Breastfeeding your baby has lots of benefits, including helping to prevent illness for you both

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Mum's milk - why breastfeeding is better for you and your baby

Mum’s milk is perfectly and uniquely made for your baby’s growing needs and giving them your milk can make a big difference to both your baby’s and your own health.

It’s packed full of disease-fighting antibodies to help protect babies from illness and it changes daily, weekly and monthly to meet their growing needs.

After your baby has been looked after inside you for nine months, colostrum continues to protect your baby by giving them a special infection-fighting boost in the first few days after birth, before your milk comes in.

Colostrum

This special booster milk is called 'colostrum' and it can't be found anywhere else.

Babies who are breastfed have a smaller chance of:

  • Developing eczema.
  • Getting ear, chest and tummy bugs and having to go to hospital as a result.
  • Being fussy about new foods.
  • Being constipated.
  • Being obese and developing diabetes when they are older.

There are advantages for mums who breastfeed too:

  • Breastfeeding lowers the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
  • Breastfeeding naturally uses up about 500 extra calories a day so mums who breastfeed often find it easier to lose their pregnancy weight
  • It saves money - formula feeding can cost as much as £45 a month.
  • It's a lot less hassle - there is no need to clean and sterilise bottles, boil kettles and wait for the milk to cool every few hours during the day and night.

So, there's lots of good reasons to give it a go!

Formula milk

Formula milk is made from a combination of cow’s milk and other added ingredients, but it doesn’t contain the ingredients that only your body can make to protect your baby. In fact, despite years of effort and lots of money spent trying to unlock the secret of mum’s milk, formula milk still hasn’t come close.

Getting started

Almost all women are physically able to breastfeed, but just as with any new skill it can take both you and your baby a little while to get the hang of it. Most problems can be overcome with some help in finding the right way of holding and feeding your baby.

If you are starting to breastfeed and are feeling overwhelmed, remember that after about six weeks most babies feed less often, take less time to feed and have usually settled into a pattern, so it does get a lot easier.

If you want someone else to help out with the feeding sometimes, you can express your milk and if you find that you’re still struggling with breastfeeding there is lots of help available.

Getting help

  • Always talk to your health visitor or midwife if you are having any difficulties.
  • Call the National Breastfeeding helpline on 0300 100 0212. Lines are open 9.30am -9.30pm.
  • Breastfeeding groups can be a great source of support, allowing you to talk through the ups and downs of breastfeeding with other mums experiencing the same thing.
  • No problem is too small. If something is worrying you, the chances are that other mothers will have felt the same way!
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