How old is to old to Breastfeed?

Ryan - posted on 06/26/2009 ( 489 moms have responded )

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I have seen some mother quit breast feeding as early as 6 weeks or never at all but i have also seen mothers who breastfeed til there kids are almost in middleschool. How old do you think is to old?

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Amanda - posted on 06/26/2009

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A not necessarily well-prepared student sat in his life science classroom, staring at a question on the final exam paper. The question directed:



"Give four advantages of breast milk."

What to write? He sighed, and began to scribble whatever came into his head, hoping for the best:



1. No need to boil.

2. Never goes sour.

3. Available whenever necessary. So far so good - maybe.



But the exam demanded a fourth answer. Again, what to write? Once more, he sighed. He frowned. He scowled, then sighed again. Suddenly, he brightened. He grabbed his pen, and triumphantly, he scribbled his definitive answer:



4. Available in attractive containers of varying sizes. He received an A.

Ruth - posted on 06/26/2009

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If people realised what was in cows' milk, they wouldn't be in such a hurry to get them off the breast. "There you go, Junior, a nice, tall glass of Bovine Growth Hormone, Dioxin and Pesticide residue for ya. Drink it up!"

Abby - posted on 06/26/2009

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up until they have teeth or they start eating real foods is what I've been told.

Johanna - posted on 06/26/2009

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There is usually a gradual disinterest on the babies part when they become mobile and independent, and a gradual slowing of milk supply on the mother's part when it is time to quit. If a child is starting to crawl, walk, speak, hold a cup or toys on their own, and get the proper nourishment they need from food, then it is time to slow down and consider quitting. This usually happens around a year. It should be a natural thing where mommy is encouraging baby to grow, and baby is excited to learn new things. You could consider researching breastmilk and the specific ingredients in it and how it helps the baby. You will see that those ingredients have done their important, (and I believe vital) job by the time the baby has turned about a year old, give or take. Not that it is bad for the child past that time, but it's just part of growing up. And unless there is a physical problem or reason, I would not consider quitting to much sooner than that.

Carly - posted on 06/26/2009

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My son is 13 months and I am still nursing, but I can tell he is already getting ready to fully wean I am back to work and now he is only nursing twice a day early morning and bed time. If I try to nurse more often he gets angry and cries. I suspect he will be close to my daughter who weaned at 16 months.

Amanda - posted on 06/26/2009

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Quoting Monica:

6 weeks is ideally early but it must not have been working outI only lasted 9. I think the maximum you should breast feed is up until they have teeth.



Wow I was born with a tooth, my son had his first tooth at 1 month, one daughter had her first at 4 months, and my oldest didnt have one until after her first birthday. Teeht is not a reason to stop breastfeeding, if that was the case the human race would not of survived 1000s of years.

Ashley - posted on 06/26/2009

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i agree with what Laura has said. i think it's gross to see a 4 yr old breastfeeding. people will say that a 4 yr old shouldnt have a bottle or a soother so why should they still be breastfeeding? nothing wrong with expressing and putting it into a cup if you dont want your child to have cows milk but actually breastfeeding sorry it's wrong.

[deleted account]

6 weeks is ideally early but it must not have been working outI only lasted 9. I think the maximum you should breast feed is up until they have teeth.

Kate - posted on 06/26/2009

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Quoting Laura:

Kinda creeps me out to see a four year old run around, lift up a mommy's shirt and latch on. Yikes. For those that want to breast feed long after two years, express the milk into a bottle and let the child deal with that.


Sorry that you feel that way.  To each his own, so it's fine if you don't want to breastfeed your own that long.  BUT if it creeps you out, just don't watch.  That's how toddlers are when they want to nurse!  And believe me, after having the comfort of mommy's breast so long, they won't deal at all with milk in a cup.  It's a comfort/bonding thing to them and they would insist on straight from the source!

Amanda - posted on 06/26/2009

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Shh dont tell my baby next week she has to wean cause other people have boobie issues, and believe that once shes one years old, shes a grown human who should be on cows milk, and not her mommys milk. She is going to be very disappointed when shes eatting her first taste of cake at her birthday, if she doesnt get a little boobie to wash it down. LOL!! Happy birthday baby girl, now get a job and move out, because you are one and no longer a baby!

Laura - posted on 06/26/2009

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I think I'm from the school that if the child can walk around and pick up a container themselves, they don't need the breast anymore. Kinda creeps me out to see a four year old run around, lift up a mommy's shirt and latch on. Yikes. For those that want to breast feed long after two years, express the milk into a bottle and let the child deal with that.

