Extended Breastfeeding

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It’s so hard to write the word EXTENDED without the fear of someone thinking I’m a total weirdo and still breastfeeding an eight year old! Let’s clear the air- my daughter is only a year and ten months (pictured above). Whew, that feels better!

It has been quite the journey in breastfeeding both of my girls. My first daughter had horrible latching problems which left me with Masititis seven times in eight weeks! But boy I was determined to do it and thankfully she latched at eight weeks. That was a very rough time in life. I nursed her all the way until she was 17 months old and I thought that was a very long time! Ellie would have nursed for much longer if I would have let her, but I was pregnant with my second daughter and only had a few months until her arrival. I was ready to have my body back (well, sort of if you don’t count the other baby living inside it ;)).

When Claire came along, she latched right away and I had no problems. This was such a relief! What a change. She too has loved nursing and didn’t even really start to eat food until she was about 14 months! We exclusively breastfed. Not by my choice, but because she refused everything we gave her. She still nurses today about once a day and all throughout the night. Most nights I am totally over it and ready to be DONE! I’m surprised she has gone so long with how busy she is! I keep saying my cut-off is at 2 years old because I don’t want to be “that” mom, but at the end of the day, I keep coming back to remembering that I won’t have this time again with her. I won’t have the snuggles, quiet moments, and one-on-one time that can be difficult to have otherwise.

A funny part of being someone who breastfeeds for longer than some, is that it makes me feel horribly insecure! I love that it is so great for Claire and her immunity, but sometimes when I tell certain people, I get the crazy, you must be a hippy look! So I would consider myself a “closet” extended breastfeeder. Don’t ask, don’t tell!

I have often wondered if there were other moms out there, like me, who are feeling a bit insecure about it and could use some encouragement today! Here are some great facts about extended breastfeeding you may or may not know:

1. Science is on your side- there are many medical journals proving the long-term health benefits of breastfeeding. The incidence of many illnesses, both in children and adults, are lowered by breastfeeding.

2. World opinion is on your side- The World Health Organization (WHO) officially recommends mothers breastfeed until three years of age!

3. It’s better for your health-  Extended breastfeeding reduces the risk of uterine, ovarian, and breast cancers. Breastfeeding women also have a lower incidence of osteoporosis later in life.

4. It’s better for your toddler’s behavior- Breastfeeding is also an exercise in baby reading, which enables a mother to more easily read her baby’s cues and intervene before a discipline situation gets out of hand. Nursing is a wonderful calming tool on days when Mom needs to relax and to stave off an impending toddler tantrum.

5. Let your child silence the critics. Once your friends and relatives see the benefits of your breastfeeding bond, your growth as a mother, and the emotional, intellectual and physical health of your child, they will serve as convincing testimonies to the value of extended breastfeeding!

(Each of these were pulled from www.parenting.com in the Ask Dr. Sears section. The whole article can be found HERE.)

Reading things like this has put me at ease, and pulled me out of my cultural insecurity about extended breastfeeding many times. Hopefully it encouraged one of you also!

So now, I’m curious! Are any of you extended breastfeeders or did you in the past? Would love to know!

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Krystle is the proud mama of three children (two girls, born in 2009 and 2011, and a boy, born 2013). Having three little ones keeps her on her toes most days but she wouldn't have it any other way! She loves crafting, DIY projects, homeschooling, natural living, spending time with her family, being involved at church, and enjoying the outdoors (when the temps aren't above 100 that is!). She is the co-founder of North Phoenix Moms Blog and gets really excited about connecting local moms together, planning fun events, and building community!

10 COMMENTS

  1. Great post! Hopefully talking about extended breastfeeding openly will help people see that it’s not a strange thing. I nursed Madeleine until she was 20 months, and it was a great way to connect with her after she was in daycare all day. Corbin is still nursing at 14 months, mostly at night, and I think it’s helped him be a calmer, happier baby. It definitely helps him get back to sleep quickly at 3 am (and thus I can get back to sleep too!) 🙂

  2. Applause to you. I went 15 months until my ds self weened. This time I’d like to go atleast 2 years. Most of my family doesn’t understand and I’ve had to educate. Both my mom and MIL only nursed a couple of months.

  3. I’m a closet breastfeeder too! My daughter just turned two and seems to have no interest in stopping any time soon. I’m definitely over it most days but don’t necessarily want to force it to end nor do I really know how to. I really hate talking about it because I feel like a weirdo so I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one!

  4. Go you! As a first time mom to my son who is now 20 months, I have learned that each mom does what is best for her baby and her…if extended BF is one of those things, than so be it! My son rarely took a bottle, even after I went back to work and had to leave him {at 3 months 🙁 } all day so BF was the way to go for us whenever I was home. He still today nurses when we get home in the evening and as soon as he wakes in the morning. I would totally stop if he is ready, but there are NO signs of him wanting to stop quite yet. We did just go through night-weaning two months ago to stop the all night nursing marathons. As a working mom, I feel good about giving him that bonding time right now. It sometimes bothers me when people give the “I can’t believe your still nursing look”. Nutritionally AND emotionally this is something so good for our babies.

  5. I BF until my son was 17 months. He did not have his first illness (a small cold) until he was 26 months. And I think that proved it to my husband and mother. I would of BF longer, but I was getting pressured to stop. My son loves my breast and holds on to them for comfort. It is awkward in public when he tries to stick his hand down my shirt, but I don’t mind when he is falling asleep or a bit overstimulated. Good for you for BF as long as you and the baby wants.

  6. Amen! I totally agree. I nursed my first daughter to 14 months (stopped b/c I was preggo and it was getting painful,) 2nd until 19 1/2 months (again, preggo!) and now my son is 17 months old and still going strong. He had the stomach flu recently for 5 days straight, and when I took him to the doctor b/c he had had it so long, she basically told me that b/c I was still nursing it probably kept him out of the hospital! It was literally the only thing keeping him hydrated. Needless to say, I’m so thankful to still be breastfeeding him. I agree…the nights get long…and it is exhausting…but the benefits far outweigh the inconveniences. It’s a sacrifice, but it’s one worth making!

  7. My daughter is 20 months and I’m still breastfeeding. People make jokes, like she’ll be in kindergarten and still breastfeeding.

    My Ella loves to breast feed, sometimes a little to much. Probably a lot of it is out of comfort.

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