Breast milk has a very high concentration of white blood cells, the immune system’s soldiers in the battle against pathogens. The composition of breast milk changes depending on what the mother’s nipple perceives that the child needs after contact with the child’s saliva. This customizable feature of breast milk is apparent in premature babies and toddlers alike.
Science has only recently been able to see the tip of the iceberg on how the gut and brain influence each other, but it is known that there is a causal relationship between breastfeeding and mental health and cognitive development. Scientists are theorizing that the seeding of the gut microbiome may be the most important factor in this relationship. Scientists studying autism have started looking at the guts of children, and their findings are giving additional weight to the case for “extended” breastfeeding.
Many women hate nursing toddlers, but people accuse women of doing so for selfish reasons. Toddlers fuss, they have teeth, and they become demanding, and frankly, women are sick and tired of having their nipples stretched, scratched, bitten, and twiddled. Many moms are ready to wean way before their child is ready, but they put their child’s needs before their own.
A breastfeeding mom is a mom who sacrifices. She sacrifices her body, her time, and her social life. She suffers persecution for being a nurturing mother.
There is no need to call breastfeeding past the age of 1 “extended.” It is not an excess, and it is arguably the best thing a mother can do for the health of her child. It is hard and frustrating to nurse a toddler, and mothers who breastfeed should be supported and not ridiculed.
Note: The author acknowledges that there are additional benefits to nursing a child until they are ready to wean that are not covered in this post.
Originally published HERE.