If you’ve been breastfeeding exclusively for six months and plan to continue, you can expect to see some changes in your milk and your breasts.
According to the Philips Mother and Child Division, breastfeeding is proven to provide many health benefits that extend well beyond basic nutrition. In addition to containing all the vitamins and nutrients your baby needs in the first six months of life, breast milk is packed with disease-fighting substances that provide defence against illnesses and allergies. In preterm babies, breastfeeding can not only reduce the risk of inflammation and infection in the tummy, but also protect them from infection. For full-term babies, it reduces the risk of stomach bugs, coughs and colds as well as middle-ear infections. Additionally, breast milk may also help children avoid a host of diseases that strike later in life such as eczema, diabetes and childhood leukemia.
The size of your breasts will stay the same from one to six months while you’re breastfeeding, but the amount of breast tissue reduces significantly between six and nine months, even though there’s only a small decrease in milk production. By the time you get to 15 months of milk production, (lactation) your breasts will be back to their pre-pregnancy size. What’s more, as your baby begins to eat more solids the demand for breast milk will decrease, so you’ll naturally produce less.
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Emptying the breast
While breasts don’t need to be emptied to satisfy most babies, draining the breast is still recommended. It will help prevent complications of painful, blocked ducts and inflammation.
Feeding on demand
If your baby is growing normally, you don’t need to worry about following set breastfeeding routines. Your baby will let you know when it’s time to feed and whether one or both breasts are needed for a meal.
Enjoy the journey for as long as you can as this continues to strengthen the bond that you have. If you are scared to take this journey, arm yourself with as much information as possible. A lack of information can lead to misguided views and choices – so never be too scared to ask! Equip yourself with the knowledge and know-how when it comes to breastfeeding, as well as the benefits and options that are available so that you can make the best decision for you and your family.
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Source: Philips Mother and Child Division. Image: Depositphotos