Why Breastfeeding is Important
What happens in your baby’s first years has a big effect on how healthy they will be in the future. Mum’s milk gives your baby all the nutrients they need for around the first six months of life (and it’s important beyond six months too). It helps to protect your baby from infections and other diseases, and as a mum, it also reduces your chances of getting some illnesses later in life.
Breastfeeding also helps you and your baby to get closer – physically and emotionally. So while you are feeding your baby, the bond between you grows stronger.
Infant formula is made from cows’ milk and other ingredients. It doesn’t contain the ingredients that help protect your baby from infection and disease. Only your body can make those.
For more information visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/benefits-breastfeeding
How does breastfeeding work?
From about 16 weeks of pregnancy your breasts will start to produce milk that is called colostrum.
Colostrum is concentrated Breastmilk and will be the first milk that your baby drinks from birth to about day three. Colostrum is really important milk for your baby as it provides immunity and protection from infection. It starts the development of healthy bacteria in your baby’s gut. Colostrum comes in small amounts because a healthy baby born after 37 weeks does not need large volumes of milk in the first few days. The small volume of concentrated nutrients allows your baby to practice sucking, swallowing and breathing at the same time.
From day three or four liquid and lactose (milk sugar) are added to the colostrum and so the amount of milk produced by your breasts starts to increase, your body needs to know how much milk your baby (or babies) need so that your breasts can produce the right amount of milk for your baby. If you feed your baby whenever they want to feed and let them feed as long as they want to your body will produce the right amount of milk for your baby.
Your baby will feed very often in the first few weeks and so you need to make sure you know how to help your baby latch well onto your breasts so that you don’t become sore. Ask your midwife to help you.