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6 Weird and Wonderful Breastfeeding Facts

6 September, 2016

Happy World Breastfeeding Week!! (Does anybody else get a little image in their head of the globe latching on? Who would it latch on to? Venus? What, you don’t tend to personify the planets ????? Personify EVERYTHING I say. That’s what life is about! Calling the brussel sprout on your plate Little Guy.)

So I made a video of my favourite breastfeeding facts…. some of them are so totally mad, you couldn’t make them up! (Turns out you can… see below.)Six Weird and Wonderful, Evidence-Based Facts about Breastfeeding

These are facts that I have come to know over half a decade of breastfeeding. I am still breastfeeding Juno, who is three, and Ramona, tokenistically, almost as if she is just checking it’s still there, every so often, who is five.

These facts are actually really weird and wonderful, and largely (yeah, kinda more below) true…. not like the “Your body produces EXACTLY the right amount of breastmilk” fact that is SO NOT A FACT. I almost drowned beneath the amount of breastmilk I produced for Juno, and the first 8 weeks of breastfeeding her were sooooo stressful, a wrangling and wrestling of positions under a shower of milk… and I know too that there are mamas who just can’t produce the milk their baby needs. So I think that “fact” could do with a little bit of a nuancing… “In most cases exactly the right about of breastmilk is produced!!” otherwise mamas just feel as if their bodies don’t work.

Woah, serious….

My video isn’t serious… it is sort of ridiculous AND factual:

So I thought I would link up these facts in the video with the science behind them. Turns out that in most cases I can do this…. and in a couple I have to sort of, y’know, *political speak* CLARIFY some stuff.

So here are the actual True Weird and Wonderful Facts about Breastfeeding.

1-  Breastmilk most resembles ice cream! “While ice cream is looked at as one of the king of junk foods, there is no question that it is more similar to human breast milk than any other food.”

2- One boob is bigger than the other! 73% of women had a more dominant breast. However it was evenly split between left and right. Hefty lefty! Mighty Righty!

3- A breastfed baby can recognise her mother’s milk through her sense of smell.  “By 2 weeks, a baby can tell the difference between the scent of his mother’s breast milk and another mom’s milk.”

4- Breastfeeding mums burn between 300 & 500 calories a day. So it’s technically anything between the equivalent of 3-5 miles of walking, not the 7 all those loooosers say it is. *Ahem*  And it should be pointed out that it doesn’t ALWAYS equal weight loss as some of us just want to EAT ALL THE FOOD while breastfeeding. 

5- Breastmilk is different at times of the day, evening milk makes babies sleepy.  (Unless you had plans to watch The Wire back to back all evening and then they will be awake, giggling and shouting and not sleeping until about 11pm. I jest!)

6- Baby’s saliva communicates health needs to mama’s nipple and mama produces the antibodies in her breastmilk. And that is the weirdest and most wonderful true fact about breastfeeding. (That link is pretty much the best article on breastfeeding on the planet, I think.)

Happy World Breastfeeding Week!

More reading:
Weaning the biggest fan of breastfeeding ever

Breastfeeding Older Children Together

Nursing in public and the breastfeeding pyramid scheme

Our experience of tandem breastfeeding

Breastfeeding in public as an act of public service

100 Names for Breastfeeding from around the world

Breastfeeding in art



The Weaning of a Breastfeeding Devotee

14 July, 2016

Last night I had a dream that my friend showed me her post breastfeeding boobs. She flipped one out of her bra and began unfolding it and unfolding it, like a magician pulling colourful scarves out of a top hat, until it stretched out as long as her arm. A flat, long, roll of breast. Knowingly, I stuck out my chin and nodded. She began folding it back into her bra, concertina like, matter of fact.

Five long years these boobs of mine have been in feeding action, and just now are they being retired from active, on-demand service. These days they make an appearance for an occasion, three times a day, for my three year old, Juno. And a tokenistic once a month for Ramona who is five. And I guess we will stick to this until Juno is ready for me to hold them a retirement party.

(I say “I guess” because you can only do what you can do, eh? I didn’t think I’d have to lead Juno into a three times a day habit, but it turns out, I just did. My body was beginning to revolt against the constant draw of resources.)

