The benefits of breastfeeding

Breast milk is your body’s way of producing the perfect food for your new baby. It’s full of everything they need to grow and develop in a healthy way. It has health benefits for mums too, and helps create a strong bond between mums and their little ones.

Up until 6 months of age breast milk is the only food a baby needs. Along with its full range of nutrients, it also comes with a wide range of other health benefits – some of which may be surprising.

Enhanced immunity

Breast milk is full of immune factors that help protect your baby early in life, as their immune system develops. In the first few days after giving birth, new mothers produce a special kind of milk called colostrum. This is particularly rich in the protective factors babies need for immune defence. This makes it a really important time to be breastfeeding.

Defence against childhood infections

Breastfeeding can help protect your baby against colds, tummy bugs, infections and allergies.

Promotes visual and cognitive development

Studies suggest that breastfeeding can have long-term benefits for a child’s cognitive development and visual acuity.

A close bond

As you regularly experience closeness and skin-to-skin contact with your baby through breastfeeding, you can both start to form a strong bond with each other.

It's convenient and free! 

Breastfeeding is convenient and saves you time compared to formula feeding. Consider the additional cost that formula may add to your family budget. 

What to do if you need help

For some mums, breastfeeding can be challenging, and there are a number of reasons for that. If you’re having trouble, or you’re just not sure how to do it properly, that’s ok. You can get help from your midwife, lactation consultant, doctor or plunket nurse – or you could reach out to other mums who have breastfed and experienced similar challenges.

There’s also some useful information on the Ministry of Health’s website.