Breastfeeding in the First Weeks
Why breastfeeding is important
Breastfeeding is important because it:
- helps your child to develop good oral motor skills, facial muscles and teeth alignment
- helps your child's overall growth and development
- develops a strong bond between you and your baby
- is comforting for your child and is relaxing for mom
- helps your child to develop a better sense of trust and security
- is always ready at the right time and temperature and is environmentally friendly, convenient and free
How does breastfeeding protect my baby?
- Breastfed babies have a lower risk of ear infections
- Breastfed babies have a lower risk of respiratory infections
- Breastfed babies have a lower risk of stomach and intestinal infections
- Breastfed babies are less likely to develop obesity in later life
Does breastfeeding protect mothers too?
The longer your child breastfeeds, the better it is for mom. Breastfeeding:
- mothers who breastfeed their infants have a reduced risk of breast cancer. This risk decreases the longer they breastfeed.
- helps the uterus return to its normal size and control bleeding after delivery
- prevents pregnancy in the first six months if the following conditions are true:
- your baby is less than six months old
- your menstrual period has not returned
- your baby is exclusively breastfeeding (no bottles or pacifiers) and feeds every four hours or sooner and no longer than six hours at night (See Giving your baby a bottle or pacifier too early)
This type of birth control is called LAM (Lactational Amenorrhea Method) and can be useful in preventing pregnancy if used effectively. Call the Region of Peel - Public Health at 905-799-7700 to discuss this method with a Public Health Nurse.
How long should I breastfeed?
- It is recommended that a child is breastfed exclusively for six months. Breast milk is all the food your baby needs for the first six months. Babies also need a daily vitamin D supplement in their first year of life.
- The longer your child breastfeeds, the better the health benefits—breast milk changes to suit your child’s needs as he grows. For example, immune factors such as antibodies that are present in the breast milk made for newborns are different from the antibodies that are found in toddlers’ breast milk.
- At six months your baby will continue to breastfeed while beginning to eat other foods.
- Breastfeeding can continue for the first two years or more, for as long as mother and child want.
- The breastfeeding relationship between mother and baby also develops and changes during the toddler years.
- There is no "right time" to stop.