How long should I breastfeed my baby?
Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the first 6 months of a baby’s life. Breastfeeding should continue up to the baby’s first birthday as new foods are introduced. You can keep breastfeeding after the baby’s first birthday for as long as you and your baby would like.
How does breastfeeding benefit my baby?
Breastfeeding is best for your baby for the following reasons:
- Breast milk has the right amount of fat, sugar, water, protein, and minerals needed for a baby’s growth and development. As your baby grows, your breast milk changes to adapt to the baby’s changing nutritional needs.
- Breast milk is easier to digest than formula.
- Breast milk contains antibodies that protect infants from certain illnesses, such as ear infections, diarrhea, respiratory illnesses, and allergies. The longer your baby breastfeeds, the greater the health benefits.
- Breastfed infants have a lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
- Breast milk can help reduce the risk of many of the short-term and long-term health problems that preterm babies face.
How does breastfeeding benefit me?
Breastfeeding is good for you for the following reasons:
- Breastfeeding triggers the release of a hormone called oxytocin that causes the uterus to contract. This helps the uterus return to its normal size more quickly and may decrease the amount of bleeding you have after giving birth.
- Breastfeeding may make it easier to lose the weight you gained during pregnancy.
- Breastfeeding may reduce the risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
For more information about breastfeeding your baby, please visit ACOG.
Copyright March 2019 by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists