Extended Breastfeeding: Nursing Beyond a Year

July 8, 2013

happy familyWe all remember the “Are You Mom Enough?” cover of Time Magazine in May 2012, featuring model Jamie Lynne Grumet breastfeeding her 3-year-old son. It caused a media and mommy uproar over nursing beyond the first year, also known as extended breastfeeding. But whether or not you do it, extended breastfeeding is exceedingly common around the world. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for as long as you and your child mutually desire it.

It’s been said before, but it’s worth saying again: breast milk is liquid gold.

Extended breastfeeding provides numerous benefits for your child, even as a toddler. Your breast milk continues to change to meet the nutritional needs of your growing child. It provides crucial immunities, enzymes and vitamins that your child may not get from solid foods, ensuring he or she is as healthy as possible. Breast milk can also be a cure-all for many bugs your child may catch, especially if he or she is sharing germs with other kids at day care or on play dates.

There are remarkable benefits for moms as well. Extended breastfeeding is connected to lower risks of cancer in women, especially breast and ovarian cancer. While breastfeeding, moms may not get their period for a year or more. Great news for moms who don’t want to go back to monthly cramps, PMS and bloating! It’s also a healthy way to keep your weight in check after pregnancy. Moms who breastfeed longer tend to lose more of their pregnancy weight.

Unfortunately, western society tends to stigmatize mothers who choose to nurse “older” children since such an emphasis is placed on independence and individuality in our culture. For toddlers, extended breastfeeding can be an important source of emotional support, as well as continued nutritional benefits and physical growth. Nevertheless, it is a perfectly natural and beneficial way to nourish your bond with your child. If you’re faced with criticism when you breastfeed, have a response ready. Whether it’s a witty joke, a surprising fact or simply ignoring the comments, make sure it reflects you and your personality.

What do you think about extended breastfeeding? What is the most important breastfeeding benefit to you and your little one? Share with us in the comments below!

53 thoughts on “Extended Breastfeeding: Nursing Beyond a Year

  1. Breastfed my daughter until she was 14 months and she choose to stop. My son is currently 9 months and we are still going strong. Hoping we also make it past a year. He is starting to lose interest and he gets bottles while I’m at work 40+ hours a week. Crossing my fingers we make it to 12 months and hopefully beyond. He may be my last and I love the bond (and the health benefits) of breastfeeding. I have been told by family early on that both my kids needed formula because I wasn’t producing enough. My daughter nurse a lot for comfort and with my son it took 6 months to figure out all of his food sensitivities to stop his fussiness. They didn’t think I knew what I was talking about. Glad I never listened, went with my own mommy instincts. Both kids are in the 95th percentile for height. I doubt they would be that tall if I wasn’t feeding them enough :)

    • Way to go, Michelle! We’re glad you went with your instincts, too. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your story with us.

      Keep up the great work!
      Kathy

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