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The benefits of breastfeeding

Breastfeeding can be tricky at first, but once you've mastered, you'll probably find it's the easiest and most satisfying way to feed your baby.

It has lots of benefits for both your baby and you, if you're breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding benefits for your baby

Breast milk is tailor-made for your baby and:

  • contains vitamins and minerals
  • is always available
  • offers protection from certain infections
  • helps improve your baby's long-term health.

Breastfeeding also reduces the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), childhood diabetes and leukaemia.

Any amount of breastfeeding is beneficial, but exclusively breastfeeding your baby for 6 months offers a lot more protection.

There are many benefits of carrying on breastfeeding after 6 months – your breast milk protects your baby from infections and there's some evidence it helps them digest solid foods.

Benefits for you

There are benefits and advantages for you too. Breastfeeding helps:

  • your uterus get back down to size – after your baby is born, your uterus (womb) will gradually get smaller day by day, but breastfeeding will help speed this up
  • you bond with your baby – breastfeeding is a lovely way to feel close and strengthen the bond between you and your baby
  • release a hormone called oxytocin that helps you feel calm and connected to your baby
  • protect your health – breastfeeding lowers your risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, osteoporosis (weak bones), diabetes and cardiovascular disease (conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels)