General breastfeeding support and preparation
Breastfeeding gives a baby the best possible start in life – and it is good for the health and wellbeing of breastfeeding women too.For some women breastfeeding can be a struggle especially if they do not have good support systems in place. Women’s Health Action recommends learning about breastfeeding and breastfeeding support before the baby is born. A really good place to start is to find a local breastfeeding support group such as La Leche League. If you can get in touch while still pregnant, it is a great way to connect with other pregnant women, find out what services are available in the community, and to familiarise yourself with the support you have around you. If you do not have family around you, create a ‘family’ in your community while you are pregnant so you have close connections once your baby is born.La Leche League offers support, encouragement and information, with local groups holding regular meetings and useful resources such as a lending library.For more specialised help there are experts called lactation consultants, to find a lactation consultant click here »Breast-milk is the perfect food for your baby and it is ALL your baby needs to eat and drink for about the first 6 months. There is no need to introduce or change to a follow-on formula at 6 months.Provided the infant is breastfed in response to their hunger cues, breast-milk should be a major source of nutrients throughout the first year of life, even after complementary foods have been introduced. Before complementary foods can be introduced, the infant must be physically and physiologically able to cope with such foods.Discuss starting solids with your Tamariki Ora / Well Child provider or family doctor or nurse.
Benefits for baby
- Breast-milk is easily digested. It’s immediately available and always fresh.
- Breastfeeding helps your baby grow and develop physically and emotionally.
- Breastfeeding and breast-milk help protect your baby from chest infections, meningitis, ear infections and urine infections.
- Breastfeeding decreases the risk of sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI, also known as sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS). It is also linked to lower hospitalisation rates.
- Breastfeeding and breast-milk may protect baby from chronic tummy problems and some childhood cancers. They may also be less likely to get allergies, eczema or asthma.
- Breastfeeding helps reduce the risk of obesity and may help reduce the risk of diabetes in later life.
Benefits for mothers
- Breastfeeding helps you recover from birth.
- Skin-to-skin contact is a wonderful way to start intimately connecting with your baby.
- Breastfeeding reduces your risk of pre-menopausal breast cancer.
- Breastfeeding may reduce your risk of ovarian cancer, osteoporosis and hip fracture later in life.
- Breastfeeding may help you lose weight gained during pregnancy.
- Breastfeeding can be your motivation to start living a healthier lifestyle, and cut down on smoking or drinking.
The Ministry of Health has a wealth of breastfeeding information on their website »Topics include:Getting ready to breastfeed »How to breastfeed »Stages of breastfeeding »Problems with breastfeeding »Supporting a breastfeeding mother »