Ask our midwife: the benefits of breastfeeding

Did you know it's National Breastfeeding Week in the UK?

As part of Midwife Month we've asked our Pregnacare midwife Summaya to explain the benefits of breastfeeding, useful places to seek out help, and some tips on diet and drinking when you're feeding.

So over to Summaya...so why should mums breastfeed?

Breast milk is the only natural food designed for your baby and provides health benefits for both you and your baby.

What are the benefits of breastfeeding for babies?

  • It protects your baby from infections and diseases
  • Fewer chest and ear infections
  • Less chance of being constipated
  • Less likelihood of becoming obese and therefore developing type 2 diabetes and other illnesses later in life
  • Less chance of developing eczema

What are the benefits of breastfeeding for mothers?

  • It can give you a great sense of achievement
  • It's completely free
  • Lowers your risk of getting breast and ovarian cancer
  • Naturally uses up to 500 calories a day
  • Can help to build a strong bond between you and your baby

Where can I seek help and advice if I need it?

Hospitals may have peer support workers that come around while you are still on the ward after giving birth; their job is to see if the feeding is going well before you are discharged home, and to give you tips and advice if needed.

Some boroughs have breastfeeding cafes, which are drop in centres for breastfeeding mothers or women that are struggling with feeding. It is beneficial for those that need extra support as there are breastfeeding advisors and midwives at the venue. Additionally it is also a nice way to get to know local mothers and babies in the area.

You can also (for those able to afford it) pay for a lactation consultant to come and help you with the breastfeeding at home. Research what is available to you and what your hospital is offering - there is help out there if you need it.

There's also a list of online resources in our post on midwives and breastfeeding, including the NCT breastfeeding helpline number and some useful websites.

Are there foods I should and shouldn’t eat if I’m breastfeeding? Can I have a glass of wine?

A healthy, varied diet is vital to help produce nutritious breast milk and maintain your own health during the post natal period. Whilst breastfeeding we advise and encourage you to stick to the same healthy diet that you were on whilst you were pregnant as baby will absorb what you ingest via your milk.

You might wish to consider taking a supplement designed specifically for the post-natal/breastfeeding period, like Pregnacare Breastfeeding, to help support your nutritional requirements.

Here's some advice from the NHS on drinking and breastfeeding, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle while breastfeeding.

Thanks Summaya! Make sure you read our posts with advice on appointments and antenatal care during pregnancy, a healthy diet during pregnancy, and find out more about how to become a midwife.

 

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