Why is breast milk good for your baby?
Breast milk is perfectly designed for human infants. Breast milk contains nutrients and many specialised substances like hormones, growth factors, stem cells and antibodies. These help to protect your baby from infection and develop and mature the infant immune system and central nervous system. This means that breast milk helps prevent infections (gastrointestinal, lower airways and ear), obesity, type 1 and 2 diabetes, and possibly some cancers and cot death (SIDS). Breast milk also contains substances that benefit infant sleep. Breast milk benefits your child’s health now and probably in later life. Partial breastfeeding is also beneficial for your child. For babies who cannot be fed breast milk, infant formula is a good alternative for growth and normal development.
How does breastfeeding benefit maternal health?
Breast milk is good for your baby. Breastfeeding is good for your health. Exclusive and partial breastfeeding both benefit health. Immediately after giving birth, breastfeeding can reduce bleeding. This is because the uterus contracts when the baby suckles. The milk production in your breasts affects your metabolism. This may be good for your health. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of maternal breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. This applies not only while breastfeeding but also later in life. If you can breastfeed, it is beneficial to do so until your baby is one year old or even longer.
How long should I breastfeed?
Breastfeeding benefits both maternal and child health. The Norwegian Directorate of Health recommends that you breastfeed for the first 12 months, or longer if mutually desired by you and your baby. The World Health Organization recommends that infants be breastfed for 24 months.
For the first six months, most infants need nothing other than breast milk and vitamin D supplements. From around six months of age, your baby should be fed solids in combination with breast milk. Continue to feed your baby lots of breast milk after introducing solid foods. For more information, watch the videos on “Why is breast milk good for your baby?” “How does breastfeeding benefit maternal health?” “How will I know if my baby is ready for solids?