Breastfeeding carries many benefits for almost all mothers and babies, but even more so for high-risk babies. You can be an important part of the healthcare team by providing your baby with breast milk in the NICU. Your baby may not be ready to nurse at the breast yet.
Breastfeeding gives babies the best start for a healthy life and has benefits for the health and wellbeing of mothers and babies. Breastfeeding also has economic benefits for the whole family and society. Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended until babies are around six months of age, with the introduction of appropriate complementary feeding foods and drinks other than breastmilk at this age, in addition to continued breastfeeding to 12 months and beyond, for as long as mother and child desire.
Breastfeeding is the normal way of providing young infants with the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development. Virtually all mothers can breastfeed, provided they have accurate information, and the support of their family, the health care system and society at large. Colostrum, the yellowish, sticky breast milk produced at the end of pregnancy, is recommended by WHO as the perfect food for the newborn, and feeding should be initiated within the first hour after birth.
The American Academy of Pediatrics AAP recommends that infants be exclusively breastfed for about the first 6 months with continued breastfeeding alongside introduction of appropriate complementary foods for 1 year or longer. Healthy People external icon objectives include increasing the proportion of infants who are ever breastfed to Given the importance of breastfeeding for the health of mothers and babies, CDC supports breastfeeding through hospital initiatives, worksite accommodation, continuity of care and community support initiatives.
Many mothers feel fulfillment and joy from the physical and emotional communion they experience with their child while nursing. These feelings are augmented by the release of hormones, such as:. Prolactin: Produces a peaceful, nurturing sensation that allows you to relax and focus on your child.
Breastfeedingalso known as nursingis the feeding of babies and young children with milk from a woman's breast. Deaths of an estimatedchildren under the age of five could be prevented globally every year with increased breastfeeding. Benefits for the mother include less blood loss following delivery, better uterus shrinkage, and decreased postpartum depression.
Breast milk is the best food you can offer your new baby. The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life. At about 6 months, your baby will be ready for other foodsbut you can continue breastfeeding as long as it is comfortable for you and your baby, even well into the toddler years.
There are many reasons why a newborn may be reluctant to nurse. If your newborn is not latching on to the breast, is too sleepy to take his first feed or needs medical attention, you can ask your health care team to show you how to hand express and give your colostrum by teaspoon or syringe. Your baby may sleep for a few hours after this first feed — feel free to cuddle him and wake him if you want to feed. He may feed four to five more times in the first 24 hours.
Over the past decades, evidence for the health advantages of breastfeeding and recommendations for practice have continued to increase. WHO can now say with full confidence that breastfeeding reduces child mortality and has health benefits that extend into adulthood. On a population basis, exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life is the recommended way of feeding infants, followed by continued breastfeeding with appropriate complementary foods for up to two years or beyond.