Aug 11, 2009

Extended Breastfeeding?

Last week I had a thought “Ada makna ke menyusu anak ku yang dah pass infanthood?”. Then it was being followed up with the little poll I held on my blog titled “How long will you breastfeed your baby?”.

From the poll, it is evident that many of you mommies out there agree that extended breastfeeding is good. But do we really know why we agree to such idea? Do we really have a firm belief on this whole extended breastfeeding mission of ours? As for me, I am still determined to have some factual stuff to back-up my stand.

So I surfed the net and read on a few articles and I found out that I am not alone. Many moms wonder if there are really benefits to nursing a baby past his first birthday....and in the western world most babies are weaned before they turn one. Most Mat/Minah Salleh are surprised to see toddlers and even older children at the breast, though this is commonplace in other parts of the world.

And in Islam, the Quran states that a complete a breastfeeding journey is for the period from birth to the 2 years of age. Furthermore, the Quran did not state that is the maximum age of when the child should be wean off from breastmilk.

So I guess, it is safe to conclude that the natural time of weaning will vary from child to child. In cultures where children are allowed to nurse as long as they want it has been found that natural weaning takes place between three and four years of age. Extended nursing seems to be the human norm.

In the modern world, breastfeeding is only as a means of providing optimal nutrition coupled with immunological protection. However from my reading from many articles and websites of pro-breastfeeding, many believes that breastfeeding provides much more than just nutrition.

In reference to breastfeeding for toddlers, I found out that toddlers really enjoy nursing, they don't nurse for milk alone, toddlers crave for that soothing comfort from breastfeeding. It comforts him/her when he/she is tired, sick or hurt. Nursing is your baby's way of touching base with you as he busily explores his world. Parents often worry that their child will become clingy and dependent if they are nursed for an extended period of time. Providing your little one with this loving and secure base actually helps him to become independent.

Mothers also benefit from extended nursing. You continue to benefit from the hormones of breastfeeding. The "mothering hormone," prolactin, relaxes you, while oxytocin stimulates loving , nurturing behavior. As mothers of nursing toddlers know, this can be very important to your mental health and well-being. Life with a toddler is not always easy! You also benefit from the intimacy that nursing provides. Taking time out of a busy day to cuddle is as important to moms as it is to their babies.

But is that all to breastfeeding a toddler? Is that all what the toddler gets? Is that all a breastfeeding mother gets?

So I did some further reading and I found this article by Kathryn Orlinsky. Have a read of it and I think you’ll get on what I’m thinking here.

Comfort versus Nutrition By Kathryn Orlinsky

A very common statement about older nurslings is that they nurse mainly for comfort rather than for nutritional needs. Children who only nurse when upset or tired, or who eat a large quantity or variety of other foods often fall into this category. Is this an accurate depiction? To some extent, it is. As one mother suggested, if a child has nursed his fill, then hurts himself and asks to nurse again, this time only long enough to regain his composure, what else can that second nursing be for if not for comfort? Also, how much nutrition can a child get from nursing for a few minutes per day? These are valid questions. Nevertheless, I believe that it belittles human milk, the most nutritious substance in the world, as far as humans are concerned, to speak of it in these terms. Why disparage it this way? We never talk that way about other foods.

How much nutrition do we get from eating any small amounts of food? An older child with a varied diet doesn't need human milk in the same way that I don't need to eat apples. One apple doesn't contribute too many calories to my diet, but it's still a significant nutritional contribution. If I were writing down my diet to make sure that I got the right amount of nutrients and vitamins, I would certainly not omit the apple. It doesn't matter what my emotional state was when I ate the apple either, it is still nutritionally significant. I think of human milk the same way. It may or may not contribute a significant amount of calories and it may not be essential to sustain life, but on the days when a child consumes it, it is nutritionally significant. And that doesn't even include the other health benefits of human milk, such as protection from disease or gastrointestinal discomfort.

Why do we expect more from human milk than from any other food source? If a child doesn't appear to need human milk for survival, we as a society are quick to decide that breastfeeding is now unnecessary and that every effort should be made to wean the child.

