Reasons for Breastfeeding after the 1st year ?

Discussion in 'Breastfeeding' started by bebe80, Feb 25, 2008.

  1. bebe80

    bebe80 New Member

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    I was just wondering what the reasons are for breastfeeding past 1 year of age? When I was in the hospital delivering my daughter the nurses recommend breast feeding for only the first year.

    What are the benefits of breastfeeding a toddler (in your opinion)? Or why do you breastfeed past the recommended age? Do you feel like their are any negatives to breastfeeding a child past the recommended age? For instance, does a 3 year old get teased by his peers?

    I'm looking for testimonials on why women in this country (USA or Canada) breastfeed past the recommended age (in this country). After all, this isn't a third world country where basic nutritional needs can not be meet because of inadequate food supplies. What do you and your toddler gain? Do you breastfeed a toddler in public? Do you have any funny stories to share?

    I'd just like to understand more from people who have been through this. It's research for work.

    Thanks

    Bebe
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2008
  2. mommymelly

    mommymelly Amity's Focus Member

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    The benefits of breastfeeding are the same no matter how long you nurse.
  3. bebe80

    bebe80 New Member

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    what are those benefits? Why do you do it?
  4. JeniLyn

    JeniLyn Guest

    Well, I nursed my daughter for 18 months (she weaned while I was pregnant with my son) and my son just weaned in January (on his own) and he'll be three next month. No, he didn't get teased by his peers..two years old couldn't care less if their playmate nurse. Honestly, I would be worried about what a child sees/hears if at two he or she would even think to make fun of a nursing child.

    As for "past the recommended age", I think you (and many health officials, unfortunately) have misunderstood the actual recommendations. The official recommendation, from the AAP, is: "Breastfeeding
    should be continued for at least the first year of
    life and beyond for as long as mutually desired
    by mother and child." (on Page 499 of this release from the AAP: http://www.healthychildcare.org/pdf/BFPolicy.pdf)

    This is another quote from the same AAP release (also page 499):
    "Increased duration of breastfeeding confers
    significant health and developmental benefits
    for the child and the mother, especially in
    delaying return of fertility (thereby promoting
    optimal intervals between births)"

    and
    "There is no upper limit to the duration of
    breastfeeding and no evidence of psychologic
    or developmental harm from breastfeeding
    into the third year of life or longer." (Page 500)

    As for what benefits did *I* see?
    *certainly child spacing.
    *It was very comforting to Noah
    *There were a few times, for short periods, when I would have weaned him, but he nursed so seldom (once a day), and it did provide him with comfort he still seemed to need, so I continued.

    That's what I can think of off the top of my head. He never bit; he's very, very easy going and I probably COULD have weaned him, but I was GLAD to allow him to wean when he was ready.

    IMO, I think that release would be worth reading.

    Jeni
  5. JeniLyn

    JeniLyn Guest

    More recommendations from the World Health Organization:

    The World Health Organization's infant feeding recommendation
    As stated in the Global Strategy on Infant and Young Child Feeding (A55/15, paragraph 10):

    Breastfeeding is an unequalled way of providing ideal food for the healthy growth and development of infants; it is also an integral part of the reproductive process with important implications for the health of mothers. As a global public health recommendation, infants should be exclusively breastfed(1) for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health(2). Thereafter, to meet their evolving nutritional requirements, infants should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods while breastfeeding continues for up to two years of age or beyond. Exclusive breastfeeding from birth is possible except for a few medical conditions, and unrestricted exclusive breastfeeding results in ample milk production.

    From here: WHO | The World Health Organization's infant feeding recommendation

    You are wondering why women breastfeed past the "recommended age." I'm truly not trying to be snarky, but if this is really for work, I would hope that you would do better research into the actual recommendations besides simply what the nurses told you.

    Jeni
  6. heythereheather

    heythereheather A reading family

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    My extended nursers have never been teased by peers. In my experience, 3 year olds aren't really capable of much teasing, anyway.
  7. herc

    herc Amity's Focus Member

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    are you writing a paper or what?
  8. momto3

    momto3 Amity's Focus Member

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    This is a wonderful, informative website that is very helpful:

    kellymom.com :: Extended Breastfeeding Fact Sheet
    Nursing toddlers benefit NUTRITIONALLY

    * Although there has been little research done on children who breastfeed beyond the age of two, the available information indicates that breastfeeding continues to be a valuable source of nutrition and disease protection for as long as breastfeeding continues.

