Breastfeeding is a skill that takes time to get the hang of. Lots of mums wonder if their baby’s feeding well and getting enough – especially in the first few days. But once you’ve mastered it, you’ll probably find it’s the easiest and most satisfying way to feed your baby. Breastfeeding means you’ll always have a constant supply of food for your baby, at the perfect temperature, whenever they need it.
Benefits of breastfeeding
There are many benefits and advantages of breastfeeding – not only for your baby, but for you too. Apart from the fact that it’s tailor-made, free, and always available, there are lots of other reasons to breastfeed, including:
Breast milk protects your baby from infections
You give your baby natural (germ killing) antibodies through breast milk. These antibodies help your baby fight infections like tummy bugs, diarrhoea, colds and chest and ear infections.
It’s full of goodness
Your breast milk provides the perfect combination of vitamins and nutrition. It’s also much easier to digest than formula.
Breastfed babies have a lower chance of SIDS and childhood leukaemia
Breastfeeding reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), also known as cot death, and childhood leukaemia. Any amount of breastfeeding is beneficial, but exclusively breastfeeding your baby for 6 months offers a lot more protection.
Protects long term health
Breastfed babies are less likely to develop diabetes, or become overweight when they are older.
Reduces the risk of allergies
If there’s a family history of allergies, there’s a chance your baby will develop some too. Breastfeeding your baby for the first 6 months is the best way to lower the risk of your baby developing allergies.
Protects your health
There are health benefits for you too – breastfeeding lowers your risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, osteoporosis (weak bones), diabetes and cardiovascular disease (conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels).
Gets your uterus back down to size
After your baby is born, your uterus (womb) has a way to go before it gets back to normal size (so you may still look pregnant!). It gradually gets smaller as the days go by, but breastfeeding helps speed up the process.
Helps you bond with your baby
Breastfeeding is a lovely way to feel close and strengthen the bond between you and your baby.
Burns off calories
If you are exclusively breastfeeding, this will help burn off about 300 calories a day.
The benefits continue even after 6 months
If you decide to continue breastfeeding after 6 months, it still has lots of benefits. Your breast milk protects your baby from infections, and there’s some evidence it helps them digest solid foods.
Information taken from NHS project Start4Life.