Something wrong? Blame breastfeeding and tell them to wean!
Any health care professional who advises a mother to just, “wean” their child abruptly, has NO idea what that would actually look like. I often hear stories from women during consultations where they were told by someone that they “need to wean” due to a variety of reasons. The vast majority of the time they are told to wean as a way to fix a “problem” that the health care provider has identified. And of course breastfeeding is usually to blame! Without any evidence to back up what they’re saying. The most common reasons people tell mothers to wean (unnecessarily) include:
1. Cavities.
It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever from a biological, physiological, anthropological, evolutionary perspective that our own breastmilk which our bodies make for our own offspring, would cause cavities. The whole notion of this even being a thing is absolutely ridiculous. There is however, AMPLE evidence that shows breastmilk does not cause cavities. For more on this and the research:
breastfeeding, cavities, decay, long term breastfeeding
2. The child isn’t interested in solids. They just want boob!
Breastmilk continues to be the main sources of your child’s nutritional intake until they are about 12 months old. Even if they are not very interested in solids after this point can be really normal. If you’re worried about your child’s nutritional status due to a small solid intake after 12 months old, you can test your child for their vitamin and mineral levels BEFORE making any decisions about whether you need to try to get more solids in them. Just having a mother wean without any medical testing to support that makes absolutely no sense and has the potential to be harmful. For more on boob preference over solids, head here:
breastfeeding, public breastfeeding, the milk meg
3. The child is too “attached” to the mother.
Actually, research shows that optimal human development happens as a result of us RESPONDING to our children so they can in turn form secure attachments with us, their caregivers. It’s a worry if a baby, toddler or child does NOT have a secure attachment with their cacregiver. That is worrying. A child who is really clingly to their caregiver? That is what we look for that indicates the child has formed secure attachments. These attachments lead to confident, secure and independent children and adults as they grow. Feeling secure and safe as a child, leads to independence as an adult. For more on this:
4. The child isn’t sleeping through the night.
Breastfeeding babies and toddlers often wake to breastfeed frequently throughout the night. This is not a sleep problem, this is the biological norm. I cover all things sleep including how to get more sleep and what to do instead of sleep training in my book, “Boobin’ All Day…Boobin’ All Night”:
sleep book, baby sleep book, gentle approach to sleep, breastfeeding
5. The mother is overwhelmed and exhausted.
A mother who is overwhelmed and tired (but wants to continue breastfeeding) does not need to breastfeed less, she needs MORE SUPPORT from family. In times of COVID-19 this can be extremely difficult. The best advice I have is to give yourself a break, leave the washing and just stop moving for 20 minutes. Let your toddler climb all over you as you lie down on the floor. Here’s more tips on how to rest when you can’t even pee:
Rather than telling a woman that the problems are caused by breastfeeding, health care providers need to start using evidence based information to SUPPORT the woman and child to continue breastfeeding. They can then help the mother fix the issue using SCIENCE…not try to fix it using their own opinions based on cultural norms and cultural influences…not evidence based research.