How long should you breastfeed for?

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You've mastered the basics but how long should you keep breastfeeding your baby?

woman breastfeeding

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Now that you've got the hang of feeding your baby with your own milk, you might have some questions regarding how long you should continue or how long breast milk will benefit your baby.

Feeding your baby your own milk can make a big difference to your little one's health.

Research has shown that for as long as you continue to breastfeed, you continue to build up your baby's own protection against infections and disease.

Your milk changes as your baby grows and each month of breastfeeding can lower the risk of your baby developing an illness and also helps protect them against becoming overweight or obese, which means they are less likely to develop diseases like diabetes in the future.

Your milk is perfectly and uniquely made for your baby, so the longer you breastfeed, the more they benefit.

Feeding your baby exclusively on breast milk for the first six months is recommended. Once your baby reaches six months you can start combining it with solid foods.

Expressing your breast milk either by hand or with a pump, means that your partner, friends of family members can help out at feeding time too.

Breastfeeding is a great time to deepen the bond between you and your baby. It's also a good excuse to sit down and relax for a while which is important as you adjust to being a new mum. Switch on the television, flick through a magazine or just enjoy the quiet quality time with your baby.

Breastfeeding mums pass lots of liquid on to their babies, which can make feeding your baby thirsty work! So t's a good idea to have a bottle of water next to you when you breastfeed.

If you have any questions, or you're struggling with breastfeeding there are people who are trained and skilled and there to help you. Ask your midwife or health care professional or call the National Breastfeeding Helpline on 0300 100 0212 for further help and advice.

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