You have breastfed your baby for a whole year. That’s cool.
But if you want to breastfeed your baby longer than one year — also known as extended breastfeeding — you might have some questions.
Breastfeeding for too long or beyond infancy comes with its benefits such as boosted immunity and improved health, and it should be administered for as long as the baby wishes to continue. But it does have side effects too.
Balanced nutrition for baby, boosted immunity, improved health, and infant’s attachment with the mother are some of the positive impacts of breastfeeding.
However, prolonged and extended breastfeeding may lead to some negative effects on the child’s behavior and maternal adjustments.
Here are the 15 negative effects of prolonged breastfeeding:
1. Extended wait time in between pregnancies
Physicians and consultants generally recommend waiting at least two years between pregnancies. This gives your body the required time to recover to conceive another bundle of joy. Because really, having a baby is the best experience of a lifetime.
However, it can delay more than 2 years in case of persevered breastfeeding.
A lactation consultant, Becky Flora, writes that mothers may not get their periods for months or even years while breastfeeding. If a mother persists breastfeeding the child, periods may remain irregular even after 2 years.
Actually, breastfeeding produces high Prolactin, the hormone that causes lactation, which has a lot to do with ovulation suspension. That’s why older mothers who are breastfeeding for more than two years and wanting to conceive again, may find it difficult or even impossible.
Older mothers who want to be fertile again, face a tough choice between breastfeeding and fertility. So, prolonged breastfeeding is not favorable, particularly for the older mothers.
2. It can become painful
Sometimes, breastfeeding becomes too painful to prolong. Alongside loving and bonding experience for many women, it can be difficult for others due to physical conditions.
Breastfeeding can bring a variety of difficulties from sore nipples to engorgement, mastitis, blocked ducts and vasospasm which eventually oblige a mother to wean her child.
According to National Center for Biotechnology Information, pain is caused due to poor latching. But even after resolving the latching issue discomfort continues.
Moreover, jaw muscles are the strongest one in the human body. A growing infant develops jaw muscles considerably.
A toddler not only has increased suckling capability but also has more teeth than an infant. Toddlers often bite nipples while feeding, which may cause bleeding.
The combined strength of baby’s jaw and growing set of teeth is the perfect recipe for pain. So, extended breastfeeding is an ultimate invitation to the inevitable pain.
3. Mom loses her freedom
Breastfeeding demands an utmost commitment and a strict schedule. Breastfeeding moms accept that they sacrificed their potential health benefits for the sake of their infant’s feedings.
Breastfeeding moms often find themselves unable to attend a party or celebrations. Some have had to monitor strictly their diet and the drinks they use.
Other moms nag their baby too dependent on breastfeeding to take alternative food supplies.
Breastfeeding moms have a lot to do with planning baby’s feeding to pumping sessions, wearing nursing bras and all others.
Mostly, moms wait when a toddler finally can eat table food. This is the first step towards them gaining independence and mom gaining freedom.
Moms who decide on extended breastfeeding turn down the offer of freedom. They have to sacrifice more if they decide to prolong lactation period for their baby.
4. Societal opinions
A child walking, talking and eating food by itself suckling at mother’s breast really disgusts some people.
Some moms do not worry about others opinion while others are affected particularly by the judgment of their friends and family.
In North America, breastfeeding too long is not a socially accepted practice. While in other countries extended breastfeeding is considered normal. For example, in Germany breastfeeding a toddler is widely accepted.
The average weaning age is 2 years worldwide. It shows a considerable diversity of breastfeeding periods among different countries in the world.
So, practicing against “society normal” is something challenging. Moms can feel uncomfortable breastfeeding when the people around them get more critical.
5. Baby will become more dependent
If you plan to breastfeed for a longer period then be prepared for a more dependent child seeking your help even for simple tasks.
You can notice your baby grows from an infant to a hefty toddler. Gradually the baby begins picking up the things and fulfilling his own small needs without parents supporting.
However, extended breastfeeding can prove a foremost hindrance preventing the child being self-sufficient. According to the child specialists, it is crucial for your child to grow up to be independent of early childhood.
6. Less care for other kids
New moms with single baby don’t have the challenge to tackle this situation. But it is really challenging when comes to dealing with more than one child.
When you plan extended breastfeeding that means you will spend most of your time with little one eventually less time for the other kids.
