Breastfeeding gives your baby the best possible start in life as it has lots of benefits for both you and your baby that last a lifetime.
The promotion, support and protection of breastfeeding are a priority for children’s health in Ireland. Breastfeeding is the biologically normal feeding method for infants and young children and ensures optimum growth and development. There is considerable evidence to demonstrate the importance of breastfeeding for the health of both mothers and infants. Children who are not breastfed have a higher incidence and severity of many illnesses including respiratory tract and urinary tract infections, gastroenteritis, otitis media, and diabetes (Victora et al. 2016; Ip et al, 2007, AHRQ, 2007), SIDS and childhood cancers (Ip et al, 2007, AHRQ, 2007).
Breastfeeding is also a significant protective factor against obesity in children (Yan et al 2014). The protective role of breastfeeding extends beyond childhood and is important in the prevention of chronic diseases in adulthood including diabetes (Victora, 2016). Being breastfed has been identified as providing a reduced risk of obesity and Type 1 & Type 2 diabetes (Hector et al, 2010). Breastfeeding also reduces a mother’s risk of ovarian and breast cancer and diabetes (Victora et al. 2016). Breast milk is vital in preventing Necrotising Enterocolitis (NEC) in preterm infants, which is associated with increased morbidity and mortality, and neurodevelopmental impairment (AAP, 2012).
What to Expect in the First weeks of Breastfeeding
The midwives in the hospital have a wide range of knowledge, skills and experience that will assist you during the first few days. Please seek advice and help if you need it. Breastfeeding can seem to be challenging in the initial period, but is worth the effort once you and your baby have learnt each other’s ways. The National Maternity Hospital Breastfeeding booklet* is a great source of information and includes details on what to expect when you are breastfeeding (page 5 on) from Day 1 to 7, Days 7- 14 and from Week 4-8.
* please see 'Support Groups' below for updated Breastfeeding class information.