This post is a part of the Breastfeeding a Toddler Series:

Breastfeeding a Toddler: Part One

Breastfeeding a Toddler: Part Two 

“How long are you planning to nurse?” or “ When do you think you’ll stop nursing?”…if you’re a breastfeeding mom or planning to become one, expect to hear this question all the time. When I first had Ava I was nervous to tell people how long I was really planning and just told them what they wanted to hear…”oh you know probably until two or so.”….wait what? …That answer was not what they wanted to hear?? Oh… if they only knew that that so actually meant more like 3 or 4!!

“Breastfeeding is a mother’s gift to herself, her baby and the earth.”

-Pamela K. Wiggins

The US and Breastfeeding


Unfortunately, the US is on a different thought process when it comes to the B word. In our culture we like to call them boobs and these poor things are the center of attention…even if you don’t have boobs!! We have fake boobs, big boobs, saggy boobs, small boobs, and even man boobs!! Ok so obviously the American culture has a love affair with boobs…OH BUT WAIT, what is this I see??? Those jiggly, soft, warm things have a purpose?? and you’re doing in right in front of me?? No no no, gross. This is the attitude has caused a decline in American mothers to breastfeed.
In fact only 47% of mothers nurse to 6 months, and that number drops to a distressing 25% at one year. In other countries breastfeeding is customary and accepted in their culture. Not only is breastfeeding normal in their society, but breastfeeding a toddler is equally as normal. In fact the Worldwide Health Organization {WHO} strongly supports breastfeeding to 2 and after. They also support child led weaning whereas the American culture leans more towards the mother weaning and that weaning unfortunately starts between 6-12 months.


If only our culture would take a step back and truly look at breastfeeding and see it as the beautiful thing it is. It’s good for you to educate yourself on as much as possible, but especially when it comes to the health of any members of your family. Mothers, we need to encourage our daughters and daughter in laws to breastfeed. Share your experiences with them, offer them water while nursing, praise them for breastfeeding. I know a lot of new mothers who gave up within the first 6 months because of complications. But if only they knew they had someone to help them and motivate them to keep going up the hill, they would have been able to conquer their feat. I have had times where I felt more uncomfortable nursing in front of certain family members than with friends and strangers. This is not what new mothers need! I hope that whoever you are, you read this post and become informed of the true benefits that come with breastfeeding and are able to help, encourage and even defend a breastfeeding mother sometime in your life. They’ll never forget that moment, I promise! {Read Cris’ story on her struggle here}

Low milk supply and improper latches are the main culprits for women giving up. However changing the mother’s diet a bit, nipple shields and contacting their local LLL could have easily fixed both those problems. What’s so great about breastmilk to keep me going?? Well let’s get started…

Breastfeeding and Health


Child’s Health

Exclusive breastfeeding has been known to protect infants from infectious and chronic diseases as well as reducing infant mortality caused by common childhood illnesses(Gulick 1986, WHO). And according to the American Academy of Family Physicians, children weaned before two years of age have an increased risk of illness(AAFP 2008).

“it provides all the energy and nutrients that the infant needs for the first months of life and continues to provide up to half or more of a childs nutritional needs during the second half of the first year and up to one third during the second year of life.”

-WHO

Breastfed children are proven to be sick less often and recover quicker than non breastfed children. This is due to the fact that breastmilk provides a numerous amount of vitamins and nutrients as well as natural immunities for their environment. A sick child that can’t keep food down will often only accept the breast to feed and snuggle for extra comfort. Breastmilk strengthens the immune system, while aiding the the development of the brain and other organs.

Did you know? That the breast has an area near the nipple that absorbs the child’s saliva, read’s the information about that child and will actually change it’s milk formula to balance any deficiencies or abundances. Your milk will actually help prevent that cold from getting out of hand as well as protect them from the next cold.

