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Feeding your baby

We are committed to providing you with up-to-date information on infant feeding and caring for your newborn baby. We are pleased to confirm that our maternity unit has achieved UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative full accreditation.

The information on these pages is aimed at providing a resource for you to use during pregnancy and following the birth of your baby.

During pregnancy

You do not have to make a decision on how you feed your baby until after the birth when he/she is in your arms.  We promote breastfeeding in accordance with the World Health Organisation and UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative, because of the enormous health benefits to you and your baby.  All staff are trained in breastfeeding management and formula feeding for the newborn and we will support you in your chosen method of feeding.

During your pregnancy your baby's brain is developing very quickly and this can be enhanced by taking time out each day to relax, stroke your bump, talk and sing to him/her.  Your partner, baby's siblings and other close family members can all be a part of this.  The UNICEF leaflet 'Building a happy baby' provides more information.

Skin-to-skin contact

Skin-to-skin contact for you and your baby has enormous benefits and is the best way to welcome your baby at birth.  It is a recommendation by UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative that babies receive skin-to-skin contact (ideally with his/her mother) for at least an hour following delivery and until after the first feed, whether formula feeding or breastfeeding

You may want to know the weight of your baby; however he/she will be happy to stay with you in skin contact and will be calmed during this period of time.  If you want to breastfeed, this is a great time to start as your baby might move towards the breast and work out the best way to suckle for himself.

Breastfeeding also releases lots of oxytocin in baby and mother, which will help you to feel close and connected. 

The benefits of skin-to-skin contact are listed below:

Regulates baby's temperature, breathing and heart rate

Good start for feeding, calms baby and mum

Stimulates baby's digestion, improves breastmilk production

If you choose to bottle feed, giving the first feed in skin contact while holding your baby close and looking into his eyes will also help you bond.  Skin contact can be useful if baby is having problems with feeding, as it helps to enhance the baby's natural feeding behaviours.  Dads/partners can also enjoy a period of time in skin-to-skin contact with baby.

Our leaflet 'The benefits of skin-to-skin' provides further information and can be found on our patient information leaflets page.

During the early days

Newborn babies need to feel secure and they have a strong need to be nurtured and feel close to their parents.  Well meaning relatives and friends may advise that holding baby too much will make he/she "spoilt", when in fact the opposite is true.  When babies feel secure and loved, they release a hormone called oxytocin, which helps their brains to grow, leading to more happy and confident children and adults.

You can find further information in the UNICEF leaflet 'Building a happy baby'.

The following pages provide information on breastfeeding and formula feeding to help you make decisions about how you wish to feed your baby:

Breastfeeding

Formula feeding