When it comes to breastfeeding, how long is long enough?
Having a new baby at home adds many changes and challenges to your life. You are fully responsible for the well-being of another human being. One of the decisions you will be faced with is whether you are going to breastfeed your baby, and if you do, for how long?
The evidence is pretty conclusive – breastfeeding is the best way to feed your baby. Even many companies that make infant formula are touting breastfeeding in their advertising. Breast milk contains all the nutrition your baby needs. It is easily digested and contains just the right amount of fat, protein, carbohydrate, vitamins and minerals. It also provides your baby with antibodies to help guard your baby against some infections. How cool is that!?
I remember struggling at first, wondering if I was doing it right, if my baby was getting enough to eat, and if I would ever really get the hang of nursing. Despite what some people think, it is something that you and your baby have to learn to do! Sure, some of it is instinct, but a lot of it is a learned skill. Perserverance is the key.
I also remember well-meaning women telling me to start feeding my son a bottle with runny baby cereal in it at about two months. I am glad now that I just smiled and didn’t take their advice! I figured that since breastmilk changes as your baby grows and is really the only food they need for the first four to six months, I would just carry on as I was. After all, I couldn’t add pablum to my breasts.
Now, I know there are women out there who for one reason or another cannot or choose not to breastfeed. I am in no way slamming their decision or circumstance. I sometimes think that in the quest to educate new moms on the importance of breastfeeding, we have made many moms feel guilty, and that is a real shame.
We moms need to stick together and support one another through the journey of motherhood.
How Long Should You Breastfeed?
Unfortunately, how long a mother should nurse her baby does not have an easy answer. Advice given by doctors, lactation consultants, your friends, other women, and even your mother, is rarely the same. Add in the fact that every mom & baby are different, and it is no wonder new moms often have a hard time knowing what to do.
Some will pressure you to breastfeed into toddlerhood (or even beyond). Others will argue that your baby should off the breast and bottle fed after a couple of weeks or months. If you are returning to work, some will tell you you must wean, others will encourage you to pump your milk and continue breastfeeding. Who's right?
Most breastfeeding-supporters and experts recommend breastfeeding for at least the first year. While I agree with this in principle, this is not what I did. I breastfed my son for the first six months until I returned to work, then continued for a couple of months in the morning and evening. By nine months, he was done.
I say do your research, talk to other moms, and gather information from expert sources. Ultimately, you should breastfeed for only as long as you feel it is the best thing for you and your baby, and this is something only you can decide.
What do you think?
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