You and your family are about to welcome a “bundle of joy” into the world. You already have the baby’s nursery set up, painted, and decorated down to the last detail. Even your bags are packed for the hospital. There’s one thing that is still weighing heavily on your mind though, breastfeeding. You have many questions and have heard varying opinions from family and friends who meanwell. Well, since you still have questions and concerns, let us help clear things up for you.
Breastfeeding is the best source of nutrition for babies’hands down, not to mention the incredible bond that is shared and enhanced between mother and child while nursing. Did you know that the bond you form with your little one increases his brain function and makes him smarter? This is true especially if you nurse him past a year and into his second year. Breast milk has “good fats” in it, also known as Omega-3 fatty acid, or DHA. Nursing also helps your baby’s digestion, as well as strengthen his immune system, because breast milk creates a special lining in his digestive tract that protects it from germs. These are called immunoglobin, or IgA and the antibodies in the milk will boost his immune system. The protective lining of his stomach makes it easier to digest your milk and reduces spittingup reflux, and constipation. Formula does not and cannot replicate this protective coating which is why babies who are fed formula are more susceptible to childhood illnesses and tend to have more digestive problems, even later in life.Breast milk also provides the essential vitamins, proteins, fats, and minerals that your growing son needs, especially in the first 6-12 months of life. Your breast milk is specifically for your baby, no one else’s. Isn’t that an amazing thing as a mom?
The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages nursing mothers to breastfeed their infants through the first year. According toDr. Sears website, breastfeeding your baby in his first two years of life benefits him just as much as when you first started nursing him as a newborn. Breastfeeding your infant past the one year mark is referred to as extended breastfeeding. If you chose to continue to nurse your son after his first birthday, you would both continue to reap the benefits. Some of these include:
- Breastfeeding continues to providenourishment and immune support for your son. His eyes, and especially his brain is developing at an alarming rate. Did you know that your son’s brain grows 3x its size in the first two years? This is why it will benefit him if you decide to extend your breastfeeding with him.
- Your baby will continue to receive comfort through skin-to-skin contact and eye contact that is unique to nursing. Life gets busy, and nursing is a way for your toddler and you to connect through the day.
- The “feel good” hormone, Oxytocin,is released when you nurse your baby. Thiscauses you to relax while you nurse your baby and get away from the stressors of the day. The body’s ability to release this hormone is especially good if you happen to have postpartum depression. Breastfeeding your baby gives you a natural “high.”
- You have a lower risk of different kinds of cancers, like ovarian, endometrial, breast, and uterine cancer. You are also less susceptible to have osteoporosis later in life.
- Your son is less likely to have diabetes, central nervous system disorders (like MS), heart disease and some cancers.
- Babies who breastfeed are healthier overall. They have better hearing because they are less likely to have ear infections, are less likely to become obese, and have better teeth because of the natural sucking helps align his teeth.
You can be sure that you will get some people who approve of your decision to continue nursing, and you will butt heads with others on this issue. Ultimately, only you and your baby can answer this question. You will know when the time is right, trust your instincts. For further information, checkout this link: http://www.parenting.com/article/ask-dr-sears-extended-breastfeeding—-handling-the-criticism.
Like all things, you will need to give yourself and your baby time to learn how to nurse. It usually takes a couple of weeks for you and your baby to get into the routine and learn the technique, as well as which nursing positions work for you. If you still have questions and concerns that we didn’t cover in this article, contact La Leche League (http://lalecheleague.org). They have experienced and knowledgeable lactation consultants who are a wealth of information, encouragement, and support. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of this outstanding organization.
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