When I first suggested to Juno, about a month ago, that I would like to take breastfeeding down from a million times a day to three times a day she told me to “write it down.” I had to get my book and write it down, and then she made me tear it out and fold it into a tiny square and put it in my wallet. For her own reasons she was wanting this decision minuted and put in an important place.

It has mostly been a fraughtless weaning.  Just a couple of upset moments from Juno. One where she gave me an ultimatum;

“Either you give me booboo or you go to Pak N Save (that’s New Zealand’s budget supermarket) – you choose.

I don’t know where she picked up the idea of ultimatums, I was definitely cowed. I haaaaaate grocery shopping, and the kid knows it.

Breastfeeding and weaning a three year old

Ah, breastfeeding. What a sweet joy and complex act of motherhood! Source of new mama angst and bloodied nipples, source of immense feelgood body chemicals. Cause of public anger and humiliation, and personal pride and wholeness. Creator of massive, overflowing, up-to-your-chin boisterous breasts and also, eventually, of long, flat, fold-into-your-bra dried up glands.

It’s the start of goodbye, from two breastfeeding devotees.


I’ve written SO MUCH about breastfeeding over the years. For a while there it was all I went on about. Here is some stuff you might like.

Breastfeeding Older Children Together

Nursing in public and the breastfeeding pyramid scheme

Our experience of tandem breastfeeding

Nursing a micromachine

Me! Eat! Your boobies!

Breastfeeding in public as an act of public service

A Breastfeeding Poem

100 Names for Breastfeeding from around the world

Breastmilk is yummier than ice cream and funny things my kids say about breastfeeding

Breastfeeding in art

Attachment parenting, Babywearing, Breastfeeding, Cosleeping, Featured, Parenting

5 inspiring Breastfeeding Images that normalise nursing

1 April, 2016

I am always delighted when I stumble across breastfeeding images and attachment parenting in historical photos or art. It seems to affirm a strong belief of mine- that society’s discomfort at public breastfeeding and other intuitive forms of parenting is a modern phenomenon.

Allow these breastfeeding images to be a salve on the wound caused by the public shaming of breastfeeding mothers.

Some of history’s best artists and the world’s most sophisticated fine art deal with the beautiful act of nursing – try fitting the word “tramp” in to some of these situations.

Come and take a stroll through some of my absolute favourite natural parenting paintings by some of my favourite artists…Breastfeeding images that normalise nursing

Breastfeeding images that normalise nursing

Breastfeeding images that normalise nursing

La Maternite
Auguste Renoir

I love the everyday scenario of a mother perched on a wall to respond to her baby’s need. I feel like her eyes have the oxytocin glaze, that relaxed kind of high breastfeeding can sometimes produce.

Artist Stella Mertens says “Renoir – eternal continuity- this flesh remains bound to this flesh; monument to hope and love created by your genius.”

This image challenges those who say breastfeeding should be kept behind closed doors, that it is not to be done in public. Renoir’s breastfeeding image says “Anywhere the baby needs to be fed!”

The Three Ages of Life: Detail
Gustav Klimt

Breastfeeding images that normalise nursing

Breastfeeding images that normalise nursing

Oh, Klimt. A hero of mine depicting a passion of mine. Look at the connection between mother and child here! The vulnerability and the trust between them. There is a peace here in this deepest of sleeps; the contentedness of cosleeping.

The challenge here is for those who believe mother and child need to be separated at night. This is not “normal” for much of the world! Sleeping entwined, with ready access to breastfeeding is a beautiful thing for both mother and child, and has been for millennia.

Mother and Child
Jose Orozco

Breastfeeding images that normalise nursing

Breastfeeding images that normalise nursing

One of the first things strangers often remark when they see my large baby on back is “Gosh, you must have a strong back!” As if it is a hardship. I love this picture as it perfectly shows that babywearing is no hardship, no maternal sacrifice. There is pleasure here. A woman able to work, to create, while nurturing a child. The child is intrigued – mother is opening doors to the world and the child is in the perfect place to discover it all.

This mother’s breasts here feel like the tools that they are! The instruments of motherhood, rather than anything to be objectified. This breastfeeding image normalises the presence of breasts in everyday life.

