The more time you spend with your baby, the quicker you will learn each other’s signs and signals. Holding your baby against your skin straight after birth will calm them, steady their breathing, keep them warm and encourage them to breast feed. It is advisable to have uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact until after your baby has had their first feed as babies are awake and eager to feed in the first hour after birth. Your midwife will be there to support you and ensure you are relaxed, comfortable and not rushed. All women are advised to spend time having skin-to-skin contact with their baby even if they have chosen not to breastfeed, as there are many benefits for both mother and baby. Skin-to-skin contact with your baby doesn’t have to be restricted to the first hour after birth. Whenever you spend skin-to-skin time with your baby, the hormones responsible for bonding and milk production will increase. This will encourage your milk to flow ready for a feed.
The way you feed your baby is one of the most important decisions that you will make as a parent. Breastfeeding makes a real difference to your health and your baby’s health. Breast milk is the perfect milk for a baby. It is balanced to suit their needs and protects them against ear infections, chest infections and tummy bugs. It may also protect against allergies and diabetes, and reduce the risk of cot death (sudden infant death syndrome). Breast milk is easily digested which is why breast fed babies feed frequently. For mothers who breast feed, there is a reduced risk of pre-menopausal breast cancer, ovarian cancer and hip fractures due to osteoporosis in later life. It will also help mothers to lose weight. It may take practice and support to get breastfeeding off to a good start, but almost all women who want to breastfeed are able to do so. The Department of Health recommends exclusive
breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life. You are also encouraged to continue breastfeeding while weaning your baby onto solid foods from the age of six months.
Before you make the decision to feed your baby with formula, you should be aware that formula-fed babies are more likely to suffer from:
- diarrhoea, vomiting, coughs, colds, and other illnesses and infections
- there is a cost involved in formula feeding
- errors while sterilising equipment and making feeds can affect your baby’s health
If you have been advised to offer your baby formula milk for medical reasons or choose not to breastfeed, please speak to your midwife about ‘paced bottle feeding’, responsive feeding and safe sterilisation techniques.
If you have chosen to formula feed, you will need to bring with you a minimum of two starter packs (each pack contains six x 70ml bottles and six disposable teats) of your chosen milk brand (the Department of Health does not recommend any particular formula milk). These starter packs are readily available at all major supermarkets and online.
You will be offered information and support to help you prepare feeds and sterilise feeding equipment as safely as possible. More information is available from:
It is common in newborns for some weight loss in the first few days after birth and usually relates to body fluid adjustments. This weight loss usually stops after about 3 or 4 days of life and most infants have returned to their birth weight by 3 weeks of age.
Formula fed babies are unlikely to lose excessive amounts of weight so if a formula fed baby loses more than 10% of its birth weight, the baby will need to be referred to see a paediatrician at the hospital.
When a baby has lost more weight than expected there are a number of possible causes; these fit into four broad categories.
1) Plenty of breastmilk but baby feeding ineffectively
2) Lactation slow to establish but baby feeding effectively
3) Lactation slow to establish and baby feeding ineffectively
4) Another underlying cause
If breastfeeding, it is important to check the positioning of your baby and their attachment at your breast. Here are a couple of websites that give more information on positioning and attachment.
Infant feeding team
Our infant feeding team are available to help with any worries you may have about feeding your baby. They can provide advice over the phone and do 1:1 sessions.
You can contact them by texting/calling 07775 027151 between 9am-5pm. They don’t work every day so be prepared to wait a day or so for a reply in some cases. They can also assess your baby for tongue tie and divide it if necessary.
Sleep safety and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), also called ‘cot death’, is the sudden and unexpected death of an apparently healthy baby where no cause is found. Around 88% of SIDS deaths happen when a baby is 6 months old or less. The likelihood of this occurring is significantly reduced if your baby sleeps safely.
You can reduce the risk of SIDS by following this sleep safe advice:
- Put baby to sleep on their back for ALL of their sleeps
- Share a room with your baby for at least the first six months of their life. Put your baby to sleep in a separate crib or cot. It is safest not to share a bed with your baby at all.
- Keep your baby’s head uncovered – their blanket should be tucked in no higher than their shoulders.
- Do not share a bed with your baby if you or your partner smoke or take drugs or if you have been drinking alcohol
- Use a firm, clean, dry mattress
- Make your home a smoke-free environment
- Breastfeed your baby if you can.
- Try and keep your room between 16-20C. Make sure your baby doesn’t get too hold or too cold.
For more information please see the NHS website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/sudden-infant-death-syndrome-sids/
Or the Lullaby Trust Website: https://www.lullabytrust.org.uk/safer-sleep-advice/what-is-sids/