Pregnancy and birth are incredibly exciting times in the life of a family, and come with many decisions about the health and welfare of your child. One of these you may face is whether or not to breastfeed your baby.
If your personal circumstances allow you to breastfeed, breastfeeding will provide your newborn with the best start nutritional start, and actually meets all your baby’s nutritional needs for their first six months of life. As there is so much information about breast feeding, we have collated the essentials from the Australian Department of Health to help you understand the benefits:
Breastfeeding provides babies with the best start in life and is a key contributor to infant health. Australia’s infant feeding guidelines recommend exclusive breastfeeding of infants to around six months of age when solid foods are introduced and continued breastfeeding until the age of 12 months and beyond, if both mother and infant wish. Evidence shows that breastfed babies are less likely to suffer from necrotising enterocolitis, diarrhoea, respiratory illness, middle ear infection, type 1 diabetes and childhood leukaemia. Available evidence also shows that breastfed babies have enhanced cognitive development. Breastfeeding also benefits mothers by promoting faster recovery from childbirth, reducing the risks of breast and ovarian cancers in later life, and reduced maternal depression. Breastmilk is nutritionally complete because it contains all the nutrients a baby needs during the first six months of life, including fat, carbohydrate, protein, vitamins, minerals and water to help your baby grow, develop and reach their full potential. Many of the nutrients in breastmilk are absorbed and used easily by your baby. All of this makes it nature’s perfect first food for a new baby’s developing body. Your body will then taper the breast milk composition to match your child’s changing needs as they grow and mature towards eating solid foods. All this makes breast milk the ideal start in the journey towards optimal health.