It is recommended that babies are breastfed exclusively for the first six months of their life; then alongside solid food for as long as the mum and her baby want. This provides your baby with all the nutrition they need and helps you develop a positive, loving foundation.
Breastfeeding helps protect mother and baby
Breastfeeding helps protect your baby against:
- ear infections
- stomach infections
- chest infections
- urine infections
- childhood diabetes
- childhood cancers
- heart disease
Breastfeeding also helps protect women against:
- ovarian cancer
- breast cancer
- weak bones
Many mums find breastfeeding much more convenient than making up bottles because it is free and always available. It also helps mums to lose the fat they gained during pregnancy.
Get breastfeeding off to a good start
Here are some tips for making your breastfeeding journey can be made easier:
Feeding your baby within the first hour of life
This ensures your baby receives colostrum which contains lots of protective substances. This also helps your milk supply and lets your baby learn about breastfeeding.
This helps your baby adjust to life outside the womb. 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.
You can also feed when your breasts feel full, you want to sit down and cuddle or if your baby is distressed.
You can’t over-feed breastfed babies so don’t worry about spoiling them.
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.
How we helped
I wonder if you still remember me and my son Y! I’m emailing to ask if you’re still working in the area as I’m due my next baby in early October, and I thought it would be great if we could catch up again! Here is a recent photo of Y at 2 years old – and for the record (and to your credit) he was breastfed for 18 months! I look forward to hearing from you.
The health visitor that I met today was lovely. She taught me new ways of feeding my baby and how not to use a dummy.
Establishing good positioning and attachment at the breast is important in making sure your milk transfers effectively to your baby and prevents the development of problems such as mastitis or blocked ducts. 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. Refer to page 15 of this leaflet which provides information on expressing and storing your milk.
Breastfeeding support and advice
There are a range of services available to support you with feeding your baby. If you would like support, please contact your midwife or health visitor. Unfortunately, there are currently no breastfeeding drop-ins due to Covid-19. Please visit our Breastfeeding advice and support during Covid-19 page for further information.
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|