Don’t repeat my mistake and just breastfeed for 6 months

The voice on the phone said: “There will be an inquest of the ministry. They will call you. Could you please tell them that you only breastfed for the first 6 months?” Why is that? I didn’t do so and you didn’t support me for it either!

If it has been a long time since your child has left the infancy period behind, some of the news you have read or listened to about baby nutrition, care, and development may make you feel bad. You made some mistakes, not because you were a bad mother, but because you did not know enough, and it is now impossible to go back and change them.

One of these issues for me is not being able to just breastfeed my daughter for the first six months and then for long enough.

In the previous days, while the Danone Turkey Integration Secretary-General Dr. Yalım Üner, with whom we met in the Nutricia Breast Milk Research Center in Science Park in the city of Utrecht, the Netherlands, was telling about the breastfeeding rates in Turkey with the Turkish Ministry of Health data, memories swarmed around me.

Despite all the campaigns, data reveal that the number of breastfed babies who were breastfed in the right way in the first six months in Turkey decreased. While 24 percent of 4–5-month-old babies were fed correctly in 2008, this figure dropped to 10 percent in 2013.

While the proportion of babies in whom breast milk and other milk (cow, goat milk, baby formula) were given together was 29 percent in the past, it fell to 24 percent at the time of the research. Babies fed with a baby bottle (regardless of what is in the bottle; that is, it can be breast milk, grape molasses, or cow’s milk), on the other hand, decreased from 57 percent in 2008 to 47 percent in 2013. Babies who took supplementary food with breast milk were 19 percent in 2008, while in 2013, the figure increased to 29 percent! In other words, the only figure increased in this table is that of supplementary foods.

It has been 12 years since I became a mother and it is clear that there is not much change in the point reached after all these campaigns… The view of this issue in the world is not very nice either; breastfeeding is still not enough in many countries.

I could feed my daughter “with breast milk only” for only four months. I hadn’t had a baby birth in my immediate environment for many years. It was a period when I took a break from my profession, I was not living in health news. I only had a few books on raising a baby, my instincts, and what I knew from then-beginner mother-infant sites and discussion groups. Of course, our doctor as well …

Looking from this perspective, it seems very strange now, but I was sometimes overwhelmed by breastfeeding in those months, caught up with the ideas of escape such as “what if I milked myself, left my milk, went out and hung out” and I even thought that feeding with baby formula would be more fun for my daughter. Understandable delusions of a new mother …

I was overwhelmed from time to time when in those days and when I remember it now, something warm pours into me. By the end of the fourth month, our doctor said that the weight gain slowed down a little and I could start fruit and vegetable juices and purees. I was glad and prepared recipes, first once a day, gradually increasing over time. In the ninth month, our breastfeeding ritual, which only belonged to the night, was over because she did not want it anymore. While writing this article, I examined past photos to make sure of the dates. Yes, there is a photo of me when she was five months old and I was arming fruit puree in her mouth!

Then one day they called from the hospital where I gave the birth and continued to visit the pediatrician. The voice on the phone said: “There will be an inquest of the ministry. They will call you. Could you please tell them that you only breastfed for the first 6 months?” Why is that? I didn’t do that and you didn’t support me for it either! When the ministry officials called, I told them the truth.

Here I was in one of the numbers I just gave. The so-called conscious mother who is educated, reading, researching …

That would be understandable if I was a child who grew up with discourses such as “But you didn’t eat anything! You ate just a little, you will be sick” … My motivation was a change only; trying something new. I was supported by the doctor on this subject, and I had not heard any contradicting information from my environment. Later, I learned that this is not just an issue with my doctor or doctors… There are still a lot of incomplete things in the medical world, the media, and related official institutions. For example, it is recommended to continue breast milk in the period of transition to supplementary food, but when you look at the suggested lists, you see that breast milk is listed first, and other suitable supplements are listed below. The amount of breast milk is not mentioned. Therefore, a mother who is only breastfeeding at night rightly thinks she’s acting right.

Here is what we need to know for sure:

Shares of breast milk of the baby’s stomach are as follows:

100 percent in the first 6 months,

70 percent in months 6-9,

50 percent in months 9-11,

40 in months 12-13.

Research figures reveal that mothers in Turkey can reach only 67 percent in the first six months. The remaining part is filled with 23 percent supplementary food and 10 percent with other types of milk. After six months, it is thought that the value of breast milk decreases and becomes just a pleasure. In 7-12 months, only 17 percent of babies’ stomachs are filled with breast milk. By the way, sugar, pastry and even steak tartar a la Turca can be included the supplementary food in the first six months.


But my baby is healthy …

While listening to all these conversations, people are looking for escape points. Mine usually goes like this: “I was only breastfed for two months, but my immunity is very good. My daughter was breastfed for nine months, but thankfully she is getting sick a little too” There are also people who say “my child is very smart, her lessons are very good, she is tall” etc. This statement of Dr. Üner ignores these excuses: How do you know it would not be better?

Yes, the truth is we don’t know. We did our best, but we made mistakes. While we were chatting with a colleague after the meeting, we were surprised that while we were trying not to eat any sugary foods at that time, in the past, we used to give mashed biscuits to our babies with expert advice thinking that we were preparing a healthy breakfast for them. Now, our effort is to prevent new mistakes and to keep mothers comfortable.

Summarizing once again the miracles of breast milk, I’m saying “In the first months, just breastfeed, enjoy the touch of those tiny hands to your skin, the catching of your baby’s eyes to your eyes, the strengthening of the deep love bond between you and your baby day by day. Value those breastfeeding sessions that are the key to a safer and happier growing up of your baby”.


Every mother’s milk is suitable for her baby  

Nutricia Research and Development Center Communications and Strategy Director Dr. Alma Nauta shared some new information with us. The calorie ratio of the milk of the mothers of baby boys was 25 percent higher than that of mothers of baby girls. What happens in the milk of mothers of twins of a boy and a girl is still at the research stage. As you can see, we are talking about a real miracle! A formula that prepares its content according to the gender of the baby and affects the whole life of the baby.


Here are your reasons to exclusively breastfeed for the first six months and continue to breastfeed with the right supplements until the age of two:  

– It is the best, most natural, and freshest food for every baby.

– Always ready and free.

– It is completely and easily digested.

– Diarrhea, abdominal pain, and constipation are less common.

– It strengthens the immune system and protects against infections.

– Makes babies more intelligent.

– It fully meets the baby’s water needs, and there is no need to give water.

– The colostrum that comes after birth protects the baby from diseases. Breast milk is a unique option for protection from cancer, allergies, respiratory diseases, and gastrointestinal problems.

– It provides a special bond of love between the baby and the mother.

– Breastfeeding protects the health of the mother and reduces the risk of breast and uterine cancer.




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