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Breastfeeding: Introduction

Last updated: Monday, March 14, 2016

You can download a PDF of the text of this tutorial (it doesn't include the Learning Exercises).

Courtesy of Produnis, Wikimedia Commons
Breastfeeding has advantages over bottle-feeding. It provides the ideal nutritional formula for a human infant, with maximum bioavailability of nutrients. It also encourages closeness between infant and mother from an early age. Breastfeeding imparts hormones and immunoglobulins to the infant that stimulate its immune system, and protect against infant infection. It may also provide health benefits to the mother in terms of decreased risk of some forms of breast cancer and osteoporosis, and long-term benefits to the infant, such as a reduced likelihood of type II diabetes. Unlike bottle-feeding, no complex sterilisation procedure is required and it is free.

Some of the benefits of breastfeeding, and misconceptions about it, are reviewed by NHS choices. After you've read this, watch this video where specialist midwife Bella Dale explains the practicalities of breastfeeding and what women need to think about when they start to breastfeed for the first time.

However, women need to be careful about taking medicines when they breastfeed, and the rest of the learning materials on this site are concerned with this issue.