The Pros and Cons of Extended Breastfeeding: A Closer Look

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Baby is Breastfeeding at scenic location

The benefits of extended Breastfeeding are significant, but so are the adverse side effects of breastfeeding too long. So how do you determine if the pros outweigh the cons? Learn more about the pros and cons of extended Breastfeeding and decide for yourself if it’s right for you!

Extended Breastfeeding

A person who continues breastfeeding than is customary in their culture is considered extended Breastfeeding. It may differ from place to place, i.e., In the US and many other European countries, Nursing past one year is regarded as extended Breastfeeding, while in most Muslim countries, the age limit is two years.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months, followed by introducing solids with continued Breastfeeding until one year old.

Katherine Dettwyler argues that social and family dynamics influence breastfeeding decisions, but most humans usually breastfeed their kids for years before weaning.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding for the first two years.

Pros/Benefits of Extended Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding provides both mom and baby with numerous benefits in different forms, such as;

Nutrition

Breast milk is one of the most nutritious foods available to humans. It contains all the nutrients a baby needs for healthy growth and development and is the primary nutrition source for babies at a stage where they cant consume solid foods, as well as antibodies to protect against disease.

There is no cut-off age for breast milk. Some people believe breast milk is of no use for an older child. That’s like saying broccoli has no nutritional value after age 10. In other words, your body will keep providing what your baby needs and does so more efficiently than any other source.

Immunity

Breastmilk contains healthy bacteria that help to build a child’s immune system. According to research, breast milk adapts itself to your baby’s needs. Breastfeeding ensures a child gets all the nutrients they need with precisely adjusted breast milk for the infant. So cool!

Comfort and Security

Many babies enjoy nursing for a variety of reasons. Some need to nurse to go to sleep; others may turn to it when they feel upset or scared. This might help alleviate some parenting stress and give the Child an easier way to express himself when upset.

Bonding

Breastfeeding can be excellent for bonding with your baby. In addition, breastfeeding (especially on demand) creates a peaceful and calm environment for your baby.

Convenience

Breastmilk is available and convenient for busy parents. There is no need for your little one to go without liquids while waiting for their food or drinks; they can continuously sip on breastmilk.

Health Benefits for the Mother

There are many significant benefits for the mother when breastfeeding, that includes reduced risk for breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.

During Breastfeeding, your body releases oxytocin, which helps with stress and pain management. Plus, Breastfeeding can help you lose weight faster by cutting calories in your diet. Some moms feel that Breastfeeding helps them lose weight and maintain weight loss after pregnancy.

Cons/Disadvantages of Extended Breastfeeding

For some, extended breastfeeding past the average feeding age may pose particular challenges. such as;

Cultural Stigma

Some cultures have strong breastfeeding taboos. For example, in many parts of the world, it is considered inappropriate to breastfeed a child older than two years. Many people may be subject to judgment, public shaming, and a lack of family and friends support.

Time and Effort

Breastfeeding can be a considerable time commitment. It can also be very tiring for the mother, especially working outside the home. Therefore, if you plan to breastfeed your Child for an extended period, it’s essential that you set expectations with your spouse or partner ahead of time.

Physical Pain

Nursing past two years can lead to physical pain for the breastfeeding moms, such as sore nipples, nipple pain, not having your period return for a while, weight gain, clogged milk ducts, or having an infection like thrush or mastitis. Furthermore, knowing that a child’s ability to digest breast milk decreases with age is essential. If you breastfeed beyond two years of age, your Child may experience stomach problems.

Inconvenience

Women working outside the home often have difficulty breastfeeding, primarily if they work for extended periods. In addition, this pressure from work might make it more difficult to pump while they work.

Fertility

Breasts inhibit the development of ovarian follicles and ovulation; however, as the baby ages, this diminishes. So if a woman’s period hasn’t returned, she may have to wean for conception.

Over-attachment

One study found that breastfed children past two years old were more likely to cling to their mothers and have trouble separating from them later in life. This can lead to an over-attached child who has a hard time adjusting to changes in their life.

How Can You Make Extended Breastfeeding Work for You?

