The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and World Health Organization (WHO) recommend that babies should be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months. This means avoiding water, juice, formula, and other foods. Breastfeeding should be on demand, which means you must feed the baby as and when they are hungry. As a rule, newborns should not go more than about four hours without feeding, even during the night. Whether you want to breastfeed your baby for another 6 months and even beyond 1 year depends on your priorities and personal choice. It is even fine to breastfeed your baby until they are 2 years old if this works for you and your infant. However, along with breastfeeding, you should initiate giving solid foods after 6 months.
What are the benefits of breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding benefits mothers and their babies. As per studies, breast milk helps develop a baby’s immunity. It can lower your baby’s risk of infections such as diarrhea, ear infections, and bacterial meningitis. Even if they fall sick, breastfeeding makes the symptoms less severe. Moreover, breastfeeding helps your baby fight the following conditions:
After you become a mom, breastfeeding helps you shed extra pounds gained during pregnancy and helps you keep your weight in check. It helps your uterus shrink and helps you recover faster from the aftereffects of pregnancy and the childbirth process.
Through breastfeeding, you also lower your odds of developing
- Heart disease
- Ovarian cancer
- Uterine cancer
- Postpartum blues
Why do women stop breastfeeding?
Many women stop breastfeeding even before 6 months. Common reasons include issues such as pain due to breast engorgement or sore nipples. Another reason is that they feel they are not producing milk adequately.
Working moms may not feed their babies as frequently as they should because of difficulty in juggling their work schedule, household chores, and taking care of their babies. Many times during the day, they substitute breastfeeding with formula feeding, which eventually leads to more formula feeding than breastfeeding.
How to have a smooth and successful breastfeeding journey
Given the benefits of breastfeeding, you can take steps to make your post-delivery six months of nursing smooth and successful.
Many offices have lactation rooms so that you can breastfeed your baby. As per the law, you can even take unpaid breastfeeding breaks from your office.
Search online for resources that equip you with breastfeeding knowledge. This will help you prepare for any obstacles that you come across during your lactation period.
Get in touch with a lactation consultant:
Lactation consultants can help you deal with breastfeeding issues such as sore nipples and engorged breasts. While looking for one, consider an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). You can find them in hospitals and private clinics.
Join support groups:
Search online for breastfeeding communities. Sharing your journey with other moms and knowing about their journey can make you feel at ease. Learning from the experience of others can help you tackle your own breastfeeding issues.
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