Feeding your baby can be very rewarding and a time to enjoy a real feeling of closeness. Babies get far more than just nutrition from a feed - they enjoy the cuddle, the comfort and the satisfaction of a full tummy.
In addition, feeding your baby has an impact on his health, not just in infancy but in the long term, too.
In the UK, most mums start off breastfeeding. Breastmilk supplies all the nutrients your baby needs for about first six months and it's the normal, physiological way to feed a human baby. Take the opportunity in pregnancy to talk about your feeding preferences and get the most up-to-date information you can.
Research shows that babies who aren't breastfed have a higher risk of infection, and are more likely to spend time in hospital during their first year. This difference does not depend on the social or economic status of the baby's family - the gaps in health persist even when these factors are taken into account.
But it's not enough to know that breastfeeding gives your baby a better start. Many mothers need help and support to breastfeed, and access to good information to overcome problems.
If you don't breastfeed, for whatever reason, then your baby will need infant formula milk.
Mixed feeding - giving your baby formula milk as well as breastfeeding - can be a way to maintain some breastfeeding if you return to work, or if breastfeeding alone isn't working out for you.
Because you need to breastfeed often to keep up a supply of milk, mixed feeding can lead to breastmilk production dwindling sooner than you wish. Talk to a breastfeeding counsellor, or other knowledgeable person, to help you work out a plan that suits you.