Social Question

Dutchess_III's avatar

Why do some women feel like they have to come up with an excuse or justification for nursing their children long after the kids have started on table foods?

Asked by Dutchess_III (27629 points ) May 15th, 2012

We did it because we wanted to, period. They were special, intimate, albeit fleeting, moments between my child and me, that no one else could imitate. Why do some women feel like they have to tout the “nutritional” advantage, when that isn’t it at all? Older kids are more like a hit and run. They don’t stick around long enough to actually get very much milk (except maybe at nap or bedtimes when they’ve stopped running for the moment.) They check in, they check out. They’re fine, nutritionally, even without “nursing.” Why do some women feel they need to come up with nonsense explanations? What is wrong with “Because I wanted to.”

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60 Answers

Blackberry's avatar

“Because I wanted to.” is hardly an acceptable answer for a lot of things. If someone asks you a question, they most likely want a more detailed answer. Whether it’s an excuse or not is up to them.

Dutchess_III's avatar

It’s absolutely acceptable, in my opinion! I don’t feel that I need to come up with a load of bull shit that isn’t even true just to make someone else happy!

Blackberry's avatar

@Dutchess_III And what if they’re reasons really are something you think is BS? How do you determine who is lying or not?

Dutchess_III's avatar

To say you’re nursing a three year old for “nutritional reasons” is absolute bullshit! If that were the real reason, you’d nurse until they started school, then express milk to store for them to take to school for lunch, and for the next 13 years for dinner after that! You’d store up a boat load of milk for all the kids in the family.

Blackberry's avatar

@Dutchess_III Lol. Well, there is a stigma associated with it. Everyone has something they would be afraid to admit to a group of people.

Dutchess_III's avatar

But isn’t that their problem…the group of people? It’s none their bidness!

Blackberry's avatar

No one really wants to be ostracised.

Dutchess_III's avatar

So why would they do something that other people might ostracize them for?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Because they’re people (ahem, like you) who think they need a justification. Of course, they don’t. They don’t need to say anything.

YARNLADY's avatar

When they come up with an excuse or justification for what they are doing, it is usually because someone has unjustly criticized them in a way they can’t just ignore.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir You are not listening. I don’t need any justification. I nursed long after there was any physical, physiological need to do so, and I did it because I wanted to and because my children and I liked it. It was special. That’s it. I didn’t then, and don’t now, feel the need to cover that one true fact with bullshit about “nutrition” or anything else. Are you listening now?

@YARNLADY Then they’re chicken and shouldn’t have started doing whatever they’re doing in the first place.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Dutchess_III No, I understand that. But your ‘lack of justification’ is defensive, sounds like you think there is an appropriate response to criticism of nursing, but there isn’t.

Aethelflaed's avatar

You did it because you wanted to. There is no “we” in this; different women breastfeed for different reasons. Some do it for the bonding, others do it because they genuinely believe it has health benefits. They aren’t lying to you, they just happen to be different from you.

Dutchess_III's avatar

You know this goes back to that other thread about the woman on the cover of Time magazine. Some of the woman “defending” the woman on the cover stated that they did the same thing, but they seemed to have to defend it by saying that it was for nutritional reasons. Bullshit. I don’t give a care how long a woman “nurses.” But don’t make up bullshit to explain why. They don’t need to give a reason other than “Because I chose to.”

I chose to.

@Aethelflaed The perceived health benefits, if there is such a thing (we are NOT talking about infants) don’t end at a magic age. If it’s healthy for them at 2, 3, 4, then it’s healthy for them at 12, 14, 16. Why quit ever? Or at least, why not continue to express milk so they can continue to receive the supposed benefits as they get older, much older?

YARNLADY's avatar

I don’t think its chicken to stand up for what you believe in, as one writer has suggested.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Dutchess_III Is it really that hard to believe that some moms do care about nutrition and the nutritional value of breastmilk?

