World Breastfeeding Week (01-07 August)
According to the statistics, published by NHS choices UK, more than 73% of mothers start breastfeeding. Some of the reasons are thought to be the health benefits breastmilk have on you and your baby and also to build a strong emotional bond between you and your baby.
Formula milk doesn't provide the same protection to your baby from illness or have any long term benefits; it also doesn't give you any health benefits.
The NHS recommends giving nothing but breast milk for about the first six months (26 weeks) of your baby's life.
After that, giving your baby breast milk alongside family foods for as long as you and your baby want will help them grow and develop healthily. You must not forget that breast milk adapts as your baby grows to meet your baby's changing needs.
The benefits of breast feeding for your baby are -
Reducing risks of:
- infections, with fewer visits to hospital as a result
- diarrhea and vomiting, with fewer visits to hospital as a result
- sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- childhood leukemia
- type 2 diabetes
- cardiovascular disease in adulthood
The benefits of breast feeding for you are -
Lowering your risk of:
- breast cancer
- ovarian cancer
- osteoporosis (weak bones)
- cardiovascular disease
- It’s always a good idea to prepare yourself for breastfeeding beforehand so that you feel more confident when the time comes.
- Having skin-to-skin contact with your baby straight after the birth will help to keep them warm and calm, and steady their breathing.
- The fluid your breasts produce in the first few days after birth is called colostrum. It's usually a golden yellow colour. It's a very concentrated food, so your baby will only need about a teaspoonful at each feed.
- Your baby's sucking causes milk stored in your breasts to be squeezed down ducts towards your nipples. This is called the let-down reflex.
- How often babies feed varies. As a very rough guide, your baby should feed at least eight times or more every 24 hours during the first few weeks.
- It's important to breastfeed at night because this is when you produce more hormones (prolactin) to build up your milk supply.
- Sometimes, breast milk may leak unexpectedly from your nipples. Press the heel of your hand gently but firmly on your breast when this happens.
For more information please contact our pharmacist or visit NHS choices.