Breastfeeding Toddlers - Why it's Not Entirely Insane

Due to the insurmountable research about the benefits of nursing, more and more women are breastfeeding their babes (*clap*clap* - way to go mamas!) … which also means more women are also considering breastfeeding past the glass ceiling age of 6 months – and, even better, 12 months! 

So what’s the deal with moms breastfeeding those little mobile monsters (aka toddlers)?

Well, science affirms it is remarkable, beneficial, and one-of-a kind…. not to mention it is plain commonsense.



Pure Convenience

It’s free.

No bottle - no sippy cup needed.

Plus, it’s pretty tricky for your little one to spill breast milk while nursing (although it can happen > > squeeze < < ).

I don’t have to warm it or tote around an ice pack.

Oh! And I don’t have to clean anything – reason enough.

Less cleaning is good.

In the middle of the night, it is a glorious blessing from all that is heavenly…sometimes, I think of mothers who have toddlers that DO NOT nurse and I consider that I might have it monumentally easier at night and during naptime.

Amen for nursing toddlers.




It’s Normal and Recommended

Well, duh.

Ok, it’s not the norm thing to do here… in the States I mean…well, I’m sure it was at one point in time, but not anymore – not yet.

Betcha this woman breastfed AND she was packing heat.
Now that's one  bass-ass mama

 Given the proven advantages of extended breastfeeding – one could ask: how can this not be considered normal?

No scientific data exists stating that human beings were ever intended to nurse for any less than two years. UNICEF and WHO officially encourage breastfeeding till the age of 2 – while the AAP persuades mothers for at the very least one year. 


If you look at the science behind determining the natural age of weaning by using age by birth weight –the natural weaning age would be approximately 25 months in humans.

Silly humans.



Toast to a Mother’s Health 

When mamas choose not to nurse there is an innumerable amount of significant consequences to their health.

Benefits of breastfeeding for just a short amount of time are largely significant – however, when you calculate nursing for an extended amount of time (12 months or more) the benefits are only compounded.

Yikes.  


Get this – the longer a mom nurses the less likely she is at risk of type 2 diabetes (regardless of BMI). Since diabetes runs in my family – this one was a good motivator to nurse into toddler-hood.

Another mammoth reason: cancer.

For every 12 months a mama breastfeeds, her risk of breast cancer decreases – if you have a mother or sister who had breast cancer: moms who breastfed had about 60 percent less risk.

Now that is prevention.


Mini Vacation

If you have read my blog for any amount of time you may very well know that I had severe anxiety problems for several years of my young adult life (severe indicating random panic attacks, avoidance of social situations, sleep problems and physical symptoms).

Although I conquered the majority of these issues prior to becoming a mother, I make it a priority in my life to consistently be mindful and aware of my thoughts, emotions and feelings – to circumvent any possible future relapses.

Breastfeeding is a powerful anti-anxiety ritual.

As you might know, the hormones released during nursing are very distinct in their purpose.  The neurotransmitter oxytocin decreases blood pressure, heart rate and aggression – promoting calm behavior (and of course bonding). It has also been shown to lower the activity in the amygdale (which is overactive in social phobics) and diminishes fears that we may hold. 

Don't be scared Dorothy.


If you think once you stop breastfeeding this benefits stops – then you would be wrong! Research now confirms that moms who breastfeed over a long period of time get really good at releasing oxytocin at stressful other times throughout their day which activates the parasympathetic nervous system and alleviates stress and anxiety.

How amazing is that?!



Fitting into size 8

You see it on TV, a woman gives birth and they are automatically back into their pre-mommy clothes.

Ha – yeah right.

Nursing is amazing at helping new mamas lose weight, fast – and extended breastfeeding helps maintain and keep it off.

Did you know that women who choose not to breastfeed have, on average, nearly 8 centimeters of fat around their waists?

Yeah, 'cause I'm this happy to do sit-ups.
Breastfeeding = less sit-ups.

I actually weigh less then I did before I got pregnant the first time.

Neat.




Periods Suck. Period.

Another neat thing? Prolactin is another one of those miraculous horomones released during nursing.

Prolactin inhibits ovulation. (Hooray!)

I don’t think any woman considers getting her period extraordinary news. Over the last 4 years (and two daughters), I had to deal with my period twice.

Word.

Word.


Weapons of Mass Destruction

You wanna talk about some serious nutrition and immune support – then nursing into toddlerhood is what you’ve been searching for.

So many moms out there hunt for supplements, vitamins, remedies and medicine that will help there exploring and fearless toddlers stay healthy.

Hello? You got it all mama. (plus its free – see first reason again)

Not only does breastmilk improve health and even IQ, but the benefits of nursing appear to linger for years after nursing stops. Breastfeeding lowers the incidence of asthma and obesity and even increases brain development. 

Now that’s what I’m talking about.

Lasting brain power!


Research also confirms that the energy and fat content of breast milk increase after the first year.

Hecks yeah.

The big whammy? Breastmilk fosters colonies of microbiotic flora in the intestinal tract that help with nutrient absorption along with immune development. 


My little Charlotte @ 14 months 

The science of it - your milk contains immunoglobulin (IgA) which coats the lining of your little one’s intestines. This prevents germs from penetrating – thousands of antiviral, anti-parasitic and antibacterial factors protect your little one from hundreds of infections and even juvenile cancers.

This stuff really is amazing – even at 12 months and beyond!




References:

Steinkraus, Kyla. “Extend Breastfeeding's Benefits” Mothering Magazine, Issue 144, 2007

Duke Medicine News and Communications. Breast Milk Promotes a Different Gut Flora Growth Than Infant Formula. Duke Heath Website (accessed 2012)

Kellymom Parenting & Breastfeeding. Breastfeeding Past Infancy: Reference Page: http://kellymom.com/ages/after12mo/ebf-refs/

Katherine Harmon. How Breastfeeding Benefits Mothers’ Heath. Scientific American. Apr 2010

Juniper Russo. Natural Weaning Age: Science of Extended Breastfeeding. Feb 2009

6 comments:

  1. Great post! Been nursing 28 months now and have had 25 periods though. Total bummer. Other than that, my only worry is that he'll still want boobie when he is 5. Not quite willing to go that long.

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    1. 28 mo is awesome!

      With my first I nursed till about 21 months - I pretty far along in my pregnancy with my second and then she stopped.... I'm curious on how long my second daughter will go since I don't have a pregnancy that could interfere ... i hope not till 5 either!!! lol

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  2. I agree with everything here except one thing: "periods suck". I try to view menstruation in a positive light and want to encourage other women to do the same. I think that thinking of our periods as "the curse" is very anti-woman. I like to track my cycle and compare it to the lunar cycle. For over a year, I ovulated every full moon, which I later learned means you are very fertile, hence my oops baby. My oops baby who is still nursing at 24 months :) No end in sight. I think he will still want to nurse when he is 5, and so far I think I might be okay with that. We'll see how it goes.

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    1. I agree Emily - we shouldn't look at anything given to us in this life as a negative. Ironicly, I just got my period this weekend lol!

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  3. Great post. I'm still nursing my 33 month old. And now tandem with my 8 week old. Got my period back when my first was 12 months and had it until I got pregnant at 24 months. I have very painful periods so it is a blessing for me when I get to go without them for awhile :)

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    1. Wow Becky!! You are super mom!

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