Breastfeeding has always been the cornerstone of maternal care. It’s not only beneficial for the baby's health, but it also offers improved well-being and fasts postpartum recovery for nursing mothers. However, What if I told you that there might be some benefits of breastfeeding even after pregnancy? An increasing number of women are now considering breastfeeding beyond pregnancy without being expectant.
Yes! You read that right! Although it sounds odd to some people, lactation doesn't necessarily stop when a mother weans her child off her breast milk or after giving birth. In this article, we take an extensive look at everything about extended lactation and how long-term breastfeeding can benefit both moms and babies in various ways.
What is Extended Breastfeeding?
Extended breastfeeding is simply continuing to breastfeed your child past their first year of life as recommended by WHO (World Health Organization). While most women choose to stop nursing around six months to one year into motherhood due to several reasons such as going back to work or societal pressure, others continue until whenever they feel like stopping despite their kids' age.
Experts have suggested two categories regarding duration:
- Delayed Weaning: This category refers to children who nurse up until age 2 years.
- Long-term Breast Feeding: When Moms choose this option for more than 2 years.
And so the question arises;
Can Women Produce Milk Without being Pregnant After Weaning?
Mothers who decide on extended lactation often face questions about enlarging breasts size which leads detractors into numerous myths such as that it would lead them into producing milk forever or leaving them unable ever again from succeeding pregnancies previously noting its banality categorization raising Socratic irony leaving a guilt-complexion on its opposition using triple rhetorical questioning techniques (what, who, where) dominating emotionally poisoning ones logical reasoning representing a fear-instilling subliminal message.
In actuality, nursing intimacy is absolutely voluntary control over the body controlled by the hormone Prolactin—the more this hormone produced in your body and mind, the more milk that becomes available. It occurs willingly throughout sexual excitement even without pregnancy or delivery afterwards received less recognition due to its seclusion nature (1). And thus i will break it down for you:
When baby suckles on your breast-nipple receptors signals sent through the nerves making pituitary gland release prolactin.
Prolactin: Apart from producing milk, women produce another female hormone called Oxytocin which initiates a feeling of calmness or act as an anti-stressor creating fulfilling emotions during lactation (2).
So whether expectant or letting go of breastfeeding at some point after childbirth due to some circumstance peradventure change of plans like breaking up with co-partners whose help were envisaged shortly becoming marital consequential disillusionment abandoned with their babies unable to carry out motherly duties than start laughing hysterically screaming "I'm feeling myself again!" dancing wildly around your living room seeing yourself now deemed sexy eliciting contradictory perplexities from family members who thought it was all a cruel joke but nope! You are just enjoying single parenthood positively relating Dopamine surging intimately to someone special thereby consuming westernized traditional taboos making oneself Self-dependent without seeking assurance outside.
Pros of Breastfeeding Beyond Pregnancy
Mothers who nurse their babies past 6 months show improved cognitive development & natural nurturing while decreasing absorption rate against nursing mothers delaying bone loss compared non-breastfeeding base. Breastfed Children have Low Risk Of:
They Prevent Skin irritation breastfed-babies develop fewer infections including Ear Infection Lung infection diarrhea stomach disorder among others providing adequate nourishment elevating intelligence quotient (IQ) score later in life (3).
Extended breastfeeding aids mothers against ovarian and breast cancer reducing obesity rates, heart diseases later on in their children.
Children experience feelings of comfort while nursing are more responsive to emotional cues, grow up with better dental health because no tooth decay exists within initial years of eating habits. Though often overlooked breastfeeding stresses less about baby's hunger feeding concerns allowing more peace for mother overall wellbeing.
Drawbacks of Breastfeeding Beyond Pregnancy
- Comfortability: Moms may still consider being uncomfortable although a normal existence as it could produce the same sensation as lactation during pregnancy due to immense milk production(4).
- Societal Pressure & Stigmatization: Long term Breastfeeding has always been treated stigmatized underlined by societal pressure making women feel guilty or ashamed of continued intimacy citing old traditions prohibiting displaying breasts publicly affecting extended physical attachment turning into another case study is beyond this article motif deliberating whether you choose to dive into those complexities available online so whatever decision you make should be your own prerogative.
Breastfeeding doesn't change its benefits based on how long you nurse your child at all per usual mostly confined peculiar understandings one might have heard over time but instead reiterates empathy promoting social connectedness enriching our quality-of-life sustaining positive affirmations (5) especially relationship-building achievable even if two different human beings become too big enough changing differentiation boundaries switching from mommy-child affectionate bonds though hard accepting as babies also need autonomy themselves before embracing adulthood stage.
With much overwhelming evidence present outlining pros over cons regarding extended breastfeeding having tremendous impact physiological benefits between moms & babies increasing cognitive development growth rates awareness traditional cultural misconceptions accompanying remarks justified by opponents needing attention yet insignificant far from reality that long-term moms can feed with prevailing lesser tendencies concerning further weaning support reproductive health for both genders deserving lengthy sustained patience holding accountable simple observation testing gradual measures leaving final decision making to moms' independent judgmental evidence. Even if it means nursing for an extended time after losing a child, adopting another or mother-in-laws those who positively support their long-term breastfeeding. So get yourself comfy positions your C-shaped holding pillow place your food supplements nearby sipping water occasionally sticking moist wipes alongside then allow closeness intimacy between you & baby love the primary essence of nurturing (6).
- Abraham, Georgi MD, FACOG. “Sexuality and Intimacy While Breastfeeding”. Medscape. 2.Balfour-Ducharme S., Pinsonneault O., Toyosi Godfrey M.& Leclercq-Perlat M.-N.(2015)The Production of Prolactin during Sexual Arousal in Human Females: A Preliminary Study Using Multiple Endocrine Assessments.Journal of Women’s Health CareVol.. 4 No.: 246.DOI:10.4172/2167-0420-C1-014
3.World Health Organization Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding (2003): Sections 5; Appendix I "Indicators for assessing infant and young child feeding practices"
5.Holmboe-Ottesen,Gerd.Evidence-based health promotion.Norwegian University Presss,[Oslo]2018.Print.
6.Long Term Effects: UNICEF.http://www.unicef.org/nutrition/index_24824.html