We are here to support you
It is up to you how you feed your baby.
Your health visitor is there to listen to you and help you make a choice that is right for you. We will support you with your baby’s feeding whatever decision you make.
Breast milk is very different to formula milk and your body starts to prepare for breastfeeding during pregnancy.
Breastfeeding is good for both yours and your baby’s health. Your baby will get more health benefits that the longer you breastfeed for.
Any breast milk that you are able to give your baby is good for them.
Breastfeeding can help your baby by reducing their risk of
- Ear infections
- Breathing (or respiratory) infections
- Digestive (gastric related) infections such as diarrhoea and vomiting
- Sudden Infant Death
Breastfeeding can also reduce your risk of
- Breast cancer
- Ovarian cancer
Skin-to-skin contact following your baby’s birth is a great way to begin your breastfeeding journey because it will:
- Help to calm and comfort your baby and helps to stimulate your baby’s digestion and interest in feeding.
- Stimulate your hormones to support breast feeding.
Breastfeeding is a skill
Breastfeeding is a natural process and a skill. It can take time for you and your baby to learn and it can take up to 1 month for your breastfeeding to become fully established.
Whilst you are learning to breastfeed it is best not to use dummies or teats. Dummies can make it harder to know when your baby needs feeding because they soothe your baby, and so you may miss their feeding cues, which can have an impact on your breast milk supply. Teats can sometimes cause your baby to get confused between how they would attach to the breast and feed from a teat.
Getting to know your baby’s feeding cues will help you to know when your baby is hungry.
Some common signs your baby is hungry may be:
- Moving more in their moses basket or crib
- Sucking their fist or fingers
- Smacking their lips or making murmuring sounds
- Start to root by turning their heads and opening their mouths
More information is available about feeding cues.
First few days
After the first few days of life your baby will feed very frequently. This is normal.
A breast fed baby can feed every few hours and every baby is different. Often a new baby will feed every two to three hours, including at night. Night time feeds are particularly important because the hormone that produces breast milk is higher at night time.
Breast feed as frequently and as long as your baby wants to feed
Breast feed your baby as often and for as long as they want to feed. You can offer the breast for comfort or to settle your baby.
Your baby may feed for between 5 and 40 minutes at each feed. They may want to feed from both breasts, which is normal. As your baby grows and develops they will get better at breastfeeding and you notice that they will not want to feed as often or for as long.
Increased feeding a certain times
Your baby will want to feed more often at certain times during the day. This is known as cluster feeding.
Cluster feeding helps to increase your breast milk production to meet your growing baby’s needs. It will settle.
Different types of breast milk
At the start of the feed your baby receives the thirst quenching milk. It is important that your baby stays on the breast long enough for them to receive the fatty milk, which comes a bit later on.
At the start your baby will suck quickly. This helps to get your breast milk flowing. Your baby will then start to settle into a suck and swallow pattern. You will know that your baby is at the end part of the feed when they are getting the high fat milk because they may look like they are asleep, or they may have short sucks which may feel like a fluttering on your breast.
The end part of your baby’s breastfeed is very important because it is when your baby is drinking the high milk which they need for their growth.
Some signs that your baby is breastfeeding well
- Having at least 6 wet nappies every day
- Your baby’s urine should be pale
- Having at least 2 soft yellow poos every day
- After the first few days your baby’s poos will be soft, yellow and seedy and your baby will usually poo several times per day and then it is not uncommon after 6 weeks of age for breast fed babies to sometimes go up to 10 days without having a poo
- Settled and content after feeding
- Gaining weight consistently after the first 2 weeks. It can be normal for babies to lose a certain amount of weight after they have been born
First six months
Breast milk is all your baby needs to feed on for the first 6 months. They don’t even need water.
It is recommended that all breast fed babies are given a daily vitamin D supplement from birth even if you are taking a vitamin D supplement as a breastfeeding mum.
You can carry on breastfeeding when you start weaning your baby, your baby will also need water at this time.
Your baby can continue to breast feed for as long as you and your baby want to.
If you are formula-feeding your baby find out more about what your baby may need.