Most of the time, the mothers do not plan to breastfeed for so long, but it turns out that their baby with 6-12 months refuses the supplement and wants to continue breastfeeding. When they figure this out, they learn that this is safe and “okay,” and then continue to do it.
The mothers themselves experience directly how well breastfeeding does their child, how it refuels and makes them seem happy and the baby even expresses it clearly. They want to further satisfy this need of their child and not try to unnaturally (i.e. with pressure or violence) prevent them from it by denying him something good.
They want to enable their child to decide for themselves when to stop breastfeeding, and trust that their child will stop breastfeeding on their own accord at the right time, as well as crawling, running, talking, and playing at their own pace, going to the toilet, etc. By continuing breastfeeding, it is much easier and quite natural to calm and comfort your child, e.g. illness, accident or mishap, stressful situations, tantrums, falling asleep etc.
The closeness to her child remains very intense through breastfeeding. The child is securely bound to his mother and thus becomes self-confident and trusting. It can then, contrary to common prejudice, then release even easier from the mother and get involved with other people. The mother also has a break in her exhausting daily routine when nursing the baby, so it is not just good for the baby. Both come to rest and are very close.
As the child grows older, arrangements can be made and clear limits can be set as to when and where to breastfeed and when not to. The mothers thus do not make themselves a slave or plaything of the child, as is often claimed, but the breastfeeding is seen as in partnership. In the world, predominantly mothers who are older than average, who have a high social status, are older than 30 years of age and are non-smokers at birth tend to breastfeed longer.
How long should children be fully breastfed?
Experts around the world basically agree that infants should only be breastfed for 6 months to develop optimally.
Thereafter, in addition to breastfeeding, a slow introduction of suitable complementary foods is recommended, which is not equivalent to regular feeding. Breastfeeding should be continued until the age of 2 or more if the mother and child so wish. The recommended 6 months fully breastfed is performed by only 22.4% of the children studied. At 9 months, about 21% still breastfeed, at 12 months about 8%, at 18 months about 3% and at 24 months less than 1%.
Why does breastfeeding for infants have such a negative image?
1) There are, spread even by the baby food industry, many tales about breastfeeding. Some examples:
Porridge saturates more than mother’s milk. It is believed that breast milk does not saturate after some time and is just like water. In fact, 100 g breast milk contains 70 kcal, 100 g cooked carrots only 27 kcal, 100 g apple 52 kcal, 100 g vegetable mash with meat about 50 kcal. No wonder then that the child prefers the breast to the mush.
2) With a supper the baby would sleep through the night.
That’s not true. Researchers have proven with experiments that children do not go to sleep because they ate porridge. During the first years of life, it is normal for a child to wake up at night, either because it may need food, but also because it needs the proximity of the parents. Fortunately, the breast can satisfy both needs at the same time.
3) From the 6th month of life, the baby needs follow-on milk.
This is also nonsense and is spread by the baby food industry. Unfortunately, advertising for follow-on milk is not prohibited, as is the case for infant formulas. The message that goes to the mothers is that breast milk will eventually be insufficiently nutritious. Deficiency, however, is the problem of baby food not that of breast milk, because it is perfectly tailored to the baby’s needs and also adapts to the child’s age.
4) The child needs additional iron from the 6th month of life.
This, too, is a problem with bottle feeding, since artificial dietary iron can be consumed only 5-7%, unlike iron in breast milk, which can be taken up to 50-75%. In breastfed children at the age of 12 months was
However, anemia was not found, and the additional iron intake in breastfed children aged 6 to 9 months had no advantage. By contrast, high levels of iron in the blood of children promote the growth of certain bacteria, while lactoferrin (an iron transport protein) in breast milk binds iron and thus prohibits the growth of bacteria.
Breastfeeding – Society issues
Breastfeeding is regarded in our society as beneficial, however, it is much more than that, and it is precisely these emotional and relational aspects of breastfeeding that become more important as the child grows and many of them are largely unknown.
In infant care in industrialized countries, what is generally known is a so-called distant care type, i.e. much distance between mother and child, e.g. by the widespread use of bottle feeding, pacifiers, stroller, car seat, play blanket, playpen, cradle, own nursery, baby monitor, etc. Although the mother speaks a lot with her baby and looks at it often, this is often done over a certain distance. A lot of physical closeness, as with long breastfeeding unavoidable, just does not fit this type of baby care.
