NCBI Bookshelf. Geneva: World Health Organization; Almost all mothers can breastfeed successfully, which includes initiating breastfeeding within the first hour of life, breastfeeding exclusively for the first 6 months and continuing breastfeeding along with giving appropriate complementary foods up to 2 years of age or beyond. Exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of life is particularly beneficial for mothers and infants. Positive effects of breastfeeding on the health of infants and mothers are observed in all settings. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of acute infections such as diarrhoea, pneumonia, ear infection, Haemophilus influenza , meningitis and urinary tract infection 1.
Special Considerations. Breastmilk provides complete nutrition for an infant to 6 months of age, with the type and level of protein, carbohydrate and fat ideal for the optimal growth and development of the infant throughout that time. The World Health Organisation recommends neonates and infants are exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of life, and thereafter receive complementary foods with continued breastfeeding for up to 1 year or beyond. Breast milk is readily available and contains anti-infective and anti-inflammatory properties that assists in preventing infections and necrotising enterocolitis. Long term benefits include improved neurodevelopmental outcomes and reduced risk of obesity. Benefits to the breastfeeding mother include enhanced bonding, reduced anxiety, reduced risk of ovarian and breast cancer and post-partum weight loss.
Breastfeeding is good for both infants and mothers. Breast milk is the best source of nutrition for most infants. Breastfeeding can also help protect the infant and mother against certain illnesses and diseases:. Breast milk provides the best nutrition for most infants, including premature and sick newborns. However, there are rare exceptions when breast milk or breastfeeding is not recommended.
Breast cancer is a disease in which certain cells in the breast become abnormal and multiply uncontrollably to form a tumor. Although breast cancer is much more common in women, this form of cancer can also develop in men. In both women and men, the most common form of breast cancer begins in cells lining the milk ducts ductal cancer. In women, cancer can also develop in the glands that produce milk lobular cancer.