Frequently asked questions
Our most frequently asked questions are listed here. Please click on the link below to go to the section you require
Labour and birth
Postnatal (after baby is born)
Q. I am experiencing pregnancy sickness
A. Nausea and vomiting is a symptom of pregnancy that affects
most women. It begins in early pregnancy most commonly between
and usually settles by 12-14 weeks, although in some women it
may last longer. Although often referred to as morning sickness it
can occur at any time of the day and night.
The Royal College of Obstetricians &
Gynaecologists provides information here on
what you can do to help and when to seek advice if the symptoms do
not settle. There is also information here from Pregnancy Sickness
support, a UK charity that supports sufferers of both
Hyperemesis Gravidarum and nausea and vomiting in pregnancy.
In addition to the above, your hand held notes contain
information on how to obtain assistance and advice.
Q. When should I feel my baby moving?
A. You will begin to feel some movements between 18 and 22
weeks. Later in pregnancy it is important to be aware of the
baby's activity. A change in the movements could indicate that the
baby is not doing well and needs checking. The Royal college
of Obstetricians & Gynecologists provides information here regarding
your baby's movements.
The Kicks Count website also
has resources and information leaflets that advise you on your
baby's movements in pregnancy.
Q. What foods should I avoid in pregnancy?
A. There are some foods to avoid or take care
with when you're pregnant, because they might make you ill or
harm your baby. Read more
about foods to avoid on the NHS Choices website.
Q. I'm overweight and worried how this might affect my
pregnancy. Should I go on a diet?
A. Dieting or losing weight during pregnancy is not recommended
as it may harm your unborn baby. But if you are overweight or obese
and pregnant, making healthy changes to your diet can help you not
to gain any weight, and you might even lose a small amount. The
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists says that this is
The most important thing is to keep your weight gain to a safe
and healthy level for you and your baby. Talk to your doctor or
midwife if you're worried about how much weight you should be
putting on and they will be able to advise and reassure you about
what is right for you. If your BMI was over 35 at
booking, you will receive extra care and support during
your pregnancy through our Pregnancy
Q. My BMI at booking was over 30. What dose of folic acid
should I take?
A. Folic acid is important for pregnancy as it can help
prevent birth defects known as neural tube defects, which can cause
conditions such as spina bifida. The following are reasons
you may need to take the larger dose (5 milligrams) of
- you have a raised BMI of over 30
- you have had a baby with spina bifida
- you have diabetes
- you are taking medicine for epilepsy
- you have coeliac disease
Please contact your GP as this dose is only available on
Q. I have been told I am GBS positive. What does
A. Group B streptococcus (GBS) is a common bacterium found in
the vagina and bowel of about 2 in 10 women in the UK. Being
a carrier is not harmful to you and GBS is not sexually
Many babies come into contact with GBS during labour or
birth. The vast majority of babies will suffer no ill
effects. However, if GBS is passed from you to your baby
around the time of birth, there is a small chance your baby will
develop an infection and become seriously ill.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists provide
comperhensive information on current UK recommendations for
preventing GBS in newborn babies here
Q. Why is breastfeeding important?
A. Breastmilk is the normal food for babies, it is a complete
food containing all your baby's nutritional needs for the first 6
months of life, It satisfies both hunger and thirst; extra water is
not needed. Breastmilk not only meets the baby's nutritional
requirements, it increases your baby's resistance to infection and
some long-term illnesses.
Breastfeeding is important for mothers too:
- It's convenient, cheap and always there when you need it.
- It's always fresh, clean, safe and at the right
- It can quickly soothe an unhappy baby.
- It helps your uterus return to its normal size after
- It gives you a chance to sit down during the day and rest.
- Mothers who don't breastfeed have increasd risks of cancer of
the breast and ovaries
- Breastfeeding helps create a close and loving bond between you
and your baby and can be a deeply satisfying experience for you
Q. I have sore nipples, is this normal for the first few days
A. Sore nipples can be a sign that baby is not attaching to the
breast effectively; ask your Midwife or Maternity Support Worker to
check the way baby attaches to the breast. If it is thought that
baby is attached optimally, your nipples should not get sore. There
are other factors which may cause sore nipples i.e. if baby has a
tongue tie, this can be assessed by a health care professional and
a referral made to the correct department if it is deemed
You can find some useful information here from
the Breastfeeding Network.
Q. How can I tell that my breastfed baby is getting enough
A. There are signs to look out for to ensure that baby is
getting enough, we have devised a leaflet guide
Q. I want to express my breastmilk, how do I store it?
Expressed breastmilk can be stored at 4°C for not more than 5
days in your refrigerator at home. The breastmilk should be
stored in a sealed container towards the back of the refrigerator
and not in the door compartments.
You can store your breastmilk in a freezer at -18°C for not more
than 6 months at home.
Breastmilk can be stored for 2 weeks in the ice compartment of a
refrigerator at home.
Fresh breastmilk can be stored in a sealed container for no more
than 4 hours at room temperature.
Q. I want to give my breastmilk to my baby via a bottle, are
there any tips?
It is recommended that you express at least 8 times in a 24 hour
period to maintain your supply; in practice this means expressing
fairly frequently during the day with one expression between
midnight and 06:00hrs (one of the hormones to stimulate your supply
is high during this period of time).