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Of course not. But to use that excuse for nursing a two, three, four, five year old, yes. If they believe the benefits are that valuable, why do they ever quit? Why don’t they continue to provide breast milk as the kids get even older?

@YARNLADY No, it’s not chicken to stand up for something you believe in. It IS chicken to do something you believe is fine, and then, when you’re criticized scramble to come up with some “socially acceptable” reason to explain yourself, and deny the plain “unacceptable” truth which is that you simply want to do it.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Dutchess_III Why does anyone quit at whatever point they quit? Maybe the kid quits.

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III I think you chose to, and it is a special time between mommy and child, that is a legitimate reason to do it. You don’t have an absence of a reason, that is your reason.

I saw one of the authors of one of the recent books on attachment parenting on The View, and Whoopi challenged his ideas, and asked about men who are single parents and his advice on nursing, and he said men can “nurse.” too. Nursing is nurturing and being with the child holding him. I wonder how many people interpret his use of nursing incorrectly?

tinyfaery's avatar

If you don’t have a reason, you know, that decision process that almost everyone goes through in order to act, then you did something subconsciously, which in my opinion is worse. No one makes decisions without judgment or reason.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@tinyfaery No one makes decisions without judgment or reason.” Of course I had a reason. It was because I wanted to. It was a peaceful, quiet, intimate time for my children and for me.

@Simone_De_Beauvoir but if the nutritional value is so amazingly outstanding, then why don’t they express the milk to store up for meal times (or snacks or whatever) after the child quits?

trailsillustrated's avatar

I absolutely have no problem with it. Really. Some women have orgasms. I know because I asked a couple really close friends what the deal was when they were nursing 4 year olds. Just saying. It’s a possibility.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I can’t say that ever happened to me @trailsillustrated!

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Dutchess_III Must be because they’re too busy not discussing sexuality or gender or race.

Dutchess_III's avatar

What? Could you phrase that in a full sentence please @Simone_De_Beauvoir, see if it makes sense that way?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Dutchess_III Well, I first wanted to say that they must have other things on their minds like addressing teenage concerns but I then remembered that nobody actually does that in our society, when it comes to children’s or teen bodies or their sexuality. Then, I remembered that nobody actually addresses gender norms or racialized masculinities and femininities and that’s how I got to that sentence.

Dutchess_III's avatar

“Well, I first wanted to say that they must have other things on their minds..” things on their mind other than what? What sentence or sentences did I write that prompted that bit of random association?

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Dutchess_III Yes, the perceived benefits. The answer to your question isn’t if breastmilk is actually significantly more nutritional, it’s if these mothers believe it’s more nutritional.

Why do they ever stop breastfeeding? It depends on the exact mother and her circumstances. By this same logic, you could also ask why you, @Dutchess_III, ever stopped breastfeeding when it was such a pleasurable experience for you and your children.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I think I might know where you’re going with this, but I’m pretty sure you’re gonna have to expand on that thought. But I love that this is where your mind went.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Aethelflaed Why would any woman have to offer up nebulous (BS) “perceptions” in place of the truth?

I stopped the first time because I figured that at three months pregnant with the second it was probably a good time to stop. It happened quite naturally. The second time I quit because I figured it was about time to quit. (Me thinks I was wrong the second time. I could have done a better job of weaning)

If you could ‘splain to me how @Simone_De_Beauvoir went from “Nursing four year olds to————>“children’s or teen bodies or their sexuality” I would appreciate it. What does any of it have to do with teen sexuality or gender?

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Dutchess_III Everyone has perceptions. Some mothers believe that breastmilk is better. You believe that it isn’t. They aren’t offering up “bs”, they’re offering up their perception, mainly because people (like you, right now), keep demanding that they justify their position in some way or another. When they say, I continue to feed my kid breastmilk because of the nutritional value, they aren’t offering up some “bs”, they’re offering up their version of Truth.

Philosophile's avatar

Why does the “special, intimate moments” have to come from breastfeeding?

As a young child, they use it as a comforting method. They have to find other means, and learn to tolerate frustration. They have to become independent, and, literally and metaphorically, learn to get off Mom’s teat and grow up.

