Breastfeeding Benefits for Mother and Baby
The World Health Organisation recommends breastfeeding as the healthiest and most natural way of feeding your baby. The WHO and the HSE recommend that mothers breastfeed their babies exclusively for the first six months and continue as they introduce weaning foods.
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.
Benefits 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.