Many medical experts strongly recommend breastfeeding (without formula, juice or water) for 6 months. And breastfeeding for at least one year with other foods that should be started at the age of 6 months, such as vegetables, cereals, fruits, proteins.
What are the benefits of breastfeeding for your baby?
Breast milk provides ideal nutrition for infants. It contains an almost perfect blend of vitamins, proteins and fats that your baby needs to grow. And it all comes in a more easily digestible form than formula for newborns. Breast milk contains antibodies that help your baby fight viruses and bacteria.
Breastfeeding reduces the risk of your baby developing asthma or allergies. In addition, babies who are breastfed, especially for the first 6 months, without formula, have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses and episodes of diarrhea. They also have fewer hospitalizations and fewer visits to the doctor.
Breastfeeding has been associated with higher IQ scores later in childhood in some studies. In addition, physical closeness, skin-to-skin contact and eye contact help your baby bond with you and feel safe. Breastfed infants are more likely to gain adequate weight as they grow up rather than become overweight. The AAP says that breastfeeding also plays a role in preventing SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). It is also thought to reduce the risk of diabetes, obesity and some cancers, but more research is needed.
Are there any benefits of breastfeeding for the mother?
Breastfeeding burns extra calories, so it can help you lose some of the weight you gained during pregnancy. It releases the hormone oxytocin, which helps your uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size and may reduce uterine bleeding after delivery. Breastfeeding also reduces your risk of breast and ovarian cancer. It may also reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
When you start breastfeeding, your baby's position and the way he attaches to your breast are very important. A good breastfeeding position promotes a good latch, which is necessary for successful breastfeeding.
When your baby latches on well, he will be able to effectively remove breast milk from your breasts. Proper latching on allows your baby to drink enough breast milk and helps prevent breast problems such as sore nipples.
It may take some time for your breasts to get used to feedings, but breastfeeding should not cause severe pain. If you feel pain when your baby latches on or tries to latch on, and it doesn't go away in a minute or two (or with a change in position), talk to your doctor, your baby's pediatrician and/or your lactation consultant.