Effective attachment will help a baby get the milk they need, stay latched and make breastfeeding more comfortable. Watch the video below to learn why effective attachment is so important to breastfeeding and how to attach baby to the breast.
If you are experiencing challenges (i.e. painful feeding, difficulties with latching) you may also find this video helpful in understanding how to exaggerate baby’s latch as much as possible (no sound).
The UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative and the Department of Health publication Off to the Best Start contains helpful images and information about latching your baby effectively.
If baby is not latching well at the breast, ask our staff to support you with expressing milk and giving this by syringe or cup (research shows that avoiding bottles in the early days makes it more likely that baby will go home breastfeeding).
You may also find this link helpful if baby is not latching well initially.
Uninterrupted skin to skin contact for at least an hour, or until after the first breastfeed, gets breastfeeding off to the best start. Skin to skin contact is very important for every baby regardless of how they are fed – it helps your baby adapt to outside life by helping to stabilise their heart rate, temperature and breathing. Skin-to-skin also triggers oxytocin (the love hormone) which helps you both relax after the birth and stimulates your milk production.
If your baby is too sleepy or not able to breastfeed after the birth, we encourage you to hand express your milk as soon as possible. If your baby is still not interested in feeding, keep them in skin-to-skin contact and continue to express 8 times in 24 hours (including at night) to stimulate and maintain your supply while your baby is learning. Our maternity staff can help you with this. Expressed colostrum (your first milk) can be given to baby via syringe or cup feed. We would advise avoiding bottles during the early days of establishing breastfeeding, as these can interfere with baby learning to latch at the breast. Please visit our website page explaining the impact of giving formula milk to a baby who is establishing breastfeeding.
This video talks about how to express milk. Remember that all mums have very small amounts of colostrum initially, and this is normal. Using a syringe can be helpful at first, as colostrum is quite thick and sticky. Most mums express by hand in the first day or two until the milk volume builds up, but you are also welcome to try using a breast pump if you would like.
If your baby needs to be looked after in our neonatal unit, we encourage you to express as soon as possible, aiming for at least 8-10 times in 24 hours (including at night) so you can produce sufficient milk for your baby. Staff can advise you on expressing and storage of breast milk. We recommend double pumping (expressing both sides at the same time) for more stimulation and to better protect your milk supply (as well as saving you time).
Most mothers can provide all the breastmilk their baby needs. However, if your baby does need some supplemental formula milk for medical reasons, this will be supplied by the hospital. You do not need to bring formula milk to hospital if you are planning to breastfeed.
The NHS and World Health Organization (WHO) recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life, follow by continued breastfeeding (alongside other foods) until 2 years and beyond.
Human milk is a complex, living substance that adapts to meet infant needs and contains a wide range of nutritive and protective compounds.
Not breastfeeding is associated with increased risks for you and your baby. Research shows that babies who are not breastfeed are at higher risk of developing chronic conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes in later life. They also experience higher rates of ear / nose / throat infections, necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), eczema, chest infections, gastroenteritis, asthma, allergies, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and childhood cancers.
Breast milk contains stem cells that help the body to repair itself and antibodies and other factors that help protect your baby from infections, illness and disease.
Mothers who do not breastfeed also have an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer, osteoporosis and postnatal depression.
Early Days and Weeks
Correct positioning and attachment of the baby at the breast is the key to successful breastfeeding. Breastfeeding should be pain free and this in turn means you will have a good milk supply. Given the right information and support most mothers can successfully breastfeed. If you and / or your baby are experiencing any difficulties with breastfeeding, please contact your Midwife or Health Visitor.
The Baby Friendly Initiative website contains information and videos for parents. The following websites / helplines also provide evidence-based information on all aspects of feeding should you require additional support or advice:
If your baby is in the Neonatal Unit, please see our feeding your baby in the neonatal unit page.
If you are needing to pump frequently because breastfeeding is not yet established, or because baby is in the neonatal unit, please see our renting a breast pump page.
Please see our Useful Links and Information page for more breastfeeding resources.