In addition, there is a great concern about the dangers of pampering a baby. This has its roots in the nursing pedagogy of the old world, that warned against pampering and that did not want to develop the good mother-child relationship through various strict rules. So the baby should be educated from the beginning to the regularity, caresses should be avoided and the cry and expression of the unhappy baby was not allowed to respond, so that the baby soon gives up crying and learn from the outset, what every social being must endure: to endure displeasure, without harassing others.
Many people also believe that long breastfeeding makes children dependent, even though the opposite is true. The attachment researchers have found that a child whose age-appropriate needs are met consistently and adequately, thereby first the so important basic trust developed and the consequent secure attachment to the mother is later able to be better at the appropriate time.
Unfortunately, in this long-lactation society emotional abuse, or even sexual abuse of the child by the mother, is often assumed. Although I do not want to rule out that there could be something like that, I myself have not yet met a long-lactating mother, in which I suspected that emotional abuse was involved.
On the contrary, all the long-breastfeeding mothers I met were very sensitive to her child and were just trying hard not to ask her child for things she was not ready for. In addition, it is not even possible to force a baby or child to breastfeed, if it does not want. Breastfeeding is due to the natural release of the hormones oxytocin and prolactin also for the mother with pleasant, relaxing and loving feelings, because it is by nature has an existential meaning for the survival of the offspring. So what should be wrong with it, even if the mothers enjoy breastfeeding?
Female breasts are now sexualized by advertising and the media; they serve as a buying incentive in the consumer society or are a purely pornographic representation of male sexual fantasies. At the same time, their biological function as a source of food and consolation for the baby is completely negated. Thus, breastfeeding in public is by no means normal for us, but is called disgusting or repulsive and is often enough the subject of heated discussions.
Breastfeeding mothers are sometimes referred by staff from a restaurant or museum, even if the breastfed child is no longer a baby. The logical consequence is that many mothers no longer breastfeed child in public, which in turn means that hardly anyone in the general population suspects how many children are still breastfed at the age of one and older.
Breastfeeding and mother-child relationship
Many mothers also have even having problems with closeness, as they may not have had enough even as children. Consequently, the idea of such intense and long-lasting closeness between mother and child as it arises in nursing causes many anxieties and corresponding defenses in them, as evidenced by the corresponding utterances.
Mothers who breastfeed for longer than usual are often pressured by their environment, and they finally quit. This is mainly due to the fact that we use the term “normal” very narrowly, and anything that does not correspond to this “normal” is therefore considered “not normal” and thus potentially dangerous.
It is therefore very difficult for the mothers to deal with negative reactions of their environment, such as wise advice, stupid comments or lopsided looks, both played by people (e.g. friends, relatives, passers-by) as well as by professionals (e.g. doctors, psychologists), which, however, are always based on prejudice and ignorance.
Often the mothers around them have no role models or peers with whom they can share experiences or discuss the issues and difficulties of their particular breastfeeding relationship. Today, the Internet is certainly a great help, but still say the mothers in my toddler nursery group again and again that their personal contact with other breastfeeding mothers is doing very well.
Mothers who breastfeed for a long time often feel guilty about overdoing their child or even harming their child. For example, because they themselves have a problem because they could not let go of the child. Or, that after 6 months there is nothing valuable in mother’s milk only pollutants would increase.
The media’s handling of the topic is also often very problematic because it presents mainly extreme examples that may actually have a pathological background and then become generalized. Other mothers, who have not breast-fed for long, sometimes argue against long-term breastfeeding and criticize the long-lactating mothers, because they may unconsciously have to ward off their own guilty conscience for early weaning.
For working mothers, there is often little understanding from the employer if they continue to ask for legal breaks or do not want to have long periods of absence at home, e.g. through business travel with overnight stays.
Mothers who breastfeed for long therefore need a lot of self-confidence, i.e. confidence in their own instincts, and trust in their child so as not to be disturbed by the comments of the environment and the professionals and to be distracted by breastfeeding. The biggest help is often offered by the partner, if he supports the long breastfeeding. If the father does not agree with the long-term breastfeeding, it is usually very difficult for the mother to continue with it.