While there is no strict definition of when breastfeeding becomes ‘extended’, the term is commonly used to refer to babies who are breastfed beyond a year. If it’s a route you’re planning to take you’re in good company as many famous mums, including Salma Hayak and Gisele Bundchen have practiced extended breastfeeding, and the science world also gives it a big thumbs up, thanks to the numerous physical, mental and emotional benefits. To get the lowdown on the benefits of extended breastfeeding we talked to Dru Campbell, midwife and lactation consultant at Health Bay Polyclinic in Dubai. Here’s what she had to say…
Benefits of extended breastfeeding #1: It’s loaded with nutrients
We often think of breastfeeding as something you do for the first six months of life. However, the World Heath Organization  recommends continuing after the introduction of solid foods, up until the age of two. Just one of the many reasons for this is that breast milk contains an abundance of nutrients and minerals that change according to your baby or toddler’s developing requirements.
Benefits of extended breastfeeding #2: It boosts the immune system
Research shows that babies who are breastfed have less gastrointestinal disease, respiratory problems, ear infections and allergies. Similarly they are usually unwell for a reduced amount of time and normally the illnesses are of less severity. The reason for this is that breast milk contains live cells that help fight infection. The best bit is that the longer you breastfeed, the longer the immune benefits will assist your child later in life.
Benefits of extended breastfeeding #3: It’s brain food
Some research suggests that babies who are breastfed have higher IQ’s . While this is not conclusive, what we do know for certain is that the live cells in breast milk are responsible for increased brain function and in particular cognitive development.
Benefits of extended breastfeeding #4: It helps with bonding
While women who bottle-feed also bond with their babies, breastfeeding gives an added connection and additional precious time to spend with your baby. As your child becomes a toddler, breastfeeding offers comfort and nurturing at a time when little ones are trying to determine this big world around them.
Benefits of extended breastfeeding #5: It’s good for mums
Women who breastfeed can lower their breast cancer  and ovarian cancer risk , especially if they breastfeed for longer than one year. Breastfeeding also lowers mum’s risk of postmenopausal osteoporosis later in life.
Benefits of extended breastfeeding #6: It’s convenient
Breastfeeding is more convenient than formula, not least because it is free of charge, takes no mixing, heating or cooling down, and it gives your baby everything they need in terms of nutrients and minerals. It’s also a quick and effective way to sooth your child, which is extremely handy for toddlers who sometimes have meltdowns for no apparent reason.
For more information and advice on lactation support, email Dru Campbell at email@example.com