By Courtney Vinck,
Inspiro contributor and accredited dietitian (BHlthSciMDietPrac)
Maybe you heard it from your mum, your doctor or a friend. Maybe you heard it from TV shows like ‘House’ or ‘Call the Midwife’.
Wherever you heard it have you been wondering whether breast milk really is best for you and your baby?
If you have, you’re definitely not alone!
Being a new mum can be very overwhelming (and tiring!). There is so much information out there and everyone seems to have an opinion about what is right for your baby.
But what do the experts say about the value of breast feeding?
The Australian Government and the World Health Organisation agree that infants should be exclusively breastfed until 6 months of age when a variety of solid foods are introduced. Breastfeeding should continue to 12 months of age and as far beyond as the mother and child wish.
Promoting breastfeeding is a key health focus for Australian health professionals.
In Australia, around 1 in 2 women are still breast feeding when baby is 6 months old.
In the Yarra Ranges only 1 in 3 mothers are breast feeding 3 months after the birth of their child!
There are some situations in which a mother should not breast feed her baby. If you have concerns about this, speak with your health professional.
What are the benefits of breastfeeding?
While exclusive breast feeding for at least 6 months is best, any amount of breastfeeding can have health benefits.
- Helps protect the baby from infection
- Can help reduce the risk of some chronic diseases in the baby (Such as diabetes, coeliac disease, asthma and cardiovascular disease)
- Helps with the baby’s mental development
- Reduces the risk of ovarian and breast cancer for mum
- Reduces the risk of Type 2 diabetes in mum’s who had gestational diabetes
- Helps mum’s body make hormones that promote recovery from childbirth
- Helps mum and the baby to bond
- Can improve mum’s self-confidence
- May help mum loose her baby weight
- Breastmilk costs less than formula
What is the difference between breastmilk and formula?
Breast milk provides the right type and amount of nutrients needed to meet your baby’s nutrition requirements. Formula is designed to be as close as possible to the nutritional make up of human breast milk, but it is not a perfect match.
- Formula has a different amount of protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals than mum’s milk.
- Formula doesn’t contain the antibodies that mum’s milk offers.
- Formula can be harsher on your baby’s tummy than mum’s milk.
- Formula doesn’t allow mum and baby to bond the same way during nursing.
There are certain times that formula needs to be used in place of breast milk. At those times, it is a valuable resource.
Can I give my baby other drinks as well as breast milk?
For the first 6 months of life, breast milk is all your baby needs to be healthy. If women want to return to work or other activities after giving birth, breast milk can be expressed and stored appropriately to feed your baby.
Tea, coffee, juices, soft drink and cordials are not known to be beneficial for infants. Giving infants these drinks may damage their teeth and leave them feeling less hungry for important nutritious foods and fluids.
For infants who are not exclusively breastfed, boiled and cooled tap water should be used to prepare formula.
Cow’s milk should not be introduced as a main drink until after 12 months of age. Small amounts used in cooking foods is okay. Cow’s milk products (such as full-fat yoghurt, cheese and custard) can be introduced as solids after 6 months of age.
Who can I go to for support?
- Your maternal and child health nurse
- Use Inspiro's free Healthy Women's Clinic, click here to find out how.
- Your doctor or midwife
- Lactation consultants
- Early Parenting Centres
- The Australian Breastfeeding Association (www.breastfeeding.asn.au/)
- Speak with the qualified dietitians available here at Inspiro
Feeling more tired than usual? Read our blog post on getting better sleep:
For more information:
Australian Government Eat for Health Brochure: Giving Your Baby the Best Start https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/sites/default/files/content/The%20Guidelines/n55e_infant_brochure.pdf
Better Health Channel: Breastfeeding: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/breastfeeding
Infant feeding Guidelines
Nutrition Through the Life Cycle 5th Edition (Brown, 2014)
Manual of Dietetic Practice 5th Edition (Gandy, 2014)
For more detailed information about Inspiro’s Healthy Mothers Health Babies program click here: www.inspiro.org.au/support-for-pregnant-women-and-women-with-young-children
Our health clinic locations
Lilydale: 17 Clarke Street Lilydale Vic 3140
Tecoma: 3/1527 Burwood Hwy Tecoma Vic 3160
Healesville: 333 Maroondah Hwy Healesville Vic 3777
Upwey: 1443 Burwood Hwy Upwey Vic 3158
Call Inspiro on 03 9028 0153
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We also offer a wide range of dental services for adults and children, free dental services for children, podiatry, speech therapy, dietetics and nutrition, diabetes assistance and physiotherapy.
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