Breastfeeding is a topic I hold dear to my heart. Breaking free from a generation of formula milk, more and more people this day and age are beginning to be converted to this practise. As a mother takes on the challenges of breastfeeding, the goal is usually to last at least 6 months. Unfortunately, the benefits of breastfeeding toddlers is less known and under encouraged. Recently I came across an article in www.theaustralian.news.com.au entitled "Price of Premature Weaning". Here is a statement that we should all take to heart:
The World Health Organisation (WHO) currently recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a child's life and continued breastfeeding with adequate complementary foods up to two years or beyond.
Another part of the article I would like to highlight:
"Gribble's study, which was presented at the Australian Breastfeeding Association's international conference in Hobart this week, found that when children were asked, nearly all said they breastfed because they loved it.
"Children made comments like: 'I like cuddling Mummy, it's my treat', or breastmilk tastes 'as good as chocolate' and 'better than ice-cream'," she says."
The idea of breastfeeding toddlers is still branded as a negative thing. The following are some discouraging remarks I've heard with regards to my efforts in breastfeeding my toddler:
- "So big boy already, still breastfeeding? Shame, shame"
- "You still got milk ah?"
- "I don't think your milk is nutritious anymore."
If you are breastfeeding a toddler, I'm sure there are many more derogatory remarks you can add to the list. Anyway, my reason for writing today is to cheer on these mothers who are fighting the odds. Let us dwell on the wonderful feeling of cuddling our toddlers and know we are STILL giving them the best. When the days get tough and people get you down, try to hear the voice of the little child who said:
- "I like cuddling Mummy, it's my treat"
- "Breastmilk tastes as good as chocolate and better than ice-cream"
Breastfeeding and health benefits as published in the aforementioned article:
- Protective effect against gastrointestinal infection
- Lower incidence of otitis media ('glue ear' or ear infection)
- Reduced risk of respiratory infections
- Protective against sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- Decreased chance of being overweight or obese
- Breastfeeding duration linked to intelligence
- Protective against some risk factors for cardiovascular disease
- Lower risk of coeliac disease
- Lower risk of developing some childhood cancers
- Reduced risk of breast cancer, endometrial cancer and ovarian cancer
- Lower risk of fracture (hip, vertebrae & humerus) -- an effect that increases with each child
- Lower risk of rheumatoid arthritis
- Greater amount of weight loss and no return of weight after weaning
Source: Report on Breastfeeding in NSW 2004 -- NSW Centre for Public Health Nutrition