There are many health benefits of breastfeeding for both the mother and a baby. It can reduce mother’s risk of developing some diseases such as cancer of the breast or ovaries and osteoporosis. Breastfeeding may help mother get back to pre-pregnancy weight sooner.
The mother produces breastmilk as natural food for her baby. It is safe, easily digested and always ready when her baby needs it. Breastfeeding is free and takes no time to prepare! Breastmilk is all that baby needs for the first six months of life.
Breastmilk helps develop a baby’s immune system. A breastfeed baby is healthier and is less likely to get gastroenteritis and chest, ear and bladder infections.
When the mother breastfeeds a baby there is a lot going on in their relationship. It is a special time for both of them and helps the mother and a baby to feel close. As the baby looks into the mother’s face, they will see how she feel towards them. The moment’s mother has with her baby during breastfeeding are important. It is a great time for the mother to look into their eyes, stroke them, talk gently or sing to them.
The WHO and UNICEF recommend:
“Infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development, and health. Thereafter, to meet their evolving nutritional requirements, infants should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods while breastfeeding continues for up to two years of age or beyond.”
Breastmilk is very good for a baby until well into their second year, even after they have started with solid foods. However, even a few months, weeks or days of breastfeeding, is good for a baby and for mother. Breastmilk will continue to be a valuable part of baby’s diet for as long as mother feed.
When baby developing teeth is not a signal to stop breastfeeding. The mother may experience a playful nip at the beginning or end of a feed, but it is impossible for a baby to bite if they are attached properly.
Although breastfeeding is the natural and normal way to feed a baby, many mothers and babies need to learn how. The first few weeks are a time for parents and baby to learn how to live together, so the mother may need to try different ideas and get some help before things settle down.
Having a baby’s skin to skin with mothers immediately after a baby is born helps mother and baby to start breastfeeding. Skin to skin contact can help a baby to start breastfeeding by allowing them to search for the breast and attach by themselves. There are lots of benefits of skin to skin contact and mother and baby are best undisturbed for the first hour. Skin to skin contact helps to regulate baby’s temperature and is a great way mother to get to know a new baby. The baby may suck straight away, or may just nuzzle and lick the nipple the first time. Skin to skin time is also good later on if you are having any challenges with breastfeeding.
If the mother is having some challenges with breastfeeding, she can seek help from local child and family health nurse.