Utamao Breastfeeding - Breastfeeding images that normalise nursing

Breastfeeding images that normalise nursing

Young Mother Giving Milk to Her Son
1753 – 1806 (Woodcut undated)

This baby is guzzling like a champion and he has that look on his face that nursing babies often get – a sort of pride at nailing this breastfeeding business. I love the delight on the mother’s face and I love that these are expressions that have crossed the faces of millions of nursing mothers and babies over the course of history.

There is something of an older child’s knowing in this rascal’s face, perhaps an agelessness. It isn’t historically, or globally, normal to constantly ask mothers after 3 months of nursing “when are you weaning him?” When the child is done, that is when! My own photos of breastfeeding my two older children are here.

Utamaro, what a legend.

Stanisław Wyspiański
19055 images that normalise breastfeeding

It’s that artist, you know, Stanisław Wyspiański, whose name just rolls off the tongue. Hehe.

The thing I love about “Motherhood” is the expressions on all the faces. There isn’t really much romanticising of breastfeeding here! (Which I would hate to do.) Breastfeeding for me was surprisingly painful. In fact, despite knowing many breastfeeders, having huge support, having been breastfed and having read billions of books about the importance of breastfeeding there was a day early on where I thought “I CANNOT DO THIS” – it was too painful. I was shocked and even a bit hurt, emotionally. It seems a common part of the breastfeeding journey. A deep need to concentrate, to work at it, to push through until you arrive at the place where it really comes naturally. I feel like of all the breastfeeding images I have chosen, this one sums that up! There is a sort of desperate hope in the mother’s expression, and an intrigue from her friends (or La Leche league support team) that could almost make this painting be captioned “That’s it, good latch there mama!”

I would love to hear about your favourite breastfeeding images.

Attachment parenting, Breastfeeding, Cosleeping

Co sleeping with toddler: The good and the bad

24 March, 2016

Co sleeping with toddler age kiddies is a bit of a mixed bag. In the middle of the night a few days ago Ramona shuffled over to Tim, climbed up so her bum was right in his face and did a whopping toot. Then she clambered back down to her spot and returned to sleep. Oh, how Tim and I didst laugh- the timing was impeccable.

Farts- when it comes to making a list of pros and cons of co sleeping with toddler or baby – where do they come? No one likes little clouds of excrement in their nostrils but the comical effect of tiny bottom coughs are right up there. It is a dilemma, for sure. I’ll have to leave it hanging in the midst there.

Now, we always knew we would cosleep. We didn’t even buy a crib. (Read about this beautiful family who came round to the idea of co sleeping – Thalia has a whole series on their co sleeping process!) And I have to say, the good side has always, since day one, outweighed the bad. You can read all my writing on co sleeping here.

Here is the rest of my sleeping with toddler


  • My toddler’s morning kisses are definitely number one. Ramona wakes up, stretches and immediately finds my face for a kiss, as if she is so stoked to begin a new day with me as her mummy.
  • I am with her through her dreams and nightmares. Co sleeping allows me to hear her giggle in her sleep and I equally love that when she whimpers with fright or discomfort she somehow knows I am just a breath away.
  • Co sleeping provided another way for Tim to be with her through my maternity leave when he wasn’t getting to hang out with her nearly as much as me. There is a BEAUTY article here where a cosleeping daddy shares his thoughts.
  • Co sleeping has eased my transition back to part time work as I get to make up for any missed cuddles throughout the night. Just breathing in her hair as I go to sleep helps me to treasure her right now, in this very moment.
  • We didn’t have to spend any money on a baby room and crib. Our spare room is just a dumping ground spare room complete with double bed.
  • I like to think toddler co sleeping has given Ramona a real security around night times, that she will always associate bed time with comfort and met needs rather than being alone.
  • I am able to keep in touch with her potty needs, aware of her nightly wee rhythm and giving her chance to pee as soon as she needs it.


  • Unlimited, non stop access to her milk source! Mostly this is fine, she only  helps her self one or two times a night and it isn’t enough to really wake either of us, but sometimes, like last night, it is NONSTOP and well, drives me a little, er, insane.
  • If Ramona wees the bed it is a whole load in the washing machine rather than a tiny little crib change.


