Breastfeeding your baby
We believe that breastfeeding is best for you and your baby but that every woman is free to choose. We support the principles of the Baby Friendly Initiative, and encourage early starting of breastfeeding with skin-to-skin contact. As soon as you and your baby are ready after the birth, your midwife can assist you with the first feed. For the second and subsequent feeds, it is advisable to ask for support until you feel completely confident.
Babies should usually be fed when they are hungry, rather than at set times. 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.
Your baby may need to be fed very frequently during the first few days after birth. This helps to ensure that your breasts produce enough milk to meet his/her requirements. This is called baby-led feeding and it does work!
Being a new mum is tiring. You will needs lots of help and encouragement from your partner and family at this time with changing and settling your baby, to enable you to successfully breastfeed and to have some rest. 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
The facts are that:
- Breastfeeding is good for you
- Breastfeeding is best for you baby
If you do not plan to breastfeed, you must bring in your own artificial (formula) milk and bottle for feeding your baby. We will provide formula milk if it is medically indicated.
Bed-sharing is where your baby sleeps in bed with you. The safest place for your baby to sleep is in a cot by the side of your bed. 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 breastfeeding 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:
- Watch the critically acclaimed Bump to Breastfeeding video clips
- Watch video demonstration of hand expressing breastmilk from Bump to Breastfeeding
The Department of Health and The UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative have published a leaflet 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.
It is impossible to measure just how much breastmilk a breastfed baby is having. Because of this, parents may sometimes wonder if their baby is getting enough milk. We have developed a checklist that parents can use to alleviate any concerns and also to identify if further support is needed.
Additional information about breastfeeding:
- Department of Health leaflet: Continuing to breastfeed or express milk when going back to work
- The Breastfeeding Network leaflet: Breastfeeding and Mastitis
- The Breastfeeding Network leaflet: Expressing and Storing Breastmilk
- The Breastfeeding Network leaflet: Thrush and Breastfeeding
- Drugs and lactation database: Lactmed
- For details of research around safe infant sleep: ISIS: Infant Sleep Information Source
- For up to date information from the Department of Health about pregnancy and looking after a new baby or to sign up for weekly e-mail in pregnancy: NHS information website
- Information about sterilising bottles and teats and safely making up infant formula: Guide to Bottle Feeding