Benefits of breastfeeding

In Australia, it is recommended that you breastfeed your baby exclusively for around the first 6 months. Breastmilk is all the food and drink that a baby needs for the first 6 months. It is also recommended that once you introduce your baby to solids you continue to breastfeed your baby until 12 months of age and beyond, for as long as you and your baby desire.

For the baby

If you breastfeed, you’ll help protect your baby against illnesses, including:

  • gastrointestinal infections
  • chest infections
  • urine infections
  • ear infections
  • diabetes
  • obesity
  • asthma
  • eczema.

Research also indicates that breastfeeding can help protect your baby from:

  • sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)—'cot death'
  • childhood leukaemia
  • heart disease
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • coeliac disease.

For mum

  • Breastfeeding will help your body to get over the birth quicker—it reduces your risk of haemorrhage (bleeding), leads to improved iron status, and it also helps you regain your pre-pregnancy body weight.
  • Evidence suggests that breastfeeding may help protect you from breast cancer, ovarian cancer and osteoporosis.
  • If you develop diabetes during your pregnancy, it is especially important to breastfeed as it can reduce your chance of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Breastfeeding will save you money, and you don’t have to worry about preparing bottles every time you take the baby out.
  • Breastfeeding releases hormones that make you feel relaxed and help you sleep easier.