Breastfeeding is one of the most beautiful bonding moments between mother and baby. Yet, associated with this act is a wide range of questions that (almost) every mother asks. Do you know the benefits and difficulties of prolonged breastfeeding?
Come and find out more about this topic with Baby on Board.
Breastfeeding mothers like to make sure that they make the right and healthy decisions to ensure that breastfeeding goes as expected and that their baby derives the greatest benefits from it.
So, as can be expected, questions about breastfeeding are numerous and very different from one another, and at every step of the way there are many questions to be asked.
During the breastfeeding period, a mother will want to know what the best breastfeeding positions are, how to get her baby to latch on, what the best foods are to stimulate milk production are and also what the benefits, if any, of using a nursing pillow are.
These are some of the valid and important questions that will be asked from the very beginning, guiding this wonderful act that is giving your baby the breast.
Yet, as time passes, the questions change. At a certain moment the introduction of solid foods will take place and the baby will start to eat his own soups and baby food.
And a fundamental doubt arises: until when should I breastfeed my child?
The recommendation of the World Health Organization points out that breastfeeding should be done at least until the age of six months.
Even so, it does not deny the importance that the benefits of breast milk have even for an older child.
Faced with the advantages of breastfeeding, mums sometimes choose to continue breastfeeding. And prolonged breastfeeding often extends to the baby’s first, second, third or even third birthday.
Extended breastfeeding is, however, surrounded by question marks.
Although it is done by mothers who want to give the best of the best to their babies, society looks at this habit with strangeness and even condemns it.
Knowing this, we decided to look into the subject to discover the doubts and problems related to prolonged breastfeeding, exploring its benefits, risks and difficulties.
Follow us to find out more about this subject.
1. Prolonged breastfeeding: the doubts and the polemics
Knowing until when to breastfeed is a frequent doubt for pregnant women and there is no single answer. In fact, there are as many answers as there are questions, since it is up to each mother to follow her own feelings on the matter.
Weaning must be done naturally and, if for some mothers this is a process that takes place at 6 months, for others it can only happen when the baby is 2 or 3 years old.
The social factors and the pressure that surrounds breastfeeding mothers create embarrassment for the mother, who feels that she may be doing something wrong by choosing to keep breastfeeding her child.
Even so, since this is a healthy and natural habit, the truth is that a woman should not be subject to this biased view that disturbs her so much, nor should she be the victim of social pressure to stop breastfeeding her baby.
Despite the fears, the pressures and the doubts, prolonged breastfeeding can be beneficial for children.
The right moment to stop breastfeeding should be analysed, case by case, by the mother, taking into consideration the personality of the baby, their physical development, their overall nutrition and also, of course, your will and availability to do so.
So, even if the child’s solid diet is already sufficient to fulfil his nutritional needs, breastfeeding the child is a possibility for those who wish to do so and there are, in fact, several benefits related to this practice.
2. The benefits of prolonged breastfeeding
Extended breastfeeding can be considered as all breastfeeding that takes place after the baby is 12 months old.
This type of breastfeeding can have beneficial effects on the child; UNICEF itself states that even for a 24 month old child, it can be the source of 31% of the child’s total energy and remains an important source of nutrition.
According to various studies, when breastfeeding is prolonged, the mother will be strengthening the child’s immune system (making it less likely that the child will contract diseases, even in adulthood); stimulating the maternal bond, providing an extra feeling of security and comfort to the child; reducing the risks of future situations of obesity; or, as a recent Brazilian study published in the Lancet Global Health Journal pointed out, even improving the child’s mental capacities and promoting their future success.
Moreover, prolonged breastfeeding can be an added value when travelling and tends to ease mothers’ menstrual cramps and reduce PMS symptoms.
These benefits mean that, despite insisting only on breastfeeding up to the age of 6 months, the Org
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“A amamentação prolongada pode ainda fazer com que … o bebé tenha mais dificuldade em tornar-se independente, o que pode impactar na sua evolução e aprendizagem social.”
Isso não é verdade, é desmentido por todas as pesquisas e é um mito ativamente combatido pelas Sociedades Brasileira e Americana de Pediatria.