Infant feeding support
We are here to promote breastfeeding, support and help you understand more about breastfeeding, and to answer any concerns that you might have, both for you and your baby. We support mothers every day to make the right decisions for them and understand that mothers have the right to make their own choices as to how they feed and care for their babies.
Feeding is a perfect opportunity to help you and your baby form a close loving bond. Always hold your baby close to you and aim to keep the number of people who feed him as small as possible. You will soon learn to recognise signs of hunger in your baby. If you can spot these before they are crying for food, they will be easier to feed. Please speak to your midwife or health visitor if you have any questions or concerns.
A mother’s milk is custom made and is unique for her baby, providing all the nutrients and disease-fighting antibodies to help protect her baby from illness.
Colostrum (the first milk) is ready and waiting when she gives birth and provides a special infection-fighting boost in the first few days.
Her milk will change to meet her growing baby’s needs, continuing to support her baby, while his/her immune system is developing.
Breast milk is the only food a baby needs until he/she is six months old when weaning starts. However, it is recommended to continue until the baby is a year old or beyond.
Breastfeeding is a skill, but everyone can do it with the right support. Many women choose to breastfeed and here are some of the reasons why:
Breastfeeding makes a difference for the mother
- Breastfeeding can help you to develop a strong emotional bond with your child.
- Reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer
- Can reduce the risk of osteoporosis and postnatal depression
- No special equipment- no mixing, heating and it doesn’t cost a penny
- Helps the womb to return to normal
- Helps you to regain your shape
Breastfeeding makes a difference to the baby
- Provides perfect nutrition for the first 6 months
- Offers protection against stomach bugs and chest infections and everyday infections
- less likelihood of becoming obese and therefore developing type 2 diabetes and other illnesses later in life
- Can help to protect babies against allergies, asthma and eczema
- Can support early speech development
Your community midwife can offer information to you during pregnancy about feeding your baby if you have any anxieties. We also offer a breastfeeding parentcraft class for further information and practical advice, including the benefits of early feeding and skin to skin contact, how to position and attach the baby and signs that the baby is feeding effectively.
Within the maternity unit we have midwives, nursery nurses, specially trained maternity care assistants and peer supporters (who are volunteer mothers who have experienced breastfeeding their own children) who are all on hand to offer support and advice following the birth of your baby.
Changing from bottle to breast
If you’ve already been formula feeding for a few days but you’ve changed your mind and want to breastfeed, speak to your midwife or health visitor as soon as possible for support on how to build up your milk supply. Alternatively, you can call the National Breastfeeding Helpline on 0300 100 0212.
Clinical reasons for not breastfeeding
Occasionally, there are clinical reasons for not breastfeeding. For example, if you have HIV or, in rare cases, you’re taking certain types of medication that may harm your baby. Under these circumstances when there’s no alternative, bottle feeding with infant formula will be recommended. If you’re not sure whether you should breastfeed your baby, speak to your midwife or health visitor for information and support.
We will support your decision and provide you with information and guidance relating to formula feeding. However, from 1 June 2016 formula milk will no longer be routinely provided to mothers who have decided to formula feed their babies. Therefore you are required bring to the hospital formula feeding ‘starter packs’. These are available from most supermarkets and pharmacies. If you have any question relating to this please discuss with your community midwife.
Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the first six months of your baby’s life and should continue whilst weaning your baby for as long as desired but ideally up to 2 years.
Should you experience any difficulties with breastfeeding we have local support groups run by dedicated teams of midwives, health visitors, community staff nurses and support workers. It is a friendly, individualised service devoted to helping women to successfully breastfeed their babies by providing practical and emotional help and support.
La leche League
National Childbirth Trust
0300 330 0771
Breastfeeding network supporter line
0300 100 2010
Association for Breastfeeding Mothers helpline
National Breastfeeding helpline
0300 100 0212