Breastfeeding and Return to Work

Benefits of breastfeeding

Your breastmilk is the only food specifically designed for your baby. As well as having all the nutrients your baby needs to grow and develop, human milk has very special ingredients such as antibodies, hormones and stem cells to help protect your baby now and in the future.

The World Health Organisation recommends that babies are fed on breastmilk on its own for around the first six months of life and then after solids are introduced that breastfeeding continues for two years or longer. Any breastfeeding is better than none at all. It is well worth breastfeeding even for a short time as every day makes a difference to your baby and you. The longer you breastfeed, the longer the protection lasts. Formula milk cannot provide your baby with the same ingredients or give the same protection.

Maternity staff will give you an opportunity to discuss the benefits and management of breastfeeding before your baby is born. Useful conversations for all parents include:

  • skin to skin contact following the birth and in the early weeks – this contact is important for bonding, optimal brain development and getting breastfeeding off to a good start
  • keeping you and your baby close (rooming in)
  • practical skills and knowledge needed to successfully breastfeed your baby – see the Public Health Agency’s book Off to a good start

If your baby is in the Neonatal Unit the benefits of breast milk can be even more important. You will be shown how to express milk by hand and then with a breast pump.

Download further information on expressing breast milk




Feeding Your Baby