“Tell me again how breastfeeding my toddler is just for myself? Doing loads of laundry with a child hanging off my breast is just for me right? Breastfeeding a monkey-swinging, gymnastics-tumbling, handstand-attempting child while your nipple is in their mouth is what us self-absorbed mothers are constantly longing for!
No one is breastfeeding their toddler or older child for themselves. It is for their child alone. I repeat: it is for their child alone. No one is forcing their child to breastfeed and not ween.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love breastfeeding—the bond and those quiet moments when my toddler is nursing and cuddling with me fills my heart with joy. The fact I can cure any tears in a matter of seconds, knowing that they are taking in antibodies and immunities that are tailor-made for them, is so amazing. However, for whatever reason, some people have gotten it into their heads that mothers who practice natural-term weening are doing it for themselves and are just not willing ‘to cut the cord.’ Those people are wrong. Breastmilk continues to provide antibodies, immunities, white blood cells, and hormones that are so important for a child to grow.
Breastmilk doesn’t lose its benefits with age. In fact, ‘human milk in the second year postpartum contained significantly higher concentrations of total protein, lactoferrin, lysozyme and Immunoglobulin A, than milk bank samples, and significantly lower concentrations of zinc, calcium, iron and oligosaccharides,’ (Perrin, 2016).
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)
Pretty awesome, right?
Besides all the benefits mentioned above, breastmilk provides all the immunoglobulins the immune system takes to develop, which takes around 5 years.
Humans are also the most immature at birth and need the most intensive caregiving for the longest duration to reach maturity (three decades!). Breastfeeding continues to be important for years as the child’s brain and body slowly continues to grow.
Let’s not forget that breastfeeding is more than just food. It provides comfort, it is a 100% all-natural anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, medicine, sleep aid, and more—not to mention the absolute best bonding mechanism.
Call me crazy, but maybe that’s why the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding until at least 2 years and beyond? Maybe that’s why the natural weening age is between 2-7 years old?
So again, we aren’t continuing to breastfeed past infancy for ourselves. We aren’t scared ‘to cut the cord.’ We are doing it for our child’s optimal health and comfort.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Melissa Ostroth, 34, of Toledo, Ohio. Follow her journey on Instagram here and Facebook here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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