One of the most frequently asked questions to me these days is “Doctor should I continue breastfeeding my child? He/she is over one year old”. This concern is arising as mothers want to give the best immunity advantage to their children as the pandemic rages on.
To these moms I always encourage them to carry on breastfeeding till the child is two years of age. But today I want to tell you that you are not just giving your child the advantage of breastfeeding but yourself too! Breastfeeding may seem like it is draining your body reserves, but it’s far from that and in fact making you stronger.
Your uterus contracts better because of the hormones released by breastfeeding. This in turn reduces blood loss after delivery and keeps your hemoglobin levels stable. Another way by which blood loss is reduced is that breastfeeding delays periods on average by a year. So one year of being period free means less iron lost!
Research shows that mothers who breastfeed have stronger bones in old age. Bone weakness as we age is known as osteoporosis and is commonly found after menopause. Breastfeeding offering protection against osteoporosis comes as a surprise since calcium is passed to the baby in the breast milk.
But the beauty of nature is such that it improves the absorption of calcium from the food much better and also by other mechanisms protects our bones. So breastfeed in your youth for stronger bones in your old age.
Breastfeeding not only protects you from breast cancer but also ovarian and uterus cancers.
Mothers who developed diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes) had less requirement for diabetes treatment after delivery. In fact they are less likely to develop full-fledged diabetes in the future.
Weight loss by breastfeeding is totally different from weight loss by exercise and diet. Breastfeeding burns the deep organ fat. This is the fat that puts us at the risk of high cholesterol, heart disease and high blood pressure in the future. Protect yourself from these metabolic diseases by breastfeeding!
Breastfeeding burns 500-600 calories a day! That’s more calories burnt than jogging for an hour!
Yes I know breastfeeding takes a lot of effort to establish. But once established it is one of the easiest and most convenient things to do! Baby scraped a knee? Comfort him by breastfeeding. Baby unwell, give him antibodies that your breastmilk is replete with! Want to head out for an errand? No need to pack a pacifier, formula, hot water and sterilized bottle. Just take your baby, throw in a spare diaper and walk out!
It sounds counterintuitive, but here is the twist. The hormone produced by night time feeds has a calming effect on the mother and gives her better quality sleep. Once you figure out how to breastfeed your baby lying down, after a point in time you won’t even wake to feed your baby. The baby will groggily reach out to you and latch and also unlatch.
Breastfeeding saves you gym money and also loads of cash you would spend on feeding equipment and formula! The cost of formula, bottles, nipple, pacifiers and sterilizing equipment and washes, adds up to over 50,000 rupees in the first year of life. And this estimate is based on regular brands and not the pricey premium brands!
This is the most important aspect of breastfeeding. The hormones released by breastfeeding makes us love our babies deeper, bond with them, and makes the fatigue that comes with motherhood easier to tolerate. It protects against postpartum anxiety and depression.
In fact moms do feel a dip in their mood once they wean off their babies. Be sure to not be pressured into weaning off your baby just because he/she can walk and talk and outsiders compel you to. You be your own judge. In ideal circumstances a mother can feed her child up till 2 years of age if the mother wishes to breastfeed for that long.