Breastfeeding offers many benefits for both mother and child. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that nursing mothers continue to breastfeed their babies for at least the first year. The benefits of breastfeeding for babies includes a lower risk of allergies, diabetes and other health-related problems. Babies who breastfeed receive their mothers' antibodies through the breast milk, and babies typically have less digestion problems if they breastfeed. There are benefits for the mom as well. New research conducted by Dr Tongzhang Zheng of the Yale School of Medicine, supports the fact that mothers who extend their breastfeeding beyond the first year may lessen their risk of developing cancer. Mothers who breastfeed typically lose weight more quickly than mothers who don't. For those mothers who want to continue breastfeeding, it is possible to extend breastfeeding for several months or years.
- Breastfeed as soon as possible. When your baby is first born, it is important that you breastfeed her as soon as possible. Of course, friends and family will want to see the baby soon after she is born, but plan on spending a few moments in the recovery room introducing your child to your breast. Don't worry if she doesn't appear very interested in nursing. The point is to bond with your baby through breastfeeding.
- Breastfeed on demand. Once you arrive home, you need to nurse as often as your baby is hungry. In the first few weeks, this may mean every hour and a half to two hours. You'll soon learn when your baby is hungry. As she grows and develops, you'll notice that her feedings will not be as frequent. Breastfeeding on demand, however, will build your milk supply. Breast milk is produced based on supply and demand. The more you breastfeed, the more milk your body will produce.
- Going back to work. Many women worry that their milk supply will dwindle once they return to work. You can extend breastfeeding even if you do work. You'll need to invest in a good breast pump and use it frequently throughout the day. Store your milk in a refrigerator and take it home in a cooler. If you continue to pump several times a day, you can continue to extend your breastfeeding for as long as you like.
- Breastfeed your baby as soon as you get home. While pumping your breast milk is a good option for working moms, baby needs to breastfeed as soon as you arrive back home. You should also plan on breastfeeding right before you leave for work.
- Extending breastfeeding beyond one year. Once your baby has reached her first birthday, she will be receiving the majority of her nutrition from solid foods. Breast milk can still play an important role in her diet, however. While you shouldn't replace her regular meals with breast milk, you can continue to breastfeed her several times a day in between meals. Doing so will continue to extend breastfeeding into the toddler years of your baby's life.