We are proud to be accredited as a Gold Baby Friendly Service, recognising our high standards in encouraging and supporting new mums to bond with their babies and make the best personal choice in how to feed their newborn. For more about the benefits this brings, please visit www.unicef.org.uk/BabyFriendly.
We offer an antenatal infant feeding workshop and informal sessions before your baby arrives so you can talk to a healthcare professional about the best options for you to feed your baby.
Feeding your baby
One of the main things you will be thinking about during pregnancy is whether you are going to breastfeed your baby or give formula milk; this has a lot to do with you and your partner's feelings and the attitude of your family and friends.
The most important thing to know is that however you decide to feed your baby, you will be supported and assisted by our midwifery and neonatal team. Please do take a few minutes to read the information below which explains the evidence to support why we recommend you breastfeed your baby. These will also be discussed with you at your antenatal appointment.
We encourage breastfeeding as there are many health benefits to both you and your baby. Practical advice and help is available from the staff within the unit on all aspects of infant feeding.
We would like to encourage our expectant and new mothers to watch the following video as an introduction to breastfeeding:
If you have any questions or anxieties, please speak to your midwife at your antenatal check-ups, at parent education classes, or on the maternity ward.
- Breastfeeding Support Clinic information 2019
- Breastfeeding Support Merton 2019
Values of breast milk and breastfeeding
For your baby
As well as promoting optimal growth and development, breastfeeding helps protect babies from infections and diseases, particularly:
- Gastroenteritis, diarrhoea and tummy upsets
- Chest infections and wheezing
- Ear infections
- Asthma and eczema (especially if you have a family history)
- Lower risk of childhood diabetes
- Necrotising enterocolitis – this life threatening condition, which occurs mainly in premature babies, is much less frequent if the baby is given only breast milk
- Childhood leukaemia
- Cot death.
- Lowers risk of ovarian cancer
- Lowers risk of breast cancer
- Lowers risk of osteoporosis which means stronger bones later in life
- Reduces postnatal depression
- Uses up the fat you have stored during pregnancy and helps you return to your pre-maternal size
- Helps your uterus to contract more quickly and return to its normal size
- It is cheaper than formula feeding and it is less work as you don’t have to make up feeds, sterilize bottles and teats, etc.
Tips for breastfeeding
- Keep your baby close with as much skin to skin contact as possible
Nose to nipple
Sustainable for both
- Respond to your baby’s feeding cues
- Feel reassured that your baby will be getting enough milk if they are feeding at least eight times in 24 hours, have a changing suckling pattern during a feed and they have at least six wet and two dirty nappies (from one week old; before this your baby may feed less and their urine and stool output will increase daily)
- Always seek help if you have any concerns, especially if you have pain when your baby feeds
- For further guidance, please see Is my baby getting enough [pdf] 510KB.
For information about the safety of breastfeeding whilst taking medication, please visit www.e-lactancia.org/ (opens in a new window). This site has information for every medication and the safety of breastfeeding whilst taking it. You can also visit the Breastfeeding Network website (opens in a new window), or contact our Infant Feeding Team if you have any conerns or questions.
To find further information on breastfeeding you can ask your midwife or health visitor. In addition, you are invited to attend classes that cover responsive parenting and infant feeding.
We are also very fortunate at both Epsom and St Helier hospitals to have the support of the local NCT La Leche League. On discharge, you will be given leaflets with details of our local breastfeeding clinics, baby cafés and contact numbers for extra support if you need it.
Responsive bottle feeding
If you choose to formula feed, we will support your choice. For more information, please read our Letter for formula feeding mothers [doc] 98KB.
Please be aware that all formulas have to reach a minimum standard, and independent evidence shows that there is very little significant difference between the formula brands.
For more information and guidance on responsive bottle feeding, please see Infant formula and responsive bottle feeding - A guide for parents [pdf] 130KB.
Key messages to all parents
- It is not possible to ‘spoil’ any baby with emotional attention
- Responding early to your baby’s needs and not leaving a baby to cry for long periods, is good for baby’s development and brain growth
- We will talk to you about the value of breast milk, and will give you the practical skills and knowledge to support you in breastfeeding
Exclusively breastfed babies can not be overfed.
Responsive breastfeeding is about:
- Nutrition and acting on feeding cues
- The comfort for the mother
- The comfort for the baby
- Allowing the mum to sit down, relax and bond with her baby.
Family advice line
A new Surrey-wide advice line has launched for families with children aged 0-19yrs. Please see the poster below for further information.
Useful information and resources
- Why you might want to put the baby books down...video (opens in a new window)
'From bump to breastfeeding' video (opens in a new window) - an introduction to breastfeeding. This documentary, produced in collaboration with the Department of Health, is a fantastic resource, covering everything from the practical aspects, such as how to get your baby positioned and attached correctly, to social things like breastfeeding in public.
Download Buddy App (open in a new window) - a free mobile phone app for parents and parents-to-be with personalised content approved by doctors and midwives that spans from pregnancy right through to the first six months after birth, developed by Best Beginnings.