Feeding your newborn: Mum's milk

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We look at the benefits of breastfeeding for you and baby

woman breastfeeding

© Getty - Handbag

Breast milk is perfect and uniquely made for your baby's growing needs and giving them your milk can make a big difference to you and your baby's health. Breastfeeding is the healthiest way to feed your baby and breast milk is packed full of antibodies to help protect your baby from illness.

Research has shown that babies who are breastfed have a smaller chance of getting eczema, ear, chest and tummy bugs, being fussy about new foods, constipated or becoming obese and developing type 2 diabetes in later life.

There are advantages for mums who breastfeed too. Breastfeeding lowers the risk of getting breast and ovarian cancer and naturally uses up about 500 extra calories a day. Mums who breastfeed often find it easier to shift those pounds gained during pregnancy.

Breastfeeding also helps you and your baby get closer, physically and emotionally. Your even save some money – breast milk is FREE and formula feeding costs will soon ad up!

It might take a while to get the hang of breastfeeding so don't be disheartened - most problems can be overcome with some help in finding the right way of holding and feeding your baby. Your midwife or healthy visitor will be able to offer some tips.

If you plan to express milk so that you and your partner can take turns feeding baby, then you might want to purchase or hire a breast pump.

When it comes to breastfeeding there's lots of help and support available for mums:

- Talk to your health visitor or midwife. They are there to help!
- You can call the National Breastfeeding helpline on 0300 100 0212. Lines are open 9.30am -9.30pm.
- Breastfeeding groups can be a great source of support, allowing you to chat with other mums, share tips and make friends with other new mums in your local area.
- Check out the brestfeeding page on Start4Life for tips and ask your Midwife for a copy of Start4Life's Off To The Best Start leaflet.

Towards the end of your third trimester, you might need to think about everything you'll need to breastfeed your baby once he or she arrives. A couple of nursing bras, muslin squares and breast pads are a good idea.

If you plan to express milk so that you and your partner can take turns feeding baby, then you might want to purchase or hire a breast pump.

For more information on pregnancy health and advice go to www.nhs.uk/Start4Life
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