What is breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding is the practice of a human mother feeding a baby (and sometimes a toddler or a young child) with milk produced from her mammary glands, usually directly from the nipples. Babies have a sucking instinct allowing them to extract the milk.
While many mothers choose to breastfeed their child there are some who do not, either for personal or medical reasons. Breast milk has been shown to be very beneficial for a child, though, as with other bodily fluid transfers, some conditions can be passed from the mother to the infant. As an alternative the baby may be fed infant formula until the time that the child may move on to baby food.
Breast-feeding is a dynamic relationship. This means that breast-feeding changes as the needs of either the baby or the mother change. You will find that you and the baby do best by being flexible. Scheduled feedings are a product of bottle-feeding. Keeping track of how often, how long, and how much doesn't really apply to breast-feeding. Although general patterns do emerge, there are no strict times to nurse and no time limits to a feeding. When your baby is hungry, nurse him/her for as long as the baby wants to.
Research has shown that breastfeeding is the superior form of nutrition for brain growth and protection against infections, allergies and many illnesses. Breastfeeding may also protect women from some cancers and helps your body heal after childbirth. It is easy, less costly than formula feeding and is a natural source of warmth and comfort for your baby.