Also, I’m taken aback at your tone at all the other Flutherers. You seem to be really aggressive and snarky, which to me somewhat indicates that your question (which was leading and biased to begin with) wasn’t made to have an actual social conversation, but more so that you could attack anyone who disagrees that people shouldn’t nurse past infancy.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Dutchess_III They must have other things on their mind is an answer to ‘why would they stop nursing if there’s nutritional value..why don’t they continue to breastfeed their child until that child is 15 or 16’

JLeslie's avatar

@Philosophile Read this Q and you might begin to understand why an element of frustration might be coming through. @Dutchess_III and I, and several others spent all too much time being misunderstood on that Q. Some jellies seemed unable to grasp that we were a ok with breast feeding.

And, I agree the intimate moments don’t have to come from breast feeding.

Philosophile's avatar

@JLeslie I understand that it’d be angering to not have your point be understood. But I don’t think that this question was asked to get an honest discussion, here: I think it was for the asker to stand on a soapbox. It seems Dutchess_III started the entire discussion with what Francis Bacon calls Idols of the Caves: Her personal preferences are coloring her reasoning, as seen by her lashing out at anyone with a different opinion. She’s not having a discussion to arrive at a higher understanding, in true Socratic fashion: She’s trying to fit reason to fit the bias she already had.

JLeslie's avatar

@Philosophile I think it is a little both. Wanting to truly understand the psychology of it, and also wanting to once and for all say women don’t have to justify or defend themselves for wanting to breastfeed their children, one of the most natural things a woman can do. @Dutchess_III and I kept feeling the most defensive people on that other Q wanted to believe most everyone is trying to stop women from breastfeeding, or that is how it felt to me, I can’t really speak for her. It is a reaction to the defensiveness on the other Q, I really don’t understand why they were so defensive. I think @Dutchess_III feels the same.

It doesn’t matter if the question is biased, the collective can still comment, debate with each other, it does not have to be a discussion just between her and individual jellies. We don’t know where the discussion will go. She may eventually see thing differently, you never know. We don’t want people to stop asking questionsnjust because they already have an opinion. Do we? Some of my Q’s have my opinion at the top, and by the middle I am understanding better how the other “side” thinks.

Philosophile's avatar

You’re right, it’s more than okay to go into a discussion with bias: But how do you even answer the question, which is biased, without agreeing that breastfeeding at that age is okay? Also, I don’t see any signs that she’s changing her mind, simply ridiculing and denying any opposing argument. It’s not an argument if you’re not openminded enough to change your mind: It’s preaching.

JLeslie's avatar

@Philosophile But, in this case she is preaching, to use your word, women don’t need to make shit up or get defensive. It is a good message, not a hateful one.

It’s like arguing being gay is ok because gay people are born that way, it isn’t a choice. I say who gives a shit if it is how you are born or not? Who are we to say who someone should be attracted to or love? I think gay people should stand their ground on it simply is no one else’s business if they love someone of the same sex. What does being born that way really prove? The haters will still think it is some sort of mental illness to be cured. The percentage of people who do choose to be in gay relationships, I know bisexual women who have said this sort of thing, sometimes feel they have to defend themselves to not only the straight community, but the gay one also.

Philosophile's avatar

But preaching should still be discouraged on Fluther, as it’s a place for discussion. If I opened a discussion about whether or not gay marriage should be legalized (which I believe it should) I’d be responsible to listen to whoever responded and actually consider their responses, and especially to be polite. However, I think we should take this conversation to a properly appropriate question or private message, as this conversation has nothing to do with the question at hand.

ninjacolin's avatar

To answer the original question: Because the question isn’t anything less than “why do you want to and what are the reasons?” and it would be disingenuous to answer otherwise.

“Because I wanted to” is simply a way of saying: “I don’t have to answer the question.”

