Contributed by: Nancy Dixit
Confused about how long you should breastfeed?
This question intrigued me and prompted me to look up the research that has been done. In this article, we will share how long and how often you should breastfeed.
Breastfeeding can be a positive experience for both mother and baby. Both you and your baby will get health benefits. Also, breastfeeding costs nothing.
However, a woman’s ability to breastfeed can depend on many factors. In most cases, breast milk production depends on milk loss to provide more (supply and demand).
Additionally, it will depend on the mother’s health, adequate calorie intake and mental well-being as well as healthy endocrine levels.
Many pediatricians recommend that mothers exclusively breastfeed their babies for the first six months.
They then recommend breastfeeding for at least a year. After that, it depends on how long the mother and baby want to keep it.
Also, remember that breastfeeding for a few weeks has its own benefits.
How often should I breastfeed?
Generally, newborn babies should be breastfed 10 to 12 times a day for about the first month.
Breast milk is easily digested, so newborns are often hungry. Frequent feedings help stimulate your milk production in the first few weeks.
But, by the time your baby is 2 to 3 months old, he will probably need to breastfeed 7 to 9 times a day.
In the early stages of life (the first few weeks), breast feeding should be done on demand, (which means when your baby is hungry) which is about every 1.5 to 3 hours.
As the baby gets older, they will nurse less frequently, and may have a more predictable schedule.
Advice: “Newborns should not go more than about 4 hours without feeding, even overnight.”
Here’s how you can calculate the time between feedings:
You should count and record the time between feedings from the time your baby starts feeding (rather than the end) until the time your baby starts feeding again.
For example, when your doctor asks how often your baby feeds, you can say “about every 2 hours” if your first feeding starts at 6am, the next feeding is at 8am, then 10am, and so on.
How long does nursing take?
Newborns may nurse on one or both breasts for up to 20 minutes or more. As babies get older and become more proficient at breastfeeding, they can spend about 5 to 10 minutes on each side.
It also depends on many other factors, such as:
- Your milk flow is slow or fast
- Baby has a good latch, taking as much of your areola (the dark circle of skin around your breast) as possible
- Your baby starts to melt immediately or takes it slowly
- Your baby is sleepy or confused
How long should you breastfeed?
How long to continue breastfeeding is a personal decision for each woman. Breastfeeding provides a special intimacy and bond with your baby.
Note: The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding (ie no other liquids or solids) for six months and then continued breastfeeding combined with solid foods for 2 years or until mother and child wish.
Stages of breastfeeding period
If you breastfeed your baby for just a few days, he will get your colostrum, or colostrum. Colostrum is the first milk your baby eats after birth. It is highly concentrated with nutrients and antibodies to fight infection and protect your baby. It helps to give the baby the easiest vaccinations and helps his digestive system to function smoothly.
If you breastfeed your baby for 4 to 6 weeks, you will ease the baby through the most difficult part of his infancy.
Did you know that newborns who are not breastfed are more likely to get sick or be hospitalized and are at increased risk of infections due to weakness? Immunity?
If you breastfeed your baby for 3 to 4 months, the baby’s digestive system will be more mature and the baby will be more able to tolerate formula milk.
If you breastfeed your baby for 6 months without any other food or drink, it will help ensure good health throughout the first year of your baby’s life and also reduce your baby’s risk of infections. Additionally, it will reduce your risk of breast cancer.
If you breastfeed your baby for 9 months, it will help his brain and body develop. At this stage, it can also be a little easier to stop breastfeeding, if you want.
If you breastfeed your baby for 1 year, you can avoid the cost of baby formula. A one-year-old’s body can probably handle most of the home-cooked meals that your family enjoys.
The child will be less likely to need orthodontic treatment and have a reduced risk of developing certain childhood cancers such as leukemia.
According to the National Health and Medical Research Council, breastfeeding for one year or as long as the mother and baby wish is recommended as it helps ensure your baby’s normal nutrition and health.
If you’ve breastfed your baby for 18 months, your baby will likely be well-established on family meals as well.
At this point, baby is old enough that you and baby can work together on the weaning process, at a pace that he can handle.
If your baby weans when he’s ready, you can feel confident that you’ve met your baby’s physical and emotional needs in a very natural, healthy way.
However, over time, all babies stop breastfeeding on their own.
In cultures where there is no pressure to wean, children tend to be breastfed for at least 2 years.
The World Health Organization and UNICEF strongly encourage breastfeeding through infants:’Breast milk is an important source of energy and protein and helps protect against disease in the second year of a baby’s life.‘
Whether you’ve breastfed for a day or a few years, you’ll never regret the decision to breastfeed your child. And whenever weaning happens, remember that it’s a big step for both of you.
To sort through your emotions, talk to a friend who has weaned a baby.
We would like to end this article with one more tip for mothers:
Breastfeeding burns calories gained during pregnancy and helps the uterus shrink. Breastfeeding mothers can quickly return to their pre-pregnancy shape and weight.
Moreover, you should opt for frequent health screenings. It provides you with vital insights into your health, allowing you to take the necessary measures to improve it.
Book a full physical health exam today!
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