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North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust - 70 years of the NHS

Home > Patients and visitors > Your health > Breastfeeding > Benefits of breastfeeding

Benefits of breastfeeding

Why breastfeed?

Breastfeeding has long term emotional, physical and mental health benefits for a mother and her child:

  •  Breast milk is the only natural food designed for your baby
  •  Breastfeeding protects your baby from infections and diseases
  •  It’s free and available whenever and wherever your baby needs a feed
  •  It’s the correct temperature
  •  It can strengthen the physical and emotional bond between you and your baby
  •  It can give you a sense of achievemen
 hannah and beatrice
Hannah and Beatrice Adams, Brampton 

Did you know?

There are so many myths and misconceptions about breastfeeding. Here are the facts:

  • 78% of women in England start breastfeeding
  • Breastfeeding doesn’t cause your breasts to sag
  • Infant formula isn’t the same as breast milk – it’s not a living product so it doesn’t have the antibodies, living cells, enzymes or hormones that protect your baby from infections and diseases later in life
  • Surveys show that the majority of people don’t mind women breastfeeding in public. The more it’s done, the more normal it will be become.
  • Almost all women are physically able to breastfeed. It happens more quickly for some women than others, but nearly all women can produce the amount of milk their baby needs
  • Occasionally, there are clinical reasons for not breastfeeding. For example, if you have HIV or if you’re taking certain types of medication that may harm your baby. When there’s no alternative, bottle feeding with infant formula will be recommended

Benefits for baby

Exclusive breastfeeding (giving your baby breast milk only) is recommended for the first six months of your baby’s life.

Breastfed babies have:

  •  Less chance of experiencing diarrhoea and vomiting and having to go hospital as a result
  •  Less chance of being constipated
  •  Fewer chest and ear infections
  •  Less likelihood of becoming obese and developing type 2 diabetes and other illnesses later in life
  •  Less chance of developing eczema

The longer you breastfeed, the longer the protection lasts and the greater the benefits.

Benefits for you

Breastfeeding doesn’t only benefit your baby - it benefits you too:

  • It lowers your risk of getting breast and ovarian cancer
  • It naturally uses up to 500 calories a day
  • It saves money – infant formula can be expensive
  •  It can help build a strong bond between you and your baby

If you’re not sure whether you should breastfeed your baby, speak to your midwife or health visitor for information and support. Also, look at our help and support section.