Toddler co sleeping truth

Amazing illustration of toddler co sleeping postions on

(things about toddler co sleeping that should be bad but aren’t really)

  • I definitely thought Ramona’s movement would bother us a bit more. We are pretty fortunate that she actually doesn’t shuffle around at all. When our little nephew used to come and stay he would Jazz Hand us ALL NIGHT and we vowed to never have our kiddies in bed!
  • A few people have mentioned the lack of marital space which I agree I thought initially would be an issue for us. However I don’t really have those distinctions in my mind – “Tim and I”/ “Ramona” – I just kind of see us as one little family, sharing everything and doing life all together. We make an effort to spend a day alone together every now and then, and
  • I also thought I would struggle with Ramona’s lack of “sleep independance” but since her arrival I have had a total turn around on this and instead feel like it is just natural for her to need the comfort of us for a while.

I really love hearing stories of people’s cosleeping experiences –this nice article by Dr Sears has lots of parents talking about the “protective effect” of cosleeping.

What are some of the things you love about cosleeping? And some of the things you find hard?


Breastfeeding, Parenting

Parenting: It’s official. Breastmilk is yummier than ice cream.

15 December, 2015

Fresh out of Yurt University comes a rigorous* research project that can formally confirm that breastmilk is yummier than ice cream. The study surveyed a range of breastfeeding children** and posed the academically approved*** survey question;

“What is yummier?
A- Booboo
B- ice cream”

100% of the participants responded that booboo was yummier than ice cream.

*by rigorous I mean “enthusiastic”
**two participants, age 2.5 and 5
***by “academically approved” I mean “I thought it was fine, and I did a whole paper on research methods when I was 19, y’know”

Mobile milk bar on the beach

Ah, the laughter and simple joy involved in breastfeeding older children! They don’t tell you this bit, it’s all either “GROSSS WHO WOULD BREASTFEED A TODDLER EWWWW THAT’S ABUSE” or “EVERYONE SHOULD BREASTFEED OLDER CHILDREN THE AVERAGE WEANING AGE IS 7” – both of which are fairly extreme positions and, well, untrue.

Cos here is the thing about most breastfeeding experiences… It can be just a simple, happy part of family life. No capital letters required, mostly.

Remember the days when I was blogging about breastfeeding all the time? They were great days. But now it has been a YEAR, a YEAR! Since I did a breastfeedy post. (It’s here – with some tandem breastfeeding where I look like a fierce Victorian.) And I guess that is just because instead of feeling like I’m out there, breastfeeding like a badass in a hostile environment, it just happens day in day out, with little fuss.

I wonder if this is because Juno looks so much like a baby still, with her fuzz of hair and freckled face. By this time with Ramona, she had a long shock of blonde hair and was wearing converse and people would STARE as I breastfed her… Seriously. Eyes for Christmas. I was also pregnant, so perhaps that required extra staring. Or maybe there are just enough hippies around us these days to help us feel that breastfeeding older children is perfectly fine in every way.

When hostility is felt, positions are polarised. The capitals come out and wild facts make an appearance.

And little stuff gets swept away. We have to storm the media with breastfeeding sit-ins and argue about the objectification of women’s bodies and the vital biological role of breastfeeding in children’s health.

It’s all so important. And we have to go on and on and on about it, we need to, it is how things change. (Please mamas, keep getting your boobs out. And sitting in and going on one.)

But we can miss out on describing the heart-swelling fullness of the breastfeeding gaze. When your kid is just drinking, and staring tenderly, but with a fierce focus, right in to your eyeballs.

And the way it seems to restore a busy child’s emotions, smoothing out enfrazzlement and giving a boost of happy.

And the loveliness of having children who talk describe what breastfeeding is like. And say it is yummier than ice cream. The other day Juno had almost had her fill, but not quite, but I was all out of juice. She squeezed my boob and said, frustrated, “Run out of batteries, mama!”

(Do we all love the iPad much, or what?!)

It’s a super privileged position I have right now, to feel so accepted in our breastfeeding older children thing, and to be able spend a few minutes being thankful for those small, quietely-felt ways that breastfeeding brings joy into our family life.

Whatever environment you’re in, city or hippy, welcoming or hostile, I hope your breastfeeding journey can be full of these beautiful, gentle moments.

And if your life is full of breastfeeding angst, and you find yourself having to come up with smart retorts for busy-bodies who have something to say, at least you can now pull out this robust research and declare that breastmilk is officially the yummiest foodstuff in the whole world which makes you the most awesome mum in the universe, as announced by the very best (and, um, most Not Real) university of all universities. So there. 


