As long as possible breastfeeding has numerous health benefits for the child – However, long-term breastfeeding is rather low in Germany and partly also a controversial topic.
What is long-term breastfeeding?
First: There is no recommendation from health experts for the length of breastfeeding. The World Health Organization, the National Nursing Commission or the German Nutrition Society recommend that babies be fully breastfed for at least four to six months after birth.
The gift of solid food is by no means contrary to further breastfeeding. From the experts’ point of view, mothers can continue to breastfeed their children for as long as they like. When it comes to long-term breastfeeding is quite subjectiveSize.
As a long-term breastfeeding mother will usually feel if her child among the same age children in their environment is the only one that still receives breast milk. Then at the latest, the questions will also pile up, how long they still want to breastfeed their child.
The length of breastfeeding is culturally influenced
In the length of breastfeeding the culture of society plays a central role. An American study shows that the so-called primitive age of the so-called primates is on average just under three years – a limit that is exceeded in many cases, however.
The sucking reflex of the children – and thus, at least theoretically, the need for breastfeeding – is maintained until the fourth or even the sixth year of life. Most children, who are allowed to decide freely on the duration of their lactation, breastfeeding at the age of two to four years themselves.
In the mean value of the Ulmer study, the mothers indicated that they could not imagine breastfeeding their children beyond their third year of life.
Often in the industrialized countries such a long breastfeeding relationship is not prevalent here is the so-called distal (distant, distanced) care: Although mothers communicate verbally and non-verbally intensive with their child, on the physical level, however, it is important that both as soon as possible achieve relative autonomy.
The way there leads – in addition to practical utensils such as strollers, cradles, playpens, play cases … or the earliest possible removal of the child in his room – also on the early transition to Bottle feeding, so a rather limited period of lactation.
In contrast, long breastfeeding does mean not only a special emotional but also a very intense physical bond between mother and child.
What are the benefits of long-term breastfeeding?
Long breastfeeding also brings numerous health benefits to the child:
- Studies show that breastfeeding, even after the transition to complementary foods, ensures an optimal supply of nutrients, calories and vitamins. With the same amount of food, nursing children receive significantly more energy than non-breastfed children, depending on their age. Proteins, trace elements and vitamins from breast milk are particularly easy to use by the child’s organism.
- Breast milk also supports the work of the child’s immune system after the age of one. In the second lactation year, it even contains higher concentrations of certain antibodies and enzymes. Defensive substances, which the mother forms against current infections, also benefit her mother through her mother’s milk. Children who are breastfed for a long time are less likely to be ill and need fewer antibiotics.
- Breastfed children can more easily overcome disease, lose less weight, and suffer less from dehydration symptoms, for example, in gastrointestinal disorders.
- Kinthose who have been breastfed for more than six months are less likely to suffer from allergies and infections. Their risk of developing obesity, diabetes and some other chronic diseases later in life is also reduced compared to shorter or non-breastfed babies.
And what are the disadvantages?
Disadvantages for mother and child are hardly associated with long-term breastfeeding. Most arguments against long breastfeeding are based on various prejudices. Of course, mothers are particularly close to their child through breastfeeding, which can result in some mobility restrictions.
In older children, however, it is possible to restrict breastfeeding to certain times or to interrupt breastfeeding, for example during a mother’s trip, and to continue on their return.
Mothers who return to work after the family break, but still want to breastfeed their child, can take a break from nursing breaks – usually a correspondingly reduced working time. Alternatively, your child receives pumped breast milk. For older children, breastfeeding may be limited to afternoon and evening.
Opponents of long-term breastfeeding often argue that long-term breastfeeding “depletes” or overpowers the mother, but that does not matter in a balanced and wholesome diet. Most women accept the extensive renunciation of alcohol and other stimulants during breastfeeding.
For smaller operations or drug therapy, physicians today have a wider range of breast-tolerant medications available.
What about pollutants in breast milk?
Many people fear that breastfeeding does not contain enough nutrients at a certain age of the child. This idea is supported, among other things, by its somewhat watery consistency, but it is wrong because the composition of breast milk adapts to the needs of the child, even during long periods of breastfeeding.
Of course, from the second half of the year, a gradual introduction of complementary foods is necessary. Fears of high pollution of breast milk are also unfounded. Both the World Health Organization and the German Nutrition Society emphasize that there is no scientific evidence for this.
Does long-term breastfeeding affect dental health?
Some dentists and pediatricians warn that long-term breastfeeding – and especially the evening breastfeeding – could increase the disposition of tooth decay. Scientific studies are somewhat contradictory on this topic. From most experts, however, long breastfeeding does not lead to dental problems if accompanied by thorough dental hygiene.
It is important that the child does not drink constantly. Breastmilk, by the way, as well as bottled milk, contains lactose and lactic acid, which can cause tooth decay if left in contact with the teeth for too long. In addition to regular brushing your teeth from the first milk tooth, breaks between meals are also important for dental health.
Prejudices against long-term breastfeeding
Mothers who also breastfeed their older children often have to defend themselves against prejudice. Many outsiders find that long-term breastfeeding “spoils” a child too much, or at least does not find breastfeeding in the public adequate.
In a subversive way, it is often the case that the female breast is associated with a sexual stimulus, which is transmitted to breastfeeding. Long-term breastfeeding mothers are only advised to respond to such criticism with self-confidence.
However, agree with the long-term breastfeeding should be the dad. Some men are quite jealous of this closeness between mother and child, from which they feel excluded. However, the experience of many mothers shows that their partners support a long period of breastfeeding and are therefore often even proud of their wives.
- Long-term breastfeeding is what most women and even experts do when a child receives breast milk even after the first year of life.
- There is no upper limit for breastfeeding – about the length of breastfeeding, mother and child can only follow their rhythm.
- Health disadvantages for mother and child are not associated with long-term breastfeeding. On the contrary, breastfeeding for as long as possible ensures an optimal supply of nutrients and energy to the child, has a preventative effect against infections as well as various chronic diseases and supports a close emotional bond.