Benefits of breastfeeding

The Ministry of Health recommends that all babies are fed only breast milk for the first six months of their life. This means no water, infant formula or fruit juices. After six months, you can slowly start your baby on solid foods and other fluids while you keep breastfeeding for one year or longer.

Breastfeeding is best for your baby for many reasons including:

  •  it helps to develop a close bond between you and your baby.
  • breast milk is the only food that is exactly the right nutrition and temperature for your baby.
  • breast milk will help protect your baby from ear infections, gastroenteritis, respiratory infections and eczema.

Babies who are breastfed are less likely to have respiratory problems, coughs, colds or infections before they are one year old for which they may need to be admitted to hospital. Breastfeeding may also reduce the risk of cot death.

Breastfeeding is good for you because:

  • you will recover from the birth faster.
  • it helps strengthen the natural bond between you and your baby you may lose weight gained during pregnancy faster.
  • you may be less likely to get some types of breast cancers.
  • you may be less likely to suffer from ovarian cancer, osteoporosis and hip fractures later in life.

It is important that you and your baby have skin-to-skin contact as soon as possible after the birth and that you initiate breastfeeding when your baby is ready during or after this time. This develops a close bond and helps your body to begin producing breast milk. Your LMC or Well Child Tamariki Ora Nurse can tell you about any support groups in your area, such as La Leche League, Parents Centre or Home Birth Association. Click here for more breastfeeding resources.

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