You may have heard the term “extreme breastfeeding” banded about in the media lately. So, what exactly do they mean by “extreme breastfeeding”? I must admit, the first time I heard it, I had visions of mums throwing themselves out of planes or bungee jumping with a little one latched on, but no, apparently it means breastfeeding a child up until and after he has reached two years of age.
I take issue with the use of the word extreme—why all the judgement? There is certainly nothing extreme about it; using this term grabs headlines but it also makes people feel that they are doing something abnormal or shameful, when that is simply not the case. There are lots of reasons the World Health Organisation and the NHS recommend breastfeeding up until two years of age and beyond—there are many benefits both to mother and child.
Here are just a few of the benefits of breastfeeding:
- Breast milk supports your baby’s immune system and protects her against infections and illnesses: exclusively breastfeeding your child for at least four months, may reduce her risk of developing allergies and asthma, it will lower your infant’s risk of pneumonia, reduce the instance of diarrhea, and significantly nix the number of ear infections and digestive problems.
- Breastfeeding gives your baby comfort and a sense of security.
- Breastfeeding may help to soothe fussy babies and avert toddler tantrums.
The hormones in breast milk help rouse Baby in the morning and fall asleep quickly following nighttime feedings.
- Breastfeeding can help foster a bond between you and Baby.
- Breastfeeding lowers Mums risk of breast, endometrial, and ovarian cancer.
- Breastfeeding reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and rheumatoid arthritis in the mother.
- Breastfeeding can help you lose weight (by burning around 500 calories per day)!
My first child is coming up to six months and she is still breastfed exclusively. I love nursing her and both my husband and I can see the benefits it brings to her, both nutritionally and emotionally. I will stop when my child is naturally ready to stop, not when society or the media tell me I should stop.