Breast milk is best for your baby and the benefits of breastfeeding extend well beyond basic nutrition.
Benefits for baby
Breast milk contains antibodies that help your baby fight off viruses and bacteria. It also lowers your baby's risk of having asthma or allergies. Plus, babies who are breastfed exclusively for the first six months, without any formula, have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and bouts of diarrhoea.
Benefits for you
Breastfeeding burns extra calories, so it can help you lose pregnancy weight faster. It releases the hormone oxytocin, which helps your uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size and may reduce uterine bleeding after birth. Breastfeeding also lowers you risk of breast, ovarian cancer and osteoporosis too.
Other benefits include:
- your milk is readily available with no need for equipment such as bottles and mixing formulas
- you can breastfeed your baby anywhere and at anytime
- your milk is always the right temperature for your baby so no need for bottle warmers or asking for hot water whilst out and about
- breast milk is free
Bonding with your baby
Feeding time gives you and your baby a chance to relax, bond and get to know each other.
From the moment they are born, children need love and attention from the people around them to promote healthy brain development. These positive, nurturing interactions are known as 'serve and return'.
In other words, when an infant or young child babbles, gestures, or cries, and an adult responds appropriately with eye contact, words, or a hug, connections are built in a child's brain that support the development of communication and social skills.
Finding it hard to breastfeed?
Many new mums find it hard to feed. Don't worry this is perfectly normal and help is out there. Your baby might have difficulty ‘latching on’ if they are tongue tied. Or your nipples might be cracked making it extremely painful to feed.
If you have any concerns about your baby or need advice on breastfeeding, speak to your midwife or your health visitor. The details for these can be found in your baby’s red book or by visiting your nearest family centre.
Come and talk to one of our local Family Support workers to see how we can help. Pop into one of our family centres, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 020 8753 6070.
Some mothers can feel low and depressed after having a baby and if you feel like this speak to your GP, midwife health visitor or come and talk to us.