Which is true. But not every woman out there wants to ignore their innermost motivations and avoid discussions on the matter. Sometimes people are happy with diving in deep. But it’s understandable If you don’t want to. “Because I want to” is the appropriate answer in that case, I suppose. It’s a little rude though. :P

whitenoise's avatar

People butt in, into the way parents interact with their children all the time.

That is because we are a social animal and the group as a whole has a lot riding on the quality of the socialization of its children. When parents f@#k up their children, it will be those children as well as society that pay the price.

These interferences are sometimes qualified. I think all of us agree that child abuse should be addressed, for instance. Sometimes they’re not.

Now, to be clear: breast feeding at age 3 or up surely is not child abuse. There are however people that frown upon it and worry about the impact on the child’s development. Like some people wouldn’t agree with parents dressing boys in girly clothes.

Parents that breast feed, feel that scrutiny and to me it seems more than normal that they become defensive at times.

And yes, I realize that it is non of my business, but I also doubt that is a wise practise for children at the age of three or up. If I ever give their parents a feeling of disapprovement, though, then I am truly sorry. I wouldn’t want them to feel uncomfortable, since – again – I do believe it is non of my business

JLeslie's avatar

@Philosophile Fair enough. I actually agree with you on all points.

Sunnybunny's avatar

Wait….since when are the nutritional benefits of breast milk past the first year “bullshit?” Can you back that up with any kind of evidence?

I think a better question would be to ask yourself why it even matters to you so much that you need to not only rant about it in one question but then ask a whole new question just to go over it all again.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Sunnybunny Breastmilk is beyond compare for newborns and infants. They get 100% of their nutrition from breast milk. Gradually they become weaned, and get more and more of their nutrition from other sources. Some people, like I did, choose to nurse beyond the time when it is physically necessary. If it’s done, supposedly for the nutrition, then they need to pump even after the child is weaned so that their children can continue to get that “special” nutrition for the next several years. If they “need” that nutrition at 2 or 4, they should still need it at 5, and 8 and 10 and 12. But nobody that I know does that. So that means mother’s milk isn’t really that big of a deal after all after a certain age. They’re just fine without it.

Philosophile's avatar

Actually, here’s the thing: Infants have special enzymes in their digestive systems to unzip the complicated disaccharide chains of lactose sugar, because they are evolutionary-trained to get the calories and other nutrients they need nearly solely from milk. However, as they grow up, the body expects them to not have to live on milk, and those special enzymes disappear. That’s why we don’t get as many nutrients from milk. The enzymes we still have undo some of the important amino acids, but because the chains can get REALLY tangled, our older bodies get to the hard parts an infant would undo very quickly and goes ”???” and most of it gets flushed out undigested, therefore not getting nearly as much out of it as an infant would. It’s also why most kids aren’t lactose intolerant at first, but become so: They start out with special enzymes, and then they go away, and the kids don’t have other enzymes. Besides, lactose is just sugar anyways, combined with some other nutrients which, while that’s important for infants not getting many calories from other sources, I can’t see what good it’d do for an older kid more than being like really fortified cow’s milk, except give them even more sugar in their diet, which kids their age probably don’t need.

jca's avatar

Makes sense.

The pro “breastfeed till the kid is 20” people were up in arms in the other thread, saying “We will breast feed as long as we want.” Nobody is saying not to. Nobody at all. What we were saying is that it may be perceived as weird, and maybe doesn’t have to be on demand like it would and should for a baby who is having nothing but breastmilk. A five year old who just had a steak dinner doesn’t necessarily need mommy to whip it out on demand like a baby would.

Dutchess_III's avatar

It’s in poor taste, in my opinion, to let a kid suck on Mom’s boob in front of strangers, especially when there is absolutely no need for it.

Philosophile's avatar

@jca I agree that they don’t necessarily need it, but the one little concern I’d have is that kids that age are starting to understand the cultural taboo about private body parts, especially about not publicly revealing them, while they’re not getting any particular advantage from it. Though I don’t think that’s something that probably couldn’t be solved by an explanation, though I’m not sure if they’ll understand.

