Breastfeeding (also called nursing) is the normal way in which mothers provide their babies with the nutrients they need to grow. Most women choose to breastfeed, as there are many benefits of feeding a baby this way.
BENEFITS TO THE BABY
A mother’s breast milk is the perfect food for a baby. It naturally contains all of the nutrients a newborn needs to survive and grow, and it has special properties that protect the baby from infections and diseases. It is also less likely to make the baby sick or give them diarrhoea, and has long term benefits such as making the infant less likely to suffer cardiovascular (heart) disease in adulthood. For this reason, it is recommended that babies are given nothing but breast milk for the first 6 months of their life, and continue to have some breast milk for up to 2 years (or longer).
As the baby grows, the mother’s milk changes to meet their infant’s changing needs. Even when babies can start to eat solid foods at around 6 months, it is important that they also have breast milk as part of their diet. It provides them with the balance of nutrients they need and studies have shown that it can also help them digest solid foods. Any amount of breast milk has a positive effect, so mothers should to try to breastfeed infants as much as possible.
BENEFITS FOR THE MOTHER
Breastfeeding is a natural way for mothers to feed their newborns. It can help mothers to build a strong emotional bond with their infant, and is a readily available food source for their newborn. It also has many health benefits to the mother, such as reducing the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, osteoporosis (weak bones) and cardiovascular (heart) disease. The more a woman breastfeeds, the greater the health benefits to her.
WHY SOME MOTHERS DON’T BREASTFEED
Some mothers do not breastfeed because they do not know how important breast milk is, or they feel unable to produce enough milk or breastfeed without pain. If a mother is finding it difficult to breastfeed, it may be because the baby is not attached to the breast properly. Almost all women are physically able to breastfeed, and it should not be painful, so if you are having trouble with breastfeeding your child you should talk to your midwife or nurse and they will help you fix the problem.