Ryan - posted on 06/26/2009

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it really is outrageous i used to think that feeding from my breast past two especially was weird but now that i think a little more about it and have others opinions and know that i am not the only one that feels that way i completely feel ok with how ever long i decide to breast feed ! thank you everyone for you opinions good or bad they are all welcome

Sarah - posted on 06/26/2009

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I didn't breastfeed. I guess the babies want it too, but i do think part of it is the mum really enjoying it too! I guess i only find it weird when school age kids are still breastfeeding, i saw a programme where an 8yr old was still breastfeeding. I just don't think it's necessary to carry on that long, but as i've said....each to their own! :)

Kate - posted on 06/26/2009

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Quoting Sarah:

It may not be a popular view, and each to their own.....but......i think prolonged breastfeeding is more for the mothers benefit than the childs, they just want to keep them as 'babies' as long as possible. Sure there's probably some good stuff in breast milk that would still be beneficial at later ages, but it's not vital.


I have to say that you either don't have kids that old (over 1) or you have not breastfed anywhere near that long.



BELIEVE ME, it's not about the moms!!!  My DD is constantly climbing on me, putting her hands up or down my shirt, and asking for milk if she wants it.  Sometimes I try to distract her with something else if I am busy or we are out or something.  Trust me -- it's DEFINITELY child-led.  Anything past 1 year is child-led because they have definite opinions about things.  It's like any food/game/etc.  Does your kid get picky about what to eat at age 1?  How the food is arranged on his plate?  etc.?  Same thing with breastfeeding.  The kid absolutely cares when/where/how it happens.  So no, it's not about the mom at all.



As for people saying "they can have cow's milk, they don't need breastmilk," that is RIDICULOUS.  Cow's milk is BAD for babies!  It doesn't have the right balance of fat, nutrients, the right type of proteins (high casein, low lactose), etc.  Not to mention it's highly processed/pasteurized.  My DD does NOT drink cow's milk and never will.  Breastfeeding continues to be superior nutrition past 1 year!

Minnie - posted on 06/26/2009

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I am just fascinated how the dairy industry is so incredibly pervasive. So pervasive that people think that kids are supposed to have cow's milk and that milk from human mothers is disgusting. It's outrageous.

Kate - posted on 06/26/2009

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Quoting Sarah:

It may not be a popular view, and each to their own.....but......i think prolonged breastfeeding is more for the mothers benefit than the childs, they just want to keep them as 'babies' as long as possible. Sure there's probably some good stuff in breast milk that would still be beneficial at later ages, but it's not vital.


I have to say that you either don't have kids that old (over 1) or you have not breastfed anywhere near that long.



BELIEVE ME, it's not about the moms!!!  My DD is constantly climbing on me, putting her hands up or down my shirt, and asking for milk if she wants it.  Sometimes I try to distract her with something else if I am busy or we are out or something.  Trust me -- it's DEFINITELY child-led.  Anything past 1 year is child-led because they have definite opinions about things.  It's like any food/game/etc.  Does your kid get picky about what to eat at age 1?  How the food is arranged on his plate?  etc.?  Same thing with breastfeeding.  The kid absolutely cares when/where/how it happens.  So no, it's not about the mom at all.



As for people saying "they can have cow's milk, they don't need breastmilk," that is RIDICULOUS.  Cow's milk is BAD for babies!  It doesn't have the right balance of fat, nutrients, the right type of proteins (high casein, low lactose), etc.  Not to mention it's highly processed/pasteurized.  My DD does NOT drink cow's milk and never will.  Breastfeeding continues to be superior nutrition past 1 year!

Ryan - posted on 06/26/2009

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Quoting Ruth:



Quoting Lisa:

My book too old is when the child no longer needs it- and the only way you'll know when the child no loner needs it is if you allow the child to nurse as long as he chooses.

i.e. child-led weaning. I will nurse my daughter at five if she needs it.






As I said before, in the West, we are conditioned into thinking it 'wrong' to breastfeed after, say, 2 years of age. Says who?






It's crazy that we see it as necessary to stop breastfeeding whilst a child is still very small, yet we're all in a hurry to start giving them the milk from another animal - cows!






Again, we do this because we've been brainwashed into thinking this is what you do. There are many, many civilizations who don't eat or drink dairy and they do just fine.






So after 1 or 2 years of age: milk from mother = wrong. Milk from cow = right?






It's just bizarre!





