Breastfeeding Benefits for Mother and Baby


BREASTFEEDING: The World Health Organisation recommends breastfeeding as the healthy and natural way of feeding your baby. WHO and the HSE recommend that mothers breastfeed their babies exclusively for the first six months and continue as they introduce weaning foods. The HSE website has lots of information for moms and dads-to-be on breastfeeding, with videos, and tips on preparing for breastfeeding.

Your breastmilk is like nature’s own immunisation protecting baby against a wide variety of illness and conditions. Breastfeeding in the first hour after birth is a good start for baby’s immune system. After birth your baby is placed on your chest in skin to skin contact and often during this time your baby gives you cues that he wants to breastfeed. This is the ideal time to get breastfeeding off to a good start and a great time to position and attach your baby to your breast with the help of your midwife.

Benefits for Baby

  • Breast milk contains antibodies, which help the baby’s immune system to form properly. 
  • Breast milk contains the correct levels of sodium, vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and enzymes. Formula does not contain all of these; it simply has not yet replicated the components of breast milk.
  • Breast fed babies develop less gastrointestinal, ear, urinary tract, eye and respiratory infections during their first year of life. This is because breast milk enhances their immune system.
  • Breast fed babies are more likely to have better health as adults – they are less likely to have heart disease, high blood pressure or to become obese or develop diabetes.
  • Breast fed babies are less likely to develop meningitis and septicaemia.
  • Breast fed babies are less likely to develop food allergies.
  • Breast fed babies are more likely to have higher IQs.

HSE breastfeedingBenefits for Mom

  • Breastfeeding allows you to bond well with your baby.
  • Breastfeeding decreases your risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
  • Breastfeeding burns a significant amount of calories per day, so you may find it easier to get back to your pre pregnancy weight.
  • Breastfeeding saves you a lot of money, as you won’t need to buy formula or sterilising equipment.
  • Breastfeeding saves you time because you do not have to prepare bottles.
  • Breastfeeding is very convenient; since it doesn’t involve sterilising bottles or measuring formula.
  • Women who breastfeed are less likely to develop osteoporosis. Mom Ciara talks about the convenience of breastfeeding, watch the video here.

Almost all women can breastfeed if they are given the correct advice and enough support. It is important that mothers receive support and practical help from dad and other family members when they are breastfeeding. A breastfed baby feeds quite often by day and by night getting breastfeeding established takes a ‘time investment’.

It is important to note that women who work outside the home can also breastfeed, as working woman are legally entitled to maternity leave and can express their milk when they return to work.

For more breastfeeding support and advice, visit

Read more about breastfeeding

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One Response to “Breastfeeding Benefits for Mother and Baby”

  1. Profile photo of v_vicky v_vicky

    Hi everyone!
    Just a bit from personal experience about breastfeeding. I have 2 children (Daughter-10 and Son-3) and I have breastfed them both. But.. When my breast started to grow I was diagnosed with inverted nipples and my gp told my mum that I will not be able to breastfeed my children. Oh, she was wrong!
    It took some time after my first was born expressing milk and trying to get her to grab that nipple. After nearly 2 unsuccessful months I was ready to give up. My hubby was goggling for some answer on how to help me and he found one! Nipple protectors! As they help to protect nipples they also did a great job of becoming my nipple! I just needed to learn how to hold them properly so that milk wouldn’t leak! :) I didn’t need to express my milk anymore I could feed my child from breast and I did that for 18 months.
    When my son was born he was diagnosed with complex heart condition. He had few open heart operations. I knew I had to breastfeed him no matter what! This time we had nipple protectors on hand, but I had to express milk anyway because he was attached to tubes and wires, but we didn’t give up. He recovered faster then doctors expected and have been in good shape in-between hospital stays and procedures. Cardiac team recons its because of getting all the good things from my milk. I did also breastfeed him for 18 months.
    With all that I just wanna to tell every mum out there – if you are doubting about whether to breastfeed your child or not – don’t. Our milk is the best start we can give to our little miracles and if you have a chance to feed your baby yourself it is worth trying a bit more than you feel is enough!
    Good luck and all the best!

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