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Breastfeeding and bottlefeeding

As a service we seek to protect, promote and support breastfeeding. We have colleagues who are dedicated to keeping mothers and babies at the heart of their work and to provide evidenced based information about Infant Feeding and building loving and close relationships with their babies.

Having a new baby can be very daunting when there is so much information to learn and take in. We can support you through the early days and months after birth, however you choose to feed your baby. From 6 months old we can offer guidance about introducing complementary foods also known as solids, and support you to provide a balanced diet for your baby. Please see the introducing solids page for more information on that.

If you choose to breastfeed, getting off to a good start is important. You can find all you need to help on the NHS’s ‘Start for Life’ support page. A link can be found at the bottom of this page.

Important in the early days

Keeping mum and baby together

Wherever possible it’s important for you and baby to be kept together after birth as this allows mothers to recognise feeding cues, get to know your baby and your baby’s needs, as well as for baby to recognise you. It is not good for babies to be left to cry and it’s important to remember that it’s not possible to spoil a baby by picking them up. A close and loving relationship can help baby to feel safe and secure within the first few weeks and months of life. This will also help babies brain development.

Skin to skin contact while feeding

There is a growing body of evidence that skin-to-skin contact after birth helps babies and their mothers in many ways.

Skin to skin contact is a great opportunity for mums and dads to begin and develop close and loving relationships with their baby.

  • Calms and relaxes both mother and baby.
  • Regulates the baby’s heart rate and breathing, helping them to better adapt to life outside the womb.
  • Stimulates digestion and an interest in feeding.
  • Regulates temperature.
  • Enables colonisation of the baby’s skin with the mother’s friendly bacteria, thus providing protection against infection
  • Stimulates the release of hormones to support breastfeeding and mothering.
Positioning and attachment
Positioning and attachment video from UNICEF
Additional benefits for babies in the neonatal unit
  • Improves oxygen saturation.
  • Reduces cortisol (stress) levels particularly following painful procedures.
  • Encourages pre-feeding behaviour.
  • Assists with growth.
  • May reduce hospital stay.

Responsive feeding

This was previously referred to as ‘demand’ or ‘baby-led’ feeding and applies to both breastfeeding and formula feeding mothers and babies.

Responsive feeding involves a mother responding to her baby’s feeding cues and her own needs and desires for feeding baby. Mothers may choose to feed their baby because they can feel their breasts are feeling full. Feeding responsively recognises that feeds are not just for nutrition, but they can be for love, comfort and reassurance between Mother and baby.

“I use the breast for comfort and then the nutrition takes care of itself”

Crystal, breastfeeding mum

Responsive bottle feeding

Its may not be appropriate to offer formula feeds as much as breastfeeds because this could lead to over feeding. However, mothers who are bottle feeding their babies can be still feed in a responsive way. Looking out for feeding cues rather than having a strict 3-4 hourly routine will enable babies to have control over their feeding pattern.

During the feed:

  • Recognise feeding cues.
  • Hold baby close during feeds in a semi upright position.
  • Rub the teat gently on baby’s upper lip.
  • Allow baby to draw the teat in themselves.
  • Hold the teat in a horizontal position.
  • Pace the feeds to meet baby’s needs.
  • Do not force baby to finish a feed.
  • Ensure that the parents give most of the feeds particularly in the early days.

How can we help

Essex Child and family wellbeing service are here to support your Infant Feeding journey. We have a dedicated workforce who have receive up to date training on Infant Feeding and relationship building. This training is based on The UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative.

Within our service we have dedicated practitioners who have a special interest in Infant feeding. They provide kind and compassionate care however you choose to feed your baby.

We have Infant Feeding support groups in various locations around Essex. These offer a welcoming environment for new mums to meet and gain confidence with breastfeeding and bottle feeding. Infant feeding groups and drop ins offer a support network, as well as a great place to seek support for overcoming Infant feeding problems.

Our team have also compiled a list of links to other websites that offer support and information on breastfeeding which we hope you will find helpful. That list is at the bottom of this page.

Lastly, for confidential breastfeeding information and support, call the National Breastfeeding Helpline on 0300 100 0212. Lines are open 9:30am to 9:30pm everyday