Parenting

Why I’m Choosing to Extend Breastfeeding

Since Connor was about six months old, I’ve been asked questions such as, “When are you going to be done breastfeeding?” I’ve also been told, “Breastmilk isn’t as beneficial as formula after six months.” I’ve received many uneducated and judge mental comments. Now that we’ve just hit his one year birthday, I’m just waiting for the, “you’re STILL breastfeeding?” comment. I’ve learned that people tend to go off of what society says and they chose to not do the research to learn the facts themselves. So friends, I’m going to drop some knowledge on you. 

Before I begin, please let me make this crystal clear: I believe that fed is best. If that means you breastfeed, formula feed or do a mix of both, it’s all awesome, just as long as your child is getting the nutrients they need. I understand that breastfeeding isn’t an option for everyone. I personally have had struggles and have wanted to quit breastfeeding many times over the year, but by the grace of God I was able to stick it out during the rough patches. I’m not quite sure what the next year of our journey will bring for us, but I know for a fact that breastmilk is still the best choice for my one year old. So please, do not take this as a personal attack on your feeding choices. 

Breastfeeding past the infant stage is NORMAL. 

The WHO (World Health Organization) says that it is very important to nurse up to two years or older. Here in the United States extended breastfeeding isn’t as common, but if you travel to other countries breastfeeding up to at least 3 or 4 or older is normal. Unlike the United States, many other cultures are excepting of this. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that, “There is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychological or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer.” (APP 2012, AAP 2005) 

Extended breastfeeding contributes to my child’s health and nutrition. 

Breastfeeding toddlers (ages 1-3) have been found to have fewer illnesses, illnesses of shorter duration and lower mortality rates. (Molbak 1994, van den Bogaard 1991, Gulick 1986.) During my sicknesses and Connor having colds, I have been amazed how he avoided catching the flu and has had very short colds. I absolutely credit this to breastmilk. 

Breastmilk also continues to be a valuable source of nutrition and disease protection for as long as breastfeeding continues. From day one, breastmilk is absolutely valuable and continues to be for years. My milk provides substantial amounts of key nutrients such as proteins, fat and most vitamins. In the second year of life, a day’s worth of breast milk provides a good amount of my son’s daily vitamin needs. 

The hormones in cow’s milk and the components in formula do not sit well with me. 

I’ve been sucked into a few documentaries that shows cows being pumped with hormones and chemicals that transfer to their milk. I try my best to avoid non-organic cows milk and I would never want to give it to my son. I’ve also hated some of the ingredients I’ve seen in formula: high fructose corn syrup, milk solids; the list goes on. Along with breastmilk we do give Connor organic almond or coconut milk with meals to give him something else to drink since I’m somewhat of a under supplier at the moment. Overall, I’d rather give him only breastmilk since I trust the source.

Studies have shown that continuing breastfeeding contributes to my child’s intellectual development as well as his social and mental development. 

Research has shown that extended breastfed babies have better grades in school and higher IQ scores. Studies have also shown that breastfeeding helps with social development and encourages independence. 

I personally benefit from from extended breastfeeding. 

Breastfeeding has been proven to reduce the risk of breast cancer. As someone who has family members who have had breast cancer, this is a very important factor for me. Breastfeeding also reduces the risk of endometrial cancer, uterine cancer and ovarian cancer. Rheumatoid arthritis is also in my family line, breastfeeding reduces that risk too. 

Honestly, I’m too damn lazy to try to wean my son at this time. 

Breastfeeding is so easy for me. Connor starts crying or gets hurt, I can quickly and easily feed and comfort him by unlatching my shirt and latching him on. This especially comes in handy during night time feedings (No, my child doesn’t fully sleep through the night yet. Yes, this is normal.) When I get home from work I nurse Connor as well. It’s much easier that warming up a cup of milk. 

Hopefully by now I’ve proven my point that I want to give Connor the absolute best start in life as long as my body continues to produce milk. This very personal decision is best for my child. 

For more information and references, visit http://kellymom.com/ages/older-infant/ebf-benefits/

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4 thoughts on “Why I’m Choosing to Extend Breastfeeding

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