How many months should you breastfeed? This is definitely a question that new mothers deliberate over. Breastfeeding is a personal matter but is likely to draw strong opinions from friends and family. Some think there is a cut off age. Others believe that a child should be breastfed for as long as possible. But these are all varying opinions. What is the right guide that should mummies follow?
There really is no hard and fast rule for how long, but medical professionals do have a suggestion for the duration, based on health benefits. In fact, experts are now recommending breastfeeding for at least 6 months.
This duration results in a host of health benefits for the mummy and baby. For the mummy, this includes losing pregnancy weight faster and lowering the risk for heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers.
How many months should you breastfeed?
New research has found that mummies that breastfeed for six months or longer may have less fat in their livers. This lowers their risk of suffering from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFDL). NAFDL is usually linked with obesity and certain eating habits.
Researchers followed 844 women for 25 years after they gave birth. By the end of the study, the women were 49 years old on average.
They found that women who breastfed babies for at least 6 months were 52% less likely to develop liver disease than mothers who nursed for less than 1 month. About 6 % of the women in the study developed NAFLD.
“This analysis contributes to a growing body of evidence that shows breastfeeding a child offers significant health benefits to the mother,” says study leader Dr. Veeral Ajmera from the University of California, San Diego.
“Future studies is needed to assess if breastfeeding can decrease the severity in NAFLD in women at high risk,” adds Ajmera.
Exercise and breastfeeding tips
How many months should you breastfeed? Breastfeeding longer can also give you a smaller waist circumference. | Image Source: Pexels
This study provides one answer to the question ‘how many months should you breastfeed?’ Interestingly, it also noted that women who breastfeed for longer periods have healthier lifestyles. This may also have contributed to lowering the risk of NAFLD since physical activity helps improve fatty liver disease.
Another interesting finding was that women who exercise appear to nurse for longer periods. So if you’re planning to nurse longer, you might want to start incorporating exercise into your lifestyle.
What you need to know about exercising and breastfeeding:
- Exercising does not affect milk supply. Look for a workout plan that involves moderate activity. Some studies have shown that vigorous exercise can change lactic acid levels in breastmilk thus affecting its taste.
- Don’t skimp on calories. Your body has to work to make breast milk. This burns calories. You will burn more calories when exercising so keep that in mind. Replace the burnt calories from a proper diet.
- Stay hydrated. Your body will not function fully if it is dehydrated. Then it may not produce enough milk for your baby. So, pay attention to your body and notice if you are thirsty.
Now that you know how many months should you breastfeed, it’s time to start exercising too!
Source: Reuters, Aaptiv and The US National Library of Medicine
Also read: The psychological benefits of breastfeeding and A Singaporean’s mum story of extended breastfeeding