Extended breastfeeding is a term that refers to the choice mothers make to continue breastfeeding their little ones even after celebrating their year one birthday. In most nations, extended breastfeeding is deemed to be normal, and even very healthy; for this reason, extended breastfeeding is highly recommended for all mothers.
Some nations have not embraced this idea due to cultural reason. For this reason, you may find fellow women making rude, insensitive comments and staring curiously. No woman should give in to this pressure as extended breastfeeding also has benefits.
So, if you are torn between trying out extended breastfeeding or not, here are some of the advantages and disadvantages you could consider before making up your mind. The following advantages, disadvantages and tips on how you can make extended breastfeeding work for you, will help you make an informed decision.
Advantages of Extended Breastfeeding
Provision of Nutrients
After one year the greatest source of your baby’s nutrients is solid foods. However, breast milk provides your baby with calories, hormones that aid in growth, enzymes, valuable immunities and multiple vitamins. According to research, babies that breastfeed for a longer period of time are sick less often than babies that breastfeed for a short period of time. If you are still pumping breast milk, remember when looking for storage bags for breast milk you want to look for durability, safety, and the price of the bags so you can preserve the maximum amount of nutrients.
Great Alternative to Food when Sick
When your little one is ailing, breast milk could be the only thing they are able to consume without much hassle. Milk during such a time ensures that your little one does not get dehydrated and also enhances the immune system.
Enhances the Health of Mother & Child
Breastfeeding is great for a nursing mom as well. In comparison to women who have never breastfed before, breastfeeding moms are less likely to suffer from diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Bonding with your child through breastfeeding also has health benefits you may not have been aware of. According to the International Breastfeeding Centre, skin-to-skin contact helps to stabilize your child’s body temperature, heart and breathing rates too.
Extended breastfeeding could help you easily check your weight. Nursing, adoption of a healthy diet and exercise can help you stay fit for many more years to come.
If you are among the many women that dread the mere thought of cramping, bloating and the many other discomforts that come with menstruation, then it may please you to learn that extended breastfeeding can help you delay your periods for one year or even more.
However, it is of prime importance to note that breastfeeding cannot be used as an effective birth control method more so after you have started weaning your baby and nursing less often.
Disadvantages of Extended Breastfeeding
There are people who think it is culturally wrong to nurse an older child; from such people, you can expect rude comments and negative criticism. If this criticism troubles you then it may be
advisable for you to avoid nursing your child in public as this is the one sure way to avoid the insensitive remarks directed at you. However, this may not be a solution if your little one has a habit of touching your boob or lifting your blouse in public as a sign that he wants to have ‘the quick snack.’
Over-reliance on the Breast
Your little one could become over-reliant on the breast, more so when they need to get your attention or when they are bored. Gradual weaning is best for your baby and for your breasts. In this way, you will reduce milk production naturally and safely. An abrupt ending can lead to other complications such as mastitis and breast tenderness.
It Can be Overwhelming
If you are breastfeeding a toddler and yet you have another baby on board, it is possible and safe, but you might be overwhelmed and unable to do it all on your own.
Tips on how to make extended breastfeeding work
- If you are troubled by the curious onlookers that make rude comments, nurse your little one at home right before going out.
- If the rude remarks do not bother you then it is time you came up with some conversation stoppers such as snappy responses. For instance, if someone asks you, your baby is still breastfeeding? You could answer by saying, “Yes.” Such a snappy response provides no room for continuing with the conversation.
- In cases where you realize that your baby breastfeeds only out of boredom or attention seeking, you could try engaging him or her in other fun activities. For example, activities through which the baby can explore the world which would in return trigger their rapid growth and development.
- For expectant women who would love to continue nursing, it is of essence that they stay prepared for changes in the milk supply due to the hormonal imbalances that come with pregnancy. The low milk supply could be as a result of the resources that are redirected to the growing baby in your womb. However, this should not worry you; many women have succeeded in this before. It is just deemed to be time and energy consuming thus overwhelming. For this reason, you have to ensure that you eat nutritious, well-balanced diets and also drink the recommended 6 to 8 glasses of water daily.
AAP.2012. Breastfeeding and the use of human milk. American Academy of Pediatrics. Pediatrics129(3):e827-3841.Retrieved from http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/129/3/e827 (Accessed November 2017)