Only in a world where mammary glands are shamed for feeding a baby….

Photography: Jessica Lea Photography

By Sofie Thomson

Will we see endless stories presenting the outrage over children who are breastfed for what society deems to be too long.

Only in an utterly dysfunctional world will we find the continual shaming of those who follow the lead of their children and those who parent with immediate, child-led response and parental instincts.

Only in a society like this, does the shaming of breastfeeding mothers continue whilst the issues caused by formula feeding are kept hushed.

Let me ask you, before you say “that kid is too old to breastfeed”, have you ever heard of a child suffering mentally or physically as a result of natural term breastfeeding?

Have you ever heard of a child breastfeeding at the age of four and becoming seriously ill as a direct result of breastfeeding?

Supply issues happen, yes, but really how many of these cases are due to a misunderstanding of female physiology and lack of medical support?

Dairy intolerance is somewhat common but this is an issue caused by cow’s milk, not breast milk. A mammal unable to thrive on its own mother’s milk would be a major evolutionary flaw. If this was as common as it’s portrayed, humanity simply wouldn’t have survived.

I once helped a lady who said she hadn’t breastfed either of her five children. I cautiously queried why? She told me she didn’t have any milk with either of her babies!

She never tried to breastfeed past the first two hours after delivery and a bottle of formula was swiftly introduced with each baby.

I found myself trying to gently explain that for some mothers milk takes longer to come in, with the norm being during days three to five. She simply had no idea how her body functioned and no professional considered it valuable information to share with her when fetching a bottle of formula which was considered easier.

But… at what cost?

I can hand-on-heart say that I have never heard of a child who has breastfed until natural weaning age that has had issues as a direct result of mother nature’s biological standards.

I have however heard and read of many children becoming sick as a result of formula. I’ve heard of children having dairy allergy, children being more prone to reflux, an abundance of overfed babies, babies with ear infections directly linked to bottle feeding, bowel issues linked to formula, hydration issues. The list is endless and unfortunately at the end of it there are even cases of children dying as a direct result of the advertising and pushing of formula feeding.

So let me ask you, why is it so incredibly outrageous to breastfeed a child at the age of five, but feeding a baby a potentially harmful formula is fine?

Why, as mammals, are we disgusted by the concept of a child feeding from a mother’s breast?

Some find breastfeeding itself grotesque and others would consider it acceptable to breastfeed for six months, or two years.

Very few see and appreciate the benefits of breastfeeding a child of four or older.

Breastfeeding is ridiculed frequently! The media just love it when there is a mother who’s brave enough to publicly declare she’s breastfeeding a school-age child.

“Look at this” they encourage readers. They word the headline as controversially as possible and encourage the abuse.

The outrage brings them readers, and it becomes a subject for discussion! If they are really lucky it goes viral on social media.

On the next page of the same newspaper is an advert for Aptamil follow on milk – we swiftly turn the page and consider the advert no further.

We live in a society where the milk from a cow’s udder is considered more acceptable for human consumption than a mother’s milk directly tailored to human needs.

I probably come across as though I passionately hate formula. I don’t!

I hate the fact that formula milk is normalised over breastfeeding and I hate how far removed we are from what is biologically correct, but I do not hate formula. Formula has its place and it has its purpose.

My daughter was partly formula-fed and I’ve previously written about my disappointment over not being able to breastfeed and my gratitude for formula when my breast pump started running dry.

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