Why Breastfeed for Two Years?

The WHO and UNICEF recently (November 2018) listed the benefits for breastfeeding during the second year of life.  The benefits are listed below.

“Children who are not breastfed at 12-23 months of age are about twice as likely to die as those who are breastfed in the second year of life.”

Average breast milk intake at 12-23 months contributes “approximately 35-40% of the young child’s energy needs.”

Continued breastfeeding “during infections reduces the duration of illness and improves nutritional status.”

“The protection of breastfeeding against childhood overweight is strongest for those breastfed for more than one year.  In the U.S. among low-income children, those breastfed for at least 12 months were 28% less likely to be overweight at four years of age than those never breastfed.”

“Breastfeeding for more than 12 months reduces breast cancer by 26%.”

“Continued breastfeeding delays the return to fertility, contributing to longer birth intervals in the absence of contraceptive use.”

“Breastfeeding for more than 12 months reduces breast cancer by 26%.”

“The reduction in ovarian cancer for breastfeeding longer than 12 months was 37%.”

“Each additional year of lifetime duration of breastfeeding was associated with a 9% protection against type 2 diabetes.”

Why breastfeed for two years?  “Because continued breastfeeding for two years and beyond saves lives and promotes the health of both the mother and baby.”

All of these benefits are reasons to practice Ecological Breastfeeding.  In the American culture, mothers who do not do Ecological Breastfeeding (or something close to it) will rarely have a milk supply after 12 months.

Sheila Kippley

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