Hesperian Health Guides
Chapter 7: Breastfeeding
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It is best to breastfeed for as long as possible, at least for one year. During the first 6 months, give your baby nothing but breast milk.
Breastfeeding is one of the oldest and healthiest practices in the world. But as the world changes, women sometimes need information and support to keep breastfeeding their babies.
Breastfeeding is important because:
- Breast milk is the only perfect food to help a baby grow healthy and strong.
- Breastfeeding helps the womb stop bleeding after birth.
- Breast milk protects the baby against illnesses and infections like diabetes, cancer, diarrhea, and pneumonia. The mother’s defenses against illness are passed on to the baby through her milk.
- Breastfeeding helps protect the mother against diseases like cancer and weak or brittle bones (osteoporosis).
- When a woman breastfeeds her baby, the milk is always clean, always ready, and always the right temperature.
- Breastfeeding helps the mother and baby feel close and secure.
- For some women, giving their babies nothing but breast milk can help protect them from becoming pregnant again too soon.
- Breastfeeding is free.