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Jezebel Can Suck It (But Can’t Breastfeed)

November 10, 2007

I get a guilty pleasure kick out of Jezebel. They have just enough content that seems vaguely feminist, vaguely pro-women, and somewhat health related that I have it in my feed-reader and keep an eye on the content. I appreciated their link to my cheeky review of the P-Mate. I think, however, that they really got it wrong with their recent post, “Breast Intentions.

In pointing out this Slate piece on breastfeeding and IQ, and a mama mentioning that she knew of many tikes who “nursed into toddlerhood,” associate editor Jessica trots out this tired old theme:

I will paraphrase an early Sex and the City episode on this one. If they’re old enough to ask for it, you probably shouldn’t be breastfeeding them anymore.

First, a “toddler” is generally thought to be a youngun from 1-3 years old, or 15-24 months, depending on the definition. What are the breastfeeding recommendations for kids that age?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months, and states, “There is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychologic or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer.”

The American Academy of Family Physicians says, “The AAFP recommends that all babies, with rare exceptions, be breastfed and/or receive expressed human milk exclusively for the first six months of life. Breastfeeding should continue with the addition of complementary foods throughout the second half of the first year. Breastfeeding beyond the first year offers considerable benefits to both mother and child, and should continue as long as mutually desired.

The World Health Organization says, “infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health. Thereafter, to meet their evolving nutritional requirements, infants should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods while breastfeeding continues for up to two years of age or beyond.”

Before anybody jumps on this, the point of this post is not to make women who can’t breastfeed for physical, personal, or institutional reasons feel bad – it’s to highlight the negative attitudes that create social barriers for women who do choose to continue the beneficial breastfeeding of their child in accordance with these recommendations. This perception of breastfeeding women as kooks shows up in the comments thread for the post as well, with such lovely comments as:

-“My brother was breastfed till he was old enough to ask for it. EW. Mommy cut me off at 2 months because I ‘bit’ her. Allegedly. And my brother is still a Momma’s boy brat!”
-“By the way I’ve always suspected a lot of people who breastfeed 3 year olds and encourage their kiddies to sleep in bed with them are doing this because of their own attachment issues, not necessarily their kids’ benefit.”

So, yeah, Jezebel, why don’t you keep perpetuating “Eww, gross” stereotypes while being completely uninformed about the issue and posing as a kind of alternative gossipy site for smart-ish women. Heckuva job, Jezzie.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. November 10, 2007 2:23 pm

    My “sister” intern and I both BF our over-1’s and plan to continue “until they’re done”. So nice to have support at work!

    — Furmother / Doctorlizardo

  2. November 10, 2007 5:42 pm

    If they’re old enough to ask for it, you probably shouldn’t be breastfeeding them anymore.

    The ignorance in this statement is obvious on a baser level. Because, as we all know, a baby never asks for breastfeeding. You just jam it in there and forcefeed them, right?

  3. November 11, 2007 9:02 am

    Chris, that’s an interesting point – babies never indicate that they’re hungry, right? 😉

  4. November 11, 2007 10:10 am

    Doctorlizardo, good for you! Support at work is huge – I hope more women will find themselves in supportive situations as the issue gets more attention.

  5. November 11, 2007 10:23 pm

    Thank you, Rachel! Great post!

    Yes, babies ask to be fed in many different ways. Deciding that the baby’s ability to assign a certain sound (or not) to breastfeeding has anything to do with the appropriateness of breastfeeding or the timing of weaning is utter nonsense.

  6. milkandhoneydesigns permalink
    November 13, 2007 12:24 am

    I find it interesting that breastfeeding beyond infancy is still an issue in our culture. I still nurse my two and a half year old and it causes more of a stir than the latest photo of Britney Spears without underwear. I don’t get it. How can we be such a prudish society in one way and not the other. Breasts don’t scare people in our world, seeing them in any other way but sexually does.

  7. slinden permalink
    March 15, 2010 7:10 am

    I am continually frustrated with Jezebel for this very reason. The site seems feministy, pro-woman, until the topic of parenthood and children comes up… and then it tows the standard society line. Disappointing!

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