Breastfeeding Support & Information
Life with a new baby is full of surprises, and you'll almost certainly have questions and concerns, even if it's not your first child. Midwives, health visitors, Children's Centre workers and local trained volunteer mothers are all there to help you; they can give you lots of information and support just when you need it.
Getting help with breastfeeding, at the time you need it, is really important. Please don't be afraid to ask for help. If you need to speak to someone / get some support and advice, you can:
- call us on 01727 260 041 - we have staff trained in basic breastfeeding support, who can help you with latch and attachment. We can also offer home visits and advice over the phone, as well as signposting to other services, where needed.
- visit www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/breastfeeding for a full list of breastfeeding support groups in Hertfordshire
- visit a well baby clinic and talk to a Health Visitor
- call the National Breastfeeding Helpline on 0300 100 0212 or La Leche League helpline on 0845 120 2918 or one of the Breastfeeding Network (BfN) helplines:
* BfN supporterline run by mums who have breastfed their own babies - 0300 100 0210
* BfN supporterline in Bengali and Sylheti - 0300 456 2421
* Breastfeeding support in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi - 0300 330 5469
* Drugs in breastmilk helpline - 0844 412 4665
- call your local GP surgery
Benefits of Breastfeeding
Department of Health guidance states breastfeeding is the healthiest way to feed your baby. Exclusive breastfeeding (giving your baby breast milk only) is recommended for around the first six months (26 weeks) of your baby’s life. After that, giving your baby breast milk alongside other food will help them continue to grow and develop.
It's never too early to start thinking about how you're going to feed your baby, but you don't have to make your mind up until your baby is born. In the UK, more than 73% of mothers start breastfeeding - these are some of the reasons why:
- your breast milk is perfectly designed for your baby
- breast milk protects your baby from infections and diseases
- breastfeeding provides health benefits for you
- breast milk is available for your baby whenever your baby needs it
- breastfeeding can build a strong emotional bond between you and your baby
For more information on the benefits of breastfeeding, click here to visit the NHS Choices website or here to go to the Institute of Health Visiting website.
When feeding your baby, there are some important things you can do to make sure you're closely responding to your baby’s needs:
- Skin to skin contact
This is when you hold your baby close, skin to skin, as soon as possible after birth. Your warmth, smell and heartbeat will make your baby feel safe and calm.
You can also do it when you or your baby need some calm time. Dads can do it too.
The Unicef Baby Friendly Initiative website has a great video about meeting baby for the first time, and the importance of skin to skin contact.
- Learning your baby’s cues
Keeping baby close to you so that you can recognise feeding cues is helpful.
Most babies will “ask politely” in the first instance. This is a much easier time to feed than when crying.
More about feeding cues – signs baby is hungry
- Feeding at baby’s pace
Babies will often cluster feed and often in the evenings. Like an adult, there will be times when they're hungrier than others.
Formula-fed babies may not finish every feed. Look for signs that they've had enough and avoid overfeeding.
- Looking at and holding baby close
Babies need this for healthy brain development. There are simple things you can do to ensure you're enhancing baby’s learning, both before and after baby is born.
The Unicef Baby Friendly Initiative website has a video that looks at the importance of developing close, loving relationships with babies in the early days and weeks.
- Plenty of cuddles
You can’t spoil a baby by picking them up and keeping them close. It helps your baby to feel secure and loved.
Remember, baby cries as a last resort and mostly wants to be close to you. In the early days, limit the number of people who give them a feed. Your baby is getting to know you and is still building up resistance to bacteria.
Useful Resources and FAQs
The NHS Start4Life website has lots of information (and videos) on getting started with breastfeeding and have also produced a great leaflet called Off to the best start, which contains lots of important information about feeding your baby