Saturday, 6 October 2012



The World Health Organisation recommends that “babies are fed only breastmilk for the first six months and that breastfeeding then be continued as part of a mixed diet until the age of 2 years.”
Many women have decided by the time of booking which way they will feed their baby. This does not mean that you cannot change your mind when you know all the facts.

There are many benefits to breastfeeding both for the baby and the mother and even most worries or concerns are unfounded. However, breastfeeding can take patience and perseverance but is well worth it in the end. And don’t forget you can ask your midwife or health visitor for help and support in finding the correct technique.
We all know that ‘breast is best’ as it is specifically produced by the mother for her own baby. It has the perfect combination of fats, carbohydrates and proteins that your baby should need. This composition of milk changes day by day and feed by feed.

Formula milk is made from cow’s milk which is produced for baby calves, therefore this cannot be manufactured to completely meet your babies needs especially the important components that offer your baby protection and help your baby to grow.
When breastfeeding your baby, you do not have to supplement with other fluids even in hot weather, as the composition of the milk changes to provide your baby with the thirst quenching fluids it requires. Only if you are advised by a health professional, should you give extra fluids.

If you have decided to breastfeed you should try to stick with it, as just one formula feed given to a breastfeeding baby can sensitise the gut to the proteins. This can cause intolerances and allergies to these proteins. Formula milk changes the acid and bacteria levels which may take up to a month to revert back to normal.
It is also safer to breastfeed as it is possible to make-up and store formula feeds wrongly. (see previous blog on the storage of formula milk) should be made up exactly how it says on the carton as making the ratio of powder to water wrongly can be harmful to your baby. It is impossible to make mistakes with the breastmilk your baby receives.

Breastmilk is also known to reduce the risk of developing an infection. Antibodies help to fight infection and are passed on to your baby through your breastmilk. This ensures that breastfed babies suffer less from diarrhoea and vomiting. They also have fewer chest and ear infections and are less likely to suffer constipation.
Breastfeeding also reduces the risk of cot death although the reasons are not fully explained. There are also studies that report that breastfed babies are more intelligent and had fewer behavioural problems than their artificially fed counterparts. One study suggested that the longer the child was breastfed, the greater the effect.

Bonding is a great benefit of breastfeeding. Skin to skin at delivery makes your baby feel safe and secure, and the sooner the baby goes to the breast after delivery the more beneficial to the baby it is. Your baby is kept warm and its breathing, heartrate and blood sugars are regulated.
There is now plenty of evidence to suggest that brestfeeding has numerous long term health advantages. Many health conditions are less likely in adults who were breastfed. These include diabetes, asthma, leukaemia, eczema high cholesterol, high blood pressure and obesity.

For maximum effect you should exclusively breastfeed your baby for the first six months and continue until the child is one year old. Mothers also benefit from breastfeeding. Health wise, women who have breast fed one or more babies are less likely to suffer from breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type II diabetes and postnatal depression.
It has also been suggested that it reduces the risk of developing high blood pressure in later life, and as breastfeeding uses up to 500 calories per day, it makes it easier to lose weight. It is also extremely convenient. No preparation of bottles, that should be made up and used immediately; no getting out of bed in the middle of the night; you can do it anywhere inside and out and its free!!

It’s not all plain sailing for some though, and many women give up because they do not get the support they need in the early days. This makes a huge difference to getting established and preventing problems such as breast pain, poor milk supply and sore nipples.
Breastfeeding is time consuming and requires a lot of commitment and perseverance. The newborn may want to feed every couple of hours as they may only like very small amounts of breastmilk. This may continue through the night as well as the day but it will improve as the baby gets older as he/she will feed more quickly.    

This ensures that more milk is produced as it works on a supply and demand basis. You may also suffer from a blocked milk duct, a breast abscess or mastitis – but I will go into more detail about these conditions in next week’s blog.
Breastfeeding may take up to 4-6 weeks to fully establish. Until this time, it is best to just offer the breast. Therefore, the father will have to be involved in other aspects of care for the baby such as bathing, holding and playing. Once breastfeeding is established, if the father is keen to feed the baby you can express and give by bottle. To avoid ‘nipple confusion’ it is also best not to introduce dummies until this time. Also try not to give expressed breast milk too often as this may cause your supply to diminish.

Many women often feel uncomfortable breastfeeding in public places although it does now appear to becoming more acceptable. Many places now offer more appropriate areas to breastfeed in comfort (not the toilets!) but if you want to breast feed discreetly use a breastfeeding shawl. Most people will not even notice that you are breastfeeding.

More information on breastfeeding and how to do it successfully in next week’s blog.
For further information you may contact:-

La Leche League – 24 hour helpline on 0845 120 2918: .

Breastfeeding Network (support line) on 0844 412 4664:

National Childbirth Trust (breastfeeding line) on 0870 444 8708:
Please feel free to ask any questions relating to this any or any of my previous blogs. You can do this by leaving a comment on this blog or contacting me through my " confidential 1 to 1 live web chat" at

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  1. I've successfully breastfed my daughter and was upset when she self weaned at 22 months. The bond you have is so strong and I loved every feed even through the bad times we had. I'm now due another baby in 5 weeks and looking forward to doing it all over again. Just thought I'd share a positive story to help any struggling mum's

  2. That's a really nice positive post. So many new mums struggle with breastfeeding and give up early thinking they are a failure.

    Any support is great. It's nice to know that it is worth the effort.

    I hope you enjoy feeding your next baby just as much,



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