Breastfeeding, a recent choice
Either way, what’s important for you and your baby is that you feel good about your thought process and decision. This is a deeply personal choice between you and your spouse, and it should be respected.
Most new mothers experience breastfeeding as a natural progression of pregnancy. Australian national infant feeding statistics show that approximately 96% of women initiate exclusive breastfeeding and this decreases to (approx) 15-25% by 6 months of age. Breastfeeding provides babies with the best start in life and is a key contributor to infant health.
With a few rare exceptions, all women can breastfeed their babies. Whether you’re already convinced or not sure yet, you should know that although nursing can create a few constraints, it is a source or real benefit for both you and your newborn when done right and experienced positively. Don’t hesitate to ask your midwife or lactation consultant for input on your decision.
A source of benefits for you and your baby
Your breastmilk is indisputably and marvelously suited to your baby’s nutritional needs; its composition evolves as your baby grows, and even over the course of feeds during the day. The WHO (World Health Organization) and Australia's infant guidelines recommend exclusive breastfeeding of infants to around six months of age when solid foods are introduced. Even for shorter periods, however, breastfeeding is still recommended, because the infant formulas sold in stores don’t share all the characteristics of breastmilk. In addition to this biological fact, the tender, nutritive act of nursing obviously creates a special connection between mother and baby.
For your baby
- Breastfeeding is the main factor in providing lasting protection for your baby’s health, ensuring that he receives all the nutrients he needs to grow and develop. Although the exact composition of breastmilk varies between mothers, it contains precise proportions of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates along with exactly the right amount of vitamins and mineral salts.
- Your milk contains a number of antibodies, naturally protecting your baby from the risk of infectious diseases (bronchiolitis, bronchitis, ear infections, sore throats, etc.) as well as from certain allergies, including food allergies.
- According to the latest research, breastmilk also contributes positively to a child’s weight, limiting the risk of obesity during childhood and adolescence.
- Nursing while holding your baby close to you is a unique experience that not only helps build a deep bond between you but also releases hormones that make you feel good between feeds.
- By triggering uterine contractions, nursing helps your uterus regain its tone and shrink back to its usual size more quickly.
- Various studies have shown that breastfeeding is a real asset to your health as a new mother. It drastically reduces the risk of developing osteoporosis.
- By breastfeeding, you’ll get your figure back more quickly: you burn approximately 800 calories for every liter of milk produced.
- Finally, breastfeeding simplifies your life: no bottles to prepare or emergency runs to buy powder on a Sunday evening.