How Long Should You Breast-Feed Your Baby?
There’s no denying the benefits of breastfeeding for newborn babies. Breast milk is a natural food that contains tonnes of goodness and benefits for the development of infants. It also reduces the risk of gastrointestinal problems, obesity, asthma, sudden infant syndrome, and pneumonia in infants. Breastfeeding also has great benefits for a mother, such as reducing the chance of developing breast or ovarian cancers, type two diabetes, and high blood pressure.
With all of this in mind, it isn’t surprising at all that 84% of mothers breastfeed their newborn babies, according to the CDC. Breastfeeding is definitely the popular choice amongst mothers that have just given birth, even though some may struggle with latching or lactating problems, and may need to take natural lactating supplements.
Accoridng to pickyeaterblog.com The recommended timeframe for breastfeeding is the first six months of a baby’s life, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the World Health Organisation (WHO). After this, mothers should continue to breastfeed along with complementary foods until the baby has reached one year old.
There are, however, some mothers who choose not to breastfeed out of their own desires or simply can’t. And there have been several studies that show formula-fed infants fare just fine.
Simply put, you should solely breastfeed or give your baby formula for the first six months of their life, with absolutely nothing else. These will provide a baby with all of the nutrition they need for growth and development. After these initial six months, solid foods can start being introduced into their diet while continuing to regularly nurse. Breastfeeding should continue until the baby has turned one, if possible.
Breastfeeding can definitely continue beyond the one year mark. There is, in fact, extensive research supporting the benefits of extended breastfeeding having benefits for brain development, the immune system, and mother-child bonding.
Why Do Women Stop Breastfeeding?
So, why do women stop breastfeeding before the recommended time frame given by the WHO and AAP? One of the most common reasons mums stop breastfeeding is due to pain, from issues such as engorgement or sore nipples. They may also feel like they aren’t producing enough breast milk to supply their infant with an adequate amount. Both of these issues stem from a lack of support and training in breastfeeding for new mothers.
As the baby gets older, mothers may choose to stop breastfeeding as they are too busy and caught up with other life commitments. Trying to maintain a routine and schedule for regular breast pumping to keep a constant supply of available milk can be challenging. This is another reason why women opt for giving their infants formula, as it is easier than pumping throughout the day.
Top Tips for Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding can be a difficult process for new mothers wanting to breastfeed for the recommended time frame. Here are some top tips and steps to follow to ensure things go a bit more smoothly.
Educate yourself about breastfeeding
There are several things new mums can do to educate themselves and gain knowledge around the subject of breastfeeding. This includes joining breastfeeding support groups and reading about nursing. These things can help new mothers prepare for breastfeeding. Doing so can also help mums avoid potential stumbling blocks and overcome challenges they face more confidently with the best support.
Find an online community
A great way for new mothers struggling with breastfeeding problems and wanting to overcome these issues is finding an online community that can help one another. It can be extremely helpful and comforting to discuss issues with other mums who have been through the same concerns and have come out on the other side.
It can sometimes be a challenge to fit breastfeeding into your daily routine and schedule, especially once a new mum returns to work. But setting aside time to pump can really improve the health of both the mother and baby. In fact, many public places, such as offices have lactation rooms for mums to pump in comfortably and freely. This can be very encouraging for mums returning to work full time and still wanting to breastfeed regularly.
Breastfeeding can take longer than anticipated, especially at the start when baby and mum are still getting used to each other. Doing so in an uncomfortable way can be very difficult for both mums and babies who are in a less than supported position for too long. Trying to maintain an uncomfortable position for too long can lead to significant shoulder, neck, and back pain. Additionally, constantly squirming and moving around to readjust can disrupt the baby’s breastfeeding, resulting in irritability and increased hunger. That’s why it is important to be as comfortable as possible throughout the process.
As well as making sure mum and baby are comfortable throughout the breastfeeding process, relaxing is also very important. Babies can sense when mothers are tense or nervous about breastfeeding, and it can stop them from latching correctly. It’s very hard for a baby to relax if the mother isn’t relaxed. Breastfeeding in a safe and comfortable environment really helps with this, as well as remembering that breastfeeding is a wonderful bonding experience, not a stressful one.
The Bottom Line
Reaping the benefits of breastfeeding is super beneficial for both mothers and newborn babies. Experts recommend breastfeeding for as long as mothers can to reap as much of these benefits as possible. Both the AAP and WHO recommend breastfeeding for at least one year, and to continue doing so for as long as mum and baby feel comfortable. However, baby formula is a great alternative for those not wanting or able to breastfeed. Most importantly, breastfeeding is an enjoyable and a wonderful bonding experience for a mother and baby to go through together, which should be embraced and looked forward to, not dreaded or something to be stressed about. There are loads of ways to prepare for breastfeeding before it comes, which is encouraged for new, nervous mums that have a lot of concerns or questions.
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