Breastfeeding your baby

We believe at Chelsea + Westminster that every mum should be supported to care for her baby using whichever method of feeding she chooses. 

We do, however, believe that based on the best available evidence breastfeeding is best for you and your baby. Not only does it help to nurture a close and responsive relationship between you and your baby, breastmilk is especially designed to adapt to meet all your baby's changing needs.

We support the principles of the Baby Friendly Initiative, and encourage an early starting to breastfeeding with all babys having their first feeds in skin-to-skin contact (irrespective of chosen method). As soon as you and your baby are ready after the birth, your midwife will be on hand to teach you about how to nurture your babys natural instincts to initiate their first feed. Throughout your stay with us midwives, nurses and support staff will be available to you to provide support for subsequent feeds allowing you to feel completely confident with feeding prior to discharge home.

In order to learn more about the wide range of benefits of breastfeeding and breastmilk for you and your baby as they grow, we would really encourage you to come to one of our breastfeeding workshops and talk to your midwives throughout your pregnancy about how you feel about feeding your baby.

Your baby may need to feed quite frequently during the first few days after birth. This not only allows for plenty of practice in getting the hang of it together but also helps to ensure that your breasts produce enough milk to meet his/her requirements, which they will!

Many parents worry about when or how often to feed their babies to ensure that they are getting enough milk. Please refer to the section 'is my baby getting enough?' on the menu to the left of this page for a helpful assessment tool.  It is not possible to overfeed a breastfed baby and as such babies should be fed whenever they want to, and they are good at letting you know when that is! Babies show a range of feeding cues to show you that they are hungry but they may also want to feed if they feel uncomfortable, are a bit thirsty, want to be close to you for comfort or a feeling of security and this should be encouraged to help with building a close relationship and bond.

As a minimum, however, babies after the first 48hrs of life should be fed at least 8 times in 24hrs, and it is most commonly more than that.  This may not apply to babies who are born early or who have specific requirements. If you are unsure about when to feed your baby, please speak to your midwife who will be happy to help you.

  • Unless medically indicated, breast-fed babies do not require any artificial milk (formula) or water because breast milk contains everything your baby needs
  • Just 1 bottle of artificial milk increases the risk of allergy and infection
  • Taking milk from a bottle requires a different sucking technique, so your baby may then find it more difficult to latch to your breast again
  • Research has shown that babies who are supplemented in the first week of life are 4 times more likely to be mixed feeding by 3 months

      We are only able to provide formula milk that is medically indicated. Therefore, if you do not plan to breastfeed, you must bring in your own premade artificial (formula) milk for feeding your baby—will will provide you with bottles and teats as there are no sterilising facilities.  

      Caring for your baby around the clock can be tiring and so it is good if you and your partner can discuss how this might be facliltated more easily. The safest place for your baby to sleep is in a cot by the side of your bed, however bed-sharing is quite commonly practiced and is where your baby sleeps in bed with you.  If you do decide to share a bed with your baby, it is important that some guidelines are followed. Please refer to the leaflet Caring for your baby at night for more information. Your midwife will also be happy to discuss this with you.

      Useful links

      The Best Beginnings website has some excellent video clips covering how to latch your baby to the breast, skin to skin, what to expect in the first few days, and more. They're really useful to watch with your partner or family to help to prepare you for feeding your baby.  You can also download a free 'Baby Buddy' App for iPhone or Android to watch many of these videos:

      Off To The Best Start is a Department of Health and UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative publication that contains all the key information that women need to know about breastfeeding.  This leaflet includes some key health benefits of breastfeeding for mothers and babies, how to breastfeed successfully, signs that your baby is breastfeeding well, how to hand express and store breastmilk, and how to know that your baby is getting enough milk.

      Building a Happy Baby is a publication that looks to help you know more about developing a close and loving relationship with your baby which will help him to grow into a happy, healthy and confident person. Responding to your baby's signals for hunger and comfort will help your baby to feel secure, which means he will cry less. Kisses, cuddles and smiles release happy hormones in your baby, and this helps your baby's brain to grow.  You will possibly be overwhelmed with information about how to best care for your newborn baby but this is a great place to start. Find out more by reading the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative leaflet.

      Additional information

      Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust have developed a postnatal Mum and Baby App, available for iPhone or Android which includes lots of information about caring for your newborn baby.

      You can get information about research around safe infant sleep from the Infant Sleep Information Source website.

      Access up to date information from the Department of Health about pregnancy and looking after a new baby or to sign up for weekly e-mails in pregnancy.

      The Guide to Bottle Feeding contains information about infant formula, explains how to sterilise bottles and teats, how to prepare formula feeds and how to hold your baby for bottle feeding.


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