Smiling like Sunshine: Breast is best!

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Breast is best!

Two weeks ago, there was a programme  on BBC3: Is Breast Best . I couldn't watch it at that time since the baby was not asleep yet. But I was on the computer and it was interesting to see the reactions via Twitter.
I watched it on iplayer a few days ago  and felt the need to write about it.
There were a few mums on the show: one who had a rocky start with breastfeeding, one who was returning back to work and one who tandem fed her 5 year old and 3 year old sons. And there were some mums who would not even consider putting baby to breast and chose formula.
I am not here to judge anyone on their decisions whether to breastfeed or not. I am not judging anyone on how long they breastfeed.
We all know that breastfeeding is the most natural way of feeding a human baby. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding until up to two years of age and beyond.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mother and baby desire.
If you look at the statistics,overall, only 35 per cent of UK babies are being exclusively breastfed at one week, 21 per cent at six weeks, 7 per cent at four months and 3 per cent at five months.
The reason behind these numbers are another issue, whether women are not supported enough or whether they find it difficult going back to work and continue breastfeeding or anything else.What strikes me is that people seem to easily forget one thing: Breastmilk gives an infant the optimum nutrition s/he needs. Breastmilk continues to change according to the child's needs and age.
The minimum predicted age for a natural age of weaning in humans is 2.5 years, with a maximum of 7.0 years.
According to WHO, the average weaning age is 4 years old worldwide. This means that many mums still breastfeed their children at 3,4,5 years old and beyond. Whether we see it or not, whether we find it culturally normal or not, this is the fact, the most natural fact.
Breastfeeding a 5 year old is not weird. It doesn't make one a freak!
I am going to write more about this next week, but for now I am leaving you with a lovely song.


  1. I think all mothers need more support, no matter how they choose to feed their children.

    This is an interesting post about average weaning ages:

  2. Abby,thanks for pointing out this blog.I am aware of the article that is mentioned,in fact I love k.Dettwyler's articles. However there is a comment from a mathematician breastfeeding mum,who explains how this number makes sense. Interesting to read.
    By no means, I think everyone should breastfeed until this age. I am aware it is not for everyone. But I do think that some people need to change their perspective a bit and see that breastfeeding at this age is not weird,on the contrary perfectly normal.

  3. I watched the programme and I actually thought it was a fairly well balanced programme (at least compared to what it could have been). I firmly believe that this is not enough support in the UK, from NHS and from society in general. I'm lucky in that I'm confident enough in my own decisions that I've carried on feeding until almost 11 months and I intend to let my daughter decide when to wean. I've come across many mums who have moved to formula because they honestly believed that the hurdles they encountered marked the end of breastfeeding for them but with some support and knowledge they could ave carried on. It makes me sad.

  4. Hi Işil, I am so excited to have finally accessed your blog again. I don't know why I couldn't get access before - I assumed it was another ban. Anyway, great post. Those statistics are so low, and there's definitely different cultural attitudes to breastfeeding in the UK compared to Turkey. I often heard comments like 'why breastfeed beyond 6 months? There's just no need for it', as if it's some kind of bad habit. It was a pleasure breastfeeding my 2 and I'm so glad that I persevered through those difficult initial weeks. It can be extremely hard work and painful at first and new mothers definitely need a lot of support of different kinds. However I do think that in the UK societal attitudes to breastfeeding must change before larger numbers of mothers will start to breastfeed beyond infancy.

  5. Hiya,
    I didn't see the programme that you mention - meant to record it but forgot.
    I breastfeed my 7mo son and love it. He has be exclusively breastfed from birth despite a very tricky and distressing first 3 weeks where latching on and all aspects were a problem. It was due to my own determination to BF that we got the problems sorted out and he has thrived.
    I find the stats you have so surprising, but probably shouldn't. Out of 7 mums, I am the only one still BF. I am in that 3% and am proud to be.


  6. Thanks. Its inspiring post for the modern mothers. Modern mothers must read this article twice, thrice until you understand. apart from this you will lot of great informative articles on personal lifestyle in

  7. my daughter so wanted to breast feed her children but it just did not work out I think all mothers those that can like I did as well as those that can't like my daughter are supported with respect of their choice

    come see me at

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  9. That's such a beautiful video. I nursed my youngest until he was 2 and a lot of people thought that was too long. I disagree.

    Thanks for spreading the word about how natural and normal extended breastfeeding is.

  10. Heather, glad you like it and well done for 2 years of mamas milk :)

  11. Thank you for this entry. it is so gratifying to reach out, allbeit online to Mama's accross the ocean, and receive these positive messages that affirm what I know and believe. And the video is wonderful, we need to be seeing normal, healthy images of this stuff!
    I am ready to birth my second child at any given moment now, and have a little one who is 3years+ 4 months old. I weaned her just before becoming pregnant, though neither of us wanted it. I did so because my situation had me completely worn out and at my wits-end. I really want to nurse her again and have told her so. I hope that when the babe comes and the milk comes in, we will be able to re-establish our nursing relationship!! I know she would still be going strong had I not stopped nursing her then.
    Thanks again, and thanks for your blog, I just started following it the other day and am amply pleased to be able to read it! :)


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