Nursing Past Six Months

Nursing Past Six MonthsSix months is a long time in Baby Land. That’s a lot of sleepless nights. Maybe you’ve made it to the magical six-month mark espoused as the suggested benchmark many mamas work toward. Congratulations!

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests 6 months of exclusive breast-feeding followed by nursing with the addition of complimentary foods until at least 12 months, continuing “as long as mutually desired by mother and baby.”

For some mamas, that 6-month mark is the goal and hurdles of work, time, sleepless nights, sickness, or other challenges are enough to bring nursing to an end. I remember, at times, feeling touched-out or just overall “over” it. An afternoon here, a day or two there, every so often I thought of quitting, but I always told myself I’d reconsider the next day. That got us to over a year for both of our boys. If you’re willing, I think there are a few reasons to stick with it.

At the very least your milk is nutritionally appropriate compared to the formula you’d need to buy until baby completes year one, not to mention, free. More than that, your milk is unique in a way nothing else is, changing over time and full of nutrients catered to addressing your baby’s needs. This does not stop at 6 months, and those next months are filled with sitting, a mouth full of teeth, crawling, walking, first words, and a number of other major developmental milestones.

In addition, research from a variety of credible sources shows a variety of correlations related to continued breastfeeding and overall health. Cognitive, language, and motor development increase with nursing; allergies, respiratory issues, diabetes, and obesity all decrease in prevalence with nursing. These benefits take strongest hold in those first six months but continue rising even after six months. And not just baby benefits—breast and ovarian cancer risk lowers every year you nurse.

And last, while I firmly believe that any mama can comfort, bond with, and enjoy her babe(s) without breastfeeding, nursing provides a unique way to be close with your babe. The skin-to-skin touch of a mother’s love offers a closeness, not to mention a good reason for a tired mama to sit down for a few minutes and rest while baby feeds. Now THAT is reason to keep chugging along while baby chugs away!

Lynette Moran shares her life with her husband and two sons, ages 1 and 3 years. She has cloth diapered both since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

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