Several factors determine the duration of breastfeeding. But how long to breastfeed is a decision that many moms find challenging to get answers to. Experts around the world have their opinions and recommendations, but only you and your professional doctor can make a sound decision about what works for you.
Some moms choose to breastfeed for just a few days, others for months, others for years, while others decide not to breastfeed their kids at all. In whatever breastfeeding timeline you choose, there will always be some people who will think that you are breastfeeding for too short or too long. But there is not a wrong or a right way, and no one should condemn you about the duration of time you decide to breastfeed your child.
Are there any benefits associated with the duration of breastfeeding?
Yes, there are several benefits to breastfeeding a baby and mothers. But the big question is, for how long should you breastfeed your child to experience these benefits?
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization recommend that infants across all parts of the world should exclusively be breastfed for their first six months after birth. Experts also suggest that mothers should continue breastfeeding their children until they are five years old. During this period, breastfeeding should be accompanied by other special foods that will help the child develop both its mental and physical wellbeing.
There are some benefits of breastfeeding your kid, even if you decide to do it for just a few days. Below are some of the benefits. Continue reading to get more information.
The First Few Days
Babies should start breastfeeding within an hour after they are born. There is close skin to skin contact between the mother and the baby. This helps the mother to stimulate the milk for the baby.
During the first breastfeeding, children receive thick yellow milk called colostrum. This kind of milk contains antibodies that help the baby to fight diseases and infections easily. Besides, the milk contains some essential nutrients necessary for the development of the child. Consecutive breastfeeding provides early nutrition apart from protecting the child against diseases.
First and Second Months
Mother’s breast milk is the first child’s immunization. At this age, the child is prone to many health complications, and thus it requires a healthy immune system. The mother’s milk contains antibodies that help the child fight against ear infections, infectious diarrhea, chest infections, and digestion disorders.
At the same time, mothers get the benefit of prolactin and oxytocin, which are feel-good hormones that allow her to feel fulfilled and help fight postpartum depression.
Three to Five Months
When the children enter the 3rd month, the breastfed milk continues to support their digestive system. The milk also provides the children with protection against food supplement allergies. Also, the mother who breastfeeds their kids at this age may lose weight naturally. It helps them to burn calories, thus helping them to maintain a healthy weight.
Continued breastfeeding might help with the internal health of the mother, as well. Nursing mothers have a high chance of reducing the risks of diseases such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.
The benefits of breastfeeding continue to be seen, even with the introduction of weaning food at the age of six months. The breast milk at this age provides vitamins, protein, energy, and other vital nutrients. The milk also continues to protect the child against illness.
For the mother, breastfeeding at this age may reduce the risks of cancers such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, and ovarian cancer.
At this age, breastfeeding should occur first before the kid eats other meals. The breast milk at this stage of growth continues to nourish the kid’s body and brain besides protecting it against the diseases. It also strengthens the immune system of the child.
Beyond Nine Months
Feeding recommendations at this age include breastfeeding and offering other nutritional food items. You can also start giving the child cow milk at this age, which acts as a breast milk substitute. A more extended period of breastfeeding improves the intelligence quotient of a child.
As noted previously, how long you breastfeed, and the breastfeeding time per breast is up to you and your doctor to decide. But several benefits will accrue to you and your baby when you breastfeed for an extended period. Trust yourself, and don’t worry about what others think about your breastfeeding decisions.