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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Overview of breastfeeding

Breast milk provides the best food for pēpi (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, health professionals recommend that you carry on breastfeeding your pēpi (baby) while introducing other foods. In fact, the World Health Organisation recommends that breastfeeding continues for two years or longer.

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 pēpi from infections. It also contains prebiotics, which help make sure your pēpi has healthy gut bacteria.

Breastfeeding benefits

Breastfeeding has many important benefits for mothers and pēpi.

For mothers it:

For pēpi, breast milk:

Preparing to breastfeed

You can do several things while you're pregnant and straight after your pēpi 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.

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

On the next page: Starting to breastfeed

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed December 2021.


Page reference: 416863

Review key: HIBRF-24381