wean themselves between the ages of 3 and 5 years (not 2-4 years). Obviously humans CAN wean their children at birth (jor nurse for only six weeks or six months or two years) and have most of them survive, but it’s estimated that more than 900 children in the United States die every year because they were not breastfed, and many many more die where alternative safe and appropriate nutrition is not available and where vaccinations and antibiotics are not available.

The fact that culturally we’ve been messing around with this life-history variable for thousands of years does not change the fact that the underlying biology and physiology of human children has not changed. They evolved to expect many years of breastfeeding and that’s what they need for optimal development. Under the best of circumstances — good alternative foods, low disease and parasite load, low stress — children who are allowed to nurse as long as they want do so, typically, for 3 to 5 years, and many are happy to nurse much longer.

There is enormous variation in all aspects of human growth and development. Just as the average height for adult women in the U.S. is around 5’4″, there are some women who are only 4’10” and some who are 6’5″ (shout out to Elena Dellle Donne). Likewise, some children will wean on their own before their first birthday, and others will nurse up to and beyond 7 years if they have willing mothers.

The point is — nursing a 3 or 4 or 5 or 6 or 7 year old is NORMAL for our species, regardless of what people think about it. Just like being pregnant for 9 months is normal, and getting your first permanent teeth at age 5.5-6 years is normal, and going through puberty in your teens is normal. Nurse your children for as short or as long as you like, or don’t nurse them at all, or simply don’t have any. The point is that nursing for several years is NORMAL….”

If you can stomach the replies to her comment, you’ll no doubt notice that some of the arguments I’ve shared above made it into the queue. And that just demonstrates my point that it’s ADULTS that are making the judgements and it’s the ADULTS that have the social hangups.

Kathy’s also quoted in this USA Today article.

My friend and IBCLC (Internaional Board Certified Lactation Consultant) Diana, wrote about her 4-year-old daughter’s surgery, and her concerns over nursing her in the hospital. She wrote,

“Being Old Enough to Ask for It doesn’t forbid a child from receiving comfort from his mother – however that mother chooses to comfort her child. ……………..Breastfeeding my 4-year old, postoperative child wasn’t disgusting, it was normal. Nursing her back to sleep a few nights ago when she woke up in the middle of the night wasn’t indulging her, it was loving her the way she has come to expect to feel love and comfort from me, her mother.”

I’m not judging and/or condemning anyone for their beliefs, but this is one topic my opinion won’t change on. The only thing I want to add is that you can’t force a child to nurse if they don’t want to. There’s a reason some babies/children nurse longer than others, and in a perfect world, society would be more attuned to normal child development and needs- and then respond appropriately; based on the needs of the child instead of their own neurosis.

Obviously, I could rant about this for a good long while. That’s basically why this is a newer topic for me, although if you’ve been reading along, you’ve most likely just had your suspicions confirmed.  😆

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Really. Don’t listen to me.  I don’t know anything, and certainly not that. ‘Cause, you know, I’ve never done actual research on that or anything. My opinion certainly isn’t based on fact or anything.  Nope, I don’t know anything at all.

My girls came home yesterday, after having been gone since Monday.  The whole thing (night after night after night) was unplanned.  Calls were made each day to ask for an extension, and to ask permission to go places.

This stemmed from incidents when the oldest was a baby and a quick trip literally around the corner resulted in driving around town- without a car seat- and us sitting and waiting for the longest time while we panicked, wondering where the heck they were with our week old baby.  Our thoughts at the time had been “Surely they would not do something like that.”   Wrong!  We learned all kinds of things at that time (in a nutshell, they were going to do what they wanted, not as we, the actual parents, said) which resulted in no babysitting and only sporadic, short-lived overnight stays for the last 15 years.

And while I appreciate the learned response of “no way we are putting you in a car without their permission so you had better call and ask” (which, I have to say, is a first because we KNOW they have snuck them off places before, even though I still have 2 in car seats and then didn’t have any) I expected I’d probably have to do some kind of damage control in some way.

I just didn’t expect it to be one the same things that we’d already gone round and round over. *sigh*

As silly as it may seem, I have spent years- literally, years– battling all kinds of old wives tales.  Everything from birthing, to breastfeeding, to child raising, to homeschooling laws, and now back to hummingbirds, has been subjected to these old wives tales which are then given to my children as fact.

My factual reasearch (including medical journals by you know, *doctors* and people with degrees) has always been snarled at. Literally.  And their “research” (thoughts that were based on hearsay from older family members or an opinion based on something they heard once upon a time) has always trumped mine (in their opinions), because, after all, what did I know?

If there is one thing- a single thing– to know about me, it is this: I am the queen of research will research something obsessively (part of my OCD rearing its head here) and into the ground before I give an educated opinion.  If I research and can’t find information, I’ll tell you that. “I haven’t found enough information to form an opinion.”

If I find conflicting information in equal ratios, I’ll tell you that. “Some research says…… while other information says….. As far as I can tell, the jury is still out.”

If I have personal experience with something, I may share that, too.  “While research says….. my personal experience was…….” or “Rearch/experts say/s……. and my experience was…… For what it’s worth.”

Another thing to know about me is that I don’t give much stock into “experts.”  I’ve known people who have claimed to be “experts” who have no actual first hand knowledge of something.  This does not apply to certain people like Dr. Thomas Hale ; Dr. Jay Gordon,  or Dr. Jack Newman, who have years and years of practice, observation, and critical documented scientific studies under their collective belts.

Nope, I think there are a great many people who proclaim expert status who have no actual real experience with their topic of “expertise” and/or rely on stuff they find solely in books to support their claims.

I believe experience is the best teacher. I believe there are things you can’t know-even about yourself- unless or until you have experienced them yourself.  Experience really IS the best teacher, 9 out of 10 times. (I always leave room for the exception to the rule, too :lol:)

It goes without saying that if you tell me (or in this case, my children) and promote it as fact, you had better have some personal experience with it AND have your ducks in a row.

Last night, I sent my oldest daughter facts  information regarding comments that were said to them recently. Even though I had several sites saved, I still did another search, because sometimes new information comes along and debunks the old info. The other comment I posted on a large forum and asked for comments and opinions.  Not surprisingly, the ones I received within minutes echoed my own, even though the one comment made to my kids was a “this is the best way to do it and we always did it that way” kind of thing.

And still my dd was miffed.  I mean, really?  She says “I wasn’t saying they were right, just telling you what they said.”  And then she was bent I sent her information? What is the point of telling me something that was said unless you want an opinon or information regarding the accuracy of the statement? Especially when it’s told to you AS FACT and qualified with a comment of “According to my research….”

My response, of course, was to ask, “What specifically was her research?” This is coupled with thinking “her definition of “scratch” is to scratch something processed and pre-made and say she made it from “scratch.” Now, it’s a big joke because the kids called her on it, but how long was she passing stuff off as the traditional “made from scratch” before they realized the deception? (and, anything made in her house is “homemade,” too)

If you tell me someone told you something, I am either going to confirm or deny it, based on the evidence I can find.  And I’m going to use one of the statements above.

Maybe I should have stuck with my old standby: “If I have wanted their (your) opinion/s, I would have asked for it.”  Meh.

Critical thinking.  I’m a big fan.  If everyone had- and USED– good critical thinking skills, I think as a species we’d be a lot better off for it.

Apparently, I don’t know anything.  So, don’t take my word for it.  Do your own **** research and come to your own conclusions!

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