I’m a big fan of evidence-based parenting. It’s a huge part of my child-rearing style, and also a key reason why I’m a nurse. I like to read recommendations and research regarding what is best for my babies – especially regarding health and nutrition. Science is constantly evolving and changing and it just fascinates me.
You may have seen in the news the new recommendation to introduce high-risk allergy foods between 4-6 months as new data are emerging that suggest the early introduction of the highly allergenic foods may reduce the risk of food allergy. This conflicts with recommendations from the last time I had a baby: to breastfeed exclusively to 6 months old. How on earth am I supposed to breastfeed him until he turns 6 months old…and introduce foods like eggs, soy, wheat, and peanut products by 6 months as well?
I am in 1 in 4 Canadian women who exclusively breastfeed to 6 months old. That statistic is from 2011/2012 data and was on the rise from only 17% in 2003. I chose to stick with my goal of exclusively breastfeeding for 6 months, in spite of the new recommendations, as the evidence is a bit conflicting. I knew I wouldn’t be harming Jonathan or putting him at a disadvantage by doing so; we don’t have food allergies in our immediate family either.
Despite some studies that showed an increased risk of allergic disease with exclusive breast-feeding, the overall benefits of breastfeeding on the general health of the child are likely to outweigh the potential drawbacks, regardless of the allergic status of the mother or child. – American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology
As a Canadian and a health care professional in Canada, I look to what Health Canada has to say for Canadian moms regarding breastfeeding. Currently, they still recommend “breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months, and sustained for up to two years or longer with appropriate complementary feeding – is important for the nutrition, immunologic protection, growth, and development of infants and toddlers.” The new recommendations regarding introduction of high-allergy foods are coming out of the United States and Europe.
Jonathan has been loving his first purees and he was ready to start eating at 6 months old! At the end of the day – follow your baby’s cues, what you feel best and talk to your pediatrician about it.
How Did I Breastfeed to 6 Months?
I am blessed with oversupply. In the beginning, it seems like a curse, as my babies have all sputtered and drown at my overactive and forceful letdown, but with the help of my Medela Freestyle double electric pump, I found an amazing routine that worked for me and Jonathan – especially because he started sleeping through the night and naturally weaned himself from night feedings. I pumped off 4-5 oz from each breast every morning and was able to donate 16.1 litres of milk to the NorthernStar Mothers Milk Bank last month.
I just fed Jonathan on demand and let him be my guide. I noticed between months 5-6 that my body was starting to slow down milk production naturally, as with my other babies too. I haven’t found any literature or sources on why this has happened to me – as nothing at all changed on my part with how often I’ve fed him – but I can’t find anything specific. I assume just a shift in my hormones and him getting ready to start solids.
However, when I do have questions about breastfeeding, I know I can turn to the MyMedela App with articles like Breast milk supply: too little or too much milk to find answers instantly at the tips of my fingers. As a mom to a newborn, and even now a 6 month old baby, my phone is never far from my reach. The nurse in me also likes to track everything – feedings, sleep, diaper changes – especially in the foggy newborn days, and the free MyMedela App allows me to do this too!
Jonathan will finally take a bottle now, which was very helpful when I had no choice but to leave him for his older brother’s surgery last week. I wish I had introduced a regular bottle-feeding regime when he was younger that was breastfeeding friendly, like with Medela’s award winning Calma feeding system, which is the only research-based feeding system that will help in continuing the breastfeeding relationship with your baby.
I want to share the Medela love with you all and now’s your chance to win 1 Freestyle Double Electric Breast Pump valued at $495 CAD. This giveaway is open to Canadians 18 years and older only (excluding Quebec).
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Disclosure: I am part of the PTPA Brand Ambassador Program with Medela Canada and I received Compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.