Obviously the longer you breastfeed your baby, the more benefits you both receive however, know that whatever your breastfeeding goals may be, any amount of breastfeeding is better than no breastfeeding at all!
Almost all women physically can breastfeed with the help of quality education and support. Remember though, while breastfeeding is natural it is a learned skill, so give yourself at least six weeks for everything to come together. With that said, here are 10 great reasons to breastfeed your baby:
- It all starts with the colostrum, which is a mum’s first milk. It’s so rich in antibodies and lots of other good stuff that we often call it baby’s first immunisation.
- The act of breastfeeding itself is super important because of the jaw action required, it helps develop those muscles and in turn promotes better tooth alignment.
- Breastfeeding improves baby’s eyesight and hand/eye coordination. The distance between baby and mum and the fact we swap breasts encourages eyesight development and helps baby develop a good aim!
- We can’t ignore all the lovely brain-boosting antibodies in breast milk that has never been able to be replicated in formula, which is why not being breastfed can lead to a lower IQ.
- Formula-fed babies just don’t have the same resistance to disease, especially ear infections and gastro. And it’s been proven that not breastfeeding increases the risk of SIDS.
- Breastfeeding helps your body return to your pre-pregnancy state quicker. The act of breastfeeding contracts the uterus quite quickly, and burns a few more kilojoules, about 1600 a day, as well as the fact that your metabolic rate is higher during lactation.
- If you haven’t breastfed, you are more likely to get cancer of the breast or ovaries, heart disease and osteoporosis.
- Periods take longer to return so it can be a natural contraceptive and child spacer.
- A breastfeed baby is very portable; you don’t need to take anything with you except your breasts! What’s easier than that?
- Breastfeeding is really important to our environment. The carbon footprint a breastfed baby leaves is virtually zero, yet for a formula-fed baby there’s the manufacture of formula, the tins, bottles, teats, sterilising equipment, even the extra sanitary products the mums require as well as the landfill when they are used and thrown away, then there’s all the extra dairy cattle to raise, and even all the fuel required for transportation, it just adds up and up.
The World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond.
Most women are fertile two weeks before their period starts. However, breastfeeding can delay the return of periods, making it hard for women to know with any confidence when their ‘fertile window’ may be. This is why some women conceive again before their periods have come back.
An epidural is an anaesthetic procedure, where a local anaesthetic is injected into the epidural space near the spinal cord. An epidural anaesthetic numbs the nerves so pain cannot be felt in certain areas of the body.
An epidural during labour helps to block pain signals from contractions. If birth intervention is needed, e.g., caesarean or forceps, an epidural is a common form of anaesthetic.