We don't say that children should stop eating bananas once bananas are no longer a significant part of their diet. Bananas eaten once in a while are as nutritious as bananas eaten three times a day. In fact, you might even consider the rarely eaten banana to be more important nutritionally. Why do we not see that the same is true of human milk?

I think this whole 'comfort nursing' thing started because people were comparing breastfeeding with sucking on thumbs or pacifiers. In our culture, those things are more commonly used by older children than breastfeeding, and of course, they are sucked on purely for comfort; nothing comes out of them. Our society then assumes that breastfeeding children of the same age are suckling for the same reasons.

My last point is that we assume that children are nursing for comfort because they only ask to nurse when they are upset or tired. What if the reason they are upset in the first place is because they are experiencing low blood sugar or lacking some other nutritional element found in human milk? They don't realize that's what is wrong with them, and neither do we.

Under this scenario, despite what we see--child asks to nurse when she needs to be comforted--the true reason behind the nursing might be nutritional. By the same token, a younger child who gets all of his nutrition from the breast may also be nursing to comfort himself.

I realize that there are differences between nursing one-year-olds and nursing six -year-olds. Their nutritional and emotional needs are very different. However, I strongly feel that it is wrong to arbitrarily establish distinctions between 'comfort nursing' and 'nutritional nursing'. Breastfeeding will always be about both aspects; they cannot be separated.

(from "Keeping Abreast" October/December 1999 issue)

Okie now, from my earlier expression and then followed down to this article, I want to know of what my fellow breastfeeding friends out there thinks? Please leave a comment here and share your 2cents on “benefit of breastfeeding your toddler”. Really appreciate any sort of feed back on why do you think extended breastfeeding is good.


BluePixo said...

Breast feeding is recommended exclusively for the first 6 months of life, and then should be continued in combination with infant foods until age 1 year. If breast-feeding isn't possible or desired, bottle-feeding with iron-fortified infant formula is an acceptable alternative for the first 12 months of life.

Join BluePixo Entertainment - A place for mom and dad to share topics about parenthood and get a chance to win iPod nano

sarah said...

hi mama miya,gud info u hav there n conrgatulation both of us for being BF our lil one over 12 moths, mine is 16 moths already, sumtime wondering gak kan mcm u, then suddenly found this GREAT info thru ur blog :)As for me Im gonna let my baby nurse as looong as she wants to...bile lagi...suk dah besar panjang dah kawen suma...mana nak duk bwh ketik mak dah...huhuuu :)

Dayah said...

MMg setuju dgn mamamiya bab toddler BF ni more to comfort. Saya pernah tny kat PAkar LAktasi MMPS cum Paed Dr. BAlkees, sampai bila anak saya nak night feeding..adakah dia betul2 lapar tgh2 malam di usia setahun setengah ni.she said..actually they feel comfort of doing this. sbb tu dok mengongong lagi malam2..bukan lapar sgt pun..dan ummi dia pun terus relax and zzz whiel BF her.. :)

saya ada post enrty about susuuibu, hasil maklumat dari talk by Dr. Arip from UKM.dia ada ckp psl bila susu start 'kurang' nutrient dia. visist here. for details, leh tny dr.arip sendiri

rizza said...

mama miya...
saya sulu BF hassan sampai 3 thn 3 bulan...
dia berhenti menyusu dengan sendiri...

rasa nye.. bila dia diusia begitu.. mudah kita ber'diskusi' dengan dia.. dan dia lebih memahami ... tak de le meraung2 ke nak susu atau pun nak 24 jam ngan kita.... dia lebih berdikari... dan faham situasi...

bab nutrition lak.. selagi kita ibu nye makan yg berkhasiat.. jaga makan ... insya'allah dia juga mendapat khasiat tersebut.... disamping tu kita bagi dia makan makanan yg berkhasiat juga.. serta aktiviti fizikal lain...
saya memang tak minum kopi/nescafe/teh.. sebelum mengandungkan dia hingga la le ni.. dan sepanjang BF dia memang saya pastikan saya makan yg berkhasiat le.. termasuk makan calsium tambahan je...
saya tak rasa susuibu ni akan kurang khasiat bila anak dah besar[lebih 2thn].. ia bergantung pada pemakanan ibu juga... penting!

dan selagi kita ibu nye berusaha dan berfikiran positif.anak akan mendapat perasaan itu juga...secara tak langsung...

teruskan BF... semoga berjaya... selagi diizin kan ALLAH...insya'allah

Lady Qay said...

ija, my last commnt tah tak msuk kot..anyway got this info from an arcticle why digalakkan bf till at least 2thun...

