Today, the goal has been met. Today marks 18 months of breastfeeding Diva!
The sad part about this: only 17% of women breastfeed up to a year. That’s less than one in five mothers!!!
According to Parenting Magazine, “A full 57% of American’s disapprove of public breastfeeding (according to a survey by the American Dietetic Association).”
But Diva and I battled through this. We got plenty of stares, rude comments, eye rolls, and jokes from this 57%. We still get them, as she is still nursing. And, that’s okay.
Today also marks 18 months of having Direct TV, see my birthing story; 18 months of researching everything from medicines and breastfeeding to funny colored poop; 18 months of watching my baby go from 6 pounds 8 ounces to running around my house destroying everything in reaching distance; 18 months of being a first time mom; 18 months of barely sleeping; and so much more!
But why do many mothers stop before 18 months?
Yes, this has been hard. It was a goal I wasn’t sure we were going to make many times throughout the last 18 months.
Could “this is hard” be the only reason?
My guess is no. Some babies have trouble latching (Diva had a tongue tie clipped twice), work schedules are hectic and overpower pumping time, lack of support at home and in the workplace, and medical reasons are all causes of a mother not making it to the first year, let alone 18 months.
Another big reason, many new moms aren’t educated or prepared for breastfeeding the way they should be.
Our society pushes formula. This is mostly because formula can be sold. It makes MONEY! Human milk is not sold. It doesn’t have monetary value. To breastfeeding mothers, human milk is priceless. Doctors push formula. Formula companies push formula. Our statistics and growth charts are based on formula fed babies, therefore making it look like many breastfed babies are underweight. A Babytalk survey said “46 percent of moms said that breastfeeding required more time than they’d expected and 56 percent wished that they had been able to nurse longer than they did.”
Many women do not see the benefits of nursing a toddler. This has been a big one to combat in the last few months for me and Diva. But, there are multiple benefits to nursing a child over 12 months of age, including the continued nutrition the milk brings, the comfort and security the child finds, and the closeness it keeps long after baby has turned into a busy body!
Many mothers fear this continued nursing will cause problems. But the La Leche League says differently, saying, “Although some experts say a toddler who is not weaned will have difficulty becoming independent, it’s usually the fearful, clingy children that have been pushed into situations requiring too much independence too soon. A breastfeeding toddler is having his dependency needs met. The closeness availability of the mother through breastfeeding is one of the best ways to help toddlers grow emotionally.”
So by breastfeeding your toddler, the toddler is more likely to be independent and mature faster than one pushed away too soon.
La Leche League goes on to say that breastfeeding can help toddlers understand discipline as well: “Discipline is teaching a child about what is right and good, not punishment for normal toddler behavior. To help a toddler with discipline, he needs to feel good about himself and his world.Breastfeeding helps a toddler feel good about himself because his needs are being met.”
Which makes perfect sense!!
And of course, breastfeeding a toddler carries with it from infant-hood “the immunities and vitamins to protect your infant from illness and allergies.”
Research has also been done on the relationship between breastfeeding and cognitive development, which has shown that breastfed children have higher IQ scores than those who were not breastfed or nursed for only a short time.
And in 2010, Oddy said, “A shorter duration of breastfeeding may be a predictor of adverse mental health outcomes throughout the developmental trajectory of childhood and early adolescence.”
Elizabeth Baldwin, in Extended Breastfeeding and the Law, says “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.”
She continues, saying, “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.” Kellymom agrees, saying that “children who achieve independence at their own pace are more secure in that independence than children forced into independence prematurely.
Did I mention that you as the mother also benefit!!
According to the research found by KellyMom, extended nursing:
- reduces the risk of breast cancer
- reduces risk of ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, and endometrial cancer
- protects against osteoporosis
- reduces risk of rheumatoid arthritis
- reduces risk of cardiovascular disease
- decreases insulin requirements in diabetic women
- decreases risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus
- lose weight easier
- and push back threats of Post-Partum Depression