Extended Breastfeeding

Extended Breastfeeding

Or as I like to call it – breastfeeding.

A part of me felt very sad one day reading online a mother was talking about how her family didn’t approve of her “extending breastfeeding” and then revealed her baby was in fact only 9 months old.

Extended Breast feedingWithout at all wanting to criticise any breastfeeding period at all, whether you choose to never breast feed at all or for many years, is really not at all my place to comment, but it saddens me that some people think breastfeeding beyond 6 months is now an “extended” breastfeeding term.

Though, it’s not surprising that this is how it is viewed – let’s look at the breastfeeding rates in Australia according to the Australian Breastfeeding Association. Based on a 2006-07 report a little over half of Australian babies were breast fed at 6 months and by 12 months that number drops to 28% and only 5% of Aussie toddlers are breast fed until 2 years of age. Consider then that the World Health Organisation recommends “…continued breastfeeding up to two years or beyond”.

Now – my point is not to say those figures are good, or bad, or who should feed their children for how long, but more to gripe about this word “extended”, if we are referring to something within a biologically normal and medically recommended time frame?  Considering those statistics though, I can appreciate how breastfeeding to 2 or 3 years (or 4 or 5) could be viewed as an “extended” period of time. I think though it’s important not to confuse “natural” and “normal” with “average” or “what we are most familiar with”. If you’ve never fed, or witnessed or even heard of a baby breast fed beyond 6 months depending on your environment, then I can appreciate that seeing a 2 or 3 year old breastfeeding would seem unusual or shocking, it would certainly seem to be an “extended” period of time breastfeeding.

But try to think about it like this, if you went to buy a new television and it came with a standard 12 month warranty, then the salesperson tried to sell you a 12 month extended warranty, you’d probably tell them “no – 12 months is the standard warranty, not an extended warranty.”

Which is how I feel about “extended breastfeeding”.

How can something be “extended” if it is within a natural time frame?

Source of statistics – https://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/bf-info/general-breastfeeding-information/breastfeeding-rates-australia

More info on breastfeeding toddlers – https://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/bf-info/general-breastfeeding-information/breastfeeding-your-toddler


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Rachel Stewart

Rachel is the founder of Parenting Central Australia. She is raising two children, boy and girl, with her partner.She has a background in early childhood education, but right now is content to be a stay at home mum.She is passionate about birthing rights, breastfeeding and mental health. She enjoys crafting, drinking coffee (sometimes wine) and spending a little too much time on Facebook.

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