13 August 2012

Why I choose to Breast Feed (STILL!)

In honor of World Breastfeeding week (Aug 1-7: which has now passed) I wanted to share this .
Six months old and going strong...
Not that i owe anyone any explanation about why I have chosen to breast feed my daughter well into her early twenties, (i kid, i kid), but I am quite surprised at how many well educated people are so uninformed. The other day a single 35 year old man (and friend of mine) tried to tell me it was time to wean. I'm glad he is an expert on the subject matter and that this was any of his business, so while I smiled and sort of just shrugged him off, here is some information I would like to share:

First, the obvious, My body, my choice.  This is my life, and if i choose to continue to eat a flawlessly healthy diet (most of the time), abstain from alcohol (all of the time), and refuse to spend the night away from my daughter in order to ensure she gets her daily nutritional needs from me, then who are you to argue?  Do YOU have to offer up YOUR breast? Did you give up those tasty (insert ANY dairy by product in here) for the sake of your child who for whatever reason, cannot tolerate milk protein??  No, i didn't think so.

Second, the less than obvious. Here is some information i bet you didn't know in regards to the babies health. I know *most* people realize that there is a big push for breast feeding for at least six months for increased health reasons, but the benefits continue even past the first year

"Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended up to six months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond."
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics:
"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 psychological or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer." (AAP 2005)
"Breastfeeding beyond the first year offers considerable benefits to both mother and child and should continue as long as mutually desired….If the child is younger than two years of age, the child is at increased risk of illness if weaned." (AAFP 2001)
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
Not to mention the contributions to Intellectual Development, Social and Mental development, and the Child's overall health. 
Third, there are significant benefits to ME as well. The most obvious is weight loss. I make milk. It's like a super power. It also burns a lot of energy, and therefore calories. I eat a very healthy well balanced diet - a great topic for another post. I am the same weight that I was at age 14, my freshman year in high school. The only time I struggled with weight was my late teens and 20's - especially in college when i did not practice good eating habits.  Also the longer i lactate, the lower my risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and a decreased risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Still not convinced? The worldwide average length of breastfeeding each child is about FOUR years. do i plan to nurse [Sloan] this long?  Probably not because I don't want to nurse more than one at a time (though many do). But shouldn't this be MY choice? And despite any hangups and opinions the outside world has, is it really anyone else's business? (i mean other than the obvious response, in that I have made it your business by writing about it).

I have been so blessed to have had the opportunity to breastfeed my daughter at work during my lunch break ( or whatever time is most convenient to her needs due to an incredibly flexible schedule.). I am so blessed to have had only minor issues with breastfeeding and no significant issues with my supply. And I am grateful that my body and Sloan's natural reflexes did exactly what we needed them to do.
And if you tried and failed, I truly feel sad for you to have missed out on something so wonderful.  but you can't beat yourself up over it..  If you just chose not to, i don't judge you, but it does make me a little bit sad for you and your child. For me, choosing to become a mother meant sacrificing my body for however long that means. For the record, I don't follow attachment parenting philosophies nor do i co-sleep (i have trouble sharing a King sized bed with one person let alone two)

Nursing a toddler could be seen as a bit taboo, or even socially unacceptable. But while I have answered for you the "why" if you so object, then please tell me "Why Not?".
Nursing an acrobat!


8 comments:

  1. Good for you! I agree - your body, your child - your decision (and a good one at that!).

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  2. Because of health issues after the arrival of my son, I wasn't allowed to nurse (implications of meds), but we tried as soon as we got the green light & continued to try & to supplement what I couldn't produce for all of the reasons you just shared!!! Bravo to you for doing something so wonderful for Sloan - I'm a bit jealous to be honest & wish I'd been more successful, but it wasn't for a lack of trying or wanting! There are so many long term benefits to breast feeding....given that everything seems to be working in your favor to continue, then I applaud you for continuing as long as it makes sense! Anyone who doesn't understand is simply uneducated in this area - and as with anything else, should educate themselves before offering out their advice on ANY subject!

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    1. oh belinda! i am sorry it was so hard for you but i do commend you for your efforts and I know you did the best you could. Just the fact that you didn't give up and tried speaks to that. Sometimes the unexpected happens or personal health interferes ( obviously you have to keep yourself healthy in order to care for an infant). Thank you for your support.

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  3. I have been meaning to message you about exactly this subject. Your blogs are so helpful by the way!!! I too am still nursing/pumping and really have no plans to stop, but the pediatrician at Blakely's one year checkup was really pushing whole milk. I've read so much about how dairy is not good for adults because it causes such an insulin spike and the hundreds of negative effects from that, so why does every pediatrician recommend whole milk at age 1? I totally believe that they need the fat for brain development, but what about all the sugar in milk that cause the insulin spikes? So confused. And I don't think it's a coincidence that I share the same things that you mentioned: best weight I've ever been, perfect diet, etc. If she really needs whole milk, of course I'll give it to her, but I'm just not convinced. Any advice? (Lindsey Hillman)

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    1. Based on what my sister has been teaching me (she is a nutritionist), cow's milk is absolute crap as are the byproducts. i plan to blog about this tomorrow or wednesday so look for that, and i'll get to writing it now :) and you are right, you look amazing!! It's amazing what having a baby has done for me in all positive ways

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  4. Hallelujah! You know how I feel about extended breastfeeding. :) You're just getting started. LOL. I'm just hoping my breastfeeding journey is drawing to a close with Miss Bettie, but who knows? Just know that you don't really enter freakdom until your child is at least 3. ;) I've been breastfeeding constantly for 3 years and 8 months, and if Maddox is like Bettie, I'll be nursing until I'm 40. ...and I'm okay with that.

    Good for you, Mama!

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  5. Hey girl! I'm glad to see that you are still going strong! I nursed my children for 12 and 13 months, respectively. I don't know many moms at all who nursed their kids for that long, which I found odd. I do feel like there are tons of benefits of breastfeeding. My children are both very smart and rarely sick and they just seem more mature and well-behaved than other children their age. I attribute a lot of their success to the fact that I breastfed them each for at least a year, which was the time frame recommended by our pediatrician. I realize that I'm biased, but I do think that breast milk does amazing things for children and their development! Like the others who commented, I applaud you.

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  6. We are still nursing and loving it! (Although, it is definitely challenging at times with a squirmy toddler). :) I'd like to keep nursing in the mornings and nights until Jade is at least 18 months old, but who knows - maybe I'll go until her 2nd birthday. I can't stand cow's milk, so she's getting goat milk during the day at school. I've enjoyed having a break from the pump, but I'm glad we didn't wean completely! She still enjoys it and so do I. Good for you for keeping it up too!

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