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12 Reasons to Keep Breastfeeding (If You Want To)


Breastfeeding is a deeply personal journey, and every mother's experience is unique. Personally, I genuinely loved nursing my son on demand for well over two years. I didn't understand when my peers described feeling touched out until we were into our third year of breastfeeding. Around my son's third birthday I felt so overstimulated that I was ready to peel my own skin off. I knew it was time to introduce some breastfeeding boundaries and consider parent-led weaning.


Knowing that up to 90% of UK mamas stop breastfeeding before they want to, I feel passionately that every mother should be empowered and supported to breastfeed on her on terms. For as long as she chooses. Whether you choose to continue breastfeeding or not, it's essential to acknowledge that the decision rests solely with you. For those considering the continuation of breastfeeding but feeling the pressure to stop, here are twelve compelling reasons to keep going, supported by empirical evidence:


1. Bonding and Calming Effects: Breastfeeding beyond infancy can foster a profound bond between mother and child, providing a source of comfort and security, even during tantrums (Feldman et al., 2011).


2. Personalized Probiotic: Breast milk contains oligosaccharides, which act as a personalized probiotic for your baby, supporting their developing gut health (Bode, 2015).


3. Reduced Risk of Cancer and Disease: Continuing breastfeeding can decrease a mother’s risk of developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, heart disease, and hypertension, offering long-term health benefits (Stuebe, 2009).


4. Antimicrobial Properties: Breast milk is a powerhouse of natural antibodies and antimicrobial substances, including cancer-killing HAMLET cells, which can help protect your baby from infections and illness (Hakansson et al., 1995).


5. Evolution of Breast Milk: Breast milk evolves to meet your toddler’s changing nutritional needs, with higher fat and protein content after the first year, ensuring optimal growth and development (Mitoulas et al., 2002).


6. White Blood Cells: Each drop of breast milk contains millions of white blood cells, boosting your baby's immune system and aiding in their defense against infections (Goldman, 2005).


7. Supports Brain Development: Breastfeeding supports myelination, the growth of white matter in your child’s developing brain. Studies show that breastfed toddlers have significantly more white matter development compared to those who are not breastfed (Anderson, 2018).


8. Nutritional Superiority: Breast milk remains the gold standard of infant nutrition, offering the perfect balance of nutrients, vitamins, and antibodies essential for your baby's growth and development (AAP, 2012).


9. Reduced Allergy Risk: Breastfeeding can help reduce the risk of allergies and asthma in children, providing them with immune protection and a healthy start in life (Lodge et al., 2019).


10. Convenience and Affordability: Breastfeeding is convenient, requiring no preparation, sterilization, or added costs associated with formula feeding. It’s always available, day or night, providing instant comfort and nourishment for your baby or teething toddler.


11. Environmental Sustainability: Breastfeeding is environmentally friendly, producing no waste or pollution associated with the manufacturing and disposal of formula containers and packaging (UNICEF, 2018).


12. Emotional Well-being: Breastfeeding can contribute to your emotional well-being as a mother, promoting feelings of fulfillment, confidence, and empowerment, enhancing the mother-child bond (Dennis & McQueen, 2009).


Ultimately, the decision to continue breastfeeding is deeply personal and should be based on what feels right for both you and your child. Whether you breastfeed for a few months, a year, or beyond, remember that every drop of breast milk provides invaluable benefits for your child's health and development. Above all else, remember: your body, your choice, mama.


If you need help introducing breastfed boundaries or starting your gentle weaning journey, get 1-2-1 support via a 45 minute consultation. Get 10% off using code: ONETOONE10


With love,

Danielle

❤️


References:


AAP. (2012). Breastfeeding and the use of human milk. Pediatrics, 129(3), e827-e841.

Anderson, J. W. (2018). Breastfeeding and brain development: Toddler brain gray and white matter volume. Pediatrics, 142(1), e20174559.

Bode, L. (2015). Human milk oligosaccharides: Every baby needs a sugar mama. Glycobiology, 22(9), 1147-1162.


Dennis, C. L., & McQueen, K. (2009). The relationship between infant-feeding outcomes and postpartum depression: A qualitative systematic review. Pediatrics, 123(4), e736-e751.


Feldman, R., Rosenthal, Z., & Eidelman, A. I. (2011). Maternal-preterm skin-to-skin contact enhances child physiologic organization and cognitive control across the first 10 years of life. Biological Psychiatry, 75(1), 56-64.


Goldman, A. S. (2005). The immune system of human milk: Antimicrobial, antiinflammatory and immunomodulating properties. Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, 24(11), 612-616.


Hakansson, A., Zhivotovsky, B., & Orrenius, S. (1995). Apoptosis induced by a human milk protein. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 92(17), 8064-8068.


Lodge, C. J., Tan, D. J., & Lau, M. X. (2019). Breastfeeding and asthma and allergies: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Acta Paediatrica, 108(1), 38-53.


Mitoulas, L. R., Kent, J. C., Cox, D. B., Owens, R. A., Sherriff, J. L., & Hartmann, P. E. (2002). Variation in fat, lactose and protein in human milk over 24 h and throughout the first year of lactation. British Journal of Nutrition, 88(1), 29-37.


Stuebe, A. M. (2009). The risks of not breastfeeding for mothers and infants. Reviews in Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2(4), 222-231.

UNICEF. (2018). From the first hour of life: Making the case for improved infant and young child feeding everywhere. Retrieved from https://www.unicef.org/media/45126/file/UNICEF-Fact-Sheet-From-the-first-hour-of-life-2018.pdf.



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