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Thursday, July 29, 2010

How long should I breastfeed my baby?

One of my friends recently asked me how long she should breastfeed.  Her daughter just turned a year in June and she was feeling the social pressure of when she should "stop." I could tell she (and her daughter) weren't ready to stop.  Her daughter was still feeding 3 times per day. It didn't sound like she was ready to me!  She brought it up because was feeling embarrassed that she was still feeding her baby human milk.  So sad that she should feel embarrassed to do the most natural thing a mother can do with her baby.

So, for all those mommies out there who feel pressured to stop breastfeeding, I will give you the American Academy of Pediatric's answer:  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusively breastfeeding (no other foods or supplementation) until 6 months of age.  They continue to say that "Breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child." Emphasis is mine, but I am pretty sure they are encouraging that babies receive human milk for longer than a year.  They also go on to say "There is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychologic or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer".

Wow, pretty counter-culture I would say...I remember waitressing in college and one of the wait staff freaking out and thinking it was "disgusting" that a woman was breastfeeding at the table.  Keep in mind that she was covered up (but even if she wasnt...) and the baby was really young (under 6 months). I mean, come on, the baby has to eat! Should the mother stay home for the first year of her baby's life? Should she let her baby scream and cry in the restaurant because it is offensive to some waitress?

I don't know about your pediatrician, but mine recommends at least 1 year and said that 2 is even better. He wouldn't come out and say "you should do this____" because it is not widely accepted to breastfeed your baby much longer than a year and sadly most of his patient's moms probably don't even make it to a year.

How long do I plan to breastfeed Levi?  I don't know. I am taking it one day at a time and going as long as mutually desired between the two of us.  That doesn't account for any one else's opinion including Sally the busybody neighbor, or Carol the babysitter or your mother-in-law, or your mother, or your sister or brother. 

Do what is good for you, and give your baby the milk he/she needs as long as you and he/she deem necessary.

In health and wellness,

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