Breastmilk is amazing. It has everything a growing baby needs in exactly the right amounts and baby can easily digest it all. Research shows that a baby who is not breastfed is more likely to suffer from illnesses and diseases, both as a child and later in life.
Can anyone breastfeed?
Breastfeeding is the normal, natural way to feed and care for a baby. Babies are born expecting to breastfeed. Women all over the world, regardless of their diet, can produce the right type and amount of milk to support their growing babies, whether it’s one or more! There are lots of myths about breastfeeding but 99% of women can breastfeed and any problems can usually be sorted out very quickly with the right information and support. There is always help available for mums and babies who are finding breastfeeding difficult.
Formula just doesn’t compare
It’s artificial. Formula milk is a processed food, a combination of modified cows’ milk, vegetable oils and other additives. Every year research uncovers more reasons why formula is not as good for babies. Infant formula can never equal human milk. Human milk contains living cells, hormones, active enzymes, antibodies and compounds with unique structures that can’t be copied in a factory. The make-up of a mother’s milk changes from feed to feed, adapting to the needs of her baby as he grows—formula milk just can’t do this. Cows’ milk for calves, mothers’ milk for human babies Cows’ milk is designed to help calves grow fast and put on lots of muscle. Human milk builds intelligent human brains with gradual physical growth. Increased risk of disease and illness Studies have shown that: • Formula fed baby girls have a higher chance of developing breast cancer in later life.1 • Human milk kills cancer cells and other disease organisms including HIV in laboratory conditions. • Just a 10% increase in breastfeeding in the UK could lead to 3900 fewer cases of sickness and diarrhoea in babies at a saving of £2.6 million.2
It’s a fact
- Babies have tiny tummies and breastmilk is digested quickly so a newborn baby breastfeeds at least 8–12 times in a 24 hour period.
- The first time a newborn baby feeds he only takes about a teaspoon of milk (colostrum) but this is really important to line and protect his intestines.
- Fresh breastmilk has antibacterial properties.
- Colostrum is milk produced in the first few days after birth. It contains especially high concentrations of immune factors to help a baby’s immune system to mature after birth.
- The World Health Organization recommends that infants be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health and then continue breastfeeding for up to two years of age and beyond, alongside complementary foods.
Did you know
Studies show that your baby has a better chance of growing up healthier if she is breastfed. Feeding formula milk increases children’s risk of:
- Coeliac disaease
- Cot death
- Crohn’s disease
- Developing cancers
- Ear infections
- Heart disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Urinary tract infections
Breastfeeding is convenient!
Mum’s breastmilk will be ready at the right temperature—anytime, any place, anywhere. Baby can feed whenever he’s hungry and get just what he needs. No sterilising, no making up bottles, no washing up! And keeping baby close by at night makes night-feeding easier too.
Breastfeeding is eco-friendly!
Breastmilk is the most environmentally friendly baby food imaginable! Bottle feeding produces pollution and waste disposal problems due to the manufacture, packaging, transport and preparation of the formula and bottles.
Position is important
Getting a baby positioned and latched on comfortably at the breast is the key to both enjoyable feeds and making enough milk. Breastfeeding’s normal and natural, but it’s an art that can take both mum and baby a bit of time and practice to learn. One of the best ways to find out about breastfeeding is to watch and learn from other breastfeeding mothers.
Good for Mum – Breastfeeding…
- Reduces a mother’s risk of developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, cervical cancer and uterine cancer.
- Protects a mother against developing osteoporosis (brittle bones).
- Helps the uterus return to normal size after giving birth.
- Is the natural way to be close to a baby and helps bonding. The mothering hormones prolactin and oxytocin help a mother care for her baby by lowering her blood pressure and helping her to relax physically.
- Usually delays the return of periods.
It’s worth it…
However long breastfeeding lasts it’s always good for mum and baby and can continue even if a mum needs to go back to work. Mums can leave breastmilk and other foods for their baby to have while they’re away.
Have a look at our video of mums discussing breastfeeding:
Nice for Partners
- Breastfeeding is free; no need for tins of formula, bottles and sterilising equipment.
- While mum is breastfeeding her partner can bond with his/her baby in other fun ways: bathing the baby, changing nappies, cuddling baby and carrying baby in a sling.
- Nice smells!—a breastfed baby’s nappy hardly smells.
- You can’t spoil a baby by holding and carrying him. Babies who are held more cry less
Written by Philippa Pearson-Glaze & mothers of La Leche League.
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. LLLI. London: Pinter & Martin, 2010.
Mother-Baby Experiences of Nurturing, Colson, S. 2000.
1. Nichols, HB. et al. Effects of birth order and maternal age on breast cancer risk: modification by whether women had been breast-fed. Epidemiology. 2008; 19(3):417-23.
2. NICE clinical guideline no. 37 Costing Report, NHS National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, 2006
References for other health benefits: The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. LLLI. London: Pinter & Martin, 2010.
Copyright LLLGB 2016