THE BENEFITS OF EX­TENDED BREAST­FEED­ING

Great rea­sons to breast­feed your child be­yond in­fancy

Mother & Baby - - CONTENTS -

WHO rec­om­mends mothers world­wide to breast­feed their in­fants for a min­i­mum of two years to achieve op­ti­mal growth, devel­op­ment and health. To en­able mothers to es­tab­lish and sus­tain exclusive breast­feed­ing for six months, WHO and UNICEF rec­om­mend ini­ti­at­ing breast­feed­ing within the first hour of life. Exclusive breast­feed­ing is where the in­fant only re­ceives breast milk with­out any ad­di­tional food or drink; breast­feed­ing on de­mand is nurs­ing as of­ten as the child wants to feed, be it day or night. Some mothers are gen­er­ally un­der the no­tion that breast­feed­ing be­yond in­fancy makes the wean­ing process dif­fi­cult. This is not true. It is eas­i­est to be­gin the wean­ing process when your baby ini­ti­ates the process them­selves — which might be sooner or later than you ex­pect. Af­ter a pe­riod of six months, the fre­quency of breast­feed­ing re­duces and con­tin­ues to re­duce. Af­ter a year, your baby may only breast­feed twice a day. By the age of one, some ba­bies be­gin to nat­u­rally tran­si­tion from breast milk and seek other forms of nu­tri­tion and com­fort. Oth­ers might not ini­ti­ate wean­ing un­til their tod­dler years, which is when they be­come less will­ing to sit still dur­ing

breast­feed­ing. Wean­ing your child when he’s ready feels more nat­u­ral and less abrupt than pick­ing a ran­dom date. More­over, there are more than enough health benefits of breast­feed­ing be­yond in­fancy for you to con­tinue nurs­ing your baby.

The benefits of breast­feed­ing be­yond in­fancy for a baby in­clude: 1. Bal­anced nu­tri­tion:

Breast milk is con­sid­ered the ul­ti­mate stan­dard for in­fant nu­tri­tion. With your baby get­ting older, the com­po­si­tion of your breast milk will con­tinue to change to meet her nu­tri­tional needs.

2. Boosted im­mu­nity:

As long as you breast­feed, the cells, hor­mones and an­ti­bod­ies in your breast milk will con­tinue to bol­ster your baby’s im­mune sys­tem. Stud­ies show that breast­feed­ing tod­dlers are sick less of­ten than chil­dren that are not breast­fed. When a child gets sick, breast milk may be the only thing she’ll con­sume. More­over, this also helps her stay hy­drated and boosts her im­mune sys­tem.

3. Im­proved health:

Re­search sug­gests that the longer breast­feed­ing con­tin­ues and the more breast milk a baby drinks, the bet­ter her health will be. There’s no par­tic­u­lar age at which breast milk is con­sid­ered nu­tri­tion­ally in­signif­i­cant for a child.

4. Emo­tional bond:

As and when your child be­comes more self-reliant, breast­feed­ing can be an im­por­tant source of re­as­sur­ance and emo­tional sup­port. “Some­times, peo­ple think wean­ing a child sooner helps her de­velop a strong sense of self-worth and in­de­pen­dence,” says Kath­leen Hug­gins, au­thor of The Nurs­ing Mother’s Com­pan­ion. How­ever, forc­ing a child to stop nurs­ing be­fore she’s de­vel­op­men­tally ready, won’t nec­es­sar­ily cre­ate a more con­fi­dent child; it could make her clingy.

5. In­creased in­tel­li­gence:

From the day your body pro­duces milk specif­i­cally to meet the needs of your baby, it con­tains all the im­por­tant nu­tri­ents your baby needs. How­ever this doesn’t hold true for for­mula feeds. Since your baby grows at a rapid pace for the first five years, it is there­fore im­por­tant to make sure that she gets all the im­por­tant nu­tri­ents in the ini­tial stages. Re­search has also shown that breast­fed ba­bies are smarter than for­mula-fed ba­bies.

The benefits of breast­feed­ing be­yond in­fancy for mothers in­clude: 1. Re­duced risk of cer­tain ill­nesses:

When com­pared to women who never breast­fed, nurs­ing women have lower rates of di­a­betes, car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, high blood pres­sure, re­duced risk of breast can­cer, ovar­ian can­cer and rheuma­toid arthri­tis.

2. Im­proved health:

Re­search sug­gests that the longer breast­feed­ing con­tin­ues and the more breast milk a baby drinks, the bet­ter a mother’s health might be. Con­tin­ued breast­feed­ing may help to main­tain your weight. Some re­search also sug­gests that breast­feed­ing, com­bined with a healthy diet and ex­er­cise, may keep you trim­mer for years to come.

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