Breastfeeding Support: A list of our top 5 breastfeeding resources to celebrate World Breastfeeding week
When it comes to nurturing infants in early life, breast milk is the gold standard and is the optimal source of baby nutrition1. The benefits of breastfeeding are numerous, it contains the essential nutrients infants need for healthy growth and development1, and breastfeeding is associated with many nutritive and non-nutritive benefits2 including:
- Providing a greater protection from infection and disease for infant3
- Helping to build a strong emotional bond between mum and infant3
- Reducing the risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes later in life for infant3
- Reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancer for mum3
The benefits of breastfeeding are both long and short term for mother and infants and is therefore a focus for public health. The Department of health (DOH) and World health organisation (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life and this should be continued into weaning4,5.
The healthcare professional’s role in breastfeeding support
Parents may require some advice and support with breastfeeding and would often seek this help from their healthcare professional as early as their antenatal period, this is a good time to begin support and fathers can also be involved. They should be informed of the benefits of breast milk as well as information on how to breastfeed and where to go to seek help if required6. This will help build parents confidence when they start breastfeeding7.
Breastfeeding resources for healthcare professionals and parents
Downloadable tools for parents
- How to breastfeed a baby: A downloadable help-sheet in 8 languages
- Responsive feeding and early childhood development: A downloadable help-sheet for parents
- Responsive feeding cues: Visit our SMA baby website for parent videos showing the different feeding cues to help parents learn what their baby is trying to tell them and to help them understand the most common cues to look for when feeding on demand.
- Human Milk Oligosaccharides: An educational video for healthcare professionals
CPD accredited Webinar – View on demand
World Health Organisation (2017). Evidence on the long-term effects of breastfeeding: systematic review and meta-analyses. Available at: https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/43623 (Accessed July 2021).
NHS choices, 2017. Available: https://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/Pages/benefits-breastfeeding.aspx (Accessed July 2021)
Horta, B. & Victoria, C. (2013) Long-term effects of breastfeeding: a systematic review. World Health Organisation. Available: http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/79198/1/9789241505307_eng.pdf (Accessed July 2021)
World Health Organization [WHO]. 54th World Health Assembly. Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding: The optimal duration of exclusive breastfeeding. Geneva: WHO, 2001. (Accessed July 2021)
Department of Health [DOH]. Infant Feeding Recommendations. 264898 1p 70k. London: DH, 2004
BFI. Best Practice in Maternity Services: Step 3. 2006. http://www.babyfriendly.org.uk/page.asp?page=63 (Accessed July 2021)
Breastfeeding: The first few days, NHS. Available at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/breastfeeding-and-bottle-feeding/breastfeeding/the-first-few-days/. (Accessed July 2021)
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended that pregnant women and new mothers be informed on the benefits and superiority of breastfeeding – in particular the fact that it provides the best nutrition and protection from illness for babies. Mothers should be given guidance on the preparation for, and maintenance of, lactation, with special emphasis on the importance of a well-balanced diet both during pregnancy and after delivery. Unnecessary introduction of partial bottle-feeding or other foods and drinks should be discouraged since it will have a negative effect on breastfeeding. Similarly, mothers should be warned of the difficulty of reversing a decision not to breastfeed. Before advising a mother to use an infant formula, she should be advised of the social and financial implications of her decision: for example, if a baby is exclusively bottle-fed, more than one can (400 g) per week will be needed, so the family circumstances and costs should be kept in mind. Mothers should be reminded that breast milk is not only the best, but also the most economical food for babies. If a decision to use an infant formula is taken, it is important to give instructions on correct preparation methods, emphasising that unboiled water, unsterilised bottles or incorrect dilution can all lead to illness.