Every mother wants the best for their newborn baby, but with the extreme amount of information and advice online it can be overwhelming and difficult to know what truly is best for your baby and why. In this article we will cover why breastfeeding is recommended by health professionals and some helpful tips.

What is the evidence for breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding is the biologically normal feeding method for infants to ensure optimum growth and development, and the World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life. Research has revealed several clear benefits of breastfeeding:

  • Breast-milk has the exact right amount of nutrients and calories and develops as the baby grows to ensure optimum growth. It also contains growth hormones which again help in the baby’s growth.

  • Breast-milk contains ‘immuno-globulins’ from the mother. These are an important part of the immune system and can help provide the newborn baby with defence against infections. There are also several other proteins and enzymes in breastmilk which protect against bacterial growth.

  • Breastfeeding has been shown to be an important component of ‘attachment’, which is the bond between a newborn and mother. Strong attachment can lower rates of post-partum depression

  • Breastfeeding is also important for pre-term babies as it can lower rates of complications and improve brain and lung development

  • Breastfeeding has also been shown to lower rates of childhood illnesses including sudden infant death syndrome, childhood cancer, dermatitis, asthma and type one diabetes

  • In addition, evidence suggests breastfeeding can improve a child’s health far into the future, lowering rates of adult obesity and diseases associated with obesity including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and high cholesterol. Breastfeeding is even associated with higher IQs later in life!

  • For the mother, breastfeeding can lower rates of ovarian and breast cancer. It can also be an effective form of contraception

Tips for breastfeeding

  • Breastfeeding should begin as soon as possible, preferably within the first hour of birth

  • Do not be afraid to ask for help, breastfeeding is a learned skill! Midwives are well educated on breastfeeding techniques

  • Before your milk fully ‘comes in’ your baby may feed up to 12 times in 24 hours

  • The first liquid expressed by your breast is colostrum. It may not be the colour you are expecting (it is a gold colour), but it is still very important for your baby and contains lots of nutrients, immune factors and digestive enzymes. This should turn into the more recognisable breast milk after a few days.

  • Make sure your baby is getting enough milk! Ways you can tell your baby is getting enough include:

    • They are settled between feeds

    • They are wetting nappies (6-8 cloth nappies or 4-5 heavy disposable nappies in 24 hours)

    • Their poo has changed from black ‘meconium’ to a mustard yellow appearance

    • They are gaining weight (but it is normal for a baby to lose weight in the first few days!)

When do I introduce solids?

You can start introducing solids to your baby’s diet at around 4-6 months. This should be a slow process, introducing 1-2 foods at a time. You should continue supplementing your baby’s diet with breast milk until 2 years or older if you wish.

If you are interested in learning more about this topic, feel free to book an appointment with one of our friendly doctors by booking online or contacting us by phone on 8269 6000.


Office on Women’s Health, US Department of Health and Human Services 2018. Making the decision to breastfeed | womenshealth.gov. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/making-decision-breastfeed. [Accessed 28 April 2018]

World Health Organization. 2018. Infant and young child feeding . [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/infant-and-young-child-feeding. [Accessed 28 April 2018].

The Royal Women’s Hospital. 2018. Good feeding practices. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.thewomens.org.au/health-information/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-overview/good-feeding-practices. [Accessed 28 April 2018].

Association of Lactation Consultants in Ireland. 2016. Evidence for breastfeeding. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.breastfeeding.ie/Uploads/evidence-for-breastfeeding.pdf [Accessed 28 April 2018)

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