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It's never too early to start thinking about how you're going to feed your baby. Today, most women in England are choosing to breastfeed and these are some of the reasons why:

  • Breast milk is the only natural food designed for your baby
  • Breastfeeding protects your baby from infections and diseases
  • Breast milk provides health benefits for your baby
  • Breastfeeding provides health benefits for mum
  • It's free!
  • It's available whenever and wherever your baby needs a feed
  • It's the right temperature
  • It can help build a strong physical and emotional bond between mother and baby
  • It can give you a great sense of achievement

Health benefits for your baby

Health benefits for your baby

Breastfeeding is the healthiest way to feed your baby. Exclusive breastfeeding (giving your baby breast milk only) is recommended for around the first six months (26 weeks) of your baby's life. After that, giving your baby breast milk alongside other food will help them continue to grow and develop.

Breastfeeding is good for babies. Breastfed babies have:

  • less chance of diarrhoea and vomiting, so fewer trips to hospital as a result
  • fewer chest and ear infections, so less trips to hospital
  • less chance of being constipated
  • less chance of becoming obese, and therefore developing type 2 diabetes and other illnesses later in life as a result
  • less chance of developing eczema 

Any amount of breastfeeding has a positive effect

Any amount of breastfeeding has a positive effect.

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

Infant formula doesn't give your baby the same ingredients or provide the same protection, while breast milk adapts to meet your baby's changing needs.

Health benefits for you

Health benefits for you

Breastfeeding doesn't only benefit your baby, it benefits your health too. Breastfeeding is good for mums because it:

  • lowers your risk of getting breast and ovarian cancer
  • naturally uses up to 500 calories a day
  • saves money - infant formula,  sterilising equipment and feeding equipment can be quite costly
  • can help to build a strong bond between you and your baby

Exclusive breastfeeding can also delay the return of your periods. For more information on contraception, see sex and contraception on NHS choices