Attachment parenting, Breastfeeding, Parenting

Beyond Bitty – 100 other Names for Breastfeeding

18 March, 2015

100 Names for Breastmilk beyond bitty

I am so excited about this post, I am sitting in a cafe using their rubbish (but existent) wifi beaming my face off. It has been such a pleasure pulling together all the names toddler have for breastfeeding out there. They cover different languages, most of them have been generated by the children themselves and a few have been passed down through generations. Some of them clearly come from similar meanings and then some of them are just totally wild. Olivia and Donald? Finky and Dumper? Hardly a Bitty in sight! Unbridled imagination – (don’t crush it!!)

A child’s word for breastmilk and the act of feeding is very often one of their first, and often introduced into the family dictionary. It must feel pretty special for a child to have their own word, for something that is so important to them, taken on and used. How perfect to feel so valued and trusted and a part of things. I feel like this list symbolises some of that trust, and the trust inherent in the intimate breastfeeding relationship.

We live in a society where it is common to hear people say “I don’t mind breastfeeding- but as soon as a child is old enough to ask for it, then they are TOO OLD.”

This is a rebel anthology- declaring this position to be an untruth. The moment babies are born they find ways to ask for it, and the moment they find WORDS to ask for it is the doorway to a whole new amazing experience.

Society’s distaste for breastfeeding older children is totally misplaced- in fact,  *breaking news*, massive, longitudinal study just published seem to show that the longer a child is breastfed, the more “successful” she is.

This anthology of names for breastfeeding feels important to me because the word bitty has become so associated with the mockery of nursing an older child. (Thanks Little Britain!)

Let’s celebrate the connection, the emotional and physical needs that are met in breastfeeding, by revelling in this joyous list. MILKY BOOBIES, THE OTHER ONE: ROCK ON BREASTFEEDING TALKERS! You yell your milk cry across the room, go right ahead- show the world that it is normal and right and magnificent to be a breastfeeding child. Beyond Bitty - what toddlers call breastmilk!

There were one or two variations on “mummy milk” present but without a doubt the one that came up over and over and over (ten times!) was “Other side”. This is funny and astonishing! It just shows how much our children tune in to everything from a youngest age. Obviously, we don’t tend to say “Milkies” throughout a nursing session but we far more frequently offer, during the act, “Other side?!” Brilliant.

Different Languages
Susu – Samoan word for milk/ breast (I am interested in the fact that Susu could be milk or breast? This doesn’t seem common?)
Maka- from the word Malako in Russian.
Leche – Spainish for milk
Lait- French for milk and Bord is French for other side.
Dudth is how the Hindi word for milk sounds.
Nyonya is remembered as Swahili slang.
Teta – Catalonion, for milk.

Here are a few of the accompanying stories…
Olivia and Donald: Lindsey explains “When he was 4 he started calling my boobs Olivia and Donald. Not really sure why. He’s a bit off the wall that one. “Olivia” was sometimes called “Big fat booby” due to the size discrepancy. Poor Donald wasn’t very popular…”
Dips: Abigail says “Because I had to undo the clip on my bra”
Feeju: Marnie “As in “Feed You””
Nulky nulky noo: Hanabee, “Her own poem dedicated to the joys of extended/ never ending breastfeeing.”
Booble: Mo says “This caused confusion one Christmas when we were looking at the wreath on the next door neighbour’s house and I said “That ones made of baubles!”

Big thanks to our brilliant Facebook community and Twitter peeps who collaborated and shared their lovely stories.

You definitely didn’t think you could hack watching five minutes of someone breastfeeding their toddler, did you? Well, let’s just see if you can! I wanted to try and capture the frantic fun and mayhem involved with breastfeeding older children. I hit record and got it in five minutes straight off. Pahahaha. Breaking for a book. Yelling. All the laughter. Animal sounds. Hands up nostrils. Chest pummelling. It’s all there. Come and find me and subscribe on Youtube as I hope to be giving it a good bash this year.

Hehe, all the fun, eh.

Thank you for taking part in this breastfeeding anthology. And if your child DOES call it Bitty – good on them. Don’t stop them! The word can be reclaimed!

If you missed out it isn’t too late- add it in the comments 😀

PS – If you like this post share it all about – play a little part in normalising breastfeeding… !