Whether you plan to breastfeed for a long time or find yourself in this situation by accident, Breastfeeding can work for your child if you follow the tips below;

Nurse at Home

You can nurse your Child at home instead of heading out to the store or park if you’re bothered by unsolicited comments and stares. In addition, nursing may be done at set times during the day – such as in the morning, before naps, or before bed – and moms may have their toddlers drink from a cup during meals or snacks.

Take Care of Yourself

Maintain a healthy diet; include plenty of fruit and veggies, whole grains, protein, and calcium, and drink lots of water when breastfeeding. If you’re not sure you’re eating correctly, talk to your healthcare provider or dietitian.

How To Start Weaning When You Are Extended Breastfeeding?

Weaning is a process that can take as little as a few days or as long as two years. There are many approaches to weaning, but the most important thing is what works best for your baby;

Cold Turkey Weaning

If you stop nursing altogether, you will need to pick a date and stop breastfeeding on that date. Mothers and children may find this the fastest, simplest, and most effective option.

Reduction of Breastfeeding Sessions

Breastfeeding sessions can be decreased throughout the day. For example, if you are still nursing four times per day, try dropping one of those feedings at a time.

Reduction of Duration Of Breastfeeding

One thing you can do to decrease how often you breastfeed your Child is to space out your nursing sessions so that he is taking less breast milk. By doing this, you train your baby to rely more on other foods like meals, drinks, and snacks throughout the day to satisfy his hunger and thirst than on your milk.

This technique is more likely to work well for morning and evening feedings when your baby is sleepy. Instead of breastfeeding for 8-10 minutes on each side, try breastfeeding for 4-6 minutes and then switching.

Don’t Offer, Don’t Refuse

This technique involves stopping to breastfeed as often as you have been to find a middle ground between your baby’s wants and your expectations.

FAQs on Pros and Cons of Extended Breastfeeding

Is it Normal to Breastfeed a 5-year-old?

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for mothers to breastfeed their children into toddlerhood in the United States. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that Breastfeeding be stopped by two years old.

Is my Child Benefiting from Extended Breastfeeding?

It can be very challenging for parents to stop breastfeeding their children. However, if you are worried about the disadvantages of extended Breastfeeding after two years, it may be time to think about what age to stop breastfeeding your Child. One drawback is prolonged breast milk production can decrease the mother’s overall milk supply. It may also have negative aspects regarding the mother’s physical and emotional well-being, especially if she does not have an appropriate support system.

Is Breastfeeding More or Less Convenient for my Child and me?

Breastfeeding has various benefits for both you and the baby. First, it is a complete diet for your baby and needs everything for healthy growth. Furthermore, it protects the mother from various illnesses like cancers.

Do I want to discontinue Breastfeeding, or are other moms’ opinions affecting my decision to stop breastfeeding?

It would be best to weigh the cons and pros of extended Breastfeeding. If it benefits your baby and poses no discomfort or inconvenience, then there is no reason to stop.

How is Breastfeeding Affecting my Fertility?

Exclusively breastfeeding can temporarily delay your fertility postpartum, making it more challenging to conceive while nursing, So if you want another child, you should try weaning your baby.

How Long is Breastfeeding Most Beneficial?

You should exclusively breastfeed your child for at least six months. After that, mixed feeding can be used up until at least one year. The longer an infant is breastfed, the greater the protection from certain illnesses and long-term diseases.

Are Breastfed Babies Healthier than Formula Fed?

Breast milk contains all the necessary nutrients a baby needs. Moreover, it is easily digested by babies as, at that stage, their body is designed like that. It also provides numerous health and growth benefits for your baby that a formula can not provide. When comparing children who were exclusively breastfed to non-breastfed children and those who received mixed feeding (formula combined with human milk), the solely breastfed children displayed a consistent increase in their intelligence scores,

How long does it take for breast milk to dry up after extended Breastfeeding?

There is no set timeline for the lactation suppression process. Instead, several factors affect how quickly your milk dries up, including your baby’s age and average milk supply. Breast milk can take days, weeks, or months to dry up. Therefore, it is recommended that you gradually wean your breastfed baby.

Does Extended Breastfeeding Affect the Immune System?

It boosts the immune system. The longer you breastfeed, the less likely your baby is to get some illnesses associated with not breastfeeding, such as ear and upper respiratory infections.