"BF infants have Bifidobacteria as their predominant intestinal flora,besides other flora. But formula fed infants have only one tenth of the numbered among Bf infants. Once infants are introduced to solid fds, the counts of Enterococci, Enterobacteria rise sharply and the gut become colonized by Bacteroides.This major changes in Bf infants are not experienced by formula fed infants whose bacteria population remain stable when exposed to solids. the resembles becomes more complex until it resembles the microflora of an adult by age two. Bf infants/toddlers benefits more of this condition as it increase the protection against bad bacteria."

mirah said... far khadijah bf for 16months. Masa kakak nya dulu 11 months je then pregnant. Saya berpendapat selagi dia nak, bagi je lah. Tambah pula dia prem baby, better dia dapat good nutrients dr susu ibu. Tp mcm k rizza ckp lah, mak nya pun kena makan berkhasiat lah kan..

Mama-Miya a.k.a MiuMiu a.k.a "Jedi Hopeful" said...

tq all for the input.

i really want to BF miya as long as she wants it, but i wouldn't want people to be viewing it as an obscene thing, especially since i live in a western country.

will u all punye view, atleast i can justify my mission to many people then.

kalau ada lg info, do share...

yatie chomeyl said...

i takleh la nak kasi input like others since I pon baru je bljr nak bf my lil hero kan..but nayway, thanks 4 sharing. so nanti i xyah pikir2 pasal ni... i refer je entry u yang ni ;)

Liz said...

owh, x dpt nak komen lebih2 sbb baru bf anak utk 10 bln. tp mmg bercita-cita nak bf dia selama mungkin. rasa sayang je kalau cerai susu sbb bond yg terjalin tu mcm kuat je.

sometimes, tgk anak bkn minum yer yer nak bg hilang haus tp lebih mcm nak berkepit. nak kena peluk. syok tgk!

AlohaMolly said...

Hi Mama-Miya,

I have no scientific reason why it is's more of a gut feeling..deep down..

Actually I have a I am rather new in extended breastfeeding my first one weaned at 1 year old.

Currently my son is 1 yr 1 mth plus..and I am still pumping at work as usual...and am planning to continue to as long as I can preferably till 2 year old if God's willing...

But does that means I need to pump everyday for the next one year..hmm...or it is just feed at night but if I do not pump during daytime(when I work), will the milk stopped coming..hmm..

Mama-Miya a.k.a MiuMiu a.k.a "Jedi Hopeful" said...

hi molly, i think it is good that you continue expressing while you're away from your son. we all know the rule of "demand & supply". I found out from my cousins who stopped BFing after 6months & only BF at night, after while which is less than 3months, the milk did dried up. so i think better more then less, right? so just continue pumping at work.

keep up the good work!!

huds said...

yup..mamamiya...agreed with you too...skang ni Nuha dah start formula..terpaksa since susu drop sesangat..n sadly...susu i makin merudum gila sesangat ni sampai Nuha meraung tak cukup susu

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Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor nor am I a lawyer. I am not a scientist nor am I an expert. I am just a wife and a mother, who is putting her thoughts and findings in a blog. All of the posting on this website & my blogs were written by me for educational purposes and as my sentimental library, but are not meant to diagnose nor treat any medical disorders. Any other materials that I may have quote from other published materials are for educational purposes only and not for any other manipulative reasons. Anyway, whatever weird stuff that I published are the real stuff that I believe works for me. Tips and tricks that might work for me. You are free to put it in your head if you thinks its valuable, but if you think its rubbish... Please don't mock me. Do please shut your pie hole.
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