Frequently asked questions

Our most frequently asked questions are listed here. Please click on the link below to go to the section you require




Antenatal (during pregnancy)

Labour and birth

Postnatal (after baby is born) 


Formula feeding




Antenatal (during pregnancy)

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 4th and 7th week 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 not harmful.

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 Lifestyle clinic.


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 folic acid:

  • 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 prescription.


Q. I have been told I am GBS positive.  What does this mean?

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 transmitted.

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 temperature.
  • It can quickly soothe an unhappy baby.
  • It helps your uterus return to its normal size after childbirth.
  • 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 both.


Q. I have sore nipples, is this normal for the first few days of breastfeeding?

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 appropriate.

You can find some useful information here from the Breastfeeding Network.


Q. How can I tell that my breastfed baby is getting enough milk?

A. There are signs to look out for to ensure that baby is getting enough, we have devised a leaflet guide you.


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 higher.


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 milder.

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 the feeds.

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 breastfeeding?

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 pharmacist.  

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 breastfed baby.

It's recommended that breastfeeding mothers have no more than one or two units of alcohol once or twice a week.

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. 


Formula feeding

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 feeds here

We also recommend you read this statement regarding the use of formula preparation machines.


Q. When do I move my baby onto the next stage of formula milk?

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 feeds here


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 think.

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.