Some people have said that breastmilk is pretty much useless after 1 year, but if they even knew what breastmilk was and what what in it, that thought would seem absurd to them. There is no timer in your breast that stops producing proteins, fats and vitamins after 12 months of breastfeeding…it’s not like it turns to water or anything. Your child is still getting those valuable nutrients with each nursing.

In the second year (12-23 months), 448 mL of breastmilk provides:

  • 29% of energy requirements
  • 36% of calcium requirements
  • 43% of protein requirements
  • 60% of vitamin C requirements
  • 75% of vitamin A requirements
  • 76% of folate requirements
  • 94% of vitamin B12 requirements

(Dewey 2001, KellyMom)

Wow!! That is a crazy high amount of nutrients… I don’t know about you, but I am going to take full advantage of the free natural multivitamin while I can! I also forgot to mention that the immune factors actually increase as your child nurses less with age, it’s like your body is getting your toddler ready and prepared before they fully wean.

Mother’s Health

There are plenty of reasons to breastfeed for your baby, but did you know that the longer you breastfeed the more benefits you reap as well?
Mothers that breastfeed have a reduce the risk for:

  • breast cancer
  • ovarian cancer
  • uterine cancer
  • endometrial cancer
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • cardiovascular disease
  • diabetes
  • hypertension
  • obesity
  • heart attack
  • protects against osteoporosis
  • decrease insulin requirements in diabetic women

(Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine 2012, surgeon general, Kellymom)

That list continues as more and more studies are conducted. Holy guacamole that is still a pretty long list, and since breast cancer is something that runs in my family, you bet your butt that I am going to take advantage of this! Not only does your body stay in good health {with the addition to a healthy lifestyle}, but you don’t have to stress about the “little things big things” that come with formula feeding and early weaning such as:

  • money spent on formula
  • running out of formula during inconvenient times
  • forgetting bottle, formula or snacks at home
  • not bringing enough formula or snacks
  • the effect on the environment due to formula businesses
  • the effect on the child due to a formula based diet
  • formula recalls
  • a period….yes ladies that’s right, I am one of the lucky mom’s that haven’t had a period in over 3 years and yes it feels just as amazing as it sounds. With breastfeeding expect a delay in your fertility cycle. Your body realizes that it shouldn’t be planning for number 2, 3 or 4….at least for a while.

With a warm boob near, my child will never run out of milk or have to leave early due to the absence of food or even water. Now I do want to note, that I am not trying to bash mothers that have chosen the formula fed path at all, I love you and know you are trying to do what’s best for your little one. That’s what brought you here right? I am simply trying to educate our culture, there should be no shaming involved in this argument, just facts. I want to express that with more open minded and educated individuals we can truly advance and more forward as a species! By researching as much as possible we are able to make better, smarter healthier, and more sustainable choices. Breastfeeding mothers have the ammo for this battle, we just need to give them the courage to use it and defend what they are doing.

❤ ॐ❤ ॐ❤ ॐ❤

Question of the Day:

How long did/are you planning to nurse?

❤ ॐ❤ ॐ❤ ॐ❤

Extra: Here is a little article I found on some things about breastmilk the author didn’t know.
Well that’s all I have for today’s Family Friday, be sure to come back on fridays for more articles pertaining to family lifestyle and an alternative way of raising children. Don’t forget you can always subscribe to receive weekly emails in your inbox. Comments are always welcomed as well as opinions, please try to be open minded towards each other and remember we are all trying to do what’s best. We can only expand our knowledge to those who are willing to hear it. Be educated, be wise and be kind. Thanks for reading and be sure to snuggle extra long with your littles this weekend, they won’t be little for long ❤ ॐ❤!

 

This post is a part of the Breastfeeding a Toddler Series:

Breastfeeding a Toddler: Part One

Breastfeeding a Toddler: Part Two 

Ashleigh is a stay at home mom who enjoys blogging about balancing the mind through meditation and conscious parenting, the body through plant based eating and yoga, and the soul through up cycling and sustainability. Keep your life balanced & subscribe to her weekly emails, like OmLivin’ on FB or check her out on Google+ for more.

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