Nothing But Purple: Nursing/Breastfeeding Article.   

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Nursing/Breastfeeding Article.

IF YOU NURSE YOUR BABY FOR JUST A FEW DAYS, he willhave received your colostrum, or early milk. Byproviding antibodies and the food his brand-new bodyexpects, nursing gives your baby his first - andeasiest - "immunization" and helps get his digestivesystem going smoothly. Breastfeeding is how your babyexpects to start, and helps your own body recover fromthe birth. Why not use your time in the hospital toprepare your baby for life through the gift of nursing?

IF YOU NURSE YOUR BABY FOR FOUR TO SIX WEEKS, you willhave eased him through the most critical part of hisinfancy. Newborns who are not breastfed are much morelikely to get sick or be hospitalized, and have manymore digestive problems than breastfed babies. After 4to 6 weeks, you'll probably have worked through anyearly nursing concerns, too. Make a serious goal ofnursing for a month, call La Leche League or aLactation Consultant if you have any questions, andyou'll be in a better position to decide whethercontinued breastfeeding is for you.IF YOU

NURSE YOUR BABY FOR 3 OR 4 MONTHS, her digestivesystem will have matured a great deal, and she will bemuch better able to tolerate the foreign substances incommercial formulas. If there is a family history ofallergies, though, you will greatly reduce her risk bywaiting a few more months before adding anything at allto her diet of breastmilk. And giving nothing but yourmilk for the first four months gives strong protectionagainst ear infections for a whole year.

IF YOU NURSE YOUR BABY FOR 6 MONTHS, she will be muchless likely to suffer an allergic reaction to formulaor other foods. At this point, her body is probablyready to tackle some other foods, whether or not youwean. Nursing for at least 6 months helps ensure betterhealth throughout your baby's first year of life, andreduces your own risk of breast cancer. Nursing for 6months or more may greatly reduce your little one'srisk of ear infections and childhood cancers. Andexclusive, frequent breastfeeding during the first 6months, if your periods have not returned, provides 98%effective contraception.

IF YOU NURSE YOUR BABY FOR 9 MONTHS, you will have seenhim through the fastest and most important brain andbody development of his life on the food that wasdesigned for him - your milk. You may even notice thathe is more alert and more active than babies who didnot have the benefit of their mother's milk. Weaningmay be fairly easy at this age... but then, so isnursing! If you want to avoid weaning this early, besure you've been available to nurse for comfort as wellas just for food.IF

YOU NURSE YOUR BABY FOR A YEAR, you can avoid theexpense and bother of formula. Her one-year-old bodycan probably handle most of the table foods your familyenjoys. Many of the health benefits this year ofnursing has given your child will last her whole life.She will have a stronger immune system, for instance,and will be much less likely to need orthodontia orspeech therapy. The American Academy of Pediatricsrecommends nursing for at least a year, to help ensurenormal nutrition and health for your baby.

IF YOU NURSE YOUR BABY FOR 18 MONTHS, you will havecontinued to provide your baby's normal nutrition andprotection against illness at a time when illness iscommon in other babies. Your baby is probably wellstarted on table foods, too. He has had time to form asolid bond with you - a healthy starting point for hisgrowing independence. And he is old enough that you andhe can work together on the weaning process, at a pacethat he can handle. A former U.S. Surgeon General said,"it is the lucky baby... that nurses to age two."

IF YOUR CHILD WEANS WHEN SHE IS READY, you can feelconfident that you have met your baby's physical andemotional needs in a very normal, healthy way. Incultures where there is no pressure to wean, childrentend to nurse for at least two years. The World HealthOrganization and UNICEF strongly encouragebreastfeeding through toddlerhood: "Breastmilk is animportant source of energy and protein, and helps toprotect against disease during the child's second yearof life."* Our biology seems geared to a weaning age ofbetween 2 1/2 and 7 years**, and it just makes sense tobuild our children's bones from the milk that wasdesigned to build them. Your milk provides antibodiesand other protective substances as long as you continuenursing, and families of nursing toddlers often findthat their medical bills are lower than theirneighbors' for years to come. Mothers who have nursedlongterm have a still lower risk of developing breastcancer. Children who were nursed longterm tend to bevery secure, and are less likely to suck their thumbsor carry a blanket. Nursing can help ease both of youthrough the tears, tantrums, and tumbles that come withearly childhood, and helps ensure that any illnessesare milder and easier to deal with. It's an all-purposemothering tool you won't want to be without! Don'tworry that your child will nurse forever. All childrenstop eventually, no matter what you do, and there aremore nursing toddlers around than you might guess.

WHETHER YOU NURSE FOR A DAY OR FOR SEVERAL YEARS, the decision to nurse your child is one you need neverregret. And whenever weaning takes place, remember thatit is a big step for both of you. If you choose to weanbefore your child is ready, be sure to do it gradually,and with love.

*Facts for Life: A Communication Challenge, publishedby UNICEF, WHO, and UNESCO, 1989**K Dettwyler. A Time to Wean. Breastfeeding Abstractsvol 14 no 1 1994©1997 Diane Wiessinger, MS, IBCLC 136 Ellis HollowCreek Road Ithaca, NY 14850


  1. Hippie Family...June 8, 2008 at 9:21 AM

    good article, and thanks for stopping by our blog.

  2. Tiaras & TantrumsJune 16, 2008 at 9:00 AM

    love this!
    I nursed all 3 od my kids - son until 15 months b/c he was my first and I was pregnant again and MIltold me I HAD to stop - I wished I wouldn't have been pressured to stop - daughter until 16 months - again I was pregnant and she really didn't want it anymore except at night. Still nursing baby - she will be 2 in a couple of days - she is self weaning right now. I woulnd't have it any other way - I nurse and only nurse - non of my kids ever had a bottle.


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