Behind the TIME Cover: Most Human Societies Don’t Get Our Breastfeeding Hang-up

By Guest Blogger | May 17, 2012 9:57 am

Eric Michael Johnson has a master’s degree in evolutionary anthropology focusing on great ape behavioral ecology. He is currently a doctoral student in the history of science at University of British Columbia looking at the interplay between evolutionary biology and politics. He blogs at The Primate Diaries at Scientific American, where this post originally appeared.

 

Attachment w respect to Martin Schoeller, by Nathaniel Gold
“Attachment (with respect to Martin Schoeller),” by Nathaniel Gold

My son will be 3 years old next month and is still breastfeeding. In other words, he is a typical primate. However, when I tell most people about this the reactions I receive run the gamut from mild confusion to serious discomfort. Their concerns are usually that extended breastfeeding could be stunting his independence and emotional development–the “Linus Blanket Syndrome” in the words of Michael Zollicoffer, a pediatrician at the Herman & Walter Samuelson Children’s Hospital at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore. Worse yet, they hint that it might even cause“destructive” psychosexual problems that he will be burdened with throughout his adult life. Could they be right? Was our choice “a prescription for psychological disaster” as Fox News psychiatrist Keith Ablow wrote in response to TIME magazine’s provocative cover article on attachment parenting? Just when is the natural age to stop breastfeeding?

One thing I’ve learned in my research on human evolution is that people are quick to assume that what they do is “natural” simply because they don’t know of other examples where things are done differently. The primate brain is a pattern recognition machine and is adapted to quickly identify regularities in our environment. But when we are presented with the same pattern over and over again it is easy to fall victim to what is known as confirmation bias, or coming to false conclusions because the evidence we use does not come from a broad enough sample. In order to avoid falling for this bias on the question of extended breastfeeding the best way forward would be to draw from the largest sample possible: the entire primate lineage.

In their classic paper, “Life History Variation in Primates” published in the premier scientific journal Evolution, the British zoologists Paul H. Harvey at Oxford and Tim Clutton-Brock at Cambridge published the most comprehensive data then available on the world’s primates. The variables they measured included everything from litter size and age at weaning to adult female body weight and length of the estrous cycle among 135 primate species (including humans). By analyzing the relationships between these variables, using a statistical approach known as a regression analysis, they identified striking patterns that held across primate taxa.

One especially strong correlation was that adult female body weight was closely tied to their offspring’s weaning age, so much so that knowing the first would allow you to predict the second with a 91% success rate. As a result, as anthropologist Katherine A. Dettwyler has shown in her book Breastfeeding: Biocultural Perspectives (co-edited with Patricia Stuart-Macadam), it can be calculated that a young primate’s weaning age in days is equal to 2.71 times their mother’s body weight in grams to the 0.56 power. This calculation predicts, given the range of female body sizes around the world from the !Kung-San of South Africa to the Arctic Inuit, that humans should have an average weaning age of between 2.8 and 3.7 years old.

How well does this prediction hold for our species? According to data compiled by UNICEF, half of the world’s population continues breastfeeding until at least the age of two. Furthermore, weaning in these cases doesn’t mean the total cessation of breastfeeding. It simply means the introduction of solid foods, with supplemental breastfeeding continuing for months or even years. However, these statistics are all drawn from sedentary, agricultural societies that have at least some contact with modern trends in child development. What about those societies whose way of life is most like that of our Pleistocene ancestors?

To answer this question Yale University anthropologist Clellan Stearns Ford utilized the largest historical collection of anthropological data available, the Human Relations Area Files, and analyzed the weaning age of 64 non-Western “traditional” societies–small-scale horticultural and hunter-gatherer populations. His analysis (see Figure 1 below) determined that the average age of weaning is approximately three years old, just as Harvey and Clutton-Brock’s data predicted. Furthermore, because these traditional societies are dispersed throughout the globe and have no contact with one another (or often anyone except the visiting anthropologists) these societies offer a broad enough sample size to avoid the problem of confirmation bias.

A comparison of age at weaning
A comparison of age at weaning in the United States and in 64 traditional societies,
reproduced from Stuart-Macadam & Dettwyler (1995)

“Regardless of ecology,” write anthropologist Barry Hewlett and psychologist Michael Lamb in their book Hunter-gatherer Childhoods, “hunting and gathering groups are characterized by frequent and extended breastfeeding and extraordinarily high levels of parent-child physical contact and proximity.”

In contrast to these global trends among traditional societies and non-Western countries, U.S. government data estimates that fewer than 15% of Americans continue nursing their infants after they are just six months old (while Canadians are slightly higher with an average of about 25%). Likewise, as detailed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Family Database [PDF], most countries in Western Europe cluster in the same 15-25% range as those in North America.

The worldwide trends therefore seem to be relatively straightforward: most humans tend to wean at a similar stage in their life history as other primates, which works out to about three years old based on our relatively large body size. This weaning age can then be adjusted based on the environment or traditions in a particular culture. However, Western nations appear to be an outlier to what is otherwise a natural behavior for our species. On this point the World Health Organization and UNICEF are in line with the predictions from primate life history. Both global health organizations recommend the following:

Initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour after the birth; exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months; and continued breastfeeding for two years or more, together with safe, nutritionally adequate, age appropriate, responsive complementary feeding starting in the sixth month.

The benefits of extended breastfeeding have been demonstrated both in the less developed and the industrialized world. For example, research carried out in Burkina Faso by epidemiologist Simon Cousins for the Bulletin of the World Health Organization and in Washington, DC by Dr. Kathleen M. Buckley for the Journal of Human Lactation, both showed that extended breastfeeding until three years old resulted in lower rates of malnutrition compared to those who were not breastfed as long.

Longer duration of breastfeeding has also been shown to significantly improve a child’s immune response to infectious disease. Writing in the British Medical Journal, Kåre Mølbak and colleagues at the University of Copenhagen analyzed the incidence of diarrhea in weaned and partially breastfed children in the West African Republic of Guinea-Bissau. They determined that not only did breastfed children get sick less often than weaned children, but those who continued partial breastfeeding up until the age of three had the lowest rate of infection. As the authors concluded:

Apart from the remarkably higher incidence of diarrhea in weaned children the clear decline in the rates of diarrhea in breast fed children in the second year of life was also surprising since the older children were breast fed irregularly and their main diet was as for adults.

