Research has shown that uninterrupted skin to skin contact (SSC) for at least an hour, or until after the first breastfeed, gets breastfeeding off to the best start. SSC 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 SSC 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. If your baby needs to be looked after in our special care baby unit we encourage you to express as soon as possible, aiming for 10-12 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 breastmilk.
Most mothers can provide all the breastmilk their baby needs. However, if your baby does need some extra cow’s milk formula for medical reasons, this will be freely supplied by the L&D.
There are a huge range of benefits associated with breastfeeding as it has an impact on your baby’s future physical and mental health and development:
- All the nutrients, minerals and vitamins a baby requires during its first 6 months of life are found in breastmilk.
- Solid foods are not needed until around 6 months of life.
- Breastmilk contains stem cells that help the body to repair itself and antibodies that help protect your baby from infections, illness and disease.
- Research shows that babies who are breastfeed are at less risk of developing chronic conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes in later life. They also experience less ear infections, necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), eczema, chest infections, gastroenteritis, asthma, allergies, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and childhood cancers.
- Studies have shown that breastfed babies have higher IQ’s.
- Breastfeeding helps to create a special bond between mother and baby.
- Each time you feed you interact with your baby and this has a positive effect. This helps the baby’s speech, behaviour, confidence and helps the baby develop a sense of wellbeing and, in turn, experience better relations with others in the future.
- Mothers who breastfeed also have a reduced risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, ovarian 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, Health Visitor or local feeding support groups for more information.
The Baby Friendly Initiative website contains information and videos for parents. The following websites also provide evidence based information on all aspects of feeding should you require additional support or advice:
- The Breastfeeding Network – www.breastfeedingnetwork.org.uk
- Breastfeeding Network Helpline 0300 100 0212
- La Leche League UK – www.laleche.org.uk
- Association of Breastfeeding Mothers – www.abm.me.uk
- National Breastfeeding Helpline 0300 100 021 www.nationalbreastfeedinghelpline.org.uk
- Children Centres Luton – www.flyingstartluton.com/childrenscentres
- First Steps Nutrition Trust – www.firststepsnutrition.org
- Association of Tongue-Tie Practitioners – www.tongue-tie.org.uk