Baby Friendly Breast Feeding

January 18

“Baby Friendly accreditation is based on a set of interlinking evidence-based standards for maternity, health visiting, neonatal and children’s centres services.

These are designed to help parents build close and loving relationships with their baby and to feed their baby in ways which will support optimum health and development”.

www.unicef.org.uk/babyfriendly/accreditation/

There does not need to be a set routine or timing for feeding your baby. Babies are not designed to be in a routine. They self regulate and this is one of the reasons why a baby does not overfeed at the breast. There are many health benefits for breastfeeding including less colds, coughs, ear infections and a reduction in Sudden Infant Death (SIDS).  There is a 14% increase in obesity for bottle fed babies. Feeding a baby little and often is normal. Breastmilk is easily digested and therefore a breastfed baby is designed to feed often. A baby gets comfort from breastfeeding, it calms both mother and baby. 

A well baby will responsively feed and, by watching the feeding cues, a mother can know when to offer the breast. The breast should be offered when the mother's breasts feel full and she should feed for her own comfort and that of her baby. A breastfed baby cannot be overfed. 

A baby is not capable of rationale thought so if a baby is showing signs of distress a mother should hold and cuddle her baby and offer the breast. A baby often feeds 8-12 times in 24 hours and cluster feeds may be on top of this. A normal breastfeed is generally between 5-30 minutes. Mothers should be prepared to offer both breasts at each feed. The need to offer the second breast is governed by watching the baby's sucking pattern.

There is no evidence that you should give a bottle of expressed or formula milk every day. A breastfed baby does not need a bottle, a baby can start to use a cup at 6 months . The World Health Organisation (WHO) advise to breast feed for a minimum of 6 months and up to two years and beyond. The Department of Health recommend introducing solids at 6 months. Research shows that putting a teat in a baby's mouth can undermine breastfeeding and lead to less feeding at the breast and a decrease in milk supply."

The new maternity standards are designed to include and support mothers who give formula in the safest way. This includes responsively bottle feeding with lots of skin to skin for mother and baby. 

Corinne Neville

Specialist Infant Feeding Lead Midwife

Princess Alexandra Hospital, Harlow

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