How long should I feed my baby
How long is breastfeeding ideal?
Many women stop breastfeeding early
In Germany, however, many babies are given industrially produced infant milk, known as formula food, before they are five months old. "Over 90 percent of women breastfeed after giving birth, but the dropout rate is then high," says Michael Abou-Dakn. German children are far from the goal of the World Health Organization (WHO) that babies should only drink breast milk for six months. This recommendation is particularly useful for babies in developing countries. "But that would also be desirable here," says Abou-Dakn. In the eyes of the experts, it would be a big step if more mothers in this country were to fully breastfeed until the fifth month and only then slowly wean their child from the breast.
Breastfeeding children and their mothers are healthier on average
The arguments for this have been proven by many studies: women, for example, lower their risk of developing breast cancer or diabetes. Children who are breastfed are less likely to become overweight in kindergarten. They are less likely to get infections, especially of the gastrointestinal tract, and are better protected from sudden infant death syndrome. "It is a potpourri of many topics that speaks in favor of exclusive breastfeeding in the first four months."
No recommendation on the optimal length of breastfeeding
But how long should a child have breast milk in total? The National Breastfeeding Commission does not give any recommendations on the duration of breastfeeding. She advises: Every woman should decide for herself - and not have to justify herself for it.
"As long as mother and child feel comfortable, everything is fine," adds Michael Abou-Dakn. The reference to pollutants in breast milk, which is repeatedly cited for early weaning, is no longer applicable. "That is not relevant for the child," said Abou-Dakn.
No guilty conscience if you refrain from breastfeeding
And what if breastfeeding doesn't work out or a woman doesn't want to breastfeed? Nobody should condemn this, and therefore no woman needs to have a guilty conscience. "If you feed your baby formula food, you do not harm it, you simply take away the benefits that breast milk offers," explains the gynecologist. Since newborn milk, the so-called colostrum, is particularly rich in its composition, it would be good if infants could at least have it in their first days of life. Otherwise, the expert advises paying particular attention to a lot of loving and close skin contact and cuddling with the baby. Because an important point that breastfeeding automatically promotes is the bond between mother and child.
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