Identical results were found in rural East Bhutan by Erik Bøhler and colleagues from the Department of International Health in Oslo, Norway, as reported in the journal Acta Paediatrica.

“Breastfeeding between 12 and 36 months of age was associated with reduced risk of diarrhea,” wrote the authors. “Breastfed children also gained significantly more weight during the monsoon season, and breastfeeding protected children against weight loss due to diarrhea.”

The unusually low level of breastfeeding in the United States therefore has public health implications rather than simply being a lifestyle choice. Ultimately, mothers–as well as fathers–need to decide for themselves how much, or how little, breastfeeding they are comfortable with. However, as a society, we can support their choices by making sure that everyone has access to reliable information and by creating a positive environment so that breastfeeding mothers aren’t subject to social stigmas or value judgements for doing what, after all, is only natural.

 

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, Top Posts
  • Chris

    1) Keith Ablow is a quack (and I don’t mean that in the positive way)
    2) When your son’s friends come over and ask if they can have some milk, then you’ve gone too long.
    3) The real damage to the kid on the cover of Time was because he appeared on the cover of Time. You just know in 10 years or so that his friends will be tagging him on Facebook with that picture.

  • dirk

    I love this article simply because it seems to be designed to equally outrage people on the far left and far right. Perfect.

  • http://www.lisastewartlaw.com Social

    I understand the benefits gained in some regions of the world, but we do not live under the same conditions. I also agree that the poor kid on Time’s cover will be stigmatized.

  • Anna

    Great article, thanks!

  • Yacko

    When the child is at the point of forming rudimentary sentences, then I say cut ‘em off. If you go any longer, the child has enough brainpower to remember later, when older, what a strange relationship you two have.

  • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/ Uncle Al

    Traditional societies have protracted breastfeeding; the US has contraception. When teeth arrive, it’s time for the kid to make his own culinary way in the world. Breast obsession will recur a decade down the line when it is again useful. Carnivory builds men who geld herds of herbivors.

  • Archwright

    @Chris. Yeah, you aren’t kidding about Keith Ablow. The last time I saw that much vitriol on my computer monitor, I was playing Left For Dead*.

    (* One of the undead enemies in Left For Dead vomits up a glob of acid)

  • Tim

    It really is disappointing to read peoples ill researched retorts to this article. If you have never traveled or studied other cultures academically you should keep your pithy replies to yourself.

  • Simon

    I don’t think you can draw any conclusions about the health aspects of breast feeding after the age of ~12 months in a modern 1st world country from studies of 3rd world cultures.

    One has both adequate water sanitation and medical care, the other has neither.

    One has access to high quality food products designed for infants along with specialized sterilization equipment, and the other does not.

    Also, humans are stand outs from many general rules based on mass in the animal kingdom.

    I’m not saying it’s morally wrong, just that you have offered no evidence that it is beneficial.

  • Just wondering

    Are there any significant studies of the health impacts on the women from extended breastfeeding? I know children’s health is important, but it’s striking to me that there is no discussion in the post above of the impact on the person providing the milk. At the very least there is the potential to have an effect on the woman’s bone health, no?

    I can understand that in societies with high childhood mortality, poor water supply and poor access to medicine etc. diarrhea is a serious concern, and breastfeeding has a distinct advantage, but it’s hardly the same in the US. Are there any similar studies carried out comparing children breastfed in to toddlerdom and not in the US? I would love to know how that breaks down.

  • Nevertheless

    It is surely not in any way detrimental to children to be nursed for longer periods.
    Humans have not changed that much from prehistoric times; note the types of problems we have with our largely sedentary lifestyles and tendency to obesity when given the opportunity to eat what we want.
    My own kids – now grown and exceedingly well adjusted, hardly ever ill as children or even now, compared with other kids in the neighborhood – were breastfed for at over two years each.

  • PJ

    “One has both adequate water sanitation and medical care, the other has neither.

    One has access to high quality food products designed for infants along with specialized sterilization equipment, and the other does not.”

    Assuming that all women have this access. They don’t.

    “First world” and “developed countries” are NOT synonymous with “better”.

  • Ashley

    Some of the commenters have mentioned that the kid on Time magazine’s cover will be stigmatized for being breastfed at age 3. I hardly think this is a problem to do with extended breastfeeding, but rather a symptom of a deep societal problem – the sexualization of breasts.

    Also, the commenter who said that “When the child is at the point of forming rudimentary sentences, then I say cut ‘em off. If you go any longer, the child has enough brainpower to remember later, when older, what a strange relationship you two have” seems to have not read the article at all. Anyhow, what’s “strange” about a breastfeeding relationship? It’s nurturing and comforting to your child and provides a unique closeness. What’s so “strange” is how uncomfortable some people are with this closeness, due to the western sexualization of breasts.

    Breast have a primary function which is lactation. All other made up functions are secondary (aka sexual pleasure) and are not essential to life. Get over it! And the only way for society to get over it, is for more and more people to opening practice not only breastfeeding but extended breastfeeding. The more it’s seen, the more people you know doing it, the more “normal” it will seem. After all, it’s “normal” and ESSENTIAL everywhere else on the world.

  • Nicole

    Thank-you for this post. North Americans are so hung up on breastfeeding. It is the whole use of breasts being constantly “in our faces” in advertising, magazine covers, etc. and being though of solely for their sexual purposes that causes this discomfort. Their primary function is to feed our young. In cultures where they don’t have this constant bombardment , the men find it strange that gown men get excited by breasts as they just see them as being for feeding babies/young children.

    I used to think similarly, that feeding over a year was strange, but then I became a mom.

    My oldest only breastfed less than a year due to a number of reasons I don’t need to discuss here.

    My youngest, now 5, breastfed until she was 3 1/2 years old. She has no problems with independence (sometimes she is too independent). If she had cut off by the time she was forming rudimentary sentences (like the poster said above) I would have cut her off at 16 months (much less than the minimum 2 years recommended by the WHO). Or if I went by the common belief by the time they have teeth (they are called milk teeth for a reason, BTW.) 4 months, or by walking 10 months.

    So many people misunderstand nursing a preschool aged kid. They seem to think it is like feeding a younger baby, every few hours or so, not drinking cow’s milk, or consuming other foods and drinks. It is not like this at all. For the last year and a half or so of nursing my younger daughter it was only at bedtime, naptime (while she still had naps) and first thing in the morning. She started eating solid foods just past 4 months (a bit early, I know, but she was grabbing it off my plate, so I gave her appropriate sized food to avoid choking on the food off my plate) Most kids this age nurse like that, only a couple times a day, or sometimes for comfort if they hurt themselves.

