You’re still breastfeeding…
Don’t you think he’s getting too old for that?
If you’ve ever heard remarks like this, you’re not alone. If you have breastfed for longer than a year, there’s a good chance somebody’s given you grief about it.
We’ve come a long way with normalizing breastfeeding. Breastfeeding moms have more support now than ever. In fact, 80 percent of women breastfeed their baby, at least for a little while. And more than half breastfeed for at least six months. A third make it to a year, but most women stop breastfeeding by the time their baby is 18 months.
Still, more women breastfeed in public. We have nursing rooms in thousands of establishments. Working moms no longer have to worry about where they can pump. But, when it comes to extended breastfeeding, we're still not quite comfortable with it.
Why would anyone want to breastfeed their baby longer than a year,?
If you’ve made it to a year, you’ve earned your breastfeeding “trophy,” insert sarcasm here. Kudos to you for sticking with it. You’ve let your little milk gobbler keep at it for a long time. But, you've hit that one-year mark — tada! the finish line — now your friends or family are telling you that it’s time to stop. You might have been told your baby is no longer getting any benefits from breastfeeding. But, the benefits of breastfeeding don’t stop at a year.
There are so many reasons to continue nursing. If you’re happy and your baby’s happy, there’s no reason to stop. If you're worried that Johnny will be pulling your boob out in the middle of kindergarten, don’t. All babies wean eventually. They just might not do it when you’re Aunt Sally thinks they should. Breastfeeding past a year is great for your little one, and good for you too!
Is it worth it?
When you get past the first year of breastfeeding that’s when things get interesting -- the biting, the gymnastics, the stripping you, and possibly even the grabbing your breasts in public. And oh boy, when they start talking, things can get really fun.
Warning to new moms, never ever refer to nursing time as “the boob” or “boobie”, not even to your partner. Not unless you’re okay with your toddler screaming “boobie” in the middle of a crowded place, because they will. Toddlers have no filter. When they’re hungry they’ll let you know, and everyone else too.
Breastfeeding past a year has its challenges. You might find your little guy gets in some pretty crazy positions. Turn to the left, turn to the right, hop on the breast, hop off the breast. Oh, there’s a toy I want. Let’s stretch mommy’s boobie out while I go grab it. Unless you have elasta-boobs, it’s not always fun times nursing a toddler. Still, with all the obstacles, nursing past a year is totally worth it. You are providing your baby with emotional and physical benefits that continue long after infancy.
Breastfeeding past a year provides your baby with the best nutrition for their needs
Did you know that your breast milk composition adapts as your baby grows? Your body was designed to provide your baby with the best nutrition. So when you get that busy body telling you that your baby is no longer getting any nutritional value from your breast milk, here’s a little info you should know.
After a year, your breast milk changes. It is higher in fat and provides more energy for your growing toddler. It’s loaded in protein, fat, and vitamins that your baby needs.
448 ml of breast milk (from 12 months to 23 months) provides your baby with.
● 29% of energy requirements
● 43% of protein requirements
● 36% of calcium requirements
● 75% of vitamin A requirements
● 76% of folate requirements
● 94% of vitamin B12 requirements
● 60% of vitamin C requirements
Breastfed toddlers get sick less
One of the best things about breast milk is the way it boosts your baby’s immune system. At a year, your baby does not have the immune system of an adult. You are still providing your toddler with the immunological benefits she needs to fight off illnesses. Breastfed toddlers have been shown to have fewer illnesses and when they do get sick they get better faster.
Breastfed toddlers have fewer allergies
Not only does breastfeeding give your toddler a stronger immune system, but babies who breastfeed also have fewer allergies. Breast milk contains components that protect your baby from allergic diseases and asthma.
What about mom?
Hey, it’s great that your baby’s getting all these benefits from breastfeeding, but what about mom? Most people know that breastfeeding is good for babies, but it’s really amazing for moms too.
Breastfeeding helps moms age better!
Did you know that extended breastfeeding protects you from cancer and other diseases? You’re probably not thinking about that right now, but hey, you’d like to live longer, right? Nursing your toddler provides you with some pretty cool benefits. Breastfeeding lowers your risk of uterine, ovarian, and breast cancer.
It reduces your risk of getting osteoporosis and arthritis too. This might not seem that important, but when you get older and all your other friends are in the nursing home complaining about their arthritis or hip surgery, you can be the one bragging about how strong your bones are.
Say goodbye to your aunt Flo!
Not all moms get the added bonus of not having a period when they breastfeed, but it’s not unusual for menstruation to take a hike for a solid year when you breastfeed. Breastfeeding can even work as a natural form of birth control. While you shouldn’t rely on it, as fertility can return at any time, many women don’t ovulate or have a period while they are breastfeeding.
All in all, breastfeeding past a year is great for moms and babies. There’s no need to stop until you’re both ready.