The midwives and staff caring for you have been trained to help support you to breastfeed. You may also receive assistance from trained volunteers called “Peer Supporters”.

Breastfeeding is a learned skill and takes time, patience and practice, do ask for help if you need it.

Breastfeeding also allows you and your baby to get closer – physically and emotionally. So while your baby is feeding, the bond between you can grow stronger.

Bottle feeding does not give your baby the same ingredients as breast milk nor does it provide protection against infection and diseases. Breast milk is designed to be easy for your baby to absorb and is perfect to help him or her to grow and develop.

Breastfeeding helps protect your baby against:

  • Ear infections
  • Gastro-intestinal infections
  • Chest infections
  • Urine infections
  • Childhood diabetes
  • Eczema
  • Obesity
  • Asthma

Breastfeeding helps protect mothers against:

  • Ovarian cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Weak bones later in life.

Women who breast feed tend to return to their pre-pregnancy figure faster. We do not advise giving your baby extra feeds or drinks unless there is a medical reason. This is because it reduces your milk supply and also the health benefits that exclusive breastfeeding gives.

Mothers who choose to supplement a breast fed baby will be advised of the importance of exclusively breastfeeding and offered help to continue exclusively breastfeeding their baby. If you still wish to introduce formula milk we will have a conversation with you to ensure that your decision to give formula milk is an informed one. Whatever you decide we will continue to support you, however you choose to feed your baby. Infant feeding support workers are available for specialist support and advice.

The feeding patterns of newborn babies can vary from baby to baby. For example, on day 1 and 2 your baby may be sleepy and only feed a few times. This may increase to as many as 10-12 feeds through the day and night - this is normal and healthy.

Follow your baby’s lead and feed whenever he/she is hungry and, after a few days, you should produce plenty of milk to meet his/her needs. The more frequently you feed the more your milk production will increase. Night feeds are particularly important for increasing and maintaining your milk supply.

Immediately after birth and during the following days, you will be encouraged to hold your baby in skin to skin contact as this helps to calm babies and encourages breastfeeding and helps you develop a positive relationship with your baby.

The contents of your baby’s nappy (stool & urine) will help you to know if feeding is going well.

Day 1-2

The usual is 2 or more wet nappies and 1 or more dirty nappy per day. A baby’s first stool (poo) is called meconium and is dark green/black and very sticky. Some nappies are extremely absorbent; if you are unsure whether your baby is passing urine put a cotton wool ball or piece of tissue in the nappy to check. Do not do this routinely just when you are unsure if all is well.

Day 3-4

The usual is 3 or more wet nappies per day, which will feel heavier, and 2 or more dirty nappies per day. This is called a “changing stool” and is now a softer greeny/brown colour.

Day 5-6

Your baby's stool should now be a yellow colour. If you baby’s stool remains green or returns to a green colour please let your midwife or health visitor know.

Your baby is feeding well if:

  • He or she is satisfied after feeds
  • You experience no pain in your breast during feeding
  • By day 3 your baby is waking regularly for feeds and settling after feeds
  • By day 3 your baby’s stools have started to change.

During your stay in hospital all of the maternity team are trained to support you with feeding your baby. If you are concerned when you are transferred home you can seek help from your midwife or health visitor or peer support.

There are breastfeeding support services in the community, but these will be dependent on where you live. Speak to your community midwife who will be able to advise you about the community breastfeeding support where you live.

It is recommended that babies are breastfed for at least the first year, with the first six months of a baby’s life being exclusively breastfed as it provides all the necessary nutrients for your baby and has health benefits for you and your baby.

Breastfeeding is the healthiest way to feed your baby. If you are unable to, or choose not to breastfeed, we will support you in this decision. Advice and support is available from your midwife and health visitor. Find out more about bottle feeding advice.

The National Breastfeeding Helpline is a helpline run in collaboration with The Breastfeeding Network (BfN) and the Association of Breastfeeding Mothers (ABM). All the volunteers answering calls are mums who have breastfed, and all have received extensive training in breastfeeding support. Calls are diverted to the next available ABM or BfN volunteer. The Helpline is funded by Public Health England and the Scottish Government.