Extended breastfeeding for first-time mothers

Several studies and institutions endorse the prolongation of breastfeeding, but as in everything related to motherhood there is no exact formula that serves to delimit the prolonged breastfeeding and how long the child should breastfeed.

However, there are many scientific associations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), etc., which recommend that breastfeeding be the only food for the baby during the first 6 months of pregnancy. lifetime. And starting at this age, they advise starting with complementary feeding, that is, combining breastfeeding with other foods, at least until 12-24 months, and this time can be extended until the mother and child desire it.

After two years of the baby, can I continue breastfeeding?

This is a frequent question for many mothers. Many times for family, work or social pressure, mothers who want to continue breastfeeding their child end up quitting earlier than they would like.

In many countries it is normal for children between 3 and 7 years old to be still breastfeeding. Sometimes, the cultural factor helps mothers not to feel pressured and continue naturally with breastfeeding.

Therefore, the Spanish Association of Pediatrics (AEP) has published an article "with the intention of informing the general public, health and non-health professionals and, especially, families with breastfeeding children, to disseminate some considerations on the breastfeeding in older or prolonged children ".

What are the benefits of prolonging breastfeeding for the baby?

Prolonged breastfeeding has many benefits for both the baby and the mother, many of them for life.

1. Immunological benefits. When a baby over 1 year old is breastfed, he still enjoys the immunological benefits of breast milk, therefore, you are less likely to get sick and when he does, his recovery is faster than that of those babies who do not drink breast milk.

2. It provides the necessary calories. Contrary to what is believed, a study conducted in 2005, published in the journal Pediatrics, concluded that breast milk does not lose properties over time. Moreover, as of the year, the amount of fat in milk increases with respect to the first months. So, if a baby of 1 year or more is breastfed, he has one third of his daily caloric and protein needs insured.

3. It protects against cancer. It has also been found that there is a lower incidence of some types of cancer, such as childhood leukemia, autoimmune and metabolic diseases; in those babies who are breastfed for more than 6 months.

4. Develop intelligence. On the other hand, as explained by the AEP, prolonged breastfeeding is related to a greater intellectual development that is usually associated with a higher level of studies and income in adult life. According to Dr. Lessa Horta, author of a study conducted in Brazil and published in The Lancet Global Health, children breastfed for 12 months or more had a higher IQ (around 3.7 points), more years of education and earned about 20% more than the average level of income.

5. Emotional development. In addition, another benefit for the child is related to a better emotional and psychosocial development, which will allow him to relate adequately in his adult life. Dr. Ibone Olza (Child-adolescent and perinatal psychiatrist) adds that prolonged breastfeeding also facilitates a better understanding of spatial language and vision. And in this sense, they present greater ease in executive functions, planning, social and emotional intelligence and with language and increase their interest in social relations.

It should also be noted that a lower rate of child maltreatment, a greater perception of care and better mental health in adult life, in those children fed with breast milk, have been described.

6. Protects health. After analyzing the scientific evidence collected to date on breastfeeding, the WHO confirms other long-term health benefits such as, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, higher intelligence test performance, a lower rate of obesity and a lower chance of suffering from type 2 diabetes, among others.

Benefits of prolonged breastfeeding for the mother

We must not forget that prolonged breastfeeding also has benefits for the mother. So, the longer breastfeeding lasts, the lower the risk to women of suffering from diseases such as type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, hypertension and myocardial infarction.

Breastfeeding is not only a way to give your child the nutrients and antibodies he needs to develop his body, but it is also a way to provide a safe and quiet environment that will help him also develop his mind and strengthen the mother bond -son. That is why the decision that is or is not prolonged should be a decision free of prejudice and which you should approach naturally. The times you make with your little one, nobody else.

María José Madarnás. Easy Maternity

Video: Breastfeeding: Benefits Beyond the Bond

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