10 Popular Myths About Extended Breastfeeding
For many people, extended breastfeeding is deemed to be any breastfeeding that happens after the age of one year.
Many women feed their babies for two years and beyond for a number of reasons.
In many cultures weaning a baby from the breast does not happen until the baby is between two and four years of age. However, in some western societies extended breastfeeding can be met with raised eyebrows and unnecessary negativity.
Here are 10 popular myths about extended breastfeeding. As a long-term breast-feeder (two years and three months) I can vouch for every single one of these.
1. Milk loses its nutritional value after the one year mark
False. Breast milk will have the same nutritional qualities for as long as a woman breastfeeds. The child’s diet will change and they will take vitamins and minerals from other solid foods but breast milk will remain the same nutritionally.
2. With time the breast milk loses it’s immunity qualities
This is also false. Much like with number one, breast milk stays the very same for as long as a woman chooses to nurse. It continues to protect your child from viruses and disease through your immunity that is passed to the child through the breast milk.
3. Surely you can just pump the breast milk and give it in a beaker?
Breastfeeding is so much more than milk. It is a means to comfort your child much like pacifiers and your child’s favourite blanky.
4. Your child will remember and this will make them uncomfortable
Yes, your child is likely to remember breastfeeding on some level. They may remember it as a special cuddle or with fondness as something that soothed them as a smaller child. Children who breast feed have no reason to feel uncomfortable though. They see breasts as pacifiers and nothing else. They do not associate breasts in a sexualised manner at this age.
5. Weaning is traumatic for the mother and child
Everyone’s weaning journey is different but for most mothers it happens without any major trauma. Just like you never imagined your child potty training or talking, it is a milestone that happens. Feeds lessen and most children naturally wean on some level. It will happen when you are both ready.
6. It’s abusive
This is difficult to address because it’s such a horrible thing to say. But no – breastfeeding is natural, normal and nobody is being forced to do anything. It’s disgusting to suggest it.
7. Long-term breastfeeding creates overly-dependent shy children
Absolutely not. Quite the opposite in most cases. The sense of security and bond of attachment usually leads to fiercely confident and independent children who know their needs will be met.
8. If Baby can ask for it they are breastfeeding for too long
In that case we shouldn’t give our children fruit, toys or books. RIDICULOUS.
9. Breastfeeding a child with teeth is painful
It can be a little scary when your children’s teeth pop up but with a good latch and provided your child is eating other foods, teeth should not be an issue. If your child is biting they are not latched properly or feeding.
10. Breastfeeding long term will affect your child’s sleep
Sleep is developmental. Some kids sleep better than others. Some breastfed children sleep better than bottle-fed children and vice versa. It is not a reason to fear long-term breastfeeding.
Written by Tracey Quinn staff writer at FFHQ who also blogs at www.loveofliving.ie.