    * "Human milk expressed by mothers who have been lactating for >1 year has significantly increased fat and energy contents, compared with milk expressed by women who have been lactating for shorter periods. During prolonged lactation, the fat energy contribution of breast milk to the infant diet might be significant."
    -- Mandel 2005

    * "Breast milk continues to provide substantial amounts of key nutrients well beyond the first year of life, especially protein, fat, and most vitamins."
    -- Dewey 2001

    * In the second year (12-23 months), 448 mL of breastmilk provides:
    o 29% of energy requirements
    o 43% of protein requirements
    o 36% of calcium requirements
    o 75% of vitamin A requirements
    o 76% of folate requirements
    o 94% of vitamin B12 requirements
    o 60% of vitamin C requirements
    -- Dewey 2001

    * Studies done in rural Bangladesh have shown that breastmilk continues to be an important source of vitamin A in the second and third year of life.
    -- Persson 1998

    * It's not uncommon for weaning to be recommended for toddlers who are eating few solids. However, this recommendation is not supported by research. According to Sally Kneidel in "Nursing Beyond One Year" (New Beginnings, Vol. 6 No. 4, July-August 1990, pp. 99-103.):

    Some doctors may feel that nursing will interfere with a child's appetite for other foods. Yet there has been no documentation that nursing children are more likely than weaned children to refuse supplementary foods. In fact, most researchers in Third World countries, where a malnourished toddler's appetite may be of critical importance, recommend continued nursing for even the severely malnourished (Briend et al, 1988; Rhode, 1988; Shattock and Stephens, 1975; Whitehead, 1985). Most suggest helping the malnourished older nursing child not by weaning but by supplementing the mother's diet to improve the nutritional quality of her milk (Ahn and MacLean. 1980; Jelliffe and Jelliffe, 1978) and by offering the child more varied and more palatable foods to improve his or her appetite (Rohde, 1988; Tangermann, 1988; Underwood, 1985).

    References
    Nursing toddlers are SICK LESS OFTEN

    * The American Academy of Family Physicians notes that children weaned before two years of age are at increased risk of illness (AAFP 2001).

    * Nursing toddlers between the ages of 16 and 30 months have been found to have fewer illnesses and illnesses of shorter duration than their non-nursing peers (Gulick 1986).

    * "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. (Goldman 1983, Goldman & Goldblum 1983, Institute of Medicine 1991).

    * Per the World Health Organization, "a modest increase in breastfeeding rates could prevent up to 10% of all deaths of children under five: Breastfeeding plays an essential and sometimes underestimated role in the treatment and prevention of childhood illness." [emphasis added]

    References
    Nursing toddlers have FEWER ALLERGIES

    * Many studies have shown that one of the best ways to prevent allergies and asthma is to breastfeed exclusively for at least 6 months and continue breastfeeding long-term after that point.

    Breastfeeding can be helpful for preventing allergy by:
    1. reducing exposure to potential allergens (the later baby is exposed, the less likely that there will be an allergic reaction),
    2. speeding maturation of the protective intestinal barrier in baby's gut,
    3. coating the gut and providing a barrier to potentially allergenic molecules,
    4. providing anti-inflammatory properties that reduce the risk of infections (which can act as allergy triggers).

    References
    Nursing toddlers are SMART

    * Extensive research on the relationship between cognitive achievement (IQ scores, grades in school) and breastfeeding has shown the greatest gains for those children breastfed the longest.

    References
    Nursing toddlers are WELL ADJUSTED SOCIALLY

    * According to Sally Kneidel in "Nursing Beyond One Year" (New Beginnings, Vol. 6 No. 4, July-August 1990, pp. 99-103.):

    "Research reports on the psychological aspects of nursing are scarce. One study that dealt specifically with babies nursed longer than a year showed a significant link between the duration of nursing and mothers' and teachers' ratings of social adjustment in six- to eight-year-old children (Ferguson et al, 1987). In the words of the researchers, 'There are statistically significant tendencies for conduct disorder scores to decline with increasing duration of breastfeeding.'"

