Breastfeeding is a skill that takes time to get the hang of. Lots of mums wonder if their baby's feeding well and getting enough - especially in the first few days. But once you've mastered it, you'll probably find it's the easiest and most satisfying way to feed your baby. Breastfeeding means you'll always have a constant supply of food for your baby, at the perfect temperature, whenever they need it.
We're here to provide lots of helpful information and advice on how to breastfeed your baby. But if you have any breastfeeding worries or concerns, the best thing to do is speak to your midwife or health visitor, or join a local breastfeeding support group.
There is so much free help and support available – don't forget to use it!
There are many benefits and advantages of breastfeeding – not only for your baby, but for you too. Apart from the fact that it's tailor-made, free, and always available, there are lots of other reasons to breastfeed, including:
You give your baby natural (germ killing) antibodies through breast milk. These antibodies help your baby fight infections like tummy bugs, diarrhoea, colds and chest and ear infections.
Your breast milk provides the perfect combination of vitamins and nutrition. It's also much easier to digest than formula.
Breastfeeding reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), also known as cot death, and childhood leukaemia. Any amount of breastfeeding is beneficial, but exclusively breastfeeding your baby for 6 months offers a lot more protection.
Breastfed babies are less likely to develop diabetes, or become overweight when they are older.
If there's a family history of allergies, there's a chance your baby will develop some too. Breastfeeding your baby for the first 6 months is the best way to lower the risk of your baby developing allergies.
There are health benefits for you too - breastfeeding lowers your risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, osteoporosis (weak bones), diabetes and cardiovascular disease (conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels).
After your baby is born, your uterus (womb) has a way to go before it gets back to normal size (so you may still look pregnant!). It gradually gets smaller as the days go by, but breastfeeding helps speed up the process.
Breastfeeding is a lovely way to feel close and strengthen the bond between you and your baby.
If you are exclusively breastfeeding, this will help burn off about 300 calories a day.
If you decide to continue breastfeeding after 6 months, it still has lots of benefits. Your breast milk protects your baby from infections, and there's some evidence it helps them digest solid foods.