Pregnancy and baby, Benefits of breastfeeding
It’s never too early to start thinking about how you’re going to feed your baby. But you don’t have to make up your mind until your baby is born.
In the UK, more than 73% of mothers start breastfeeding. These are some of the reasons why:
your breast milk is perfectly designed for your baby
breast milk protects your baby from infections and diseases
breastfeeding provides health benefits for you
breast milk is available for your baby whenever your baby needs it
breastfeeding can build a strong emotional bond between you and your baby
Giving nothing but breast milk is recommended for about the first six months (26 weeks) of your baby’s life. After that, giving your baby breast milk alongside family foods for the first two years, or for as long as you and your baby want, will help them grow and develop healthily.
Breast milk adapts as your baby grows to meet your baby’s changing needs.
“Any amount of breast milk has a positive effect,” says Bridget Halnan, infant feeding lead in Cambridgeshire and Fellow of the Institute of Health Visiting.
“The longer you breastfeed, the longer the protection lasts and the greater the benefits. Formula milk doesn’t provide the same protection from illness and doesn’t give you any health benefits.”
Breastfeeding reduces the risk of:
infections, with fewer visits to hospital as a result
diarrhoea and vomiting, with fewer visits to hospital as a result
sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
type 2 diabetes
cardiovascular disease in adulthood