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Breastfeeding beyond six months: these are the short- and long-term benefits for the health of the baby and the mother

Breast milk is the best food that we can give to the baby and it is also the first vaccine that he receives, since colostrum contains antibodies and substances that will protect him against infections and diseases.

The WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months, and at least up to two years supplemented with other foods. Although we all know the benefits that it brings in its first stage, today we want to review the benefits for the current and future health of mother and baby, which offers the maintenance of breastfeeding beyond six months. Did you know them all?

Protects the baby against diseases and obesity

The proteins and nutrients that breast milk contains in its different stages, provide an important pillar of health for the baby, both during his childhood and also in his adulthood , strengthening his immune system.

And it is that according to the experts, breastfeeding would reduce the risk of suffering from infections, diarrhea, gastroenteritis, candidiasis, certain childhood cancers, type 1 and 2 diabetes, and obesity. In addition, according to the latest studies, it would act as a powerful shield against respiratory diseases, and it has been seen that it considerably reduces the risk of wheezing and wheezing in the baby in its first years of life.

It favors its correct oral development

Breast suction stimulates the baby’s oral muscles , encourages the jaw to advance from its distal position, and promotes proper growth of the lower jaw. All this helps prevent dental malocclusions and mandibular retrognathisms by up to 50 percent, and favors a good relationship between the maxilla and the mandible.

But these benefits not only influence an aesthetically correct denture for the child, but also its functionality, avoiding future problems related to biting and speech.

It is an important source of calories

Breast milk is a smart liquid that adapts to the needs of the baby according to its nutritional requirements and its growth stage.

And although after six months, the baby needs to eat solid foods that provide essential nutrients such as iron and vitamins B and D, breast milk will still account for 93% of accumulated daily calories , and approximately half among those 11 and 16 months of the baby’s life.

Has a positive impact on your mental health and behavior

In the short term, breastfeeding has a relaxing and calming effect on the baby, as breast milk acts as a natural painkiller if the child is sick, upset or tired. In fact, there are studies showing that breastfeeding reduces crying and provides relief from vaccinations.

In the long term, breastfeeding is associated with fewer behavioral problems in school-age children and also with an improvement in the mental health of children and adolescents. In addition, it would favor cognitive development and have a positive impact on the intelligence quotient (IQ).

Benefits for the mother

But the benefits of breastfeeding beyond six months not only affect the baby, but also the mother:

  • Helping to reduce the risk of certain diseases such as heart disease, cerebrovascular accidents (such as heart attacks and strokes), hypertension after menopause, type 2 diabetes and liver disease related to non-alcoholic fatty liver.
  • Helping to reduce the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

In this sense, it should be noted that the risk of breast cancer is reduced by 4.3% for each year that the mother produces milk . Although the exact reason is still unknown, this may be because milk production reduces the frequency of ovulation or also because the lactation process modifies and restores breast cells, helping them to return to their natural state.

On the other hand, and although the reason for this is unknown, breastfeeding also contributes to reducing the risk of ovarian cancer by more than a third . In addition, breastfeeding reduces the risk of the baby developing this disease in later stages of life by 32%.

  • Breastfeeding beyond six months helps the mother to combat stress , alleviate pain and has an antidepressant effect on her, thanks to oxytocin (also known as the “love hormone”), which is released during suction.

  • We also recently echoed a new study carried out by the universities of Boise and Iowa, which indicated that breastfeeding beyond six months prolongs a mother’s sensitivity to her child by up to ten years.

Breast milk is an excellent food for the child, no matter what age they are, and there is no age limit for weaning. As long as the child continues to nurse, both he and his mother will continue to enjoy the physical and emotional benefits that breastfeeding always brings.

Via Medela

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