How Long Should You Breastfeed For
Sitting in the baby room, with fluffy teddies, cradle hang toys under glow in the dark star lights spread across the ceiling, everything perfectly designed from dreams by you, your partner and put to life by your baby organizer. Yet your baby cocooned in your arms, is wriggling restless, crying out, there’s one thing you know they’re demanding…
Breastfeeding is nature’s gift to mothers. It is the most organic way of nurturing their newborn with their mammary glands that produce milk on demand. Breastmilk is a living substance that contains a lot of nutrients that doesn’t only satisfy a baby’s appetite but also helps in building their immune system.
With these noted benefits of breastfeeding, the World Health Organization encourages all mothers to breastfeed babies exclusively during the first six months. As solid foods get introduced gradually at six months to suffice the growing baby’s needs, breastfeeding is still encouraged from then on as the antibodies transferred from the placenta during the pregnancy starts to diminish.
What do we mean by exclusive breastfeeding?
Whether naturally expressed or by a pump, exclusive breastfeeding means nurturing the baby with pure breastmilk and nothing else. Not even water. The mother’s breast milk lines a baby’s stomach of a protective layer against infection.
What does it mean when calling breastmilk a living substance?
As mentioned earlier, breastmilk is a living substance as this is produced with a varied combination of nutrients that biologically meet a baby’s specific needs at different stages of growth. Examples of which are omega-3 fatty acid and taurine which help babies develop different body parts like the brain, the eyes, and the gut.
Also, it changes meal by meal, day by day, depending on the baby’s growth and development. Depending on how effective the baby’s latch is, a mother should not worry that the supply of milk would not be enough to feed the baby appropriately. It doesn’t even depend on a female’s breast size for its production depends greatly on demand.
Is it true that the longer your breastfeed your baby, the greater its health benefits?
Yes, correct. Breastfeeding benefits not only the baby, but also the mother. Let’s look closely at the benefits of breastfeeding.
Benefits for the baby:
- Decreased irritation of the gastrointestinal system
- Decreased chest infection
- Decreased susceptibility to a middle ear or respiratory tract infections in general
- Helps in food digestion
- A decreased inclination to obesity
- A decreased inclination to developing diabetes
- Stimulates and enhances the emotional and intellectual aspect of the child’s brain that makes little children happy and confident.
Benefits for the mommy:
- Decreased chances of having breast and ovarian cancer
- Decreased bleeding after delivery
- Helps in healing and gets you back in shape
- Relaxing and encouraging of a happy mood from which motherly love forms
- Engages mommy with a positive impact on parenting.
- Time and cost-efficient
- Convenient yet environment-friendly.
- Parent-baby communication is enhanced through a special bonding formed via eye contact, sense of touch, skin-to-skin contact as the “Love hormone” or oxytocin is released during the skin-to-skin contact.
Knowing this makes sense as the World Health Organization states that breastfeeding can continue until two years or beyond. Here are ways on how to enhance breastmilk supply:
- Start breastfeeding as soon as you’re ready.
The ‘let down’ reflex aids the flow of milk. Having the right mindset could help in achieving this. Your mammary glands were made to respond to demand. The more you are aware of the process, the more you commit to it. Know also that it facilitates healing so rest if you must then do it as soon as you are able following the mantra, the more you do something, the more you perfect it. Besides, this should be in your nature as a mother. Let it come to you.
- Feed on demand.
The baby’s instinct is to latch when hungry, that’s why sometimes, you see them pecking on you when you hold him close. The ultimate secret to good milk supply is effective latching, where your nipple is sucked onto as a whole. When this is met, the breast fills up efficiently with the appropriate amount of milk to satisfy the baby by the next feed.
- Adequate rest.
After giving birth, your body is tired distressed from the big beautiful efforts and pushes made, and you will need time to rest and heal from the trauma and pain it went through. A lingering pain could preoccupy a mother who just gave birth, and this could bring stress to her. Therefore, hindering the ‘let down reflex’. Overall, stressful events could affect a mother’s milk production.
While there are babies who wean on their own, the breasts will produce if there’s demand. There are working moms who choose to pump and save it for later. Or to not breastfeed at all. But to reiterate, exclusive breastfeeding is encouraged for the first six months and is still good until two years old and above. If you need help keeping up with your baby’s needs, consider hiring a new born care specialist, who are dedicated to the craft of nurturing newly born babes. They understand and respect your connection with the baby, and have a vast knowledge of baby sickness symptoms and how to respond. Knowing the difference between a life-threatening fever versus one that can be nursed back to health at home saves a lot of stress and worry and expensive hospital visits.