Breast feeding your baby
Infant feeding – Breastfeeding
The Bromley 0 to 19 service is here to support you with breastfeeding in Bromley. We offer a range of 1-1 appointments via face-to-face clinic consultations, telephone and virtual appointments. If you would like to book an appointment, please contact your Health Visitor on 0300 330 5777 or email email@example.com or talk with us via our live chat.
All our staff have been specially trained to help you feed your baby. Whether you fully breastfeed, give expressed breast milk or formula by bottle. We will give you the best possible information and support.
What happens in your baby’s first years has a big effect on how healthy they will be in the future. Mum’s milk gives your baby all the nutrients they need for around the first 6 months of life and it remains important, along with solid food, beyond 6 months.
Breastfeeding delivers many benefits including supporting close and loving relationships, improving maternal mental health and can reduce the risk of postnatal depression. Through these close relationships, breastfeeding helps baby’s brain development and formation of a positive attachment. Breastfeeding also has numerous physical health benefits shown through research to reach far into life for both baby and mother; just a few examples are an increase in IQ, reduction in gastrointestinal infections, childhood cancers, asthma, obesity, the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) as well as a reduction in breast and ovarian cancer for mother. In addition breastfeeding is environmentally friendly and saves your family time and money. To find out more see Unicef's benefits of breastfeeding.
Infant formula is made from cows’ milk and other ingredients. It doesn’t contain the ingredients that help protect your baby from infection and disease - only your body can make those.
Before the birth of your baby
Building relationship can start in pregnancy. Talking, singing and reading are just some of the ways to bond with your baby before he/she is born. You can also read and learn as much as possible to help you prepare. Download the Department of Health and Unicef's Baby Friendly Initiative leaflet: Start 4 Life: Off to the best start.
At the birth of your baby
Regardless of the type of birth you have, talk to your health care provider about holding your baby against your skin straight after birth, uninterrupted for as long as possible. This skin-to-skin contact between you and your baby will calm baby, steady his/her breathing and heart rate and help to keep them warm and regulate their temperature. It will also begin the important bonding and milk production just by this simple act! This is a great time to start your first breastfeed because your baby will be alert and will show signs they want to feed in the first hour after birth. Your midwife can help you with this.
Take a look at Unicef's Baby Friendly video - Meeting baby for the first time:
Carry on with skin-to-skin (baby can wear a nappy) when you get home; your baby is never too old for this! Skin-to-skin helps you and baby to feel calm and also aid with feeding through tuning-in to baby's cues and increasing your milk supply. Your baby will be happier if you keep them near you and feed them whenever they are hungry. This will remind your body to produce plenty of milk. It is fine to feed your baby when they need comforting, when your breasts feel full or when you just want to sit down and have a rest. It is not possible to overfeed a breastfed baby. This is called responsive breastfeeding – feeds are not just for nutrition, but also for love, comfort and reassurance between both baby and mother.
Take a look at Unicef's Baby Friendly video - Breastfeeding and early relationships:
How to breastfeed
What position should you use? There are lots of different positions for breastfeeding, you just need to check the following:
Is your baby's head and body in a straight line? If not, your baby might not be able to swallow easily.
Are you holding your baby close to you? Support their neck, shoulders and back. They should be able to tilt their head back easily, and they shouldn't have to reach out to feed.
Is your baby's nose opposite your nipple? Your baby needs to get a big mouthful of breast from underneath the nipple. Placing your baby's nose level with your nipple will allow them to reach up and get your nipple back to the soft part of their palette; this will stop your nipples getting sore from rubbing on the hard part of their palette.
Are you comfortable? It’s worth getting comfortable before a feed, although it's ok to change your position slightly once your baby is attached to your breast.
Take a look at Unicef's Baby Friendly video - Positioning and attachment:
Good attachment really is the key to successful breastfeeding! It's important to get this right so that:
- Your baby takes plenty of milk and grows
- You make plenty of milk
- You don't develop problems such as sore nipples, blocked ducts or mastitis
Responsive breastfeeding means feeding is not timed and is not just for nutrition, but also for love, comfort and reassurance between both baby and mother. If you need to, feed your baby for whatever reason; for example, if you would like to reconnect with your baby or them with you, if your breasts are full or you need to pop out and you would not be able to feed whilst you are out.
Your baby needs you to respond to their feeding cues. Waiting until they cry for food will make it more difficult to breastfeed them.
- Hands to mouth
- Turning head
- Licking lips
- Squeaking noises
- Light fussing
- Rooting (moving mouth and head as if looking for a feed)
For successful breastfeeding, you need to feed your baby whenever they ask, and for as long as they want at each feed. In the first few weeks you will get to know your baby and settle into a feeding pattern.
How do I know that my baby is getting enough milk?
