Breast Feeding – The Facts

Breastfeeding is the single most positive thing you can do to protect you and your baby’s health. Although the number of people who start breastfeeding is high, by the time baby is one week old, only around 1/3 of the babies are still exclusively breastfed. We must acknowledge that there are challenges, some women can find breastfeeding physically and emotionally difficult and therefore eventually stop breastfeeding. There are some fantastic resources out there to support mums who wish to continue their breastfeeding journey, From bump to breastfeeding for example presents real life stories and expert advice which many new mums find really helpful.

Lots of mums research which car seat to buy, which hospital will meet their birthing needs and which outfits, or brand names will look best on their bundles of joy. Breastfeeding (or not) is an equally important decision to make and knowing the facts can help.

So much research has been done that favours breastfeeding as the best option for both mum and baby in terms of the health benefits. However, breastfeeding isn’t an easy option and for some mums it just isn’t possible for a variety of valid reasons.

Here are some facts about breastfeeding that confirm the benefits:

  • Breastmilk contains traces of all the different foods you have eaten, therefore it can reduce the risk of having a ‘fussy eater’ and help the weaning process
  • Breastfed babies are believed to have a 26% lower risk of becoming obese. This is because breastfed babies seem better able to regulate their food intake.
  • Breastfeeding burns up to 500 calories per day! A lot of mums want to lose their ‘baby weight’, breastfeeding supports that weight loss.
  • Breastfeeding lowers the risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer for mums.
  • Colostrum, the early milk that a breastfed newborn receives in the early feeds after birth, contains highly concentrated antibodies that protect against many diseases. So even a few days of breastfeeding benefits your baby.
  • Breast milk is a living fluid, ever-changing to suit your baby and even responds to the weather! The first milk your baby gets from a full breast has a low-fat content and naturally quenches baby’s thirst. The fat content of the milk gradually increases as the breast softens making sure babies’ hunger is addressed, and they are left satisfied.
  • Breastfeeding reduces babies’ risk of respiratory tract infections and diarrhoea.
  • Breastmilk contains valuable antibodies that protect babies from germs. In other words, breastmilk packs a punch in helping to immunise your baby.
  • Other benefits include lower risks of asthma, food allergies and type 1 diabetes.

Eating well when you are breastfeeding is important. First Steps Nutrition have developed a helpful guide for breastfeeding mums Eating Well for new mums. The decision to breastfeed should always be based on informed choice. Look at this Guide to bottle feeding to help you decide and to get practical advice and support when bottle feeding.

For more information visit the following websites or talk to your health visitor or GP.

Websites · Association of Breastfeeding Mothers · Best Beginnings · Bliss · First Steps Nutrition Trust · Healthy Start · La Leche League · Multiple Births Foundation · National Childbirth Trust · NHS / Start4life · TAMBA · The Breastfeeding Network · UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative


· La Leche League: 0845 120 2918

· National Breastfeeding Helpline: 0300 100 0212

· Association of Breastfeeding Mothers: 0300 330 5453

· The Breastfeeding Network (In English or Welsh): 0300 100 0210

o Bengali and Sylheti: 0300 456 2421

o Tamil, Telegu and Hindi: 0300 330 5469

o Drugs in Breastmilk Helpline: 0844 412 466

o National Childbirth Trust Helpline: 0300 330 0770

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