Breastfeeding may be the most natural way to feed your baby but it also provides lots of extra benefits for both you and your little one.
As your pregnancy progresses your breasts transform as they prepare for your baby’s birth – readily to start producing milk that provides all the nutrition your baby needs in its first six months.
Why breast is best for your baby
- Breast milk contains all the nutrition your baby needs – it even changes over time to match your baby’s growth and development requirements and quenches their thirst
- Breast milk also helps protect your baby from infections and diseases, such as gastroenteritis, while their immune system is still developing
- The skin-to-skin contact you have with your baby during breastfeeding helps strength the bond between you both
- Breastfeeding helps develop your baby’s eyesight, brain and jaw
- Breast milk may have protective benefits against health problems such as obesity, diabetes, asthma, ear and respiratory infections
- Breast milk is easily digested by your baby – nature designed it that way!
Why breast is best for you
- Your newborn’s suckling action can help reduce the amount of bleeding after birth
- Producing breast milk uses up energy which means breastfeeding may help you return to your pre-pregnancy weight more quickly
- Breastfeeding may reduce your risk of breast and ovarian cancers
- It’s a convenient and economical option for feeding your baby that doesn’t take time to prepare!
Making breastfeeding work for you
Going along to breastfeeding classes before the birth of your child can be a great way to find out what to expect and pick-up some tips on how you can make it work – before you start breastfeeding. Partners can attend these classes too, so both of you can find out what support you may need and what options are available.
Can I feed my baby breastmilk and formula?
Yes – many mums choose to feed both breastmilk and formula for a number of reasons. This is known as mixed feeding, or supplementing with formula.
You can also find out more about the benefits of breastfeeding and get some practical advice to help you get started (or support during breastfeeding) by talking to your maternal and child health nurse, doctor or midwife.
More information on breastfeeding support can be found on our website on a range of topics including breast milk production, expressing and storing breast milk, what to eat when you are breastfeeding, breastfeeding FAQs and problems.