EXTENDED BREASTFEEDING

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While we always discuss and teach our new moms about the benefits of breastfeeding a newborn, we seem to negate the discussion of the benefits of breastfeeding toddlers. We help so many mommies that deliver and right away have a set goal of the length of time they plan to breastfeed and then wean. I myself like to tell my mommies just take it day by day, you don’t have to necessarily set a goal end date. I feel like for myself at least, this helps to let go of some of the pressure of having to live up to a certain length of time, and we never know what each day holds, so just enjoy each moment you get the chance to breastfeed your little one.

just take it day by day, you don’t have to necessarily set a goal end date

Time flies so quickly and before you know it, you’ve reached your much anticipated “1yr” goal. But.. what if not only am I not ready to wean, but baby isn’t ready either, well then don’t!! There are so many yummy benefits to breastfeeding toddlers (I’ll list a few below), that it’s just another added reason to keep on latching. We also hear from so many mommies that once baby has reached a certain age, has teeth, can walk, or even ask to nurse by a cute nick name (my little one currently requests to nurse by loudly yelling “BOOB!!” oops lol), that they feel pressured to wean even though they may not want to.

Let me tell you, I am not excluded from this peer pressure even as a lactation consultant, I still hear all of the comments from those around me that feel as though I should give it up. Even some of my own family (no, not you mom, shout out to her, the ultimate breastfeeder), but others close to me that are unaware of the benefits of extended breastfeeding. Some times I’ll take the time to educate them but other times I’ll just smile and say to myself, “oh well I’m not stopping for them baby and I are still happy nursing.”

What are the actual recommendations for how long a mom should breastfeed their baby?

  • The AAP recommends that babies be exclusively breastfed for about the first 6 months of life.
  • WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months is the optimal way of feeding infants. Thereafter infants should receive complementary foods with continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond.

If I do BF for longer than a year, what are some of the yummy benefits?

  •  Even after a year breast milk continues to be a valuable source of protein, fat, calcium, and vitamins.
  •  The immunities in breast milk have been shown to increase in concentration as the baby gets older and nurses less, thus continuing to give older babies lots of immune factors.
  • Extended breastfeeding reduces the risk of uterine, ovarian and breast cancers in mommies.
  • Not to mention extended breastfeeding helps mommy and baby bond continue on.

These are just a short version of the recommendations and benefits of extended breastfeeding. While, yes extended breastfeeding is great, it may not be for every one, we should celebrate all mommies and their breastfeeding goals, whether it be a few days, months, or years. Lets celebrate it all, and encourage mommies to just keep latching. However, lets also continue to educate others in hopes of normalizing breastfeeding for the length of time that is best for mommy and her baby.

So….What am i trying to say? Be strong, and latch on until you so desire.

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