EXPERT Q&A

Do I have to breastfeed for a full year?

It’s clear that breastfeeding has its benefits, but it’s not for everyone. Many new mothers choose not breastfeed, either for personal or medical reasons—and that’s okay! Read more from CareNectar expert, Mirella Alexis.

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Question

I recently had a baby and am feeling a lot of social pressure to continue breastfeeding for a full year. Of course, I want what is best for my baby, but I hate breastfeeding. It hasn’t been an easy road for me, and managing both breastfeeding and pumping has been a huge stressor. When do you suggest is it okay to wean off the breast? And how do I deal with the judgment of others who may disagree? This judgment is an unnecessary stressor that only makes me feel like I’m a terrible mother.

Answer

First, I’m sorry others are judging you for your breastfeeding decisions. You are not a terrible mom, and if your friends are judging you, it’s likely time to branch out and make new ones.

So, the short answer is no, you don’t have to breastfeed for a full year. In fact, you don’t have to do anything that isn’t right for you or your baby. Many women are unable to breastfeed due either to medical issues or personal reasons. You need to do what is best for your family and your specific needs. A fed baby is best, whether it’s by breast, formula, or a mixture of both.

Many health professionals, including the World Health Organization, recommend breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months. At six months, you can start to incorporate solids into the baby’s diet, all the while continuing to breastfeed for the first two years of the baby’s life. Most American women breastfeed for six to twelve months. While some others choose to breastfeed for the first three to four years, some never do at all, and that’s okay.

But even if you breastfeed your baby for the first three to four months, there are long-lasting benefits. Breastfeeding exclusively will help your baby’s digestive system fully develop and aids in strengthening the stomach for future formula, foods, and nutrients. Your baby’s stomach will be able to process nourishment and optimally be less likely to suffer from constipation. Furthermore, breastfeeding your baby for six months will assist in defending the baby from all sorts of infections, including ear, digestive, and respiratory.

Just know that breastfeeding is a huge endeavor and not for everyone. Feel free to wean when you are ready to do so. In the end, having a nourished baby is all that matters. So, whether you breastfeed for three months or three years, you do what’s best for you and your baby.

We hope this helps, and remember, the CareNectar team is here for you!

Meet The Expert


Mirella Alexis

Mirella has been a family and childcare advocate for nearly two decades. With her bachelor’s degree in early childcare education, Mirella immediately started expanding her portfolio as a professional nanny, early childhood educator, and newborn care specialist. She later obtained her certification in child nutrition, positive discipline, and child abuse prevention. She expanded her professional reach more in 2016 by taking on the role of labor and postpartum doula. In 2020, Mirella became the Vice President of The Nanny Sitter Fund. She’s excited to be bringing her passion for childcare to the masses, making child welfare everyone’s responsibility. Learn more about her at MirellaAlexis.com