A lovely action that permits you to feed babies thanks to God’s gift of breasts.
It is truly a wonderful thing that no mother should be ashamed of.
That said, one of my children’s playmate’s mother brought up a certain topic that got me reflecting long and hard about the benefits AND the potential side effects of this natural phenomena when prolonged.
You might be thinking that this is a pretty weird topic to bring up on a Sunday afternoon during teatime, right?
Hehe, well if you truly were pondering over the previous question, this can mean three things:
1) I am seriously a mind reader;
2) You’re a weirdo for pondering over this;
3) You have probably not been in the mom game for a long time. (Honestly speaking, ever since I became a parent, I have learned more about the human body and sleeping through mommy gossip than I have from all of my high school’s health classes combined)
It’s up to you to decide which one’s correct.
Today I want to discuss with all of you the possible negative effects breastfeeding can have on infants, especially their teeth, if done over a longer period of time than the norm.
You might have already guessed the major discussion about a certain side effect solely by making a connection with the title…
The Reality Of Breastfeeding
Now before we get serious, talking about the consequences, we shall first take a look at the benefits and the whole purpose of breastfeeding.
Just like when you judge a debate or a trial, you always need to know both sides of the story before taking action.
When I was new to breastfeeding, I was fascinated by it and all things birth-related and got to learn more about both sides in detail, thanks to the wonderful internet and services like Starseed birth service run by a birth doula named Caitlyn.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics via medicinenet.com, going by the results of many scientific trials and reports, it has long since been confirmed that human breast milk truly is the preferred drink for all human infants, including the premature and unwell babies.
Go figure. Totally thought it would be goat’s milk (I am typing this in a sarcastic tone in case you couldn’t tell…)
Unsurprisingly, human milk contains a perfect equilibrium of all the nutrition necessary for the development of a healthy baby of our species. By this I mean it possesses all of the amino acids (building blocks of protein), healthy fats, and natural sugars required for proper structural development (got tired of repeating the word human).
The minerals, enzymes, and vitamins within the liquid substance are equally useful and aid the human baby’s intestinal tract and digestion.
Additionally, breastfeeding serves as a great opportunity for bonding and has many other benefits (although I won’t list them all since I don’t want to make this a chapter book).
However, if you do want to look more into them, I strongly suggest viewing NursingTheBaby’s blog. Nicole has even dedicated an entire webpage category listing the numerous benefits of lactating, in nicely-structured articles (If you know me well, you’ll know how much I appreciate a well-written article).
With this information, we can conclude that breastfeeding is highly important during the beginning stages of life, but the question is:
How Long Should We REALLY Be Breastfeeding For?
Breastfeeding (or iron-fortified infant formula like the one made by Similac) are highly recommended to be the sole source of nutrition for infants until they reach about 6 months old. Following this time frame, you may start introducing your baby to solids and other foods alongside it.
Lactating should be done for at least 12 months, after which you may wean the child off when desired.
The following information may possibly sway your decision concerning the length of time you want to spend nursing your kid after he/she is one year of age.
The Breastfeeding Controversy
I just want to say; I know my audience (a.k.a you the readers) most likely wants a definitive answer when it comes to the ideal time-span lactating. However, I am sadly unable to provide an exact numerical value .
I really wish I could.
When it comes down to it all, there is no proper full-proof evidence certainly claiming that breastfeeding longer leads to any negative consequences in babies. This is considering there are a ton of conflicting and controversial studies out there.
Bearing this in mind, when mothers continue nursing their children beyond the age of 24 months, researchers have SUGGESTED that it MAY lead to higher chances of early tooth decay, despite no concrete evidence supporting this statement.
You can read more about the study released by the journal Pediatrics here.
This problem is said to stem from the mother’s milk as well as the actual physical action taken during this specific process and more so during bottle-feeding.
Well, when kids drink the milk of their mother or from a bottle, the liquid substance begins to pool in their mouth (this occurrence is more pronounced in bottle-feeding), covering their gums and whatnot.
Now, this wouldn’t be so much of a problem if it were water or something else of the plain sort, but milk contains naturally occurring sugars that dentists are worried will eat away at the child’s growing baby teeth that have begun to develop beyond 24 months.
Looking at this information may compel you to cut your child’s suckling time short but let me just say that extended breastfeeding beyond 12 months isn’t bad and is quite healthy for the child’s structural development.
There is significant evidence pointing towards the fact that suckling can improve/forward the little person’s maxilla development, making him/her more physically attractive in the future.
Besides, it contains all the healthy stuff that can propel healthy growth. I won’t go into so much detail, but you can learn more about the topic, thanks to this great book called Evidence-Based Care for Breastfeeding Mothers.
Knowing all of this, I do not think extended periods of breastfeeding is truly a concern. But if you wish to be fully assured, simply try to stay within 24 months, slowly weaning your baby, and everything should turn out perfectly.
Now, If you don’t know how to wean your child or are a little confused on the whole breastfeeding thing, I got your back. I recommend checking out OhBabyLactationCare. Lori gives fantastic weaning advice, imparts breastfeeding tips, provides nursing consultations, and even informs you of lactation care (which I didn’t even know was a thing!). Super helpful if you’re new to all of this.
I don’t think breastfeeding longer is really a concern. It has so many health benefits and very minor risks. If you’re really worried just keep it between 12-24 months. SOOOO stop stressing!
To tell you the truth, I would be more worried about other factors, like arsenic in baby food, the impact of technology on your family, or the consequences of living in such an unfiltered and materialistic modern society. You can read some posts from Living Above The Noise for more info on that topic ;).