By now, many of us know of the benefits of extended breastfeeding. This is when a mum continues to breastfeed her child beyond one year. Generally, mums who practice extended breastfeeding do it for around four to five years. But today, we bring you the amazing story of one mum, who has been practising long-term breastfeeding for over 20 years, and is currently still breastfeeding her seven-year-old son.
Why? She Believes It Helps with Her Son's Autism
Lisa Bridger is a 46-year-old mum from Adelaide in Australia. She has five kids, and has breastfed for more than 20 years, collectively. She shares that she has received a lot of criticism for her extended breastfeeding.
Right now, Lisa is breastfeeding her four-year-old son Phoenix, and seven-year-old son Chase, who is on the autism spectrum.
She explains, "Breastfeeding has prevented him having to go on to medication because it calms him down. It calms and grounds him and is a fantastic way to reconnect, too.
"We tried melatonin but it didn't work as I couldn't get him to swallow it. He gets melatonin from my breastmilk. I can shorten the meltdowns by feeding him. It is a great tool to help with autism," she shares.
However, Lisa's long-term breastfeeding is not without its detractors. Some people online have accused the mum of child abuse, and even paedophilia!
"Anyone feeding a child beyond a year gets accused of child abuse, pornography, damaging their health and told that if they walk and talk they don't need it. How is respecting their needs abuse? You can't breastfeed a piranha," the mum shares.
Regardless, Lisa does admit that she wants her body back, and also that her boys are starting to wean off.
But in the meantime, Lisa, who runs the website Occupy Breastfeeding, wants people to know that breastfeeding is okay and it's normal.
"I try to educate people who say negative things to me. Bottle feeding has become so normal that the whole idea of breastfeeding grosses people out. It is normal and okay, and I am not harming my kids. Natural term weaning is four to seven years," Lisa shares.
Long-Term Breastfeeding: What Are the Benefits?
In a nutshell, extended or long-term breastfeeding is continuing to breastfeed a child beyond one year of age.
There are also a lot of benefits that extended breastfeeding has. These include the following:
- It helps children cope better with experiences and changes in routine.
- It helps children return to their "familiar and safe place," which helps them deal with anxieties.
- Breastfeeding strengthens the immune system and gives nutrition to children, especially if they get sick.
- Your breastmilk changes to suit the needs of your child, so breastmilk will always be nutritious.
- Extended breastfeeding also helps lower the risk of illnesses such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes in mums.
- Research has also shown that the more a mum breastfeeds, the healthier she becomes.
So, if you choose to continue breastfeeding your little one for beyond one year, know that this is perfectly alright and in fact, comes with some great health benefits for both you and your baby!
Source: NZ Herald
Photo screencapped from: YouTube