*This is a guest post
Breastfeeding is how nature intended us to feed our young.
It is recommended that we breastfeed our children for no less than 6 months as breast milk helps aid in the healthy growth and development in the early years.
For some, extended breastfeeding becomes a reality and this is not always by choice. Some children find it hard to wean and rely on the comfort and security that breastfeeding provides them.
For others extended breastfeeding is a choice they have made and it is one that suits their lifestyle.
What is extended breastfeeding?
Extended breastfeeding is simply breastfeeding your child beyond 1 year of age.
The advantages of extended breastfeeding
There are no hard and fast rules about how long is too long to breastfeed. The length of time you choose is a personal choice and one that you should make that works for both you and your family.
- Women who breastfeed for extended periods have lower rates of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.
- A breastfed child gets sick less as the breast milk helps to build a strong immune system.
- Breastfeeding can help to aid in weight loss for some women.
- Women are less likely to develop breast, ovarian and cervical cancers.
- Breastfeeding reduces the risk of dehydration in children, particularly during times when they are unwell. Breastfeeding not only gets fluid into the un-well child but also comforts him.
- Breast milk aids in the growth and development of a child, as there are many nutritional benefits in breast milk.
- Breastfeeding encourages bonding and a sense of security.
- Women tend to be more conscious of their diet when breastfeeding, which helps to promote healthy eating and overall health benefits for mum.
The disadvantages of extended breastfeeding
It is not unexpected that extended breastfeeding might conjure up some negative thoughts.
Whilst it is not a choice for all of us, it is important to keep an open mind and to support those women who do choose to breastfeed for longer.
- A woman who breastfeeds an older toddler or child in public may receive the odd glance
- Breastfeeding for extended periods can result in difficulty weaning the child later on.
- Extended breastfeeding can affect a child’s ability to sleep through the night, as he or she wakes for feeds.
- Night feeds can leave breast milk (sugary deposits) on your child’s teeth that can lead to tooth decay.
- Older children can develop bad habits such as pulling up their mother’s shirt when they want to feed. This can be particularly embarrassing when out in public.
- Breastfeeding can be physically exhausting, especially if you are feeding more than one child.
- A woman may find that she needs to eat more to compensate for the extra calories she is burning to produce breast milk. This could result in weight gain.
- Extended breastfeeding may have emotional implications. A mother may feel like she is getting less ‘me time’ and that she has not got her body back.
- A woman is restricted to what medications she can take when breastfeeding.
- A child may become dependent on his mother, restricting nights away.
How can you make extended breastfeeding work for you?
Whether you‘ve planned to breastfeed for an extended period or you have just found yourself in this situation, there are many things you can do to help make the experience work for both you and your child.
- Feeding at home will help to avoid any unwelcome glances or the odd comment
- Get yourself into a routine and decide at what time(s) of the day breastfeeding will occur. This way your young child knows when it is time to feed and you are less likely to feel controlled by your child’s needs.
- Teach your child appropriate behaviours. If pulling up your top when he wants to feed does not work for you, teach him a code word or gesture that does work. This way if you are out in public you are less likely to feel embarrassed or exposed.
- Eating well will help to ensure you have enough energy to get through your day.
- Staying hydrated is very important to help ensure you continue to produce enough breast milk. Drink plenty of water and avoid too many sugary drinks as they will leave you feel tired and lethargic.
- Remember to put time aside for yourself everyday. ‘Me time’ is very important and helps to keep a sense of self. Being happy and contented also means doing the things that you love. A good mother not only looks after and provides for her family but she looks after herself too.
Like many women out there, Tracey Montford is an exceptional multi-tasker! Apart from steering a globalbusiness, managing 2 young boys & keeping the clan clean and fed, Tracey still finds time to provide creative inspiration and direction to the exceptional designs of Cake Maternity. From the branding, presentation and delivery, creativity is a big part of what Tracey does so naturally and effectively. Find out more at https://www.cakematernity.com or catch up with her on social @cakematernity