Breastfeeding your baby

The Department of Health (DH) and WHO recommend that babies have nothing other than breastmilk for the first six months of life and then continue breastfeeding with complementary foods for up to two years and beyond. Breastfeeding improves the health of mothers and babies and helps to nurture a close and responsive relationship between mother and child. Your breastmilk will adapt to the changing needs of your developing baby.

Successful breastfeeding may be defined as breastfeeding for as long you as you wish to. Many mothers in the UK experience problems with breastfeeding and give up earlier than they would have liked. We aim to provide the information, support and encouragement you need to breastfeed for as long as you and your baby would like.

Learning about breastfeeding during pregnancy should help you feel more confident and understand how to avoid or solve common breastfeeding problems. We really encourage you to come to one of our antenatal breastfeeding workshops and talk to your midwives during your pregnancy about feeding your baby.

The following resources are a good introduction to breastfeeding:

Is your baby getting enough milk?

When you breastfeed, you cannot see the amount of milk your baby is getting. Have a look at our assessment tool Is your baby getting enough milk? so that you understand how to tell if your baby is getting enough.

If you have any concerns, contact your midwife or health visitor.

How to hand express your milk

You may need to express your milk by hand if:

  • you are separated from your baby
  • your baby is sleepy or unable to attach at the breast effectively
  • your breasts feel too full
  • to help clear a blocked milk duct

Watch UNICEF’s Hand Expression video or Global Health Media’s How to Express Breastmilk video to learn how to do this. If your breasts are very full, hard or painful, Breastfeeding Medicine of Northeast Ohio has produced a video The Basics of Breast Massage and Hand Expression.

For detailed information about storing expressed breastmilk see the Breastfeeding Network website.

You can drip expressed milk into your baby’s mouth or offer larger amounts from a clean teaspoon or cup—allow your baby to lap the milk from the spoon or cup (like a cat) and do not pour the milk into their mouth. If you give expressed milk by bottle, see bottlefeeding your baby.

Breastfeeding twins and multiples

For more information on feeding twins or multiples please see the Multiple Births Foundation leaflet on Feeding twins, triplets and moreTwinsTrust, or Breastfeeding Twins and Triplets UK.

Your babies may be born small or premature and our leaflet Protecting your baby from low blood sugar informs you about how to ensure your baby is feeding well. 

Healthy eating and breastfeeding

You do not need to eat or avoid any special foods while breastfeeding, but it is a good idea for you to eat a healthy diet, just like anyone else. It is recommended that all pregnant and breastfeeding women take a daily supplement of 10mcg of Vitamin D.

If you are getting Healthy Start vouchers (to check eligibility and to apply see What are Healthy Start Food Vouchers?) you can get free Healthy Start vitamins.

georgiaku George Vasilopoulos