How will I feed my baby?
We aim to offer you as much information and support as you need, for you to feel confident and comfortable with your chosen feeding method. There is lots of support available to you from different organisations, health professionals and also other mothers who have recent experience of breastfeeding called peer supporters.
Deciding how you will feed your baby is your personal decision. We want to support you to make an informed choice and offer you the information you need to prepare for your baby’s arrival. There will be opportunities to discuss feeding at your antenatal appointments with your midwife, but you will find it useful to do your own research.
- Breastfeeding is the healthiest way to feed your baby.
- You do not need to eat any special foods while breastfeeding, but it is a good idea for you to eat a healthy balanced diet.
Support for parents - Baby Friendly Initiative (unicef.org.uk) links to the Unicef website to find a range of useful resources for parents on infant feeding and relationship building. There is also information on overcoming common breastfeeding issues and challenges which you may find useful.
Start for Life (www.nhs.uk) for NHS help and advice on nutrition and feeding, weaning during pregnancy, birth and parenthood including
The World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of your baby’s life as there are so many health benefits for mother and baby.
Breastfed babies receive antibodies from their mother’s milk and are less likely to suffer from infections or diarrhoea and vomiting. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of sudden unexplained infant death and has long term health benefits for your baby. Breastfeeding helps mothers to maintain a healthy weight and reduces their risk of ovarian cancer, breast cancer, and osteoporosis.
Download NHS Off to The Best Start (links to an external website) for all you need to know for example how to find comfortable positions, how to know your baby is getting enough, how partners can support and lots more useful tips.
- To find out what to expect when your baby is born, you and your partner might wish to take the online course provided by the Association of Breastfeeding Mothers (see What’s On for how to join).
- From 36 weeks it may help to begin to hand-express colostrum, collect it in syringes (provided) and freeze it to store ready for baby. There is a leaflet explaining how to do this Antenatal Expression of Colostrum (links to a PDF document)
- We offer an antenatal class ‘Nurturing and Feeding your Newborn’ which covers a lot of what you need to know in the first few months, including feeding your baby, responsive parenting, safe sleeping and coping with crying.
- You might also wish to find your local Breastfeeding Group where you will be made welcome during your pregnancy, to help you find out more about what to expect and what support is available to you.
- Giving infant formula to a breastfed baby will reduce your milk supply.
- If you decide not to breastfeed or to stop breastfeeding, it is possible to restart.
Some mothers choose to feed their baby with expressed breast milk or formula, others may decide to change to formula after an initial period of breastfeeding.
Your baby will benefit from receiving ‘colostrum’ from mum for the first few days as this is high in ‘antibodies’ which line your baby’s digestive tract and protect the gut from harmful bacteria.
If you have chosen to bottle feed your baby, we don’t recommend any particular brand of infant formula however we do recommend that you use only first or new-born milks until the baby is a year old. You must thoroughly clean and sterilise all feeding equipment and follow instructions for making feeds up carefully to reduce the risk of infection to your baby.
Download the NHS Guide to Bottle Feeding (links to an external website) leaflet which covers responsiveness for bottle feeding such as limiting the people who feed the baby with mother giving most feeds herself in the early weeks, pacing feeds and not overfeeding, making feeds up one at a time.
It is normal for babies to wake frequently through the night to feed as they grow quickly in the early weeks and months of their lives and have very small stomachs. Therefore, they need to feed around the clock to meet their needs, and this can be challenging for new parents, especially if you are very tired.
Download the Unicef Caring For Your Baby at Night (links to a PDF document) leaflet covering a range of topics, including getting some rest, night feeding, safe sleeping environments and helping baby to settle.