Before having a baby, most women have an idea of how long they plan to breastfeed . The theory is very easy, however, it is in practice that things change a little bit. Even when breastfeeding becomes an issue full of analysis and decisions that involve not only the mother’s will, but also the baby’s well-being.
Breastfeeding is very important in the baby’s life and there is no need to decide, at the beginning, how long to breastfeed. Many mothers continue to breastfeed their children even after returning to work or school, while others decide to stop breastfeeding or combine breastfeeding with formula .
Importance of Breastfeeding
The important thing is to do what is ideal for the mother and her baby. Continuing to breastfeed helps to reduce the chance of food intolerances and continues to protect your baby from infections , regardless of whether you are four months or two years old.
Breastfeeding is much more than just a way to feed the baby, it is part of the bond between mother and child . There are many factors, practical, physical, emotional, involved in the decision to continue, decrease or stop breastfeeding.
Advice from family and friends on how long to breastfeed may be well-intentioned, but imprecise or biased, so if the mother needs impartial support about when and how to stop breastfeeding, it is necessary to seek outside the family.
Is Breast Milk Still a Nutritious Food?
A few years ago, it was common to hear that, after six months, breast milk no longer made sense because it was already like water. After some time, this strange phenomenon of transforming milk into water began to occur after 12 months. And yet, both are fake.
Breast milk continues to be a nutritious food for children from a newborn. In addition, the older you are, the more fat it contains and the greater the amount of calories it contributes.
The World Health Organization recommends that the baby be breastfed exclusively until 6 months of age (ie, without other foods or liquids).
From that moment on, breastfeeding can be combined with food up to 12 months of age and between 12 and 24 months, breast milk is just one more food in everything a child can eat.
After 2 years, it is said that the baby can continue to be breastfed until the mother or he decides to stop. From that date, there is no deadline. An age is not established after which it is considered that the mother’s milk no longer contributes to the child, so at the nutritional level there is no reason to leave it.
A study carried out concluded some facts about breast milk that are worth reinforcing:
- Breast milk does not lose its properties over time. From the first year of lactation, the amount of fat in the milk increases compared to the first months, resulting in a complete and nutritious food for an older child and of higher quality than formula or cow’s milk.It has been found that a baby over one year old who is breastfeeding receives about 1/3 of her daily calorie and protein needs through breast milk (sometimes more, especially during periods of illness), in addition to a very important amount of vitamins and minerals .
What are the Benefits of Prolonged Breastfeeding?
Older children who are breastfed continue to enjoy the immunological benefits of breast milk , with a lower incidence of infections than children of the same age who are not breastfed. The benefits of maintaining breastfeeding for longer are not only seen in the short term, but years after weaning.
There was a lower incidence of certain types of cancer (such as childhood leukemia , metabolic and autoimmune diseases (such as type 1 diabetes ) and greater intellectual development with longer and exclusive breastfeeding, an effect that lasts for years and may even lead to a higher level of education and income in adulthood.
The benefits of prolonged breastfeeding for the baby include:
- Balanced nutrition – Breast milk is considered a treasure for child nutrition. As the baby ages, the composition of breast milk will continue to change to meet your nutritional needs. There is no known age at which breast milk is considered to be insignificant for a child.
- Increased immunity – As long as a woman breastfeeds, the cells, hormones and antibodies in breast milk will continue to boost the baby’s immune system.
- Improved health – Research shows that longer and continuous breastfeeding and the amount of breast milk a baby takes, only benefits his health.
The benefits of prolonged breastfeeding for the mother include:
- Reduced risk of certain diseases – Prolonged breastfeeding, as well as breastfeeding for 12 months or more, has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.
- Improved health – Research shows that prolonged and continuous breastfeeding, and the amount of breast milk a baby drinks, is also beneficial to the mother’s health.
When a mother wonders when to breastfeed the baby and when to take the baby off the breast, it is always because of a personal decision: work, comfort, tiredness, lack of time, etc. This is natural and is part of the life of a mother and her child. And only they will decide what and when this weaning is best. A bond of love and health, which only brings benefits and must be respected by everyone.
My name is Dr. Alexis Hart I am 38 years old, I am the mother of 3 beautiful children! Different ages, different phases 16 years, 12 years and 7 years. In love with motherhood since always, I found it difficult to make my dreams come true, and also some more after I was already a mother.
Since I imagined myself as a mother, in my thoughts everything seemed to be much easier and simpler than it really was, I expected to get pregnant as soon as I wished, but it wasn’t that simple. The first pregnancy was smooth, but my daughter’s birth was very troubled. Joana was born in 2002 with a weight of 2930kg and 45cm, from a very peaceful cesarean delivery but she had already been born with congenital pneumonia due to a broken bag not treated with antibiotics even before delivery.