    For digestive type bugs, she is usually the least affected out of the members of our family, and I like to think it had to do with her being breastfed for longer. There was one bug where that was all she could keep down, it was a relief to know she was getting some nutrition. I was also so glad I was still nursing during the H1N1 flu season; we all got a flu that winter, and again, she seemed less sick that the rest of us.

    I don’t have a “strange” relationship with my daughter, I do have a closer one with her than I do with my older daughter (that is probably more due to personality differences/similarities, but I am sure there is some part of our closeness that has to due with our nursing longer)

  • Erin

    Toddler nursing is just normal. Breastfeeding is not sexual. Toddlers with pacifiers, or toddlers who suck their thumbs are not deviants – obviously… both of those are nipple substitutes. This is a well-written article.

    Did you know that Michael Jordan, Einstein and Pele (the soccer player) were all breastfed for 3 or more years? They could all talk, form sentences, and everyone knows they did it. Yet, somehow, this did not ruin them.

    There is nothing sexual about breastfeeding. Nothing. Trust me, I’ve done it. The misconception that is is sexual is what drives most anti-breastfeeding thought. It’s not sexual. It’s not weird. It’s natural and normal.

  • Nicole

    To Just wondering: There are health benefits to nursing longer. The more a woman breastfeeds, the lower her risk for breast cancer and for osteoporosis. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1143616/

    http://www.medwire-news.md/45/90239/ObGyn/Breastfeeding_reduces_risk_for_postmenopausal_osteoporosis.html

  • Just Wondering too

    There are many health benefits to both child and mother…
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breastfeeding

    I know, its a wiki, but the information seems fairly well researched. I also seems a little one sided, but may the evidence is on one side :D . There is some indication that there is a temporary reduction of bone density in mothers during breast feeding (duh?), but that the density returns after breast feeding stops:
    http://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/bone/Bone_Health/Pregnancy/default.asp#b

  • From NZ

    Thank you Eric, breadtfeeding is natural. People have such intense opinions on the extended breadtfeeding. For our family. We have our 2year old toddler nursing. I look forward to showing my partner this….as we may keep nursing till 3years of age after reading this.
    Thanks for useful information.
    Cheers from New Zealand :-)

  • http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/primate-diaries/ Eric Michael Johnson

    @Simon: I linked to one study carried out in Washington, D.C. There are lots of good studies in the West on breastfeeding and immune function but I wanted to stay away from Western psychology and epidemiology papers in my post because of their over-reliance on the children of urban, white, and educated parents (an unrepresentative sample). But to cite a few studies in the West, research published in the journal Pediatrics finds similar benefits for childhood nutrition: http://bit.ly/LbkJ9h. Also, a meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Epidemiology has shown that a longer duration of breastfeeding reduces the risk of childhood obesity: http://1.usa.gov/JzqSje. The La Leche League also has quite a few additional resources on studies showing the benefits of breastfeeding: http://www.lalecheleague.org/cbi/bibbenefits.html An entire area I didn’t have space to go into was how duration of breastfeeding is also correlated with cognitive benefits. See this bibliography for an exhaustive list of studies on the topic [pdf]: http://bit.ly/KcMRKo

    @Just wondering: There are quite a few papers suggesting that a longer duration of breastfeeding can reduce the risk of breast cancer. Research also suggests that breastfeeding reduces the risk of osteoporosis in mothers or, at least, has no significant causal relationship. Again, the La Leche League has an extensive bibliography on this topic. See: http://bit.ly/Jzsud5 and http://bit.ly/JjGRDj

  • rarcher

    kids will feel traumatized but whatever you choose to make traumatic
    and whatever they choose to have problems with later in life
    i, for example, resent my religious upbringing
    breastfeeding wouldn’t have bothered me half as much or had as much of a negative impact on my life
    …modern puritans…

  • Cath

    Really interesting article – thank you for providing some facts. It boils down to common sense, doesn’t it? Who are we to undo millennia of evolution by saying “if they’re old enough to ask for it then it’s time to stop”? When I have kids I hope I can treat them in the way they biologically expect – not the way some guy who’s sexualising breasts wants me to.

  • Revereche

    You’re forgetting what hell that’s going to cause a woman’s breasts, though. For that reason alone, health benefits or no, most Americans would never go for it.

  • http://mammalssuck.blogspot.com/ Katie Hinde

    Simon & Just Wondering : You don’t have to be in the non-industrialized world to benefit from breast-milk, ~900 infants in the US die each year from not getting breastmilk (http://tinyurl.com/6t3zmsc)

    additional for Just Wondering: There is much that we don’t know about how extended breast-feeding impacts women. Mobilizing minerals from the skeleton during extended lactation, however isn’t as costly as if mothers were sustaining the same degree of calcium transfer as during peak lactation. Women who continue to lactate for years are not exclusively breast-feeding because they can not physiologically make enough milk to sustain infant growth. The introduction of complementary foods reduces demand on mothers so they can down regulate calcium transfer. Also women’s adaptations for skeletal biology are dependent to some extent on mobilizing and replenishing skeletal calcium via lactation. Never having a baby, or having one baby late in life (and therefore missing out on bone restructuring during prime reproductive years) actually put women at increased risk of osteoporosis.

  • Anna

    Yacko, I would love to see your references for that, LOL

  • Mardi

    No, it’s not only diarrhea that kills or harms babies who weren’t breastfed.

    Benefits/risks to both mother and baby USA studies: Less sudden Infant Death syndrome in exclusively breastfed babies, less Childhood Lymphoma/Leukemia in children who were breastfed 6 or more months, better bone remineralizaton for mother after weaning in mothers who breastfed than those who didn’t. Less childhood obesity, especially in babies fed at breast vs. fed breast milk via a bottle. Greater risk of ear infections in infants not breastfed. Greater risk of lung/bronchial infections in infants not breastfed. Less risk of death from necrotizing entercolitis in premature infants who are breastfed – and donor human milk is given to formula fed infants who get encrotizing entercolitis to help them survive. Higher risk of celiac and inflammatory bowel disease in formula fed infnats. Great risk of Type 1 diabetes in those fed formula as infants. Lesser risk of death from Resiratory Syncytial Virus in breastfed infants. less ovarian, breast and uterine cancer in mothers who breastfed. Better gut flora in infants who were breastfed. And the list goes on….

