Benefits of Breastfeeding
Benefits of Breastfeeding Breastfeeding is one of nature’s wonders with a number of benefits for you and your baby. The Ministry of Health recommends exclusive breastfeeding until around 6 months of age, and continued breastfeeding after the introduction of solid foods until at least 12 months or longer.
Breastfeeding should be every mum’s first choice to feed their baby. Here are just some of the reasons why breast milk is so beneficial for your baby:
1. It provides all the key nutrients, in just the right amount for optimal growth and development
2. It hasn’t been heat treated, stored, dried, reconstituted, supplemented or manipulated and does not require sterilisation
3. Served at the perfect temperature for your baby and needs very little preparation
4. Adjusts to meet the changing needs of your baby as they grow, so it provides exactly what your baby needs in the right quantity and quality
5. Easy to digest and provides the fluid that your baby requires to stay hydrated
6. Helps to boost your baby’s immunity against childhood illnesses such as colds and chest infections, and may reduce the likelihood of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
7. Because food flavours can pass through your milk, your baby may experience some of the flavours of the foods you eat. These flavours teach your baby about what the family eats, even before they have a chance to taste them directly
8. Breastfeeding is more than just food. Breastfeeding soothes the baby with the smell and taste of their Mum; skin to skin contact enhances the emotional bond between mum and baby, and provides warmth, love and affection
Advantages for mum
1. Stimulates special hormones which helps the uterus contract and return to pre-pregnancy size
2. Burns lots of kilojoules which may help you return to pre-pregnancy weight
3. Encourages bonding. Snuggling, cuddling and skin to skin contact releases feel good hormones which helps you get through those tough moments
4. Breastfeeding may delay the return of fertility, but you should never rely on this as a form of protection against becoming pregnant
5. Reduces the risk of premenopausal breast cancer and may reduce the risk of ovarian cancer and osteoporosis later in life
6. Places you on the same sleep cycles as your baby, helping you to cope with those middle of the night wake up calls.
Although it may take a little organisation, you can continue to breastfeed even if you go back to work, by having your baby come in for feeds or expressing your milk using a breast pump and having access to a suitable storage facility for your milk. See the breastfeeding friendly workplaces website for more information click here.