Breastfeeding is best for baby

Breastfeeding is the natural way of providing your baby with the nutrients they need for optimal growth and development.

The Ministry of Health recommends exclusive breastfeeding until baby is around six months old.  Following this, breastfeeding is still recommended alongside the appropriate complementary foods until they are at least one year old.

Breastfeeding and breast milk can help lay the foundations for a healthy life for baby and can also make a positive contribution to the health and wellbeing of mothers and whanau/families.

By choosing to breastfeed, you are providing your baby with the ideal food – it is warm, clean, safe, nutritious and free.


Benefits of breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is important for baby's health and wellbeing:

  • Breastfeeding provides complete nutrition – it's all your baby needs to eat and drink for up to 6 months
  • Breastfeeding protects your baby from colds, tummy bugs, infections and allergies
  • Breastfeeding helps your baby feel safe and secure.

Breastfeeding also has many benefits for mothers and whanau/families:

  • Breastfeeding helps you feel close to your baby
  • When established, breastfeeding is convenient and easy
  • Breastmilk is free
  • Breastmilk is readily available with no heating required.

Breastfeeding in our community

Breastfeeding declines as children age, often as a result of returning to work, the social perception of breastfeeding and/or the lack of knowledge around expressing and storing breastmilk. Creating supportive environments in workplaces and community spaces can help mothers and their babies continue to breastfeed.

Much of the work to promote breastfeeding in our region, like the Big Latch On, is driven by local breastfeeding networks.  These networks consist of a range of providers like Plunket, Nelson Marlborough public health promoters, Maori health providers, midwives and parents that work together to promote, protect and support breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding support

It can take time for you and your baby to learn how to breastfeed, but with the right help almost all mothers can breastfeed. It's important breastfeeding mothers have support from their partners, family/whanau and health practitioners to establish breastfeeding.

Your lead maternity carer (LMC) and your Well Child/Tamariki Ora nurse can give you advice and support.  In addition, the Nelson Marlborough Health Lactation Consultant Service is free and can help with breastfeeding support:

Find the support available to you in your region.

Looking after yourself

To look after your baby well you need to look after yourself too. Taking time out, eating well, being smokefree, getting enough sleep, being active and asking for help are all things you can do to look after yourself.