  • Jackie

    Just wondering. A woman’s bone health has been shown to improve with length of breastfeeding. Can’t recall exact mechanism.but something to do with hormone changes causing.mote calcium to be laid down after feeding. Plus longer breastfeeding reduces the woman’s risk of breastcancer. So positives for mother and child to breasted her child to the natural length ogre species weaning, which is when looking their ‘milk’ teeth. (Clues in the name. Can’t latch to feed effectively with adult teeth and jaw shape – no matter what anyone tells u…) ;-) )

  • Anna

    Why would the protective benefits of breastmilk suddenly stop at any given moment in time? That doesn’t seem logical to me.

    I mean, the carbs, fats (including 200 fatty acids- not just the one or two added- from weird sources- into formula), proteins (including lactoferrin, which isn’t in formula or any regular foods, & inhibits the growth of bacteria such as E.coli in the gastrointestinal system- actually it appears to be extracted as a supplement for a many causes, see: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-49-LACTOFERRIN.aspx?activeIngredientId=49&activeIngredientName=LACTOFERRIN), vitamins, minerals, water, immunoblobulins, lysozyme (one of 20 active enzymes in human milk, this one provides an antibacterial factor against enterobacteriaceae and gram+ bacteria), other digestive enzymes not in other sources include lipase and amylase, prostaglandins, bile salts, EGF (promotes healing and growth of gut mucosa), cytokines, CCK…. you get the idea… they don’t suddenly stop working at a certain point in time.

    You know, you can observe the living beneficial cells in breastmilk under a microscope… guess what formula looks like under the microscope? Nothing at all, it’s completely blank. Don’t get me wrong, formula is life saving and a generally safe choice for babies who aren’t breastfeeding, but the two are not even close when given the choice.

    And you know what?
    Researchers HAVE addressed folks’ concerns regarding the benefits in 1st world countries, and yes, it is still very beneficial even in countries like the U.S. – “…postneonatal infant mortality rates in the United States are reduced by 21% in breastfed infants.” That’s mortality, and doesn’t even include morbidity! http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/115/2/496.full

    And look at this: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Evidence Report on Breastfeeding in Developed Countries (they reviewed 9,000 abstracts):
    http://www.ahrq.gov/downloads/pub/evidence/pdf/brfout/brfout.pdf

    So, yeah, the brainiacs already thought about all that.

    ‘Just Wondering’… many of the benefits of breastfeeding ARE dose-related, meaning, yes, the longer you do it, the more the benefit. One pretty clear example of this is the reduction of risk of breast cancer in women, but you can certainly look up more.

    The benefits of breastfeeding don’t go away at any certain magical time or place, LOL.
    Just the idea implies a lack of understanding of the art and science of breastfeeding in general. Those of you who feel this way, do you have any experience with, or education on extended breastfeeding?

    If anyone has any evidence of harm in breastfeeding a toddler, I’d love to see it.

  • http://www.LaurieACouture.com Laurie A. Couture

    Attachment Parenting is not only about breastfeeding, but full term breastfeeding is a big part of it. Please see my response to TIME’s article, “Forget TIME, Are you HUMAN Enough for Nature’s Intent?” http://www.laurieacouture.com/2012/05/forget-time-are-you-human-enough-for-natures-intent/

  • Danae

    Those who are noting that we don’t live in a third world country…

    Our human physiology has not changed. If we have evolved to expect 3 or so years of breastfeeding, that is not going to change by being born in the US in 2012. Of course we can survive without breastfeeding into toddlerhood. Most children in the US aren’t even breastfed after a few months, unfortunately. But, would you really say people are healthy here? I would not. Surviving is not the same as thriving. Health is more than the absence of disease.

    Mothers should be educated about full term breastfeeding, and SUPPORTED in doing so, because it is the best way to give children a healthy start and a strong immune system. If you don’t want to breastfeed for 3 years, don’t. But please do not criticize, question, or shame ANY mother who does. She is doing nothing but good, against incredible odds.

  • Tonia

    My daughter just turned 5 and we still currently nurse. I am saying this to answer some ‘concerns’ that are expressed by some of the comments about how nursing an older child will mess up the child emotionally.

    Nursing a child of my daughter’s age and her remembering is the best part. She will remember nursing, she can tell me how nursing helps her emotionally, she will tell me about the memories she has and she will tell me she is not ready to give it up. There is nothing wrong with remembering a mother’s way of caring for her child. Nursing is a part of my parenting as others have their own way as well. Neither is wrong, it just works.

    My daughter will see another nursling human or ‘animal’ and smile. She will tell a younger child how lucky they both are to have nursing as an option. My daughter has also helped a new mom feel comfortable with nursing in public by saying, “If your baby could talk, he would say thank you”. I would not say that, that is evidence of any potential damage for the future.

    The best part about my daughter remembering nursing is that when she nurses her child the cycle will be complete for her. I can only assume what I am giving my daughter, but my daughter will know what she is giving her child, and in return know what she gave me.

    She gave me the knowledge that my body works and can do what it is supposed to do – grow another living being.

    The other question of what does nursing do to the nursing mother. There is a wack of benefits for woman as well. There is a lot of information online to Google if you choose to look up “Benefits of breastfeeding for the mother”. Things that are beneficial to me, is the decrease in cancer and osteoporosis, It helps with depression and PPD… Actually here is a link I actually like: http://www.llli.org/nb/nbjulaug01p124.html

    As for the differences in 3rd world and us. A human is a human. We have ‘good medical’, ‘good water’, ‘good GMO food’ why should we care? Why pay for something when something your body can make will prevent or lower the chances for free! In return you don’t have to PAY for the meds to cure you in the first place. Why wait until something is visibly seen before we act. When it’s not natural for it to happen in the first place? Then there is side effects for the medical treatments we are offered. It makes no sense.

  • Caio

    Yacko, so you say breastfeeding and mother-offspring natural behavior is part of a strange relationship?

  • Dave G

    Coupled with ‘extended’ breast feeding is having the baby in the bed. Our, now 16 yr old, daughter breast fed til after her 3rd birthday and was in the bed til past her 2nd birthday and then slept in a cot right next to the bed. She fed without even waking us up … brilliant. I wish I had known this stuff so that my two elder children could have benefitted.

