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Extended Breastfeeding: Tearing Down The Stigma Of Nursing An Older Child

Extended Breastfeeding: Tearing Down The Stigma Of Nursing An Older Child

 

Giselle May left the corporate world to become a full-time Mom of a beautiful boy, and Editor of katherinerosman.com. This is a small site where Giselle and her team are growing quickly with the aim of becoming a central resource for Mom’s that will provide actionable advice and info guides. Having found so much support through online Mom communities, Giselle mentions to us just how “grateful” she is to have the opportunity to contribute to the information that is out there and intends to help others in their own journey along the way. 

Extended Breastfeeding and the Power to Decide 

Breastfeeding has become a controversial topic in recent years. It is a practice that unfortunately makes some people uncomfortable, and a mother being subjected to the judgment of others can push some to give up on breastfeeding earlier than they otherwise would. 

The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for the first six months exclusively, and after this breast milk to make up a party of a child’s diet for two years and beyond. 

This makes me wonder why so many mothers give up so early. I continued to breastfeed my baby until he was three years old, and I am so glad that I did. He has grown into a happy and confident little boy, and I know that I have been happier along the way also. 

The hardest part of this extended journey was the continual surprise of almost everyone I met that I would still breastfeed my son. While I am sure people meant well, there is a certain stigma attached to what should be viewed as a beautiful thing (and a significant achievement!). 

Why the Stigma? 

Being the subject of unsolicited advice probably started the day you announced you were pregnant right? Everyone seems to have an idea of what you should be doing. Breastfeeding just seems to be one of those topics that compel people to throw in their two cents. 

Some of the more frequent things I have heard:

  • That I am spoiling my baby
  • Your breasts will become ‘saggy’ if you keep doing this
  • Aren’t you worried that he is too dependent on you?
  • His teeth will grow sideways! 

When you add in the multiple public controversies that seem to pop up around public breastfeeding then it becomes very difficult to stay in the background and just get on with your own business. 

Why anyone care, I will never know. But do I have to take any notice of the opinions of others? Well, not really. But it is an annoyance. But it is one that I am prepared to absorb for the sake of my son. 

Benefits Of Long Term Breastfeeding

Those who give in to peer pressure and choose to discontinue breastfeeding can miss out on the following benefits: 

  • Quality Nutrition
  • Strengthen Immune System
  • Improved Brain Development
  • Reduced risk of ovarian and breast cancer
  • Reduced risk of arthritis, diabetes and some heart conditions
  • Lower Risk Of Postpartum Depression
  • Accelerate Weight Loss

The benefits that are more difficult to quantify is the psychological impact on your child through this important stage of development. 

It is easy to notice the calming effects on your baby when they breastfeed, and that stress reduction and additional bonding time can provide foundational skills in relationship building and managing stress. 

An outsider may assume that continuing to breastfeed a toddler could make them too reliant on Mom; Less independent; and slower to develop. This can lead to people questioning why you would do this? 

Whereas in most cases the opposite is true. Being able to develop at their own pace can promote confidence and trusting nature. 

Not Everyone Has the Choice 

While these benefits all sound great, it is important to acknowledge that those who do not continue to feed are not letting their child down by any stretch.

There is any number of reasons why extended breastfeeding is not possible, or impractical. Especially for working mothers. 

The pressure of pumping breast milk in and around a work day is difficult. Then there is storing it, cleaning it, not to mention lugging around a large breast pump and cooler bag all the time. 

There may also be physical limitations that also prevent Mom from keeping this up. So this article is not about judging those who do or, or do not continue to breastfeed. It is about the freedom to choose to be your own. 

When is the Right Time to Stop? 

The answer is whenever you want to.  Your baby may decide for you before that day comes. If they no longer want it, then you have your answer. 

Outside of this, you should continue to do so for as long as it feels right to you. Being influenced either way by outside factors is unfortunate and way too common, and no one has the right to tell you how you should raise your child. 

Remember to Join This Breastfeeding Support Page Here

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