Welcome to the Pregnancy Info and Advice section, and congratulations on expecting a baby!
It’s good to start thinking early about how you will feed your baby. The majority of mums choose to breast feed their little ones, and the Department of Health recommend that babies be breastfed for at least six months.
Breast milk provides your baby with all the nutrients they need to grow. It contains a balance of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals, as well as larger components like enzymes and hormones. These help develop your baby’s digestive and immune systems, and provide fuel for them to grow up healthy and strong.
Breast milk also contains many antibodies to build your baby’s resistance to infection. This can be especially important in helping your baby through the first week of life. The milk produced at this time, colostrum, is packed with extra antibodies and growth factors. Even if you decide not to breastfeed, it can be extremely helpful to give your baby these first few feeds to protect against infection.
But what’s in it for you? Breastfeeding in fact has many advantages for mothers, as well. It is great for bonding with your baby, it can lower your risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer, it’s easy on the wallet (it’s free, girls!), it’s available whenever your baby needs a feed, and it powers through up to 500 calories a day.
You might find breastfeeding strange or difficult at first, but remember that there is a lot of support out there. Ask your midwife to put you in touch with a teenage pregnancy midwife and teenage support group, which will be able to share lots of ideas with you.
Other mums cannot or decide not to breastfeed once home from hospital, and formula-feed instead. When using formula it is important to have all the right information about sterilizing the bottle and preparing the formula. Make sure you have a good talk with your midwife, and have a read of UNICEF’s easy guide to bottle feeding.
Whichever method you choose you should wait until your baby is six months until introducing solids.
To find out more, you can call our Information and Advice line on 0808 802 6869. You can also read and watch more about breastfeeding on the NHS website or phone the National Breastfeeding Helpline on 0300 100 0212.