THERE’S A THIN LINE BETWEEN GOOD TELEVISION & MEDIA SENSATIONALISM!
Dear Mr. Malek Maktabi, this post is for you & the massive blunder that was last night’s episode. Please allow me with all due respect to share my point of view on this & give you a little insight on what the natural weaning age in human babies really is. Are you ready to be shocked yourself??? Well guess what, the natural weaning age for human babies has been calculated to be between 2.5 to 7 years of age!
So, I’ve watched your show on occasions, but after seeing the promo for last night’s show all over Facebook, as a breastfeeding mother of a 15 months old girl, I was very curious to watch, something just didn’t seem right about a 20 year old still breastfeeding. Good job grabbing the public’s attention with your promo. Now that being said, after actually watching the show, I’m furious about the outcome of that episode. I understand that your show is about provoking the public, sometimes shocking & crossing all boundaries, but I do not understand, how such an influential & educated person as yourself did not calculate the ramifications of such an episode on breastfeeding mothers & the image of breastfeeding, especially in a society like ours.
For that reason, I’d like to rectify a few errors made on the show, such as the advice given by your “expert” & the quotes you used, which were only quoted to the public in part.
You quoted the World Health Organization, by saying they recommend breastfeeding “until 2 years of age”, period. You failed to properly relay their recommendations, which state:
“Breastfeeding is an unequalled way of providing ideal food for the healthy growth and development of infants; it is also an integral part of the reproductive process with important implications for the health of mothers. Review of evidence has shown that, on a population basis, exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months is the optimal way of feeding infants. Thereafter infants should receive complementary foods with continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond.”
The natural weaning age Mr. Maktabi, is not a maximum of 2 years nor is it 6 months like most people in our society believe. If you simply Google “natural weaning age of humans” you will get the proper and accurate data regarding this subject, but it seems none of you on the show even bothered to do any research on the topic. Shock & awe the public by ridiculing & cornering a mother who is still breastfeeding her 6-year-old boy, why not damage the image of breastfeeding older babies while we’re at it right?
Did you know, that because of your show & that episode, many breastfeeding mothers were approached today with snide remarks about breastfeeding their babies (Babies who are not even 2 years old yet)? That their personal privacy & choices for their children, were put under scrutiny, simply because your “expert” said that breastfeeding babies was ok for a MAXIMUM of 2 years?
Now had you hosted a breastfeeding specialist or lactation counselor, I might have had “some” respect for the way this episode was handled, but no. Instead, you decided to have someone, who has no experience in the lactation field whatsoever, give out advice & recommendations without any back up for her words. So, allow me to enlighten the both of you.
La Leche League International (oldest & most reputable breastfeeding association worldwide), the National Institutes of Health & others categorize the natural weaning age for human babies as such:
- Weaning according to tripling or quadrupling of birth weight (27-30 months)
- Weaning according to attainment of one-third adult weight (4-7 years)
- Weaning according to adult body size (2.8-3.7 years)
- Weaning according to gestation length (4.5 years)
- Weaning according to dental eruption (5.5-6 years)
The previous categories, explain the different approaches to calculating the natural weaning age for human babies & the estimated ages according to each individual calculation.
“The human primate data suggest that human children are designed to receive all of the benefits of breast milk and breastfeeding for an absolute minimum of two and a half years, and an apparent upper limit of around 7 years.” (La Leche League International)
This natural weaning age is not uncommon in some parts of the world where breastfeeding is the norm (however little that is) but viewed as abnormal in societies such as ours, who consider formula feeding to be the norm nowadays. In a country like Lebanon, where people will push you to wean at 6 months, or think you’re some sort of hippy for nursing your toddler, a mistake like the one you made should not happen. I really wish you Mr. Maktabi or someone on your team had looked a bit further than their noses. I really wish the father in you had thought this through a little more. Shock & awe all you want Mr. Maktabi, but don’t use your influence to damage the image of such a noble cause.
The World Health Organization, states that increasing breastfeeding rates could save up to 800,000 lives each year. EIGHT HUNDRED THOUSAND!!! Just think about that before you ridicule such an important, health conscious decision that a mother makes for her child.
And for those of you who might think I’m a nut job for defending this mother who appeared yesterday, please keep in mind, that although the motive of the mother might appear somewhat ludicrous to most of us, she is still a mother & it is not for us to judge what she thinks is best for her child. That even though breastfeeding until 6 is unheard of in this day & age, it still does exist in many parts of the world. That not too long ago our ancestors breastfed for that long, that in some rural areas in Lebanon, where the people are said to be super healthy & strong (kelloun sa7a) breastfeeding goes way past the point of infancy. Her statement of breastfeeding him even if he’s married, is not far from what all of us breastfeeding mothers joke about on our social media breastfeeding support groups. We say we would breastfeed till our kids went to college…everyone knows this would never happen. In that mother’s case, the child has simply NOT outgrown his need for breastfeeding, he will when he is ready & the mother will let go of him when the time comes, but that time, is not for US, the society, to decide upon.
For anyone who is interested in reading some more on this before you pass any judgement, here are a few links.
Feel free to share with those who give you a hard time about breastfeeding your older babies, I know I will 😛