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Overview of breastfeeding

Breast milk provides the best food for babies as they grow and is the only food and drink they need for the first six months of their life. Even after six months, you can continue breastfeeding your baby while introducing other foods.

Colostrum, which is the first milk you produce after birth, is the perfect food for your newborn. You make just a small amount of it, but it contains lots of antibodies, which help to protect your baby from infections, and prebiotics, which help your baby have healthy gut bacteria.

Breastfeeding benefits

Breastfeeding1Breastfeeding has many important benefits for mothers and babies.

For mothers it:

For babies, breast milk:

Preparing to breastfeed

You can do several things while you're pregnant and straight after your baby is born to get ready to breastfeed.

There are some common problems women can have with breastfeeding. But if you run into any difficulties, your midwife can support you and help you to overcome them.

On the next page: Starting to breastfeed

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed February 2018.


Page reference: 504214

Review key: HIBRF-24381