It's borderline impossible to please everyone when it comes to breastfeeding. Moms either breastfeed for too long, or not long enough. Breastfeeding covers can bother babies, but don't use one and you're showing too much skin. Then there's the issue of breastfeeding age — and not just the child's. This mom had the perfect response for people who think she's "too old" to breastfeed her children. Despite what some people may believe, boobs don't actually have an expiration date of 40 years for the milk they produce.
The mom of two, who identified herself as just Stefania, is no stranger to criticism. After a six-year breastfeeding journey beginning when she had her first child at 37 and continuing with her 3-year-old, she's heard just about everything — or so she thought. She posted on Friday to her popular Facebook page, Mama's World, that she was sitting in the waiting room at her doctor's office when she overheard two other women talking about breastfeeding. "I thought NO comments could ever SHOCK me anymore on the topic," she wrote. "And yet someone managed to do just that, SHOCK me with some uneducated opinion about a breastfeeding mother."
The women were discussing when mothers, rather than children, become too old to breastfeed. "That's right, these two ladies were going on about how a woman they knew, who is 42 years old, was, in their opinion, too OLD to breastfeed!!" she wrote. Stefania describes their complaints about the mother ranging from the probable poor quality of her "expired" milk to her baby being better off on formula.
Stefania says she cannot stand that kind of judgment, and their words had her fuming. Fortunately, she had her daughter with her and was able to teach the women a valuable lesson:
I kid you NOT, a few minutes later my daughter climbs on my lap wanting the boob (talk about right timing), and needless to say, I granted her wish immediately.
She then informed the women of her age. "By the way, I am 44 years old, 45 next June and my milk is perfect!" she said. "The look on their face, priceless. Sorry, I felt good!"
The misconception that breastfeeding over 40 impacts milk quality or quantity is not all that uncommon. But don't worry, lactation consultant Jan Barger told Baby Center that age has nothing to do with it:
The quality of breast milk does not change over time. Regardless of your age, socioeconomic status, length of time you have been breastfeeding, country of origin, or any other parameters you want to consider, breast milk remains high quality and chock-full of nutrients and antibodies.
That's not to say that older moms may not face challenges when breastfeeding, though. A recent study led by Dr. Laurie A. Nommsen-Rivers of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Ohio found that first-time moms who are above the age of 30 may have an increased likelihood of delay in their breastmilk production. But a delay is not an insurmountable obstacle. In such a case, Nommsen-Rivers recommends that moms seeks the assistance of a lactation consultant who can help them through the struggles, according to Reuters.
Older moms also benefit greatly from breastfeeding their children. Researchers from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles found that having their first child after the age of 25 increases a woman's risk of being diagnosed with the most common form of breast cancer. But they also determined that breastfeeding negated that risk entirely. Dr. Giske Ursin, associate professor of preventive medicine at USC's Keck School of Medicine who worked on the study, recommends that for this reason, moms of any age breastfeed for at least six months, longer if possible, according to New Scientist:
Breast-cancer risk is not something a lot of new mothers think about, but it should be an additional reason for breastfeeding. We know breastfeeding offers so many benefits for the child. But this study tells us it may also benefit the mother.
Stefania tells Romper via Facebook message that she decided to share her experience in the waiting room out of a desire to keep other moms from believing that they can't breastfeed:
Had it not been me with those ladies that day, but let's say a new or future mum, she might have believed that to be true. Mothers already question themselves for a thousand reasons a day. They shouldn't be dealing also with wrong information, which might lead to wrong choices and decision.
She describes herself as a "big breastfeeding advocate" and she believes that "no mother who wants or is able to breastfeed should ever fail because of lack of or wrong information." Fortunately, more than 80 percent of women now breastfeed their babies, according to The Telegraph, a number that is up from roughly 75 percent in 2005. What's more, moms older than 30 years of age are among those most likely to breastfeed. Support, not judgment, is what helps moms reach their breastfeeding goals. So, be like Stefania. Choose to support, not judge.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.