Most mothers wonder about the benefits of breastfeeding and how long they should do it. Do the advantages of breastfeeding have an expiry date? At what age is breast milk - the liquid gold - most beneficial for a child's development? When should a mother stop this practice? According to Dr. Gina Posner, M.D., a pediatrician at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, any amount of breast milk can help with a baby's development and she always encourages moms to nurse for as long as they can.
Even if a mom can only nurse for a few months, this helps to prevent infants' illnesses, providing them with good antibodies and helping their brain development. "It is the perfect food for your baby, but if you can't nurse, formulas are a great option as well," says Posner. Actually, the health benefits of breastfeeding never go down for a child. However, mothers should not breastfeed longer than they want to or feel comfortable about.
What are the advantages of extended breastfeeding? Well, it seems that "the longer, the better" is the plan. Breastfed babies will get not only protective antibodies but also precious omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and much more.
Finally, there are also benefits to the women who are breastfeeding. The longer they do it, the lower their risk of diseases such as breast and ovarian cancers, heart disease, hypertension, etc. In summary, breastfeeding should continue as long as it is desired and enjoyed by the two people involved: mom and baby.
Picture: Breastfeeding an infant (Wikimedia)