I am breastfeeding a 2 ½-year-old toddler, and I have no problem doing it in public. In fact, I am so proud and glad that I am still breastfeeding that I have a breastfeeding counter on the bottom of my blog page! You would expect strangers to give me looks, but I actually have to justify my choice to friends and family more and more lately.
Why do I still breastfeed? Because Landon still wants to and asks for it, I love the bond we have through it and the convenience — and most importantly, I do it because it benefits Landon’s and my health! Why would I stop something that is enjoyable and healthy for my child and me?
In order to quiet those who question my choice, I have done extensive research about the breastfeeding benefits for the child and the mother. Unfortunately, the benefits for the mother are so often overlooked or not even known, I thought I’ll share with you some statistics about the amazing health benefits for breastfeeding moms:
* Breastfeeding promotes a reduction in risk of many cancers and other serious diseases, during and after lactation. Women who breastfeed reduce their risk of developing breast cancer by as much as 25 percent. The more months or years a mother breastfeeds, the lower her risk of pre- or postmenopausal breast cancer, even with a family history of the disease. For every year a woman breastfeeds, she reduces her risk of breast cancer by an average of 4.3 percent. The risk is reduced another 7 percent by simply having a baby.
* It also reduces the risk of uterine and ovarian cancer and lessens osteoporosis. Non-breastfeeding women have a four times greater chance of developing osteoporosis. Current studies show that after weaning their children, breastfeeding mothers’ bone density returns to pre-pregnancy or even higher levels.
* Also, women who breastfeed for more than one year are 10 percent less likely to develop heart disease and strokes than women who have never breastfeed. Breastfeeding for even one month may cut the risk of developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
* For each year of breastfeeding, a woman decreases her chances of getting type 2 diabetes by 15 percent.
* Breastfeeding mothers tend to have an earlier return to their pre-pregnant weight. (Breastfeeding has been the greatest diet I have ever been on!)
* Studies show that breastfeeding mothers show less postpartum anxiety and depression than do formula-feeding mothers. (Have you ever met a (exclusively) breastfeeding mom struggling with postpartum depression? I haven’t. Please let me know if you have.)
Mothering Magazine just wrote a great article about “How Breastfeeding Boosts the National Economy.” (Did you know that the U.S. cost of treating respiratory viruses resulting from not breastfeeding is $225 million a year?) The above numbers were compiled with the help of that and three other articles. You might want to read them in their entirety for more in-depth information.
So the next time you get asked why you are (still) breastfeeding, just smile and refer them to me!