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Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust

Top Tips to get breastfeeding off to a good start

Be Prepared:

  • Expectant Mums, Dads or another significant family member or friend are encouraged to attend a breastfeeding, parents to be session. (It is a known fact that mothers breastfeed for longer if their family is supportive of the
    This session focuses on why breastfeeding is important, how to get breastfeeding off to a good start and where to obtain additional breastfeeding support if needed.
    All mothers are informed about this session by their Community Midwife.


Skin to skin contact: (cuddling your baby close)

  • Once baby is born Mums are encouraged to hold their baby in skin to skin contact. This not only helps facilitate the first feed and primes the breastfeeding hormones, but also helps calm the baby, steadies babies breathing and heart rate and keeps the baby warm.
  • The Bump to Breastfeeding DVD (which is given to all mothers via the community midwife at 24 weeks gestation) has a section on skin to skin contact along with information on page 6 of the leaflet ‘Off to the Best Start’. This leaflet is given to all mothers at the Parents to Be Breastfeeding session or in the early hours following birth via the midwife.


Positioning and Attachment

  • Good positioning and attachment is vital to enable the baby to milk the breast effectively and ensure a good milk supply. It will also ensure the Mother’s nipples don’t become sore.
  • Positioning is the way the baby is held in relation to the Mother to make attachment and feeding easy and effective.
  • Attachment is how the baby’s mouth ‘latches–on’ or ‘attaches’ to the Mothers breast.
  • Mums will be taught how to effectively position and attach their baby to the breast soon after birth and made aware of signs their baby is receiving enough milk.
  • Step by step information can be found on pages 8 and 9 of the ‘Off to the Best Start’ leaflet and has its own section in the Bump to Breastfeeding DVD.


Keeping your baby close

  • Studies have found that keeping the baby close by has benefits for both Mum and baby. Mothers are usually more rested and less stressed when they are with their babies.
  • Having the baby close by enables parents to observe feeding cues (e.g. licking or mouthing movements); this helps them get to know their baby and enables them to identify when their baby needs feeding and therefore feed
    on demand.
  • It is recommended that babies sleep in the same room as their Mothers for the first 6 months to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death. Baby Led Feeding (also referred to as ‘demand feeding’)
  • Baby led feeding is feeding when baby show readiness for a feed e.g. by beginning to stir and/ or make mouthing and licking movements.
  • It is important for parents to watch for these pre feeding cues and initiate feeding prior to the baby getting upset (this can make feeding easier in the early days)
  • It is a good idea to rouse the baby and encourage feeding if they have slept for a long time in the early days or if a Mothers breasts feel full, to avoid breast engorgement.
  • After the first two days a baby should feed at least 6-8 times in 24hours. However, they often feed much more frequently. By the time the baby is 6 weeks old he or she should still be feeding 6-8 times in 24 hours. If Mothers
    are concerned about the frequency of their babies feeds they should speak to a Midwife or Health Visitor.
    Avoid the use of teats or dummies (in the early weeks)
  • Babies who have dummies sometimes find it difficult to attach to the Mum’s breast.
  • Dummies mask feeding cues meaning baby will be less likely to feed when they need to.
  • It also means the breasts will receive less stimulation to produce milk.
  • Dummies are not recommended until breastfeeding is established.


Don’t be afraid to ask for help

  • It can be a while before Mother’s feel confident breastfeeding.
  • It is important that Mothers know where to obtain breastfeeding information and support.
  • Midwifes, Health Visitors and breastfeeding buddy / support workers can provide this; alternatively Mothers can call national breastfeeding help lines.
  • The Community Midwife will give all new mothers a list of local and national breastfeeding help lines in the early days following birth. Potential hazards of giving formula to a breastfed baby
  • Breast milk is produced on a supply and demand basis - the more a baby breast feeds the more breast milk will be produced. Giving formula or other drinks will reduce the mother’s milk supply.
  • Formula interferes with the baby’s appetite control mechanism and will fill the baby up making him less keen to breastfeed so reducing the Mother’s supply.
  • Formula changes the gut flora making the baby more susceptible to infections.
  • Formula introduces a foreign protein therefore potentially negating some of the long term health advantages of breastfeeding (e.g. increased risk of atopic disease and juvenile onset diabetes in genetically susceptible families).