We know breastfeeding is the natural way to feed and bond with your baby but the benefits go way beyond that. Sydney Local Health District’s Child and Family Health Nurse and lactation consultant Wendy Smith delves into some of the reasons why breastfeeding is so good.
“It’s the best possible start for a baby”.
The list of benefits for both mum and bub is long and continues to grow. “It’s particularly about protecting the baby from infections and in the longer term, from diabetes and childhood obesity,” says Ms Smith.
That’s because it’s easier for babies to regulate their appetite on the breast, so they’re less likely to be overfed.
For mums, breastfeeding reduces the chance of premenopausal breast and ovarian cancers and reduces or delays the onset of Type 2 Diabetes in later life for those who develop gestational diabetes.
It’s also very practical for mums. “They don’t have to wash up, and prepare bottles. It’s portable and you don’t need to pack any extra feeding materials” says Ms Smith.
The World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding up until around six months of age and continued breastfeeding until age two.
“There are a lot of myths around long term feeding,” says Ms Smith.
“Not a lot of people actually know that it’s good for their baby”.
She says support is the key when it comes to breastfeeding. “If the mum is supported by those around her, particularly by her partner, they are more likely to succeed.”
Not everyone finds breastfeeding easy first go, but there is support and if it doesn’t work out, there are other options. Some women express and bottle feed, others might use formula.