The Benefits of Extended Breastfeeding

When I was still pumping at work and crawling out of bed for nighttime feedings, I clung to the dream of weaning at one year.  Although I loved my amazing ability to create food for my infant without a second thought, there were times where I longed for freedom.

It came as a surprise to me that I wasn’t ready to give up breastfeeding after my son’s first birthday.  Luckily, the decision to continue had many benefits for my son, for the environment, and for my own health.

For baby’s health:

  • Breast milk provides excellent immunity for toddlers so that they get sick much less often.
  • Breast fed toddlers have fewer problems with allergies.
  • Extended breastfeeding helps a child continue to bond with the mother.
  • Breast milk provides incredibly nutrient-rich food for toddlers.

For the mother’s health:

  • Studies show that breast cancer risk is reduced in direct proportion the amount of years that mothers breastfeed.
  • Extended breastfeeding also reduces the risks of ovarian, uterine, and endometrial cancer.
  • Producing breast milk can help moms continue to lose baby weight.
  • It can delay ovulation so that it naturally provides space between pregnancies. (Don’t count on this as your only means of birth control though!)
  • Breast feeding forces a mom to sit, breathe, and admire her baby before throwing another load of diapers in the wash or whipping up a lasagna.

For the environment:

  • Breast milk comes without containers and is naturally organic! 
  • There’s nothing more local than breast milk. 

Roscoe started to wean at 20 months and is now finished breastfeeding, but I have to say that I really do miss it.  If I was a stay-at-home mom I would probably have gone a bit longer, but Roscoe was starting to want less and less so we just followed his lead.  For more detailed information on why extended breastfeeding is such a great option, check out this article from Mothering magazine.  

Comments

  1. My son is 13 mos. and I don’t think he’s going to give it up any time soon. He’s teething right now so he’s nursing more frequently. I get a lot of flack from my family and friends because they think he’s too “big” for nursing but I believe in informed choices and I think I’m making a good choice by nursing him until he weans himself. As much as I’d like to hold this standard up…weaning at a year…it’s definitely progressed into extended breastfeeding and I’m okay with that. I’m all for attachment. 🙂 I do believe, he’ll grow out of it!

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