It is recommended that you limit the number of people who feed
your baby during the early days and weeks, this is because your
baby will be familiar with your technique and will feel safe and
secure, this also helps you to build a close and loving
relationship with your baby.
It can be a good time to express when you are close to your
baby, this is because the hormone levels for making milk will be
Q. I am being sick, is it safe to carry on breastfeeding?
A. As with most illnesses the antibodies you are making to fight
the infection will be passed to your baby via your breastmilk. It
is safe to carry on breastfeeding as your milk will help protect
your baby from getting the same illness or at least make it
For vomiting and / or diarrhoea, try drinking water or
other clear drinks to help you keep your fluid levels up. Even
small amounts of fluid taken regularly will help. You don't need to
eat food to keep making milk. Your breasts may feel softer but you
will still have enough milk. Your baby may want to feed for shorter
times but more often when you are ill. You may need help from
relatives with caring for baby, who can then bring baby to you for
See your GP if you are concerned about your own illness.
Q. I haven't managed to stop smoking altogether, would my baby
be better being fed formula or is it still worth
A. It is still much better to breastfeed if you smoke.
Breastfeeding will still protect your baby from infections and
provide nutrients they can't get from formula milk.
If possible limit your smoking to after a feed and go outside,
to keep the smoke to a minimum (breastfeeding and bottle-feeding).
Consider using nicotine patches to reduce your need for a
cigarette, these are safe to use while breastfeeding and will
reduce the amount of nicotine in your breastmilk. It is important
to avoid smoking in the same room as your baby.
If you or your partner smoke, it's important not to share a bed
with your baby (co-sleep). This is known to raise the risk of
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), particularly if you smoke,
you have recently consumed alcohol, or you're taking
medication that makes you sleep more heavily.
Q. I have been diagnosed with postnatal depression and told I
have to stop breastfeeding my 3 month old daughter because of
needing medication, is this correct?
Most of the new drugs that nay help with depression are not
licensed to be given to breastfeeding women. However there is
information about the amount of the drug which will reach the baby
through breastmilk. Most drugs can be taken during
breastfeeding and only small amounts pass into
breastmilk. You can check this information here but should
still discuss the risks with your GP or a
It is important that you enjoy your time with your baby, so
please don't be put off taking medication. Breastmilk with a small
amount of drug is very beneficial. Some people think that formula
would be safer but this is not true. It may be that
breastfeeding is a time for you to relax and enjoy at the moment,
so concentrate on looking after yourself and your baby but accept
help with routine tasks.
Q. Is it ok to have some alcohol whilst breastfeeding?
A. There's some evidence that regularly drinking more than two
units of alcohol a day while breastfeeding may affect your baby's
development. But an occasional drink is unlikely to harm your
It's recommended that breastfeeding mothers have no more
than one or two units of alcohol once or twice a
One unit of alcohol is approximately a single (25ml) measure of
spirits, half a pint of beer, or 125ml (small) glass of wine,
although this depends on the strength of the drink
If you do intend to have a social drink, you should try avoiding
breastfeeding for two to three hours per unit after drinking.
This allows time for the alcohol to leave your breast milk.
You will need to make sure breastfeeding is established before you
try this. You can find more information here
regarding this subject.
Q. Why is it recommended that I prepare my baby's powdered
infant formula as he needs it?
Powdered infant formula is not sterile, therefore as recommended
by the Department of Health, the boiled water should not be less
than 70° Centigrade when preparing the feed. This
will kill any potentially harmful bacteria in the
powder. A baby's immune system is not as strong, nor as well
developed, as an adult's. This means that babies are much
more susceptible to illness and infection. Therefore, good hygiene
is very important when making up a feed.
You can download a useful NHS guide on how to prepare formula
We also recommend you read this
statement regarding the use of formula preparation
Q. When do I move my baby onto the next stage of formula
A. There is no scientific evidence that babies need to move onto
"Follow on" formula milk before one year of age.
Other milks are available that are labelled as being suitable
for babies aged six months and over, such as 'follow-on milk',
'toddler milk' and 'growing up milk'. They should never be fed to
babies under six months old and there is no need to switch to these
milks after six months.
Your baby can have first infant formula up until the time when
ordinary cow's milk can be introduced (at one year old).
However, the labels on these milks can look very similar to those
on first infant formula, so read them carefully to avoid making a
mistake. As with powdered infant formula, follow-on
formula is not sterile.
You can download a useful NHS guide on how to prepare formula
Q. My baby doesn't seem to settle after a bottle feed, are
there any tips?
If your baby swallows air while bottle feeding and is then put
down to sleep, they may feel uncomfortable and cry. After a
feed, it's usually helpful to hold your baby upright against your
shoulder or propped forward on your lap. Gently rub their
back so any trapped air can find its way out easily, but there's no
need to overdo it - wind is not as big a problem as many people
Holding baby and keeping him upright following a feed can be
comforting for him; you will not spoil him with cuddles. This
UNICEF leaflet 'Building a happy
baby' provides more information.
Night feeds can be challenging, especially when you are tired
and your baby is wakeful and wanting to feed frequently. This
UNICEF leaflet 'Caring for your baby
at night' provides useful information.