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IT IS ONE of the many miracles that accompany pregnancy and birth. Within a few days after the baby is born, lactation begins. The baby comes to its mother for food, and the mother’s milk is ready to nourish her newborn. A very special bond develops between mother and child.

Caring for each other:

Breastfeeding is an intimate love relationship between two people who have just met. It provides the baby—and the mother—with physical and emotional support at a vital time when the newborn needs orientation into and protection within this still undiscovered world. In addition, breast milk indisputably gives the baby all the nutritional nourishment he or she needs, providing antibodies to help protect the infant from illnesses during early development and growth.

The experience of feeding her own child is an invaluable one for a mother—helping her bond with her baby in a beautiful, harmonious way. But breastfeeding does even more: it helps the mother’s uterus shrink back to its natural size, it causes her body to use up more calories and, overall, it helps her body better adjust to post-pregnancy life.

The World Health Organization recommends that a mother exclusively breastfeed for the first six months of her baby’s life to ensure optimal health and nutrition.

Tender love and trust:

Of course, every beginning comes with challenges. After the exertions and turbulences of pregnancy and birth, a new mother doesn’t always find it easy to (calmly) take on all the many new tasks. What we think is supposed to simply “happen naturally” does not always go as planned. This can be true of breastfeeding. Like all relationships, this special partnership is best nurtured with a gentle approach and a healthy dose of patience and tranquility. Kristina Horn, a new mother (and cover model for this magazine) shares her experience and advice. “Trust your own instincts. When you begin breastfeeding, you realize that you naturally know what your baby wants, and your body will naturally meet his or her needs. This is when you really feel like you are a mother.” No secret recipe or magic potion exists for happy and harmonious breastfeeding—just a lot of love and care.