Weaning?

Weaning can be a joyous celebration of an amazing breastfeeding achievement for some and for others it can be a time of great distress and emotional turmoil.  There are lots of factors which influence how you feel about weaning.  One of them is what breastfeeding goals you set yourself.  If you’ve reached those goals – whether it’s to feed for 3 weeks or just to enjoy breastfeeding – will have a big influence on how you feel about weaning. Technically, weaning is the introduction of anything other than breastmilk into a baby’s diet.  This may be when you start solids or start to introduce a breastmilk substitute.  Most people understand weaning as the process of stopping breastfeeding. The decision to wean may be initiated by the baby, the mother or a mixture of the two.  If the baby is less than 12 months old and seems to be weaning, it may be that s/he is going through a period of breast refusal.  This can be a very distressing time for both the breastfeeding mother and her baby.  There are many techniques which can be used to encourage a baby to go back to breastfeeding, and support your supply in the meantime. If the baby is older than 12 months and starts the weaning process themselves, it may come as a shock to the mother and she may be distressed that her baby has initiated weaning before she is ready.  During these times, it can be helpful to discuss breastfeeding goals and strategies, to either support the weaning process or ways to encourage the baby back to the breast. If the mother is initiating weaning her baby, for whatever reason or age, it can be helpful to discuss the likely progress of this process and ways to reduce the risks both to your baby and to the mother.  A slow and gentle process can help the baby to adjust to the lack of breastmilk and let the mother’s supply dwindle naturally.  Very rarely, there is an immediate need to wean the baby off the breast, and in these cases much management may be needed to help the transition. In all cases of weaning – if you’re not ready to wean, but feel unable to continue – getting the right information and support can often help you to overcome the hurdle and continue to breastfeed until you feel the time to wean is right for both of you.  Please...
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Asthma and Breastfeeding

There has been much discussion in the last few years about the link between exclusive breastfeeding and asthma prevention.  Here’s an article from ScienceDaily.com discussing research supporting the view that exclusive breastfeeding duration reduces asthma-related symptoms in children. Breastfeeding May Prevent Asthma, Research Suggests ScienceDaily (July 22, 2011) — Feeding a baby on only breast milk and for up to 6 months after birth can reduce their risk of developing asthma-related symptoms in early childhood, according to new research.   The study, which is published online July 21, 2011 in the European Respiratory Journal, looked at the impact of the duration of breastfeeding and the introduction of alternative liquids or solids in addition to breast milk. The researchers, from the Generation R Study, Erasmus Medical Center in The Netherlands, used questionnaires to gather data from over 5,000 children. They ascertained in the first 12 months after birth whether the children had ever been breastfed, when breastfeeding was stopped, and whether any other milk or solids were introduced. Further questionnaires were completed when the children were aged 1, 2, 3 and 4 years to check whether they had any asthma-related symptoms. The results showed that children who had never been breastfed had an increased risk of wheezing, shortness of breath, dry cough and persistent phlegm during their first 4 years, compared to children who were breastfed for more than 6 months. The strongest links were seen with wheezing and persistent phlegm, as children were 1.4 and 1.5 times more likely to develop these symptoms if they had never been breastfed. Children who were fed other milk or solids during their first 4 months in addition to breast milk had an increased risk of wheezing, shortness of breath, dry cough and persistent phlegm during the first 4 years, compared to children who were exclusively breastfed for their first 4 months. While previous studies have shown a similar effect between breastfeeding and asthma risk, this research is the first that showed a link between the length of breastfeeding and the number of wheezing episodes. Also, this study found evidence that the first asthma-related symptoms occur earlier in life if children were breastfed for shorter lengths of time or not exclusively. Dr Agnes Sonnenschein-van der Voort, researcher at Generation R and lead author from the Erasmus Medical Center in The Netherlands, said: “The link of duration and exclusiveness of breastfeeding with asthma-related symptoms during the first...
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