About Extended Breastfeeding
What is extended breastfeeding?
As my almost two daughter kept shouting " Mummy milk, Mummy milk, Mummy milk" at an ever increasing volume on my last international flight, I reconsidered my decision to continue to breastfeed my Toddler!
Extended breast feeding definitions depend on where in the world you are and what culture you belong to. In general extended breast feeding means continuing to breast feed your child after the "normal" length of time that other people breastfeed for.
The idea of what's "normal" in terms of length of breast feeding is completely subjective. The World Health Organisation recommends that babies are fed only breast milk (from a human!) for 6 months. After 6 months or when the the baby starts to be interested in solids, simple foods can be introduced. The WHO recommends that babies are continue to receive breastmilk until they are 2 years of age! When I mention this to people who question my continued breastfeeding they are shocked!
Benefits for breastfeeding
There are many benefits of breast feeding and these include:
- improved Maternal attachment
- decreased numbers of cold and flu
- decreased risk of diarrhoea and pneumonia ( the two largest causes of child mortality)
- decreased number of ear infections for child
- decreases the risk of ovarian and breast cancer for the mother
- helps mother reduce weight to pre pregnancy levels
- breastfed children as adults have lower rates of type 2 diabetes, lower blood pressure, lower rates of obesity, lower cholesterol and they seem to perform better on intelligence tests!
- can be used as birth control if feeding on demand and child takes no other nutrition
- no food sterility issues
- is a mobile food source
- is an immediate food no boiling water or mixing involved
- breastfed babies milk flavour depends on what the mother eats so it changes and can encourage a child to be more adventurous with food
As I come to the end of my breastfeeding journey with my daughter, I feel a little bit sad that we will soon move onto a new phase of our relationship. There is a definite feeling of satisfaction when you see a newborns weight increasing all because of the food that you are providing them with. There is an ease to travelling that I am going to miss. Any unsettling things that happen can be immediately rectified by some milk. Most injuries can be magically eased with the addition of breast milk too. I will miss the "milk drunk" look that my "baby" gets when she is warm, sleepy and full of breast milk. I will miss being the last one that sees my "baby" as she is put to bed after her last drink of milk and the joy of being the first one that she sees in the morning to give her her pre-breakfast milk. Finally I will miss not worrying so much over what she eats, knowing that what she doesn't eat will be gained from the breast milk that she takes from me.
However I wont miss my maternity bras, they have no underwire ( as that can cause clogged ducts) and are lets face its not that attractive! I wont miss the wet patches I still sometimes wake up as I leak breast milk in the night. I wont miss having to be home at night before my little one goes to bed to give her that last feed.
Being a lactavist
When I became pregnant with my daughter, I did lots of research. Due to the good example of my sister and my mother I knew that I wanted to breast feed. As I researched I became a breastfeeding advocate, talking to anyone who would listen about the benefits of breastfeeding and helping ladies through the almost inevitable trials and tribulations of starting out.
I have been lucky that my husband and my family have been very supportive. I have never recieved negative comments ( although I am prepared with many witty comebacks!).
If you are pregnant and are thinking of breastfeeding, I would say "go for it!" If you are breastfeeding and are thinking of extending your journey I would say " Why not?". surround yourself with supportive people ( they dont need to be physically present they might be facebook/internet friends) and just do it!
As I think back to my squawky child on the plane I smile to myself as I realise that this has already become a family story in my house. It is a story of maternal love and breastfeeding success. I hope that if I am lucky enough to have another child we will get to journey along the breastfeeding highway once more.
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