Despite the increasing awareness of extended breastfeeding, there are still occasionally some people who do not understand the importance of it. Some people think it’s only beneficial for those first few months, and some people think that it’s not important to breastfeed at all. My youngest is 14 months old and there are still so many benefits he is yet to receive from breastfeeding!
I only nursed my firstborn for a couple of months, and I started supplementing when she was only 1 week old. I have experienced both having a negative breastfeeding experience as well as a really positive one with my middle child for 18 months. Even with my 14 month old I have had so many struggles with breastfeeding that I myself can’t believe I still am going strong!
I was honestly devastated when breastfeeding didn’t work out with my daughter, but it didn’t take long to realize that it wasn’t the end of the world. My daughter has always been so healthy and well taken care of and there is no question about that. I have learned that if you are able to breastfeed that is a wonderful thing, but if you’re not…well, life goes on!
With that being said, I am obviously not here to downplay the benefits of breast milk! And not just the benefits of breast milk in general, but breast milk AFTER the first year! Here are seven of my favorite reasons to continue breastfeeding after 1 year:
1) In the second year (12-23 months), 448 mL of breastmilk provides:
29% of energy requirements
43% of protein requirements
36% of calcium requirements
75% of vitamin A requirements
76% of folate requirements
94% of vitamin B12 requirements
60% of vitamin C requirements
– Dewey 2001
2) Breastfed toddlers between the ages of one and three have been found to have fewer illnesses, illnesses of shorter duration, and lower mortality rates (Mølbak 1994, van den Bogaard 1991, Gulick 1986).
3) Antibodies are abundant in human milk throughout lactation” (Nutrition During Lactation 1991; p. 134). In fact, some of the immune factors in breastmilk increase in concentration during the second year and also during the weaning process. (Lawrence & Lawrence 2011, Goldman 1983, Goldman & Goldblum 1983, Institute of Medicine 1991).
4) There is nothing else that will comfort your baby like nursing! When they get hurt, when they’re tired, when they’re scared, or when they’re sick, breastfeeding will always comfort them.
5) The bond. When your busy toddler stops to nurse, that is precious bonding time that is guaranteed at least a few times a day.
6) It is good for mom, too! Most moms find that they get back to their pre pregnancy weight much faster from breastfeeding, and the risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer goes down substantially every year!
7) It is so convenient! This one is most beneficial in the early days, but it’s very convenient even still. My son still wakes to nurse at least once a night and since we also co-sleep, I don’t even have to get out of bed! Can’t beat that!
As you can see, the benefits are far too great to dismiss. Even though your child is eating 3 regular meals and snacks everyday, they still benefit greatly from the immunities and so much more!