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July 17, 2019


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Delurking to say thank you for this: 'The thing that's exhausting, though, is mothering a small child.'
Breastfeeding my hungry 5mo is exhausting, but it's only when I really consider the alternatives that I realise they aren't actually any easier (for us, anyway). Better to be glad that nursing is 'on tap' and makes her so happy and relaxed than frustrated that she needs me so much, so the reminder is appreciated.

I'm exhausted as a mom of a teenager recently promoted to a new job (me, not the teen) and temporarily parenting solo while my husband is away taking a class, so I'm not going to be able to put this together coherently... but it seems like IF mothers were going to die from the exhaustion of extended breastfeeding, they would die while the children were still pretty young (would that exhaustion kill them 10 years later? I hope not, or I could keel over at any moment) and probably still in need of other, non-breastfeeding, parental care, and so there would be a sort of selection pressure that would favor a balance of the maternal investment of resources between early/mid childhood breastfeeding and continued feeding and protection in later childhood. We're talking about a whole species, right? To go extinct from this reason we have to assume that there was not enough variation in length of breastfeeding for other patterns to arise and emerge as successful.

And, is there any evidence that breastfeeding would be more metabolically exhausting than other methods of converting the available food into something a young child would be able to chew, swallow, and digest? I think feeding children (and teenagers) is a lot of work no matter how you're doing it.

Oooh this totally reminds me that I saw a poem the other day about nursing and formula and I should have thought to send it to you.


I especially loved:

"milk is the arrow
in your quiver, the one thing
you have made for this wailing
child that can quiet her and
feed her feral hunger"

and also:

let anyone tell you the milk is
not good enough, that men
in labs can do better."

Maybe they’re suggesting that long term breastfeeding suppressed fertility enough that they were outcompeted by other hominid groups with shorter interbirth intervals? That would of course require a lot more evidence but might make SOME plausible sense...

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