National Women’s Health is a ‘baby friendly’ hospital, which means that breastfeeding is encouraged and fully supported on the wards. Once you’re back home, you’ll receive continuing support from your visiting midwife. If and when you return to work, you are entitled by law to a safe place in your workplace to breastfeed or express milk.
Breastfeeding is a skill that needs to be learned – by you and your baby. Some women experience no problems at all; others need advice and support to get started and continue feeding. Having the practical and emotional support of your partner, family/whanau and friends is important.
Certain things can get you off to a great start, such as a drug free birth and skin-to-skin contact for at least 60 minutes immediately after your baby arrives (your first breastfeed happens during this time).
The benefits of breastfeeding
The Ministry of Health recommends that all babies are fed only on breastmilk for the first six months of life. This means no water, infant formula or fruit juices. After six months you can slowly start your baby on solid foods and other fluids while you keep breastfeeding.
What’s special about breastmilk?
- It is the only food that has exactly the right nutrition for your growing baby.
- It contains antibodies that help protect your baby from ear infections, gastroenteritis, respiratory infections, meningitis, urine infections, asthma and eczema.
- It is free, always fresh, exactly the right temperature and immediately available.
- It helps reduce the risk of obesity and may reduce the risk of diabetes in baby’s later life.
- It decreases the risk of Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI, also known as cot death).
There are benefits for mothers too:
- The skin-to-skin contact helps you to bond with your baby.
- Breastfeeding helps your uterus to return to it’s pre-pregnancy size.
- Breastfeeding reduces the risk of pre-menopausal breast cancer.
- Breastfeeding may reduce the risk of ovarian cancer, osteoporosis and hip fracture later in life.
- Breastfeeding may help you to lose the weight gained during pregnancy.
If you are worried about your ability to breastfeed, you need to discuss your concerns with your LMC who may refer you to a lactation consultant. You can also get advice and support from community organisations such as:
Additional written information