I so compoletely agree here how bizarre is it that people find it ridiculous to breastfeed after a certain age but we find it normal to give them milk from another animal, cows and milk that is not in its purest form its actually pasturized and all kinds of other things that it goes through i thnk we have been brainwashed in many different ways it quite sad ....

Ashley - posted on 06/26/2009

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I agree with Lisa, I nursed all 3 of my boys until between 19-23 months and that was when they or I was ready to stop. By that age they were down to about 3 feedings/day, morning, nap and bed time. Two stopped when they wanted too, and the third I stopped because I wanted too. It's completely your choice, but don't make a choice based on what other people consider "acceptable". The only people who's oppinions count are yours and your baby's. Enjoy it and follow your instincts. I think also that unless you have nursed your child as long as the person you are talking to has, you really have no idea whatsoever what it's like and therefore should not give your uninformed oppinion.

[deleted account]

Quoting Ryan:

How old is to old to Breastfeed?

I have seen some mother quit breast feeding as early as 6 weeks or never at all but i have also seen mothers who breastfeed til there kids are almost in middleschool. How old do you think is to old?


Breastmilk is so good that adult cancer patients are benefiting from it.  



 



It's just human milk..let the kids drink it as long as they like I say!! 



 



If a cows breastmilk is ok then why shouldn't the babies very own mothers milk be ok??

Minnie - posted on 06/26/2009

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Quoting Ruth:



Quoting Lisa:

My book too old is when the child no longer needs it- and the only way you'll know when the child no loner needs it is if you allow the child to nurse as long as he chooses.

i.e. child-led weaning. I will nurse my daughter at five if she needs it.






As I said before, in the West, we are conditioned into thinking it 'wrong' to breastfeed after, say, 2 years of age. Says who?






It's crazy that we see it as necessary to stop breastfeeding whilst a child is still very small, yet we're all in a hurry to start giving them the milk from another animal - cows!






Again, we do this because we've been brainwashed into thinking this is what you do. There are many, many civilizations who don't eat or drink dairy and they do just fine.






So after 1 or 2 years of age: milk from mother = wrong. Milk from cow = right?






It's just bizarre!






Moooo, mooooo.  Lol.  It is bizarre, isn't it?  Does anyone ever really stop to consider exactly WHY doctors advocate cow's milk after a year?  Because in an ideal situation, the child should still be getting his mother's milk.  And cow's milk offers a good one-stop source of fats, vitamins, and minerals.




But it is not species-specific, and the bioavailabilty of the vitamins and minerals in it is low.  And it offers no immunities whatsoever.

Kate - posted on 06/26/2009

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I think, in general, children should self-wean. I think after age 2 - 3 that if the mom is no longer comfortable that she can/should discuss it with the child and they can wean together. But I don't think any child can nurse "too long." The oldest I've heard of is 8. Most kids wean by 5, even "long" nursers.

My DD is 17 mo. and showing no signs of slowing down, and even though I'm expecting #2 in just a few weeks, we're going to keep at it. It's called tandem nursing, more than one baby at once. It isn't for everyone but it is for us.

I haven't read all the responses here yet but I'm sure someone has said "if they're old enough to ask/pull up your shirt, they're too old." To that I say (since most babies learn to do that around a year, some earlier and some later), why would you take it away when they're old enough to tell you how much they want it?

Aliza - posted on 06/26/2009

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I am not sure what the age group is for breastfeeding. I would say that once the kid can talk and ask to be breastfed then you know he is too big. At age 1 they should be having cow's milk. I find that kids that are breastfed until 6 or 7 is going way overboard. At that age there is no need for a kid to have mother's milk. He can have cow's milk and he'll still be healthy. I think age 1 and over is the limit. Good Luck

[deleted account]

I'm shocked at the ignorance in some of these responses.

A baby drinks milk after one so why not HUMAN MILK? Why is it ok to give a child the milk from another species breasts but not it's own mothers milk? why is that weird? why do people have a hard time wrapping their heads around that?? ignorance.

Just think about it.

It isn't rocket science.

Society has lost the art of basics.

People get all weirded out over breastfeeding. Breasts are WAY oversexualised in society and breastfeeding is hidden away like it is something terrible????? Why is it so bad that it's not shown on tv shows...not on many movies with babies very often...Bottles are everywhere..on cards, wrapping paper, gifts, photo albums....too many girls grow up feeling more comfortable with a bottle and being unsure about feeding their young!!! This is sad and wrong.

