How you decide to feed your baby is one of the most important decisions you will make once your baby is born. This Trust supports the right of all parents to make informed decisions about feeding and caring for their baby. All Trust staff will support you in your decisions. We know that breastfeeding is the healthiest way to feed your baby and recognise the important health and emotional benefits which breastfeeding provides for both you and your child. We therefore encourage you to breastfeed your baby. If you make the informed decision to bottle-feed then we will support you to do this safely and effectively.Antenatal Colostrum Harvesting leaflet
Skin to skin contact
Once your baby has arrived all mothers are encouraged to hold their babies in skin to skin contact for at least an hour or until the first feed takes place. This is a very important time for you to get to know each other and it helps to:
- Regulate temperature, heart rate and breathing
- Colonise baby with healthy good microbes, beneficial for growth and natural immunity
- Induce a sense of calmness and wellbeing in both you and your baby
- Promote feeding behaviours in baby (whether breast or bottle fed)
- Promotes oxytocin and prolactin release, crucial hormones in milk production and bonding
If you are unwell or unable to start skin to skin straight after birth your partner should start it if able or it should start as soon as you and your baby are able. This video from the Global Health Media Project shows the behaviour inherent in babies as soon as they are born.
But skin to skin contact is not just for straight after birth, it is a good tool to use if you have a sleepy baby that you are trying to wake to feed, it helps calm your baby at any time and it is good for bonding.
Support with breastfeeding
After your birth the midwife in attendance will help you with the first feed ensuring that you are happy and confident, and that your baby feeds well. If you have had your baby with us at the hospital after the second feed you and your midwife are happy and confident with feeding, and there are no medical reasons that you are required to stay with us you can request a six hour discharge.
If you feel you need extra support with feeding or there is a medical reason you should stay with us you can take advantage of the support on the postnatal ward. All staff are trained in supporting your feeding choices. The Infant Feeding Team is based on Burstow ward and the Infant Feeding Support Workers are there to work with your midwife to ensure you get the assistance you may need.
Responsive and modified responsive feeding
In the first 24 hours of your baby’s life they may be sleepy and only feed four to six times during that period. If you have no risk factors and your baby is not early or is a good weight this can be normal. It is important to watch for your baby’s feeding cues. If your baby is small or requiring extra observation and support it may be that you need to ensure that they feed as often as they show they want it and not going more than three hours without a feed.
After 24 hours your baby should be a lot more alert and you can use this checklist to help you understand if breastfeeding is going well for you. Your baby will feed often as your milk supply grows. They will also feed for comfort, closeness, protection and love.
Effective milk transfer
Nights are often times where parents struggle as newborns do not have a sense of day or night, they often require comfort as well as milk at night and while you are learning a skill you have to concentrate on how to do it before it becomes muscle memory.
Often this is the time you may start thinking that breastfeeding is too hard, you may think about supplementing with a bottle. However night feeds are extremely important to the breastfeeding journey. Night is when your prolactin levels (the hormone that helps create your milk and builds your supply) are highest so it is important to breastfeed at this time to ensure your milk supply.
Supplementation with a bottle can also interfere with your baby’s natural instincts when it comes to feeding, causing issues with latching, knocking your confidence and in some cases when artificial formula is used leave babies at risk of developing allergies. Check out the Baby Friendly Initiative Caring for your Baby at Night leaflet.
Troubleshooting common issues
Sometimes with breastfeeding you can run into issues. This is a skill that both you and your baby are learning and it can take a while for you to get to a point where you feel comfortable with it. The following are some resources that can help you manage some of the common issues in breastfeeding:
Increasing milk supply
Expressing and storing
It is important to seek support if you need it. Please use the information below to find the support you need.
Most infant formula is made from cows’ milk and has been designed to make it suitable for babies. Most standard formula milks are basically the same as to comply with standards of use. Your baby only needs stage 1 formula milk until a year old and then can be moved onto cow’s milk.
Your baby does not need ‘hungry baby milks’ or ‘second/follow on milks’ as there is no evidence that they will help your baby sleep through the night or feel more full. As your baby grows there is no need to change their formula. More information can be found at First Steps Nutrition Trust.
If you feel that your baby needs a special formula it is best to talk to your midwife, health visitor or GP for advice.
Being responsive to your baby’s needs is equally important for bottle feeding. Responsiveness encourages oxytocin production in your baby which helps their development. Responsive bottle feeding follows your baby’s innate instincts and makes feeding more enjoyable. The following resource will help you learn more about being responsive to your bottle feeding baby, how to pace a feed and gives you information about formula milk.
It is important that you prepare your baby’s feeds as and when they are needed not all at once. This is to ensure that the bacteria that can be present in the formula powder is destroyed. The link below has resources on how to safely prepare feeds.
There are a few different methods for sterilising your feeding equipment. The following link will discuss these methods in detail.