Feeding your baby
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You should start to think about how you want to feed your baby while you are pregnant. We run specialist workshops on Breastfeeding which can be booked by contacting Gwillim Ward on 020 8725 2012.
UNICEF and the WHO recommends exclusively breastfeeding your baby for at least the first six months of their lives followed by the introduction of family foods with the continuation of breastfeeding until two years of age. St George’s Hospital has Level 3 Baby Friendly accreditation from UNICEF.
What can I do to prepare for breastfeeding?
You can watch videos about breastfeeding and hand expressing (e.g. on YouTube) and you can talk to people about their experiences of breastfeeding. Some testimonials can be found here and further information leaflets can be found here. Establishing breastfeeding does take a month or so as you and your baby learn together. Becoming a mother, especially for the first time is a huge transition, there will be challenges and it can be exhausting so it is important that you rest as much as possible to support establishing breastfeeding and your recovery. The local Breastfeeding Support Groups and the Infant Feeding Team are a great resource to support you in the early days and weeks.
How will the hospital help me start breastfeeding?
Once your baby is born, the midwives will help you have skin to skin contact with him or her and will help you to position them to start feeding. Wherever possible your baby will be kept with you so that you can feed him or her responsively. Skin to skin is vital to help baby to learn to feed not just after birth but in the early days and weeks. If you and your baby need enhanced support, midwives and the Infant Feeding Team are available.
What if my baby has to have special care?
If your baby has to have special care after birth, you can still breastfeed. Your midwife will help you to hand express colostrum in the early days which can be given to your baby. Once you milk is in, usually 3-5 days after the birth, you can use an electric pump which the midwife or the staff on the Neonatal Unit will show you. Once your baby is out of special care, your midwife will help you to breastfeed.
How do I know if my baby is breastfeeding well?
Your midwife will do a breastfeeding assessment before you leave the hospital. This table is a quick guide to show you whether your baby is feeding well.
What should my baby’s nappies look like?
This table shows how your babies nappies should look in their first month of life if they are feeding properly.
Will breastfeeding hurt?
Breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt, although you may feel some discomfort at the beginning as you and your baby are getting used to it. It is normal to find breastfeeding challenging especially in the early days and every baby is different. You should always tell your midwife or health visitor if you experience pain as they can help to see if there are any issues. You can also get help from a number of organisations.
How will breastfeeding affect mine and my baby’s sleep?
Your baby will need to feed a number of times in the night. Your milk making hormones are higher at night and to maximise your milk supply it is important not to miss these night feeds. For recommendations on how to safely care for and feed your baby at night, see here.
What can my partner do to help?
The support of your partner is very important in establishing and continuing breatfeeding. They can make sure that you are getting enough to eat and drink, and can help you by caring for the baby between feeds so you can rest. Your partner can also talk to your midwife or other organisations to access additional support if you need it.
Where can I get help with breastfeeding?
It is perfectly normal to find breastfeeding challenging at first. It is a process that you and your baby learn together. Sometimes issues will arise, but can be resolved with the correct support to enable you to reach your breastfeeding goals. Your community midwife or the Infant Feeding Team can help with breastfeeding support. The Infant Feeding Team are available Monday-Friday 0900-1700 can be contacted on 07766800365 or 020 8725 0199 (answer phone). You or can also get help and further information from a number of other places, including NHS Choices here:
Local breastfeeding cafés:
Local support organisations:
- National Breastfeeding Helpline: 0300 1000 0212
- Breastfeeding Network Supporter Line (0930-2130): 0300 1000 0210
“When I was pregnant I was clear that I wanted to breastfeed my baby, but I was nervous about it. To prepare, I went to antenatal classes but I also talked to my friends, family and partner about my wishes. I listened to friends’ stories about some of the difficulties they had faced, so I was prepared that it may not be as easy as just sticking the baby on my breast. I imagined that it might hurt for a bit.
When my son was born, I cuddled him straight away skin to skin. After a few minutes the midwife helped me and him to get latched on, and he started sucking. It was a strange but lovely sensation! Over the next few days he seemed to feed all the time. My breasts got really sore and engorged at times, but the community midwife suggested some ways to help this and supportive texts from friends with older children really helped me persevere. I was lucky that I could stay in bed and rest, and focus only on feeding my son and recovering from the birth. Together we mastered lots of feeding positions and although it did hurt at times, overall it was great. I continued to feed him until he was almost 2 and I was pregnant with my next child. Although it wasn’t always easy, I enjoyed breastfeeding and found it very convenient.”
What if I want to bottle feed my baby?
Your midwife will help you to bottle feed your baby and explain how to do this responsively. She will show you how to make up a formula feed safely.
Will I need to bring in my own bottles and formula?
Yes, these are not provided by the hospital. There are no facilities for sterilising bottles on the postnatal ward. So you will need to bring in ready-made formula in small cartons.