Babies have small tummies - only the size of a cherry when they are born! This means they will feed little, and VERY frequently in the first 6 weeks especially. Remember – responding to your babies cues will help you establish breastfeeding. Babies rarely need “extra” milk or additional feeds. Please speak to your health visitor if you are worried. The below signs reassure you that your baby IS getting enough milk.
- Your baby is having at least 6 wet nappies and 2 dirty nappies in 24 hours, from day 6 onwards (it will be less before day 6)
- Your baby is waking independently for feeds - how often and how long baby feeds will change throughout the day and from day-to-day. If your baby is developing, growing or unwell they may drink a LOT more often than they had been - this is totally normal
- Baby is alert when awake and has a strong cry
- Baby is gaining weight (from day 4 onwards)
- Your baby has a large mouthful of breast during breastfeeding
- Your baby’s chin is firmly touching your breast
- It doesn’t hurt you when your baby feeds (although the first few sucks may feel strong)
- If you can see the dark skin around your nipple, you should see more dark skin above your baby’s top lip than below your baby’s bottom lip
- Your baby’s cheeks stay rounded during sucking
- Your baby rhythmically takes long sucks and swallows with large jaw movements (it is normal for your baby to pause from time to time as they wait for more)
- Your baby finishes the feed and comes off the breast on his or her own
- Your nipple does not look pinched (like 'lipstick') - it looks the same before the feed as afterwards
- You may be able to see or hear swallows
If you are unsure or have worries about any of these, please get in touch with us.
Most babies go through several growth spurts (also called frequency days or wonder weeks) during the first 12 months. It’s important to be aware of these so you understand and don’t doubt yourself (or your milk supply) when you experience them.
What is a growth spurt?
During a growth spurt, breastfed babies feed much more often than they may have been (sometimes as often as every hour or what feels like constant feeding) and often act fussier or grumpier than usual. You may feel like baby is suddenly “attached” to you, is really grumpy, not sleeping as well and hard to settle or you suddenly feel like you don’t have enough milk.
Baby is actually working to increase the amount of milk (because of their own growth) and the content of the milk also changes! Just as babies grow and change, so does our breastmilk to adapt to them- another huge benefit of breastfeeding as formula can not do this!
Physical growth is not the only reason that babies may have a temporary need for increased breastfeeding. Babies often exhibit the same type of behavior (increased breastfeeding with or without increased fussiness) when they are working on developmental advances such as rolling over, crawling, walking or talking. Mom’s milk is for growing the brain as well as the body!
When do babies have growth spurts?
Common times for growth spurts are 2-5 days old and around 2-3 weeks, 4-6 weeks, 3 months, 4 months, 6 months and 9 months (more or less). Babies don’t read calendars, however, so your baby may do things differently.
How long do growth spurts last?
Growth spurts usually last 3-5 days, but sometimes last a week or so.
What is the best way to handle a growth spurt?
Follow your child’s lead. Baby will automatically get more milk by breastfeeding more frequently, and your milk supply will increase due to the increased breastfeeding.
It is not necessary (or advised) to supplement your baby with formula or expressed milk during a growth spurt. Supplementing (and/or scheduling feeds) interferes with the natural supply and demand of milk production and will prevent your body from getting the message to make more milk and change the content during the growth spurt.
Some breastfeeding mums feel more hungry or thirsty when baby is going through a growth spurt. Listen to your body — you may need to eat or drink more during the time that baby is nursing more often.
Feeding Out and About
You will find that some places have the blue picture of a mother feeding her baby in the window and this means that this establishment welcomes breastfeeding mothers but this is not an exclusive scheme. By law, the only places you can be refused access to breastfeed are places where there is a risk to the health and safety to you or your baby.
- Practice makes perfect - if you’re feeling nervous, go with people to support you for the first few times to build your confidence
- Wear a nursing bra - this will make it easier to access you breast. You can buy special breastfeeding tops from most clothes store, but you don’t have to buy specific breastfeeding clothing. Many mothers find by wearing a camisole top underneath a looser top they can simply lift up the looser top and feed. Wearing a wrap cardigan or a big scarf that can be draped over your breast may help you feel more comfortable
If you're planning on going back to work you can find some useful information on Start 4 Life
When and How do I introduce Solid food?
Babies only need breastmilk for the first 6 months of life. For more information about why, signs that they are ready and so on please see our first solid foods page and talk to your Health Visitor.
Vitamin D supplement
The WHO recommends all exclusively breastfeeding babies receive vitamin D for at least the first year of life. This is because breastmilk doesn’t have a high amount of vitamin D in it. You can get vitamin D drops from your local pharmacy. Your baby does not need any other food, drink or vitamins for the first 6 months of life. Please ask your Health visitor or GP or dietitian for more about vitamin D supplement.