Many women choose to breastfeed their babies due to the significant health benefits provided over infant formula for both baby and mother.
Breast milk contains all the nutrients a baby requires for the first six months of life. Following this period, solid foods can gradually be introduced. The World Health Organization recommends feeding babies exclusively on breast milk for the first six months of life and then continuing breastfeeding once the infant has started to eat solid food, until up to two years of age.
Antibodies present in the breast milk boost the baby’s immune system and decrease the likelihood of diarrhoea, vomiting, or chest and ear infections developing. Breast feeding is also thought to decrease the risk of obesity later in life and therefore reduces the likelihood of conditions such as type 2 diabetes developing. Breast milk is also easier to digest than commercial formula.
For the mother, breastfeeding lowers the risk for breast and ovarian cancer as well as expending up to 500 calories a day, saving money, and helping to build a strong bond with the baby.
Any amount of breastfeeding has positive effects and the longer a child is breastfed for, the longer the health benefits will last for both baby and mother.