Breastfeeding: The Basics

Breastfeeding has unique health benefits for your baby – plus it’s a great way of bonding with him. Read about how to get started.

Breast milk is the ideal food for your baby. In fact, it’s so good he won’t need anything else until he’s 6 months old.

That’s because breast milk:

  • has all the nutrients a baby needs in the early months
  • has antibodies to protect babies against illnesses like diahorrea and pneumonia
  • reduces a child’s chances of developing type 2 diabetes later in life
  • may even increase intelligence
  • is cheap!

 

Breastfeeding helps mums too

Mums who breastfeed have less chance of getting breast and ovarian cancer later in life. And they get back to the weight they were before they got pregnant faster. See more on getting back into shape after you have a baby

 

Getting started with breastfeeding

Although breastfeeding is natural, it’s something that takes a bit of practice.

 

Before the birth

Learn about breastfeeding as much as you can, so you know what to expect.

 

After the birth

Hold your newborn baby against your skin. This will help activate his instinct to breastfeed and give him the chance to have his first feed as soon as possible – preferably within the first hour after birth.

Then let your baby feed whenever he wants. Some mums worry about not having enough milk, but feeding itself will help build up the milk supply – the more he feeds, the more milk you’ll produce. At first, it may feel like your baby’s feeding a lot, but this will eventually settle down into a routine.

Try to avoid letting visitors pass your baby around in the first few days. Keeping him close to you will help you notice the signs that he needs to feed.

 

Getting into the right breastfeeding position

To feed properly, your baby needs to get lots of your breast into his mouth, not just the nipple. Getting in the right position will help him do this.

  • Sit or lie in a position where you feel comfortable and where there’s support for your back.
  • Have your baby facing you with his nose level with your nipple so he can reach your breast with his head tipped back.
  • Hold him close, so he can reach your breast easily. Make sure his head and body are in a straight line.
  • Support the back of his head with your palm or his shoulders with your forearm.

You might need to experiment with positioning to find what’s comfortable, but persevere – breastfeeding gets easier the more you do it.

 

Did you know…

The first milk you produce is called colostrum and is yellow or cream coloured. It’s packed with antibodies and is just what your baby needs in the first few days of his life.

 

How dads can help

Just doing little things like bringing your partner glass of water when she’s feeding is a great help. And help her get as much rest as possible.

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