  • mysticalbeast

    yacko, my daughter bfed until her 6th bd and she remembers that she loved it and has very fond memories of the time. She has also a better understanding of how successful bfing workes than most of the male population – gyn/ob included.
    This psychiatrist has clearly not been breastfed long enough, I can smell his envy in every sentence ;o)

  • Wil

    My son was breastfed until he was about 18 months old. My daughter about 26 months or so.

    In regards to the mother, a question. Does weaning the baby cause a change in hormones in the mother? My wife had a severely diminished sex drive during the breastfeeding period for both children, it sprang back very fast and strong when they were weaned. Is this related? (No, I am not claiming she had any sexual stimulation from the breastfeeding, but I am curious if the act of breastfeeding releases hormones into the mother’s system, or if stopping breastfeeding and weaning the child changes the levels in the mother’s body.)

  • Lynn

    The comment from ‘Just wondering’,I’m not sure whether it was your intention, but you make a great point regarding one of the real health benefits to the breastfeeding mother! Research has indicated that the longer a mother breastfeeds, the lower her risk of developing osteoporosis and breast cancer in later life. This is an example of how extended breastfeeding has a positive impact on the health of the mother. For further info see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8008678.stm
    And those who say that children get no benefits from breastfeeding when they reach an arbitrary age (based on our love of round numbers – say one year or six months), or if they live in a first-world country, or when they can form words, have teeth, use a cup, again, current research argues that you are wrong, for eg. http://childhealthresearch.org.au/news-events/media-releases/2010/january/new-study-shows-long-term-mental-health-benefits-from-extended-breastfeeding.aspx.
    I don’t wish to suggest that women who stopped breastfeeding at six months, or didn’t breastfeed are doing harm, or that they love their children less – that would be silly. I just want to make the point that although women stop breastfeeding for many valid reasons, they shouldn’t feel influenced or even harassed by peer pressure, pop psychology, or especially by some idiot pointing or saying ‘Euwww’.

  • Scott

    We in the U.S. may not have the same need to continue breastfeeding into toddlerhood because we have better sanitation and a better nutritional infrastructure, but that is similar to saying that we don’t need to exercise because we have cars and elevators. We all know that exercise is beneficial whatever else we do in our life.

    Just because we’re ahead of other cultures doesn’t mean our children wouldn’t benefit from prolonged lactation. Most of the time, breastfeeding is curtailed for societal reasons, which are often not reasons that are beneficial.

    If breastfeeding helps to prevent illness, I’m all in favor of that. Illness of all kinds and all people has a negative effect on society. That includes the mental illness of people who think mothers should not breastfeed, because it’s not “natural.”

  • Brandy

    One small mistake: 15% of women are *exclusively* breastfeeding at 6mos in the US. 23% are still breastfeeding at all – a lot of he difference is due to introduction of solids along with the breastmilk.

  • http://www.heidi.hk Heidi

    Breastfeeding is normal. Formula feeding is not normal. The cover kid will just be so proud of himself. Breastfeeding after 2-3 year is not common but normal. But early weaning is not what human supposed to do and health cost need to be paid.

  • Denise Cummins

    The apparent point of this blog was to shame women into breast feeding until their children are school age. But tell me, just how exactly does that work in the modern workplace? Or more to the point, how exactly do WE work in the modern workplace where men object viciously to such practices? Is Eric Michael Johnson willing to have breast feeding women in faculty meetings? Or taking loan applications at his bank? Or in the audience at a scientific conference? This is simply unconscionable journalism.

    His whole thesis depends on comparing American women to non-human primates and to women in “traditional” societies. But women in traditional societies can breast feed in the fields, in the market place, anywhere women traditionally go. We could follow their lead if we did the same thing: Stayed in the bedroom and the kitchen where women traditionally belonged. But here’s the problem: We work in the world of men who tell us to raise our children in our spare time and marry our jobs.

    Here is a quote from Michelle Obama’s address to the National Science Foundation that should concern Dr. Johnson but I am sure does not: “Women account for 47% of new PhDs in the sciences, but only 28% of tenured positions…Family formation, notably marriage and childbirth or adoption of children accounts for the major loss of female talent from the job pool between receipt of PhD and achievement of a tenured position in the sciences.”

  • Anna

    Wil wrote “Does weaning the baby cause a change in hormones in the mother?”

    Actually, yes. Women are in a low estrogen state during breastfeeding. This is mother nature’s way of trying to keep pregnancies from occurring too close together. And maybe even more important: new moms are tired and touched out. Implement Date Night!

    More: http://www.easybabylife.com/sex-while-breastfeeding.html

  • Anna

    “The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about.” Wayne Dyer

  • http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/primate-diaries/ Eric Michael Johnson

    @Denise Cummins: Thank you for your comment. I’m not sure how you arrived at the conclusion that the point of my blog was to “shame women into breastfeeding until their children are school age.” Please explain where in my post there was the least element of shame or judgment. If you’ll look to my final paragraph you’ll see that my conclusion is the exact opposite of the motivations you’re ascribing to me.

    From my perspective, and from the feedback I’ve received so far (in many cases from lactation advocates and nursing mothers), the post was countering the shame that women who choose to practice extended breastfeeding have felt in a society that doesn’t support them. I chose to address this question from a purely scientific perspective because it was one approach that I hadn’t seen emphasized in the commentary following TIME’s provocative cover.

    I completely agree with you that there are societal barriers against extended breastfeeding, not the least of them the patriarchal attitudes of many men in the workplace. To answer your questions, yes, I would be quite willing to have breastfeeding women in faculty meetings, at the bank, or at scientific conferences. It quite honestly is baffling that this isn’t supported. But, more than that, we need more businesses that would support on-site daycare (as exists in many parts of Europe) so that nursing mothers can easily feed their infants without the hassle of pumping and preparing bottles. I support women’s choices on this question and I know that they’re not easy ones to make. I simply wanted to provide the most accurate information available so that everyone can make an informed choice.

  • MrsRobinson

    @ Denise Cummins-

    The blog isn’t about shaming American women into full term breast feeding. It’s more about pointing out how women are stigmatized for breastfeeding at all…. since, you know.. boobies are for playing with and not for babies.

