Breast/chestfeeding Promotion, Protection, and Support
Inclusive Language Statement
DOH seeks to use inclusive language to recognize diversity in gender and gender identify and recent changes in language to support diversity and inclusion in infant human milk feeding. Throughout this website, several terms - breastfeeding, breast/chestfeeding, nursing, and lactating – are used interchangeably to describe feeding human milk (from donor or birth parent) via a bottle, cup, spoon, syringe, breast, or at the chest. While DOH remains committed to gender inclusive language, some of the affiliated links may contain gendered language.
Breast/chestfeeding: What Is Important to Know
Choosing the way to feed your new baby is one of the most important decisions new or expectant parents will make. It is important to understand how breast/chestfeeding benefits infants and families. To learn more about breast/chestfeeding and lactation support:
- ask your health care provider,
- enroll in a prenatal or breast/chestfeeding class and bring a family member or friend,
- tour a maternity hospital or birthing center, and
- seek out community support groups or services.
In some situations, parents or infants may have medical or health concerns that affect breast/chestfeeding as a choice. If this is a concern, talk to your health care provider.
Breast/chestfeeding is the First Step to a Healthy Life
Human milk is the recommended first food for infants. Human milk supplies all the necessary nutrients in the proper amounts. Feeding only (exclusively) human milk is recommended for the first six months. After six months, nutritionally-adequate and safe complementary (solid) foods should be added, while continuing human milk feeding until two years or longer, if mutually desired by mother and child.
The advantages of human milk to infants cannot be matched by any other form of feeding. Human milk provides unique nutrients and antibodies that help protect babies from diseases such as ear infections and lower respiratory infections. Human milk helps protect the infant against allergies and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Human milk is easily digested, and breast/chestfed infants rarely have constipation and have less diarrhea. Breast/chestfed infants are less likely to become overweight or develop diabetes (high blood sugar).
Breast/chestfeeding is Good for Parents too!
Parents who breast/chestfeed have less bleeding after birth and may find it easier to lose the weight gained during pregnancy and return to their weight before they became pregnant. Breast/chestfeeding promotes parent-infant bonding. Parents who breast/chestfeed are less likely to develop breast or ovarian cancer, diabetes (high blood sugar), heart disease, or high blood pressure.
For more information about breast/chestfeeding, including recommendations, benefits, and what to expect, visit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Breastfeeding.