Kids need their mom to talk and listen to them, to spend quality time with them, and to attend their school celebrations. Breastfeeding does not allow a mom to do some of these things freely.
Less attention may lead to the disordered self-esteem of the child along with resentment that their parents hold kinda favoritism.
7. Weaning becomes harder
It is the law of nature that the longer you practice a habit, the harder it is to quit. Extended breastfeeding makes the child even lactation addicted.
Weaning is the process of shifting the child from breastfeeding or bottle feeding to solid and table food eating. This is challenging for most of the moms.
In a normal situation, weaning is a hard nut to crack and imagine what would be the situation after prolonged breastfeeding. Some moms let the child wean themselves naturally.
This can turn into a long process if you have planned extended breastfeeding.
8. Awkward questions and gestures by the child
Growing children have a common trait which is to be curious about everything around them. They are used to asking, what’s that? Why is this? Who is that? Etc.
Continuously mom’s body exposure may lead the child asking questions about body parts. Be careful what you tell them because it is going to be repeated time and again.
Since breasts are more normal and friendly body part to them, they can point, grab or touch another woman’s breast. Thus extended breast exposure to a child can lead awkward questions and gesture.
The situation becomes ridiculous when you are at a public place.
9. Eat or not eat
The breast milk diet is very healthy and hygienic for mom’s body and consequently baby’s nutritional needs. On the other hand, moms are not at liberty to eat or not-eat everything.
She has to be careful because what she eats will end up in the breast milk and can have bad impacts on baby’s health. Sometimes mom has to take feeds that are necessary for baby’s health though not tasty or pleasant to ingest.
For example, a breastfeeding mom cannot have a good time in parties. Alcohol ends up in breast milk as the same percentage as is present in mom’s body.
Infant’s liver is not that mature to metabolize alcohol hence leading to severe digestive problems in many cases.
10. Mom’s health disaster
Sometimes, breastfeeding leads to the fungal infections which cause itching and soreness of the breasts. Eventually, these infections will cause a painful breastfeeding.
Though the pain and the soreness are curable mom will have to go through a few painful feedings anyway.
Mom’s body produces milk rich in all crucial nutrients for baby’s normal growth sometimes even at the expense of her own. For example, breast milk will be rich in calcium even if the mom does not have sufficient calcium in the diet.
This calcium comes from mom’s bones making her bones more vulnerable to osteoporosis later on in her life.
11. Malnutrition of child
Several studies and surveys show that the children with age 18-29 months who were breastfed had malnutrition symptoms than the weaned children.
How can a breastfeeding child be at risk of malnutrition?
This involves some considerable factors. For example, if a child is breastfed too long, he will find himself unable to eat table foods. And nutritional needs increase with age, so breast milk is not enough to satisfy the older children.
So, prolonged breastfeeding will prevent your child from taking essential nutritional elements in the diet. In this way, the child will be less healthy than his fellows.
12. Medications are passed through breast milk
Some mothers find the oxytocin released during breastfeeding enough to cure baby blues.
However, others need some medications for the treatment of baby blues. The medication effects will be transferred to the baby through breast milk.
Similarly, if you are on certain kind of antidepressants you may transfer the medication to the infant via breast milk. In this case, mom has to decide whether to persist breastfeeding or to wean the child.
13. Immeasurable milk quantity
With a vessel, you can easily observe the measure of milk or the quantity your infant gets.
Numerous breastfeeding mothers think that it’s hard to measure regardless of whether their infant is getting enough nourishment at each bolstering and frequently stress that the infant won’t flourish.
Sometimes, physicians suggest a certain quantity of milk for the infant. Breastfeeding moms find themselves unable to measure that quantity.
14. Too busy to take care of the child
Breastfeeding needs a great deal of energy and a focus. for a few moms, this type of energy and a focus is simply impracticable.
For example, a working woman just came from the office cannot give full attention to her little one.
So, if she has to breastfed her child immediately after entering the home this might turn her mood off. The situation turns into worse scenario if she yet has to prepare a meal for other family members.
15. Lack of self-soothing ability
Several studies show that the child develops self-soothing ability from early childhood. Self-soothing is an ability to which one can relax.
Children usually consider a special toy or a place for the sake of self-soothing.
Lactation consultants have told that the child with extended breastfeeding would be unable to develop this ability. Instead, the child will run to mom’s breast for comfort.
This ability lack can lead serious disorders in personality on later in their life.