The World Health Organisation recommended that babies are breastfed exclusively for the first six months of their life; then alongside solid food for two years and beyond. This provides your baby with all the nutrition and immunity they need and helps you develop a positive, loving foundation.
Breastfeeding helps protect mother and baby
Breastfeeding helps protect your baby against:
- Sudden infant death syndrome (cot death)
- Childhood cancers
- Cardiovascular disease
- Respiratory diseases
- Ear infections
- Gastro-intestinal infections/ disorders
Breastfeeding also helps protect women against:
- Breast Cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Endometrial cancer
- Cardiovascular disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Get breastfeeding off to a good start
“What does the baby most need at the moment of birth? Only mother.” (Bergman and Bergman 2012)
Here are some tips to get breastfeeding off to a good start:
Feeding your baby within the first hour of life
Immediate skin to skin contact stimulates the release of love hormones, encouraging successful breast-feeding and strengthening the mother-infant bond. Colostrum is your baby’s first immunisation, rich in immunity. Breastfed babies have a strong immune system and high cognitive development. The longer the time spent in skin to skin contact after delivery greatly improves breastfeeding outcomes.
Placing your newborn skin to skin in an upright position between your breasts has been shown to stimulate lactation. In this position you will raise or lower your temperature in response to your baby’s body temperature. You can provide the perfect environment for your baby who can often struggle to maintain their own body temperature in the first few days of life. Immediate skin to skin leads to higher love hormone levels and milk making hormones. If your baby is placed straight onto your chest they will be given the opportunity to find the breast and initiate suckling within the first hour of life. Skin to skin is extremely useful following the delivery also. Strip your baby down to their nappy and place them on your bare chest, covering you both with a blanket. This can help calm your baby, regulate their temperate, help them obtain lots of healthy bacteria from your skin and promote breast-seeking behaviour.
Responsive feeding means offering the breast when your baby shows feeding cues rather than feeding at certain times throughout the day, as well as your own desire to feed your baby. You may wish to feed your baby because is strengthens the mother-baby bond. You can feed your baby to feel close and connected, as feeding can feel very enjoyable in response to rising love hormones. Alternatively you can choose to feed your baby if your breasts are beginning to fill and feel uncomfortable, or for convenience at a time that suits you, e.g. you feel baby will need fed within the hour but you also have to go and collect older children from school. We offer the breast to the baby if they are showing hunger cues, if they are upset or distressed, your breasts are full or because you would like a cuddle. You cannot overfeed a breastfed baby nor is there any such thing of spoiling your baby.
Bottles, dummies, nipple shields
Try and avoid using bottles, teats, dummies and nipple shields for at least the first month while breastfeeding is being established. Using dummies can result in babies being less likely to feed when they need to and taking in less milk.
Establishing good positioning and attachment at the breast is important to ensure your baby transfers milk effectively and also avoid nipple pain and complications. For information on good positioning and attachment please see the Off to the best start leaflet
It can be useful to learn how to express your milk by hand. It helps you target blocked ducts, relieve fullness; and it means your partner can feed your baby using a bottle while your baby still gets lots of benefits from your milk.
Breastfeeding support and advice
The Infant Feeding Team is on hand to offer help and support to all mothers and their babies. The Homerton Health Visiting Service is now offering face to face support to our families in City & Hackney as outlined below. This provides the opportunity for parents with babies to receive support with breastfeeding, formula feeding or a mixture of both. There will be an Infant Feeding Specialist at each session offering tailored help and support. You may wish to attend for reassurance regarding positioning and attachment or responsive bottle feeding. We are also able to support with more complex feeding needs.
Your safety is our priority. Therefore, to ensure your safety some sessions are by appointment only and others will remain as a drop-in clinic in compliance with COVID regulations. Please ensure you wear a face covering to the groups and bring along your baby’s red book.
In addition to the face to face support, we can also offer telephone and video call support via our Infant Feeding inbox:
Infant Feeding Support clinics:
|Monday||Oldhill Children’s Centre (N16 6LR)||1pm-3pm
|Tuesday||Sebright Children’s Centre (E2 8NP)||10am-1pm
|Wednesday||Linden Children’s Centre (N16 7SH)||10am-12pm
|City Child & Family Centre @ The Aldgate School (EC3A 5DE)
First Wednesday of every month
|11:30am-1:30pm Drop in|
|Thursday||Woodberry Down Children’s Centre (N4 2NP)||10am-12pm
|Friday||Morningside Children’s Centre (E9 6LL)||10am-1pm
How we helped
Fantastic support resource – very grateful for the expertise of this team! They enabled me to breastfeed my baby.
Excellent service. Whole team has great knowledge and practical skills on topic. Very agile and responsive team. I received very good support. Lifeline to families having difficulty with infant breastfeeding.
I have been really impressed by the support I’ve received. The team were very responsive to both a self-referral and a referral made by the midwife. Firstly a home visit at 7d followed by telephone/video when still having difficulty and signposting to drop ins. Really amazing to be given such a lot of 1 to 1 time to help with positioning and quick referrals sent. All the members of the team I have met are kind and supportive, giving me confidence and what seems to be pragmatic and personalised advice which was a relief, prior to the team input all the advice was generic and not really specific to the problems I was having.
You can also access telephone support from various services:
|Breastfeeding Support Websites||Breastfeeding Helpline|
|National Breastfeeding Helpline||0300 100 0212|
|Breastfeeding Network||0300 100 0210
|National Childbirth Trust (NCT)||0300 330 0771|
|La Leche League||0345 120 2918|
|Association of Breastfeeding Mothers||0300 330 5453|