    * According to Elizabeth N. Baldwin, Esq. in "Extended Breastfeeding and the Law":
    "Breastfeeding is a warm and loving way to meet the needs of toddlers and young children. It not only perks them up and energizes them; it also soothes the frustrations, bumps and bruises, and daily stresses of early childhood. In addition, nursing past infancy helps little ones make a gradual transition to childhood."

    * Baldwin continues: "Meeting a child's dependency needs is the key to helping that child achieve independence. And children outgrow these needs according to their own unique timetable." Children who achieve independence at their own pace are more secure in that independence then children forced into independence prematurely.

    References
    Nursing a toddler is NORMAL

    * The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that "Breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child... Increased duration of breastfeeding confers significant health and developmental benefits for the child and the mother... There is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychologic or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer." (AAP 2005)

    * The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends that breastfeeding continue throughout the first year of life and that "Breastfeeding beyond the first year offers considerable benefits to both mother and child, and should continue as long as mutually desired." They also note that "If the child is younger than two years of age, the child is at increased risk of illness if weaned." (AAFP 2001)

    * A US Surgeon General has stated that it is a lucky baby who continues to nurse until age two. (Novello 1990)

    * The World Health Organization emphasizes the importance of nursing up to two years of age or beyond (WHO 1992, WHO 2002).

    * Scientific research by Katherine A. Dettwyler, PhD shows that 2.5 to 7.0 years of nursing is what our children have been designed to expect (Dettwyler 1995).

    References [see also position statements supporting breastfeeding]
    MOTHERS also benefit from nursing past infancy

    * Extended nursing delays the return of fertility in some women by suppressing ovulation (References).

    * Breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast cancer (References). Studies have found a significant inverse association between duration of lactation and breast cancer risk.

    * Breastfeeding reduces the risk of ovarian cancer (References).

    * Breastfeeding reduces the risk of uterine cancer (References).

    * Breastfeeding reduces the risk of endometrial cancer (References).

    * Breastfeeding protects against osteoporosis. During lactation a mother may experience decreases of bone mineral. A nursing mom's bone mineral density may be reduced in the whole body by 1 to 2 percent while she is still nursing. This is gained back, and bone mineral density may actually increase, when the baby is weaned from the breast. This is not dependent on additional calcium supplementation in the mother's diet. (References).

    * Breastfeeding reduces the risk of rheumatoid arthritis. (References).

    * Breastfeeding has been shown to decrease insulin requirements in diabetic women (References).

    * Breastfeeding moms tend to lose weight easier (References).



    Page last modified: 01/04/2006
    Written: 3/12/98

    Also Extended Breastfeeding References for your research:

    kellymom.com :: Extended Breastfeeding References

    A little Q & A:


    Extended breastfeeding: Are there still health benefits?

    by Debbi Donovan, IBCLC (see more from this expert)

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    Q

    I am a mother of three breastfed children. Once my children reached the age of one, my family, friends and the general public began to give glances of disapproval. Is there a reason to nurse past one year of age?


    A

    Many moms wonder if there are really benefits to nursing a baby past his first birthday. In the United States, most babies are weaned before they turn one. We are surprised to see toddlers and even older children at the breast, though this is commonplace in other parts of the world.

    The natural time of weaning will vary from child to child. In cultures where children are allowed to nurse as long as they want it has been found that natural weaning takes place between three and four years of age. Extended nursing seems to be the human norm.

    In this culture, we often see breastfeeding only as a means of providing optimal nutrition coupled with immunological protection. Breastfeeding provides much more than just nutrition. Toddlers really enjoy nursing -- they don't nurse for milk alone. Breastfeeding soothes your child. It comforts him when he is tired, sick or hurt. Nursing is your baby's way of touching base with you as he busily explores his world. Parents often worry that their child will become clingy and dependent if they are nursed for an extended period of time. Providing your little one with this loving and secure base actually helps him to become independent.

    The health benefits of breastfeeding do extend throughout the entire time you nurse. A longer duration of breastfeeding has been found to be directly associated with not only fewer infant illnesses, but subsequently, fewer toddler illnesses. (Gulick EE, 1986. The effects of breast-feeding on toddler health. Pediatr Nurs 12(1):51-54)

    Mothers also benefit from extended nursing. You continue to benefit from the hormones of breastfeeding. The "mothering hormone," prolactin, relaxes you, while oxytocin stimulates loving , nurturing behavior. As mothers of nursing toddlers know, this can be very important to your mental health and well-being. Life with a toddler is not always easy! You also benefit from the intimacy that nursing provides. Taking time out of a busy day to cuddle is as important to moms as it is to their babies.

