Tuesday, March 1, 2011

PSA: How long should I breastfeed?

So, I'm a medical student.  And lots of my friends are also medical students (hi guys)!  Recently I've fielded a number of comments from that group of friends, along the lines of "So you're still breastfeeding, huh?"

My daughter is not yet 8 months old.

And then I realized...if I was just a medical student, and not also a new mom, I probably wouldn't know how long you're supposed to breastfeed, either!

God knows that that wasn't tested on Step 1 (the standardized test of medical knowledge taken after the first 2 years of medical school).  And I don't know how much emphasis is given to breastfeeding during OB and pediatrics clinical rotations.

So, here's a little public service announcement for my medical student readers (and maybe some moms too):

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that "Breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life, and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child" [emphasis added; for full guidelines see here].

That's right, folks.  At least a year.  After the first teeth.  After crawling.  Possibly after walking and talking, depending on the baby.  So, yeah, I'm still breastfeeding.  We'll see how it goes once I'm back at school full-time (in a month--eek)!  I'm expecting that I won't be able to pump quite as frequently as I currently nurse, and that my supply will gradually decline, but I hope to continue breastfeeding as much as possible until my daughter is a year old (and beyond, as the AAP says!).

If you're a medical student desirous of more information about the physiology and clinical management of lactation and breastfeeding, check out the AAP's online curriculum for residents in pediatrics.


  1. Just read that a Penn nursing prof is helping launch a breastfeeding "Call to Action" too! http://www.upenn.edu/pennnews/current/latestnews/030311-2.html

  2. I have been asked the exact same thing (plus the similar: "so you'll switch him to cow's milk when he turns one, right?"). It's disappointing, though not surprising, to hear that med students and doctors have similar misconceptions (or lack of good examples?) too.

  3. L--hopefully between her & Obama's efforts, change is coming on a policy level. J--I know, sorta sad. But then, there are many ways in which medical education focuses on pathology rather than on prevention and health.