    I fully agree that we live in a man’s world. Pregnancy is still considered a disability in the workplace and maternity leave a costly inconvenience, especially if you actually have the rare luxury of paid maternity leave. Most places would rather lay you off than work with this natural condition.

    It would be nice if there were rules and regulations set up for pregnancy in the workplace. Specialized schedules, nursing rooms or just someplace to pump, work from home programs, anything at all to say to us, “Hey, we are human too.”

    You just have to remember.. this is the country where it’s now considered unnatural for an eighty year old man to not be capable of getting an erection… so insurance will buy you a pill for that. But then they’ll argue you to the grave about paying for breast reconstruction for your breast cancer surviving 32 year old daughter. Somethings here, in the US, ….well, they’re just backwards, inside out, or utterly ludicrous but considered normal and acceptable. Like breasts being overly sexualized.

  • Louise

    Denise– Don’t worry. Extended breastfeeding is NOT the very frequent breastfeeding that newborns require. As some of the people who posted here pointed out, extended breastfeeding may only mean nursing a child to sleep at night. Most mothers can be present for that.

    As for new mothers nursing at faculty meetings or in similar situations: I think that would be a wonderful idea; why not? What would be bad about that? Nursing babies are usually quiet, contented and unobtrusive.

    Also, if employers make it difficult for mothers to pump at work, perhaps those employers need to be educated and change their approaches. Just because we currently have unfriendly attitudes towards nursing mothers in many work situations does not mean that these attitudes should continue.

    I don’t think that any of the breastfeeding advocates who posted here want to see women confined to the home. Breastfeeding a child is the ultimate feminist accomplishment! Breastfeeding and working outside the home are NOT mutually exclusive and it’s time for society to accept that.

  • amphiox

    The apparent point of this blog was to shame women into breast feeding until their children are school age.

    WHAT???

  • Jordan

    Why are we looking so much at what people do…and not what is best? I don’t really care if everyone on the planet breast feed till their kid is 5 if all of their kids have issues. We need to look at 2 things to really come up with an answer on what you should do.

    1. Cross reference all info we have on parent breast feeding and psychological problems that may stem from mother issues…ie all of them.

    2. Is there anything at all to be gained by feeding your child milk from the breast rather than from a bottle if it is real breast milk.

  • Scott

    Breastfeeding prevents ovulation. The more you ovulate in your life, the greater the risk of ovarian cancer. Traditional societies have less ovarian cancer.

  • http://mammalssuck.blogspot.com/ Katie Hinde

    @Scott: Breast-feeding actually doesn’t prevent ovulation in humans or baboons. Its losing weight during breast-feeding that suppresses ovulation- a women who is gaining weight during lactation is likely to resume cycling. Of course this is most likely to occur among women with ample access to calories. The misconception that nursing suppresses ovulation is because lactation, especially early and peak lactation, are likely to require mobilization of maternal fat stores so women are losing weight. Once women are in positive energy balance/gaining weight consistently for a couple months- boom- ovaries come back online (see research by Phyllis Lee, Claudia Valeggia).

  • Quinn O’Neill

    In the absence of clear evidence that prolonged breastfeeding is harmful I respect the choice of women who do it. I nevertheless have a negative – and natural – reaction to an image of a woman breastfeeding an older child. I suspect that most people are similarly turned off when the child reaches a certain age, though for some the age is older, maybe even adolescence.

    What’s normal among primates tells us little about what’s appropriate for us. Extended breastfeeding may be the norm for non-human primates and some human societies, but then, infanticide is also widespread among primates. Does this mean that it should be acceptable? What about masturbation? Should we be comfortable masturbating in public because it’s natural and normal? Or are our cultural beliefs, stigmas, and value judgements also natural?

    What we hold to be appropriate is influenced by innate predispositions and cultural factors, but potential harms and benefits ought to be considered. I haven’t seen any convincing evidence for either harms or benefits of extended breastfeeding (beyond age 2) in industrialized societies.

    Kathleen Buckley’s paper actually doesn’t show that “extended breastfeeding until three years old resulted in lower rates of malnutrition compared to those who were not breastfed as long”. Her paper doesn’t address rates of malnutrition at all, it looks at the percentage of the RDA for energy intake and nutrients that is met by breast milk and non-breast milk components of breastfeeding children’s diets. For energy intake and some nutrients, the RDA was not met by the non-breast milk component alone. But this doesn’t mean that, had the children been completely weaned, they would be subsisting on their current diets minus the breast milk and, therefore, malnourished. It’s probable that the breast milk would be replaced by something else.

    Buckley reports that the breastfed children were below the median but within normal range for various measures of growth. She demonstrates a lack of a harmful effect on growth rather than a benefit of prolonged breastfeeding. She notes that there isn’t much information available on the effect of breast milk on growth and nutritional status in industrialized countries, and some of the research findings are contradictory. She writes, “Some studies of children in Asia and Africa have found a positive relationship between prolonged breastfeeding and growth, with a decrease in the incidence of malnutrition.4-6 Other research has reported a negative association between prolonged breastfeeding and growth, resulting in lower nutritional status.7,8”

    The article from the journal Pediatrics (mentioned in the comments section) similarly does not demonstrate a benefit. Mandel and colleagues (2005) compared the fat and energy content of milk from mothers who’d been lactating for more than 1 year to those lactating for shorter periods. They found that milk from women who’d been lactating for more than a year had significantly higher fat and energy content, but they acknowledge that “the long-term effects of such high fat intake have not been studied”.

    The authors further suggest that prolonged breastfeeding may not reduce cardiovascular risks in adulthood, as some have claimed, and that the risk may even increase for children whom are breastfed for more than 1 year: “These reductions were challenged by a retrospective epidemiologic study of men born in 1920 to 1930 in Hertfordshire, England, which suggested that the beneficial effects of breastfeeding on cardiovascular risks existed as long as weaning was performed before 1 year of age; after that time, continued breast-feeding was associated paradoxically with increased cardiovascular risks.2 Moreover, a study by Leeson et al3 suggested that prolonged breastfeeding might lead to unwelcome outcomes and might even increase cardiovascular risks in adulthood.”

    The 2005 study by Harder and colleagues (also mentioned in the comments section) looked at risk of obesity but didn’t find a reduced risk associated with breastfeeding beyond 9 months: “From 1 month of breastfeeding onward, the risk of subsequent overweight continuously decreased up to a reduction of more than 30 percent, reaching a plateau at 9 months of breastfeeding.”

