Best of Health: Breastfeeding has so many benefits for mum and baby

A Generic Photo of a baby being breastfed.
A Generic Photo of a baby being breastfed.

Being pregnant is really exciting and having a baby is probably the most amazing thing that can happen in our lives.

Giving your little one the best possible start in life will be your main priority. One of the best ways to do that is breastfeeding.

This is a skill that needs to be learned and takes practice. I’m well aware of the various studies showing that the health benefits are worth it and I actively encourage breastfeeding whenever I can.

A couple of new mums to be have visited me in practice. I asked if they were planning on breastfeeding but they told me no because they didn’t do it last time.

I talked with them about the benefits breastfeeding has for both mum and baby, and encouraged them to have a go this time, even if it’s just for a short time.

Babies who are NOT breastfed have an increased chance of diarrhoea and vomiting, chest infections, ear infections constipation, becoming obese which means they are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes and other illnesses later in life, developing eczema.

Breastfeeding  also has benefits for mums too. It lowers the risk of mum getting breast cancer and may reduce your risk of getting ovarian cancer. It naturally uses up about 500 extra calories a day, and it saves money. Formula feeding can cost as much as £45 a month

The Department of Health recommends “all pregnant and breastfeeding women should take a daily supplement containing 10μg of vitamin D, to ensure the mums needs for vitamin D are met and to build adequate stores in the baby”.

Making breast milk takes liquid so all breastfeeding women should drink more than usual and shouldn’t ignore thirst.

If you weren’t planning to breastfeed, think of the benefits to you and your baby. Even a few days breastfeeding are better than none.

For more assistance, ask your midwife or visit www.nhs.uk/start4life