And that’s the thing, @Dutchess_III, is there ever a real need for it after infancy? You were arguing that you should do it just because you want to, not for nutritional/other reasons: So why not do it in front of strangers, if at all?

Dutchess_III's avatar

I didn’t nurse my toddlers front of strangers out of respect for those who don’t understand, who probably couldn’t understand, especially if they’ve never breast fed. It’s not my place to demand that they change the way they feel over something so trivial and unnecessary. That would just be selfish and rude of me. It’s not like the civil rights movement.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Dutchess_III Isn’t it rude to your child to put others’ mild discomfort before the child’s need for food?

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Aethelflaed Aren’t you reading anything? We aren’t talking about infants. We are talking about toddlers who get 100% of their food from the same thing that adults eat. Read the post above from @Philosophile. Read it carefully. It’s ridiculous to think that toddlers get any special benefit from human breast milk, any more so than from cow’s milk.

fluthernutter's avatar

Okay. So I meant to leave you to your little soapbox. Preaching is one thing. But spreading misinformation is another.

Here is some more bullshit for you.

@JLeslie Saying that another woman’s reasons for breastfeeding is bullshit is not what I would consider a good message.

@jca I don’t agree with breastfeeding past a certain age. is an opinion.

Saying that they will breastfeed as long as they want means that they support breastfeeding until the kid is 20. is an assumption.

A condescending and poor assumption.

JLeslie's avatar

@fluthernutter Did I say bullshit?

Dutchess_III's avatar

@JLeslie Re: Bullshit. I think she was talking to me.

@fluthernutter, Exactly what “misinformation” am I spreading?
In response to your link…if it’s such a miracle elixir then why would any mother ever quit giving their children breast milk, one way other other? If not nursing, then pumping and storing it?
If it IS such a magical liquid, is it more magical when given at certain times, like on demand? Or can it wait a bit till the mother and child get home?

fluthernutter's avatar

@JLeslie. No, you didn’t say bullshit. Dutchess_III did. You said:
[Dutchess_III] is preaching, to use your word, women don’t need to make shit up or get defensive. It is a good message, not a hateful one.

@Dutchess_III That is such bizarre logic. It’s like saying If exercise is so good for you, why doesn’t everyone do it?

I can’t speak for anyone else. Personally, I stopped breastfeeding because I stopped producing milk. It’s as simple as that.

I chose not to freeze it because I trust my body to make it for as long as my child needs it. Plus, I think freezing stuff changes the properties of the milk. Kind of like freezing vegetables.

Also, antibodies to last year’s flu seems pretty ineffective.

That’s not to say that other people don’t do it. I know a mother who has frozen a whole bunch of her milk. She occasionally uses it to make ice cream for her toddlers.

The older one stopped eating it when he was old enough to be weirded out by it. But that’s for another thread.

Again, if I choose to do it, I don’t feel the need to scurry it away.

If someone’s parents were run over by a truck delivering brassieres. Or their best friend was waterboarded by a group of topless women. I would consider that a legitimate anxiety of breasts. In which case, I would gladly wait until a later time to breastfeed my kid.

Until then, my kid’s needs trumps your hang-ups.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’m not questioning your decision to continue to breast feed your child long after it had no nutritional benefit for him or her, long after it quit being a physical “need” and became a psychological “want,” @fluthernutter. I did it myself. So what, exactly, are you ranting about?

fluthernutter's avatar

Wow. Why do I even bother?

If answering the questions that you directed at me in your last post equates to ranting…okay. Sorry for ranting.

I just came by to provide some scientifically-researched bullshit.

That is all.

Please feel free to return to your soapbox before you were so rudely interrupted.

Philosophile's avatar

Sigh. Why can’t people in this thread just be civil and mature, like Fluther normally is?

trailsillustrated's avatar

__and I have actually been in a room having a conversatiion with a very close relative when this big, hulking four year old marches in and grabs her tit right out of her shirt. Nuff, said, IMO

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