    I’d like to see some evidence that there are benefits associated with breastfeeding beyond age 2 in industrialized societies. Could someone point out a study that offers some? I don’t believe that one’s been presented here so far.

  • Anna

    I think the burden is more on providing evidence *against* extended bf; by extrapolation we can figure that there are likely benefits. It’s hard to provide studies when hardly anyone nurses beyond 2, but hopefully in time they will appear. Researchers, are you listening??

  • Anna

    Katie, I’d like to see more on the ovulation topic you described. I looked up those authors but couldn’t really find anything readable. Are there any abstracts you can link to?

    I have a lot of questions about that… I mean, if it’s all linked to losing weight instead of the hormonal state during lactation itself, why don’t we ovulate during pregnancy (I mean, I obviously know that we’re already pregnant but theoretically)?.

    Also, while we burn more calories during bf, many women don’t in fact lose wt during nursing, so why aren’t they all resuming ovulation? I work with breastfeeding women so I’ll be on the lookout with my own anecdotal observations! I’m not sure I have seen that trend in the 10+ years I’ve worked with bf mothers. And I don’t think that was my own experience with my three nursing babies (for instance, I lost all my weight right away with my second baby(& was at the lowest weight (about 120lbs), and ovulation stayed away the longest with that baby).

    I’ve always understood that it is more linked to frequency of feeding (but it does definitely vary by person; some still resume cycles early despite frequent nursing and others don’t despite infrequent nursing). Are you familiar with ecological breastfeeding for natural child spacing? It’s been a while since I looked at it, but I don’t remember the weight connection, although in many cases the weight would naturally go along with it.

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Seven-Standards-Ecological-Breastfeeding/dp/1435746228/ref=pd_sim_b_1

    http://www.amazon.com/Breastfeeding-Natural-Spacing-Sheila-Kippley/dp/1435746546/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_1

    I guess the way to know would be to study women who are losing weight but infrequently nursing & vice versa.

    I mean, it may be related to the weight loss, but obviously it’s mincing words & simplifying a little – it DOES have something to do with the breastfeeding and the hormonal state during breastfeeding because otherwise women who are losing weight wouldn’t be fertile in general and that’s obviously not the case, right?

  • http://www.two--four.net/weblog.php Billy Beck

    “Why the whole bloody place is the most unspeakable matriarchy in the whole history of civilization.”

    “And this positively *infantile* preoccupation with bosoms!”

    (Terry Thomas — “It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World”, 1963)

  • Vickie

    First it’s interesting how many men weigh in on this, and that the article was written by a man from a “purely scientific approach.” For women, breastfeeding is a very emotional thing. It raises our oxytocin levels, it helps us bond with our kids, and it’s actually quite satisfying. There’s a level of selfishness I would suppose to breastfeeding because it can be a very soothing and intimate experience.

    And there’s the rub. I don’t know what the “right” age is for weaning. And I believe many of the posters have good points about the differences between developing and developed cultures. But my greatest problem with the cover of Time is that it once again took an intimate and (to me) sacred experience and profaned it by making a spectacle of it. Time put that on the cover for shock value. They care no more for the “right” or “wrong” ways to wean a child. They just have had waning readership and someone wanted to cause a firestorm.

    The second problem I have with the article in Time is the idea of “attachment parenting.” Just the label gives me the creeps. I don’t know that weaning your child at 3 years old causes attachment issues, but combining that concept with the wonder of breastfeeding sends the wrong message. It sounds too close to the much maligned “attachment therapy” of the 70′s and 80′s that resulted in children’s deaths and has had questionable results since its inception.

    Attachment parenting also sounds like another excuse for entitlement training or enabling dependency. I breastfed my oldest till she was 2, and my son till he was almost 3. He announced he was going to “be a big boy now” and he would reach for a sippy cup.

    At no time would I call that attachment parenting. My kids learned to pick up after themselves, I encouraged them to be independent thinkers as they grew, and they had chores and allowances to teach them the value of work and of managing money. They are delightful kids in their 20′s now and they can take care of themselves. “Attachment parenting” to me implies that the parent enables the child and keeps them weak to the point that they never leave their parents’ basement.

    IMHO the intended shock value of the cover and the title “attachment parenting” have more to do with the negative reaction than the simple conversation about breastfeeding. Dr. Spock has screwed up several generations already, can we not destroy the next few?

  • http://none Max

    Why would anyone with a enough brain cells to get a gleam in their eye watch fox news?

  • Pippa

    I was the first mother to breast feed at my work, yes at meetings too. I was the first to feed at our Federal Board meeting. I came from europe and thought this was the normal thing to do! At the time it was considered scandalous here in Canada, (22 years ago) which I found a little odd; now young members do it all the time and are supported to do so. We are changing as a society and I am glad to see this both in practice and in this magazine cover and the resulting debate. Gone are the days when a breast feeding mother was expected to quietly withdraw to a room on her own to perform the shameful deed. And good riddance too. Lets just get on with it, as a natural part of motherhood and our work. The prudes and those who sexualise breasts will eventually get used to it.

  • Al Bundy

    @Yacko, and what a “strange” way for you to have been born from the unholy end of your mother’s body. There is nothing “strange” about breastfeeding a young child! It is not stranger than, say, keeping them clean, dry, and warm. It is probably only strange to Victorian eyes like yours.

  • Glenno

    I am not sure I agree with the premise that justification or criticism of prolonged breast feeding hinges on a comparative study of all primates. It is as easy to pick holes in that argument as it is to pick the insects from another ape’s back. Oh, I forgot, we humans don’t do that nowadays.

    It seems that there is significant diversity between societies, and even within societies, concerning this issue. The factors impinging on a mother’s decision are not purely biological. They also include economic factors, vanity, sexual availability, and a whole range of other complex factors that may vary between individual mothers, let alone societies or species. And of course we don’t want to forget the other person with an interest in the decision -the child. He/she may no longer seek to be breast fed at some point. Does that make his/her decision wrong?

    The one thing that I believe was clear from the original cover photo was the intention to shock the reader, with the likely side benefit of generating controversy and increasing sales for a publication that has not been doing as well in recent years. It is a pity that the discussion of what should be a reasonable topic had to be tainted by what to me was a graphic display intended to shock with its psycho-sexual overtones. Kudos to those of you who have taken this unfortunate starting point and focused discussion on so many meaningful aspects.