It's obvious that people need to be educated on this topic. Boys and girls...at school so they grow up informed and confident.

If any of you have a problem with a 1 yr old or older child drinking milk...just think about that cows teet your milk comes from...you swig that down and give it to your kids with not a thought about it being weird. Yet human milk sends you into a tailspin.

Is it ego that makes people put others down? or ignorance? Probably both. Sad. Lets push babies onto milk not really designed for them. ?? argh. Why is that SO important to society? I hope someday we look back on this kind of ignorance the same way we look back in disgust at the racist and sexist behaviours of the past.

Jennifer - posted on 06/26/2009

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I think that is a totally personal decision. You need to consider your lifestyle and the time and energy you intend to dedicate to breastfeeding your child. I have 2 children. One I breastfed until she was 2 years old. The other only 1 year. I just didn't have the energy or time to spend breastfeeding my second child and pumping at work.



I received some strange looks from folks when I fed my 2 year old, but I didn't let that bother me. I fed her to try to avoid some of the allergies that I suffer from on a seasonal basis. Whether it worked or not remains to be seen. For months after we stopped, she would still pat my breasts and ask for milky....that was a bit more embarrassing than feeding her since she'd get quite loud when denied. But we survived.



Like I said, it's a totally personal decision. All of the factors, time, energy, and how concerned you are with the "breastfeeding taboos" are what you need to consider.

Sarah - posted on 06/26/2009

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It may not be a popular view, and each to their own.....but......i think prolonged breastfeeding is more for the mothers benefit than the childs, they just want to keep them as 'babies' as long as possible. Sure there's probably some good stuff in breast milk that would still be beneficial at later ages, but it's not vital.
I think i would feel a bit weird if i could remember being breastfed by my mum!
I'm not anti breastfeeding at all!! However, i do think that breastfeeding toddlers and especially school age children just isn't necessary. :)

Ruth - posted on 06/26/2009

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Quoting Lisa:

My book too old is when the child no longer needs it- and the only way you'll know when the child no loner needs it is if you allow the child to nurse as long as he chooses.

i.e. child-led weaning. I will nurse my daughter at five if she needs it.



As I said before, in the West, we are conditioned into thinking it 'wrong' to breastfeed after, say, 2 years of age. Says who?



It's crazy that we see it as necessary to stop breastfeeding whilst a child is still very small, yet we're all in a hurry to start giving them the milk from another animal - cows!



Again, we do this because we've been brainwashed into thinking this is what you do. There are many, many civilizations who don't eat or drink dairy and they do just fine.



So after 1 or 2 years of age: milk from mother = wrong. Milk from cow = right?



It's just bizarre!

[deleted account]

I was starting to look forward to quitting breastfeeding when my sone was a year old and I was done by the time he was 15 months. Thats just me personally. I don't have a problem with other moms who do it at the age of 2 or beyond.




I don't even care that people BF their school age kids if it is put into context. In most countries where big families are traditional this is normal. Most of this occurs because of tendem nursing rather than a mom who refuses to wean. For example, you might have a mother BFing her new baby and sometimes letting older the children nurse too providing there is enough for the baby to feed first. I don't personally see how this is so bad. Especially if table food is scarce.



I also don't think it is fair to say when a mother should wean. I mean you would never be able to make a woman start BFing if she didnt want to so why would people offer an opinion on when it should be stopped?

Stevie - posted on 06/26/2009

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i dont think you should to much longer than when they turn one they can have cows milk by then and dont need your milk (or formula) by then....i cant believe...moms still breast feeding a middle schooler????wow that is crazy sounds more like i dont want to stop this is my way of bonding and i wont give it up kind of thing ya know

Minnie - posted on 06/26/2009

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My book too old is when the child no longer needs it- and the only way you'll know when the child no loner needs it is if you allow the child to nurse as long as he chooses.



i.e. child-led weaning. I will nurse my daughter at five if she needs it.



>For all of you comparing breastfeeding to formula feeding- there are hundreds of components to human milk that they have been unable to reproduce. Doctors recommend stopping formula at 12 months because it truly offers no more benefits to the child. Human milk continues for as long as the child takes it.



Formula offers no immunities, and it is a known fact that the human immune system is not fully functional until about 6 years old. And I will counter the argument that you can express milk into a cup before it's given (because I know someone will)- antibodies are produced directly inside the breast in response to pathogens introduced into the breast from the child's saliva. That isn't possible through milk given in a cup.

