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Plunket - Breastfeeding - 5 August

Breast milk is the perfect food for infants and provides babies with all the nutrition they need for healthy growth and development. Deciding to breastfeed your baby is one of the most positive steps you can take towards ensuring they get the best start in life.

Breastfeeding within the first hour of birth will ensure that the baby gets colostrum - this is the first breast milk that contains concentrated antibodies and nutrients. Colostrum is perfect for a brand new digestive system as babies can easily absorb all the nutrients which will protect and nourish them. The first feed will help to initiate bonding between mother and baby, and starts the mother's milk production so that long term breastfeeding is more successful.

It is recommended that babies are fed breast milk only for the first six months.  After six months, other foods can be added to baby's diet; however breast milk remains the ideal milk drink up to one year and beyond. When you do introduce solids, do this slowly - your Plunket Nurse can help and give you advice. 

There are many benefits of breast milk for baby as it:

  • is the original fast food
  • is always fresh and delivered at the right temperature
  • is free and readily available
  • is easily digested and breast fed babies are less likely to suffer from constipation, diarrhoea or nappy rash
  • protects against some conditions triggered by allergy like eczema and asthma
  • contains antibodies that helps protect your baby against infections like colds, chickenpox, measles, gastroenteritis (tummy bug), middle ear infections and some respiratory conditions

There are health benefits for mothers too, as research shows that women who breastfeed are less likely to develop breast or ovarian cancer.  Breastfeeding can also strengthen attachment between mother and baby.

Tips for successful breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is a skill that requires learning for both mother and baby. While most women find it easy and natural for their babies to breastfeed, other mothers and babies need extra assistance.

  • It helps to recognise baby's feeding cues - a crying baby is often too upset to feed well this will mean you feed your baby when it is ready - not to a timetable
  • When you are breastfeeding, your body uses a lot more energy than normal, so eat three healthy meals plus snacks each day, and drink when you are thirsty
  • Try to rest and relax as much as possible
  • Accept offers of help from family, friends, neighbours, and don't be afraid to ask for help - it can take a lot of pressure off you if you have help to cook a meal, do the shopping, look after older children, do the housework/laundry
  • If you find that breastfeeding is uncomfortable or hurts, seek further advice and support from your Plunket Nurse or PlunketLine

With good support and advice almost all women can breastfeed their babies successfully.

Once you have settled into a breastfeeding pattern, you might notice that the amount of milk you produce will match your baby's demand more closely, so your breasts may feel less full between feeds. As your baby becomes more efficient at feeding the number of feeds and length of time baby spends at the breast may decrease.

World Breastfeeding Week 1 - 7 August 2008
Supporting Mother = Supporting Her to Provide the Golden Start For Every Child!

'Support for mothers' is the theme for World Breast Feeding week in 2008. The theme is linked with the upcoming Olympics in Beijing. All sectors of society are urged to support breast feeding mothers to provide a golden start for their children. Just as Olympic athletes need support to achieve their goals, a breast feeding mother needs support as she provides her child with the ultimate in a healthy diet.

More information about world Breastfeeding Week can be found at

For support, information or advice about breastfeeding contact your local Plunket Nurse or call PlunketLine 0800 933 922 7am - midnight, 7 days a week.