Breast feeding

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Breast feeding is feeding human breast milk to infants. Confirmed by experts as the best and the complete nutrition for a new born child, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breast-feeding for about the first six months of an infant's life. Newborns do not need water, and introducing juice or other fluids too early may cause diarrhea or lead to allergies. Breast milk or formula milk is the only food a newborn needs.


Why should I be aware of this?

Human breast milk is preferred for all infants, even premature and sick babies, with rare exceptions.

  • Human breast milk is the food least likely to cause allergic reactions
  • It is inexpensive
  • It is readily available at any hour of the day or night;
  • Babies accept the taste readily;
  • The antibodies in breast milk can help a baby resist infections.

How does it affect me?

The benefits of breast-feeding are well established.

Benefits to the mother

  • Breastfeeding releases a hormone in a woman's body that causes her uterus to return to its normal size and shape more quickly and reduces blood loss after delivery.
  • Breastfeeding for longer periods of time (up to 2 years) and among younger mothers may possibly reduce the risks of breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

Benefits to the baby

  • Breast milk contains the right balance of nutrients that closely matches infant requirements for brain development, growth and a healthy immune system.
  • In breast milk, the amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) are well balanced for the human baby, as are the sugars (primarily lactose) and fats.
  • Human milk also contains immunologic agents and other compounds that act against viruses, bacteria, and parasites. Since an infant's immune system is not fully developed until age 2, human milk provides a distinct advantage over infant formula
  • The baby's intestinal tract is best aided in its digestion by the vitamins, enzymes, and minerals found in breast milk.
  • Breastfed babies do eat more often than formula fed babies since breast milk.[1] Breast milk is more quickly digested and leaves the stomach empty more frequently.
  • Children who are breastfed enjoy lower rates of several chronic childhood diseases, including respiratory infections and ear infections as well as diarrhea.
  • Breast-fed infants gain less weight and tend to be leaner at 1 year of age than formula-fed infants, resulting in fewer cases of childhood obesity.

All about breast feeding

Exclusive breastfeeding is sufficient to support optimal growth and development for the first 6 months after birth. It is recommended that breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mutually desired.

How many times should a baby be fed?

  • Most newborns breast-feed eight to 12 times a day — about every two to three hours. Within two to three months, your baby may be satisfied with six to eight feedings a day. Eventually your baby will fall into a fairly predictable feeding schedule, taking in more milk in less time at each feeding.

Tips for breast feeding

  • Follow your baby's feeding cues.
  • Expect variations in your baby's eating patterns.
  • Consider each feeding a time to bond with your baby.
  • Trust your instincts.

Situations where it is not possible for a mother to breast feed

  • Lower supply of milk because of premature delivery or stress caused by feeding a sick infant.
  • Not enough milk supply to feed twins or triplets
  • If the mother is under medication that might harm the baby, such as chemotherapy for cancer.
  • Mother might have an infection that can spread to her baby through breastfeeding, such as HIV or hepatitis.

Breastfeeding and environment

Breastfeeding is better for our environment because there is less trash and plastic waste compared to that produced by formula cans and bottle supplies.

What can I do?

For successful breast feeding, it is important to make some important lifestyle choices.

  • Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Drink lots of fluids.
  • Rest as much as possible.
  • Only take medication with your doctor's approval.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Also beware of caffeine and alcohol. These can make your baby irritable and interfere with your baby's sleep. If you choose to have an occasional alcoholic drink, avoid breast-feeding for two hours afterward.

Breast feeding if you are working

If you are working or need to be away from the baby for a while, you can use a breast pump to provide breast milk for the baby. These pumps help empty your breasts and protect your milk supply. Pump both breasts simultaneously. Pumping both breasts at the same time will increase your body's production of prolactin, the hormone responsible for milk production.

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Human milk bank

When a baby is intolerant to any kind of formula or she needs breast milk for survival and the mother is either unable to or does not have adequate supply of milk, then human milk banks that stores breast milk from donors (other women's breast milk). Though this milk does not come from the baby's mother, it provides the same precious nutrition and disease fighting properties as the mother's breast milk.


  • Breast-feeding for at least four months helps boost your baby's immune system. Breast-feeding throughout the first year is ideal.
  • Most breast-feeding mothers in my practice wean their babies between ages 9 and 15 months.
  • Breast milk may also become a yellow or orange color if the mother's diet is high in beta-carotene rich foods.

See also


  • Feeding your newborn: Remember the basics
  • Breast-feeding and guilt: Interview with a Mayo Clinic specialist
  • Breast-feeding: Choosing a breast pump
  • Breast-feeding: Is my baby getting enough milk?
  • Breast-feeding: What every mom needs to know
  • Definition of Breastfeeding


  1. Definition of Breastfeeding