Lisa - posted on 06/26/2009

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Dr.s tell mother's of formula fed babies to quit formula at a yr. So I think breastfeeding should stop then. I really think breastfeeding after 2 is ridiculous!

Melissa - posted on 06/26/2009

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I think there are very strong opinions about this question. I was unable to breastfeed any of my children for very long. I made it to 6 months with my youngest, and that was the longest. I realized what an experience it was, and was sad that out of 4 children the most I was able to give was 6 months. In fact I was sad when I had to stop with her. I think it is wonderful to be able to provide nutrition for them long after they leave the womb, and it is a wonderful bonding experience. That being said, it probably would have felt ackward if it got to the point where they could walk up and ask for it, I think that would be my limit. If you do not feel awkward, then don't stop, but don't be surprised when you get looks of disapproval, or scoffs and points. Children may be weened from formula at 1, but they still drink milk, if you feel comfortable doing it, do it. I don't think I could get past a year or so.

Jackie - posted on 06/26/2009

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I quit breastfeeding my oldest when he was 3 months old, I didn't make enough to satisfy him and he got teeth. I quit breastfeeding my middle kid when he was about a week old, he kept throwing it up, I thought there was something wrong with me. Turns out he has a milk allergy and acid reflux. I'm still breastfeeding my daughter, she's 2 months and I probably still will for awhile, although I'll probably stop once she gets teeth. Personally I'm not to keen on breastfeeding if they have teeth, all my kids have chomped down on my nipple and because of that, I won't breastfeed if they have teeth.

Lindsay - posted on 06/26/2009

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I would say a maximum of 1 yr just like formula. You wouldn't be feeding a child formula when they are 2 yrs old so why the breast. I know that everyone has a different opinion but that's mine. :)

Hilary - posted on 06/26/2009

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I breastfed my first daughter till 7 months till she started biting, I went on to breastfeed my second daughter till she was 16 months as she would not accept a bottle or cup, prior to this I felt it was not needed to continue past 12 months. My son I breastfed for 5 months when due to medication I had to put him on a bottle. My feelings (due to my daughter stopping at 16 months when she felt ready) is that it is alright to breastfeed as long as you both feel comfortable with it, but would worry if it continued past age of 2years...

Kelly - posted on 06/26/2009

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I think that women should stop breastfeeding around the same time that you would normally take a bottle away from a formula fed baby.....i plan on taking my sons bottle away around his 1st birthday.....and i consider breastfeeding the same concept as bottle feeding...so i would, if i still breastfed my son, would wean him at around his 1st birthday.....i did breastfeed my son, but just till he was around 6 weeks old.....but this is just what i think and everyone who breastfeeds will have a different view on things....

Veronica - posted on 06/26/2009

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I believe that this is a VERY personal choice, and that you are going to have a LOT of moms with a LARGE variety of responses. So let me just say first of all that THIS IS ONLY MY OPINION, but I breastfed both of my children....My daughter untill she was 9.5 months and my son till he was 7.5 months ( I became ill and was hospitalized after that). But I would have stopped by Maximum, one year. My opinion on this topic is...if they can walk over and take it or ask for it themselves...it starts to become a little akward. So my theory is anything over one yaer is too late. Although I do know other mothers who have breastfed longer than 1 year and have done so very happily...for me...my choice would be up to one year.

Hope this helps!

Ruth - posted on 06/26/2009

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It's hard one. In the West, we're conditioned into thinking around about 18months/2years is the cut-off point but plenty of other communities/races/nationalities do it until the kids are 6/7/8 years old, maybe more.



I fed my son til he was about 2 - he'd still do it now if I let him! - and one of my friends was appalled (she hasn't got any kids though and accused me of trying to be middle class by breastfeeding) but my doctor thought it was great and said she wished more mums were like me.



It's just one of those things! There isn't a 'magic age' when you should stop. Again, I think it's something that Mother Nature should dictate rather than other people's attitudes

Ruth - posted on 06/26/2009

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It's hard one. In the West, we're conditioned into thinking around about 18months/2years is the cut-off point but plenty of other communities/races/nationalities do it until the kids are 6/7/8 years old, maybe more.



I fed my son til he was about 2 - he'd still do it now if I let him! - and one of my friends was appalled (she hasn't got any kids though and accused me of trying to be middle class by breastfeeding) but my doctor thought it was great and said she wished more mums were like me.



It's just one of those things! There isn't a 'magic age' when you should stop. Again, I think it's something that Mother Nature should dictate rather than other people's attitudes

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