    Extended nursing may delay the return of fertility by continuing to suppress ovulation in some women. Breastfeeding also provides protection against these diseases:

    * ovarian cancer (Schneider AP, NE J Med, 1987)
    * uterine cancer (Brock KE, Med J Australia, 1989)
    * endometrial cancer (Petterson B et al, Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand, 1986)
    * osteoporosis (Blaauw R et al, SAMJ 1994). Breastfeeding also has been shown to decrease insulin requirements in diabetic women (Davies HA, British Med J, 1989).

    It is very helpful for moms who nurse past one year of age to surround themselves with a good support system. If your friends and family are not comfortable with extended nursing, you may find great support in the company of other nursing mothers at a La Leche League (LLL) meeting. Check your phone book or call 1-800-LA-LECHE for the name and phone number of a LLL leader in your area. Best wishes!
    Breastfeeding: Are there health benefits in nursing past one year of age?

    Why Mothers Nurse Their Children into Toddlerhood
    by Norma Jane Bumgarner
    Why Mothers Nurse Their Children into Toddlerhood - The Natural Child Project
  9. Korwynne

    Korwynne Mama of Miracles

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    my 3 year old absolutely does not get teased.
  10. pj and the bear

    pj and the bear New Member

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    Because you want to :D
  11. nakedbabytoes

    nakedbabytoes New Member

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    Wow! This is a great thread! My son just turned one 3 weeks ago, and I can't count the number of times I've been asked "are you still nursing him?". Like at the magical hour of midnight on November 21, he was supposed to stop nursing???? Even my relatively sensitive 8 year old asked me the day after his first birthday to "do that downstairs" since Jason didn't "NEED" mommy's milk anymore and could drink cow's milk now. Obviously, I was speechless......
    What gives? Like isn't that why us women have breasts???? I am in no hurry, and it is nice to have info about how great mommy's milk continues to be in the first, second, third, and even forth year of life!
    Thanks mamas!
  12. Radish4ever

    Radish4ever New Member

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    What a great thread with fabulous resources!!

    I nurse my 2 year old so he can still receive the antibodies and nutrition from my milk, plus we both truly enjoy the emotional bonding that just can't be replaced by anything else
  13. spu

    spu New Member

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    I bf my twin girls for 3 years, and I bf my DS throughout my pregnancy and we tandem nurse now. He's 2y 4m, and baby just turned 1. I did lots of research (kellymom.com is awesome, as is mothering.com...) and extended bf works for me. So many reasons, as listed in the great posts above.

    In an nutshell, I keep reminding myself that mother's milk, and the relationship that nursing builds, is the best thing for them. We have some health issues in our genes (who doesn't?) and I want to give them as much as possible to help with their health. Table food just doesn't compare.

    It also builds such a wonderful relationship - a feeling of inclusiveness, esp. when there are new babies in the mix. The older nursling is so welcoming to the new baby, and to mom, and it's just beautiful.

    Isn't it always the case where people assume on a baby's first birthday, the instantly should start drinking cow's milk? I got that all the time. Now people just leave me alone. LOL! But before, I used to get so angry and defensive - so I suppose you could just say "cow's milk doesn't agree with him..." and leave it at that, or you could say the WHO and AAP recommends at least 2 years, or you could say "our pedi said it's the best thing for him"... But the best thing is to shut them up or they'll keep asking "when are you going to stop?" and just say "it works for us"
  14. MooseyMama

    MooseyMama Lovin' my life!!!!

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    umm, why does this thread have 1200 views?????
  15. freedomlover

    freedomlover ReaderOfThreads

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    LOL

    &

    who was bebe?
  16. heythereheather

    heythereheather A reading family

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    Maybe because it gets bumped periodically, and we all open it again to see if it's interesting. I know I've opened it at least 10 times myself. ;)
  17. purplehaze

    purplehaze New Member

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    I breastfed my older daughter for 19 months and sometimes I wish I would have done it longer. At the time I was tandem nursing her with my younger daughter and I was getting so exhausted. I nursed them both for 5 months together and then I finally weaned my older daughter. My younger daughter is now 9 months and I am hoping to go at least 2 years of nursing with her.

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