Extended Breastfeeding: What Is It And Can It Work For You?
Have you ever heard of extended breastfeeding? Have you ever thought about breastfeeding your child way after the weaning stage? Until when should you breastfeed?
According to the World Health Organization, it is recommended to exclusively breastfeed your child for the first six months and supplement his diet with solid foods after this stage, up to two years or until the mother and child desire.
Yet, extended breastfeeding is a sensitive subject. Supporters claim breastfeeding a child for as long as possible is natural. Others claim is not only unnatural but also creates a sort of dependence that can’t be overcome.
So, what’s the truth?
In simple terms, there is nothing more nutritious and healthier than breast milk. Anthropological studies have shown that children usually drink maternal milk up to about three years of age. Certainly, each child is different and some may prefer breast milk for much longer. Whether this is the case or not, extended breastfeeding is natural and something you should truly consider.
What is Extended Breastfeeding?
Extended breastfeeding is the breastfeeding of a child older than two years. Some children breastfeed up to about three years, others up to five years or more. The practice is widely used in primitive communities all over the world but is hardly accepted in the Western world.
Society apart, breastfeeding for a long time can be very demanding for mom. Classic problems such as sore breasts and annoying fissures, mastitis and other conditions can make breastfeeding impossible.
So, whether you should practice extended breastfeeding or not is a personal decision; if you decide to do it, know that this practice is beneficial for the baby.
How To Practice Extended Breastfeeding?
That’s an easy task. Just offer milk to your baby every time the child asks for it. Determine the older child to adopt a correct position to prevent nipple injuries – a breastfeeding pillow is ideal for his purpose.
Benefits of Extended Breastfeeding
Extended Breastfeeding – Can It Work For You?
Extended breastfeeding is not always an option, but we do recommend you consider it before completely weaning the child. Wondering when it’s better to avoid breastfeeding? Here are the most common situations when you’d better skip this step.
1. Taking medicines. There are very few non-compatible breastfeeding drugs. If a drug has been used during pregnancy it can also be used during breastfeeding because the amount that passes to the milk will certainly be lower than that which has been absorbed by the uterus. To understand if a drug is contraindicated, consider its occasional or continuous use, age and weight of the child, dosage, and method of administration of the drug.
2. Infectious diseases. Whether you can breastfeed or not during this stage depends on the severity of the disease and its phase. Also, consider whether it is transmitted by the mother’s milk and also the age and health of the child. Remember that breast milk is a primary source of antibodies, therefore you could breastfeed even if you’re sick.
3. Stress due to social life. We don’t live in a child-friendly world. And even less so for mom. Especially if you’re a working mom, dealing with breastfeeding an older child can be overwhelming. If you’ll ever have to breastfeed in public, things can get even more embarrassing. Consider whether you’re able to deal with so much social stress before deciding whether to breastfeed your older child or not.
So, can extended breastfeeding work for you? It depends. But if you feel like giving it a try know that both you and the child will fully benefit from this experience.
Extended breastfeeding is one of the most rewarding experiences for both child and mom. It has a lot of benefits and almost no disadvantages. Certainly, you’ll have to deal with prejudices. People will judge you for feeding your child with the most nutritious food out there.
Yet, it’s up to you whether you should do it or not. Unless medical advice states otherwise, we suggest you give it a try.