  • Maxine

    La Leche League was a great influence and support for me when I was nursing my children in 1966 and 1968. Hardly anyone was doing it, but I felt it was the right thing to do (I was very non-conformist). My first was nursed until nine months, the second for 2 years, and the third, born in 1979, was nursed until she was 3 (at bedtime). From La Leche League, I learned how to nurse unobtrusively, and did it almost anywhere. Fortunately, I didn’t have to work, so no problem with pumping, etc. Women who do so are very admirable.

  • Fran Mayes

    Cows milk grows huge-bodied calves, human milk grows big brains. All this discussion of breast feeding leaves out a huge factor: the alternative. Has anyone said formula is better for babies or mothers? Formula companies keep “improving” their product, but it will always be inferior to breast milk.

  • http://N/A Stanley Tolle

    I have followed this issue with interest for a number of years. What I have found interesting is how resistant I have found women friends to the idea of longer breast feeding periods. It seems that they attempt to wean their babies as soon as possible. I think this behavior might have some evolutionary support behind it. One of the things that breast feeding does is reduce the fertility of the mother. Particularity if the women is working hard during the day and is breast feeding several times during the night. Women who are in a caloric rich environment who could wean their infants earlier would have an evolutionary advantage in producing more offspring. I think this effect maybe what we are seeing in our Western and Agricultural societies. Birth periods in these societies approach close to once a year while in the more traditional societies birth periods are as long as 4 years. This is not to say that longer breast feeding periods are not heather for the infant but it may explain why the breast feeding periods become shorter is societies where food is in abundance.

  • http://N/A Stanley Tolle

    One other thing. The suppression of ovulation by breast feeding is related to breast feeding continuing through the night. This from a Scientific American article on the subject. The article stated that a hormone was produced from the breast during breast feeding that suppressed the production of Follicle-Stimulating Hormone by the pituitary. This action would become less effective as breast feeding continued. It was not the weight of the women that was as much a factor as the time between breast feedings. As the infant starts to sleep during the night there is sufficient time for Follicle-Stimulating Hormone to be produced and the woman will ovulate. Essentially if the women could produce sufficient breast milk during the day to enable the infant to sleep through the night then the women would become fertile again. Kind of a biological protective mechanism to insure that a women would be physically ready to support another pregnancy. A mechanism that could brake down if there was a short term high caloric intake. Like at feeding stations in famine situations. Of course, women who are, maybe over fed, would also be able to breast feed their infants enough to allow then to sleep overnight sooner, so they would also start ovulate sooner.

  • http://Shelley Shelley Steva

    I breastfed for one year for one child: eighteen months for another. There is no question that I felt pressure to stop with my second child- but I have no doubt that the child would have been glad to go longer. Did they benefit from the nursing? I believe so- both are slender and don’t suffer from allergies. Their mother is the opposite. I just wish that our society was more set up and accepting
    so that more new mothers would start and continue with this beneficial activity!

  • Ari

    I admit to finding breastfeeding past a certain point strange. I don’t have much of a logical argument. It’s simply that I associate breastfeeding to a period in the child’s life when they aren’t quite a person yet: they’re a little thing, full of potential, but not someone I can talk with, not someone I can quite educate just yet. A proto-person.

    Then the child starts to become more of a person who interacts more extensively with their environment and I, who understands my words and why I’m scolding them (well to some extent), who puts logical concepts on their games. I would honestly feel very uncomfortable with not only showing such a person, who fits more and more in the “people” category – the one I don’t show my nude body to – but letting their mouth on it.

    If I were going to breastfeed, I would probably stop when I’d feel that my child is becoming more of a person. But that’s all just me and my weird ideas.

    Anyway, this is not scientific, but it sounds logical to me: the sexualisation of breasts does play a part in our societies’ early stopping of breastfeeding, but I think there’s another factor. The physical aspects aside, in less “western” societies, don’t children stay “babies” for a longer time? What I mean by that is that our children tend to start learning the ways of society, and also more abstract knowledge, earlier than those in the hunter-gatherer communities described in the article. Am I right?

    After all, for the child’s cognitive and psychosocial abilities to develop optimally, we are encouraged to start teaching them, little by little, as much as possible, and as early as possible (without of course sacrificing a loving environment), about various things, through games, or by making them socialise early.

    I want to remind it – I’m no expert nor do I have a source – but isn’t it reasonable to think that maybe the earlier psychosocial development of our children is linked to an earlier weaning in some way? Perhaps this, ehm, perpetuation of the “baby” state, even though it’s occasional, is not compatible with an early psychosocial development.

    Ah, just one thing. Someone mentioned that “they aren’t called milk teeth for nothing”. Firstly, it’s not certain why they’re call that way; it could also be because they’re whiter than adult teeth. Secondly, the first of them do not fall before 6-8 years of age, and all adult teeth are not there before 10 years in the earliest. None of these are logical times to stop breastfeeding. So whilst nothing shows it’s appropriate to stop breastfeeding when they appear, there’s no clue that they might be an indication to indeed breastfeed.

  • Funruffian

    I was born in 1968 and my mother admitted to never breast feeding me. I am angry and hateful toward her as a result. She didn’t even have a valid reason to bottle- feed. She never had to work and there was plenty of time for her to nurse me naturally. I am uncertain as to what led her to such a selfish and lazy decision. Perhaps it was her husband, her prudish discomfort with nursing or just bad medical advice from health experts. Today I am 45 and have pretty good health with strong bones, strong teeth, good vision, good looks and a handsome physique. I also gave severe hay fever and pollen allergies, am susceptible to migraine headaches and diarrhea. Is it stress or a nutritional deficiency

    • lele

      Dont be angry with your mum. If there is no support around it is very easy for a mum to not breastfeed. The motivation from the knowledge that breastfeeding is amazing for the baby helps a mum to carry on and breastfeed. She may have been in an era and society where bottle feedign was the norm and she just automatically did not breastfeed. She may have had discomfort or maybe you bit her or may she had thrush. Such uncomfortable situations and she had no drive or knowledge of the importance to carry on so she just didnt. Simple as that. Not her fault. You are fine dont worry :-)

  • SMOOP

    Hey Discus/Time — can one really not write “b-r-e-a-s-t” without it being auto-censored into asterisks? Are women’s bodies really that shameful??

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