But what happens when you decide to finish breastfeeding your baby? Here's everything you need to know. The NHS recommends breastfeeding your baby exclusively feeding them breast milk only for the first six months, but it's completely up to you to decide when you want to bring it to an end - and there's really no right or wrong way to do it.
Weaning can come with a lot of mixed emotions. You may feel excited at the new independence you and you baby can both enjoy, as well as some sadness as your baby moves to another stage in her life. This is completely normal.
Breastfeeding is the normal way of providing young infants with the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development. Virtually all mothers can breastfeed, provided they have accurate information, and the support of their family, the health care system and society at large. Colostrum, the yellowish, sticky breast milk produced at the end of pregnancy, is recommended by WHO as the perfect food for the newborn, and feeding should be initiated within the first hour after birth.
Mothers are told by their paediatricians that their milk has no nutritional value past 12 months. They are told by their grandmothers that they are smothering their babies by continuing to nurse. They are told by their husbands that their breasts are meant for the bedroom and not for their babies. I come from a very breastfeeding-friendly family—but when my first child was a baby, I was told I should cut out night-time nursing before I felt ready to.
Over the past few months breastfeeding has been frequently highlighted in the news. From the Time magazine cover showing a four-year-old breastfeeding, to debates over nursing in public, it seems as if everyone has an opinion on how and when women should breastfeed. Most people agree that breastfeeding a newborn is a good thing, but the conversation quickly turns into a debate when discussing breastfeeding older children.
Every mother and baby are different — there is no specific age when the weaning process should begin. For example, you might be going back to work soon. This can make it challenging for some babies to get all their nourishment from breast milk.
Even though there's no universal approach to weaning, there are a few golden rules that can help the transition go smoothly for you and baby. When it comes to helping your kiddie kick the milk habit, the rule of thumb is to go slowly. This will protect your breasts from engorgement and ease your baby's anxiety.
Breast milk is the optimal form of nutrition in infancy. Breastfeeding protects an infant from a wide array of infectious and noninfectious diseases. With very few exceptions, in the healthy term infant, breast milk alone with vitamin D supplementation meets all of the nutritional requirements up to six months of life.