"Time" for a calm conversation about breastfeeding! That ridiculous magazine cover showing a 3-1/2-year-old standing on a chair nursing from his oh-so-glamorous mom threatens to turn women off to one of the most important health-promoting steps a mother can take.
Breastfeeding is a bonding, tender experience; it's neither embarrassing nor a competitive event. And it gives a child many important health benefits: Breast milk provides good gut bacteria to strengthen immunity (especially if Mom takes a probiotic capsule twice a day; it seems good gut bacteria migrate to breast milk) and supplies the right balance of carbs, protein and brain-boosting fatty acids, plus digestive proteins, minerals, vitamins, hormones, and disease-fighting antibodies. Kids who nurse dodge allergies, eczema, digestive woes, and respiratory diseases - not to mention diabetes, obesity, SIDS, and tooth decay.
But how long should you nurse? The World Health Organization says 2-plus years; the American Academy of Pediatrics says at least 6 to 12 months. But most U.S. moms don't even do that. The CDC's Breastfeeding Report Card says 75 percent of moms try breastfeeding, but by one year only 25 percent of moms are still breastfeeding.
Although breastfeeding is 100 percent natural, it isn't always easy. A certified lactation counselor can help get it on track, and always talk to your doc about any problems that come up. Turns out breast engorgement, hardening or "abscess," fever or taking antibiotics are NOT reasons to stop. You can resolve such issues and keep nursing until you - and your child - determine it's time to button up.
© 2012 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.