Baby > The essentials > Feeding your baby > Breastfeeding > Introducing breastfeeding

Introducing breastfeeding

Useful information on the benefits, advantages and disadvantages of breastfeeding your baby.
Breastfeeding allows you to provide your baby with all it needs for growth and development. Breast milk not only contains all the nutrients your baby needs, in an easily digested form, but it also contains antibodies to protect your baby from all kinds of infection.

There are substances in breast milk, which cannot be reproduced. You alone can provide these living factors for your baby. Breastfeeding is a really positive thing to do. It is not only good for your baby, it is good for you. The advantages are numerous.

The main advantages of breastfeeding for your baby

  • Breast milk is the only food specifically designed, by nature, to meet your baby's individual needs.
  • It contains the right balance of nutrients in a very easily digestible form.
  • Antibodies are passed on through breast milk to protect your baby from all kinds of infection. The longer you can feed your baby the better but if you breastfeed for the first three or four months this protection can last for up to a year.
  • Your baby is much less likely to need to be admitted to hospital.
  • Your baby is less likely to develop diarrhoea or constipation.
  • Breastfeeding reduced the incidence of allergies such as eczema and asthma.
  • Breast milk contains growth factors and hormones to help your baby's development. These cannot be reproduced in formula milk. Children who have breast fed for eight months or more have been shown to achieve more at school than those who have been bottle fed.
The main advantages of breastfeeding for you
  • Breastfeeding helps your body to return to normal after the birth and burns up to 500 calories a day.
  • Breast milk is always ready and it costs nothing
  • Women who breastfeed often feel a special bond with their baby and may be less likely to develop postnatal depression.
  • Breastfeeding may offer you some protection against developing ovarian cancer, breast cancer and hip fractures.
The main disadvantages of breastfeeding for you
  • Blood borne viruses such as hepatitis B or HIV and some medication can be passed on to your baby in breast milk.
  • Some women find breastfeeding painful, stressful and tiring
  • You are unable to measure the amount of milk your baby has consumed, this can be a disadvantage if your baby is having problems putting on weight.
  • It can be difficult for a breastfeeding mother to leave her baby for more than a couple of hours as no one else can feed baby unless she leaves expressed milk.
Nearly all women can breastfeed, but many do run into problems. It is important to ask for help. Feeding can take a number of weeks to establish properly. Once established most women then find feeding easy and enjoyable.

The most important thing to know about breastfeeding is how to position your baby during a feed. If your baby is in the right position then everything else will follow.

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What if your nipple is too small for your baby to feed on? what can I do
by stasyjm 29th Dec 2010, 9:10am
Breastmilk is constantly changing in its composition to meet the changing needs of the baby. It has the exact combination of protein, fats, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and sugars needed for the human infant at various stages of his growth. Also for mothers, nursing immediately following delivery causes the uterus to contract lessening the risk of postpartum hemorrhage.
by sherlin 23rd Aug 2010, 10:24am
I stopped breastfeeding a week after his second birthday, I hadnt planned for so long but ben wouldnt drink anything else,He had solid food at five and a half because he was such a hungry baby. he loved the organic pouches and they were so easy to take with us.Once he started drinking water it was easier to say no when he tried to latch on.As long as he had cuddles on demand he got over it. I tried a variety of foods like mashed carrots and swede. I would freeze a batch in little tubs and try to vary his food. He liked butternut squash and loves bananas.My boobs didnt sag but after u stop breastfeeding they do shrink and not as perky,tho do swop cos my mate swears shes lopsided cos danny favoured one boob.
by suzi2 12th Aug 2010, 10:18am
just came through a section and gave birth to a butiful baby boy on monday afternoon got out hospital yesterday breast fed baby in hospital but last nite was the worst nite of my life he keeps wanting fed and cryed from 9.30pm till 6am this morning is my baby getting enough milk
by lizhunter2 20th Nov 2009, 9:27am
how do i stop my 33month old son to breastfeed?please help..thanks
by aikerdeco 21st Oct 2009, 9:11am
I really wanted to breastfeed for all the advantages you read about - what people don't tell you is that is HARD! My nipples cracked, I wasn't producing enough and felt so disappointed that it wasn't this amazing experiance everyone talks about! BUT...if you are struggling, took me 6 weeks for things to get better, and I can honestly say now that it is the best thing I ever did - the bond you have with your baby is advice is, if you can, and believe me I know how hard it is, try to stick at it - vaseline was the best thing for my boobs - bought all the other stuff, waste of money!
by cjmac 26th Mar 2009, 9:33am
hi i would like to ask about repragnant . my baby girl is of 5 months old. i am giving her breast feeding .it is said by seniors that i can not concieve again until i am feeding my baby ;is it true if yes then upto how many months i should feed my baby so that she could be live healthy.i want to concieve early bcs i concieved first time after seven year of my for second baby should i conceived early or or i can feed more to my baby thats creat not any problem for my conception of second baby.what is advisable.please advise thing more i concieved first time with leproscopy+ harmonel therapy.please advise.
by uzi 23rd Mar 2009, 9:11am
is it ok for the baby to have expressed milk in a bottle for when shes not there or is it safer just to always breastfeed?
by missypatrick 5th Dec 2008, 9:31am
does breastfeeding leave your breast saggy.
by sophiesean 3rd Nov 2008, 10:13am