Welcome to Ipswich Hospital
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Feeding your Baby

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Supporting your choice

One of the most important decisions you will make will be how you will feed your baby. Whatever you decide, your community midwife and the staff you meet will support you in your decision. During your pregnancy you will be able to discuss feeding and caring for your baby with your midwife and have your questions answered. You can also attend a feeding workshop and an antenatal preparation group which are designed to help you get all the information you need to make a choice once your baby is born.

The World Health Organisation and the Department of Health recommend that all babies are exclusively breastfed for their first six months and that after weaning, they continue to have breast milk for their first year and beyond. Breastfeeding is the healthiest way for you to feed your baby because only breast milk contains antibodies which help to protect your baby against infection and the risk of developing health problems such as allergies, diabetes and heart disease in later life. There are other health advantages for both you and your baby. Babies who are breastfed are at a reduced risk of gastroenteritis, ear infection and obesity. Mothers benefit by reduced rates of rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, breast and ovarian cancer in later life and postnatal depression.

Formula milk, which is made from modified cow’s milk, can never be quite the same because it does not contain these factors although all formula by law must contain what is needed for growth and adequate nutrition. If you use formula our staff will ensure that you know how to safely prepare and store the feeds, to reduce the risk of infection which can happen as formula is not a sterile product.

However you choose to feed your baby, it is important for your relationship that this is responsive to baby’s cues so that your baby can feel secure and a strong bond is developed between you. Science now tells us that this is important for the future health and development of your baby.

Looking after a new baby can be very tiring both physically as you recover from the birth, and emotionally as you and your partner adapt to life as new parents.

New babies have very small stomachs and naturally feed about 8 – 12 times in a 24 hour period. This means that they need to wake at night to feed to get all they need and to stimulate a good milk supply.

The number of wet and dirty nappies he or she is producing is one way of knowing how the feeding is going and your midwife and health visitor will ask you about this when they see you.

If your baby is disinterested in feeding and seems lethargic or sleepy, he or she may be unwell, so please see your GP or talk to your midwife or health visitor.

Your baby will be weighed on his or her third and fifth day by your midwife and then again in the first ten days and later by your health visitor. Most babies lose some weight in the first week because they are born with lots of extra fluid in their cells. They should then begin to gain weight steadily so that the majority have regained their birth weight by about two weeks of age.

You will see a lot of different health professionals during this time, such as midwives, GPs and health visitors: any of these can provide additional support if you need it. Telling somebody that you are struggling is OK and often the first step in helping things to get better.
Children’s centres are a good place to find support in your community; access to support groups and opportunities to meet other new parents can be invaluable.

For more detailed information please refer to the leaflets given to you when you leave the hospital. These have lots of easy to follow guides and helpful information.


Breastfeeding needs support and encouragement from the whole community. We now have a leaflet for dads and offer breastfeeding workshops which dads can attend. If your family and partner are 'on board', you are much more likely to be able to continue, especially if you encounter any difficulties. During your pregnancy, try to discuss infant feeding with your midwifery team. You can also go to a breastfeeding cafe in your local children’s centre where you can meet new mums who are breastfeeding – a great source of information and encouragement. We also have trained breastfeeding supporters who visit the wards and can give you information and support to get breastfeeding off to a good start. If you are not having your first baby, and stopped breastfeeding before you wanted before, it can be helpful to discuss what you might do to avoid history repeating itself. We have a breastfeeding coordinator who can help you with this if necessary. Your community midwife can put you in touch.

Many mums decide to formula feed their babies. We will support you to do so safely and in a way that is responsive to your baby's needs. Achieving Baby Friendly standards is not about making all women breastfeed or putting pressure on you to do so. We will encourage you to give breastfeeding a try because we know that it is the best nutrition for babies but, if it is not for you, for whatever reason, we will help you feed your baby in a responsive way that helps you to build a strong bond. We will make sure you know how to prepare feeds, sterilise feeding equipment and understand what type of formula is needed for your baby during their first year. If you have decided to formula feed you will need to bring your own formula and bottles for your stay. We will supply your baby’s first bottle (feed).

At discharge we will give you clear information about who to call for help and where you can get support and information to help you care for your baby. This includes the venues for local breastfeeding support groups, peer support projects and national breastfeeding helplines.

>> More information about breastfeeding groups in Suffolk.


Linda Page, Ipswich Hospital breastfeeding coordinator Tel: 01473 703052 
Start 4 Life The NHS Information Service for parents. Healthy tips and advice for pregnant women, new mums, dads-to-be, friends and family
National Breastfeeding Helpline
Tel: 0300 100 0212 (9.30am-9.30pm, seven days a week)
National Childbirth Trust (NCT) Tel: 0300 330 0771
La Leche League Tel: 0845 120 2918
Breastfeeding Network (BfN) Tel: 0300 100 0210
Association of Breastfeeding Mothers (ABM) Tel: 0300 330 5453
Suffolk Peer support line
(provided by ECCH) 
Tel: 01284 794119 (9am-5pm Monday to Friday, 9am-9pm weekends)

There is plenty of support available to you. The national helpline is staffed by qualified breastfeeding supporters from the ABM (Association of Breastfeeding Mothers) and the BfN (Breastfeeding Network). The NCT and La Leche lines are also staffed by qualified counsellors so you can be sure to speak to someone who really understands breastfeeding and how it works. A call to 0300 numbers should cost no more than calls to 01 or 02 UK numbers.

Some mums have problems in the early days such as soreness, mastitis, thrush, engorgement or a low supply. These can be avoided with good care or dealt with quickly if you get help fast. They need not be a reason to stop breastfeeding. If you want to continue, contact your midwife, health visitor or the helpline. If you decide to switch to formula feeding, don’t forget to make sure you are up to date with how to prepare and store your feeds.

Breastfeeding-friendly venues

One barrier which mums sometimes feel prevents them from breastfeeding is being able to breastfeed in a public place. The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful to discriminate against a mother for breastfeeding her baby in a public place, but many mums are still anxious about this.

To help with this, and begin to normalise breastfeeding, Health and Wellbeing Suffolk, supported by Ipswich Borough Council Environmental Health and our hospital breastfeeding coordinator, has launched the 'Breastfeeding Friendly Venues' scheme in Ipswich.

This will see venues across the Borough of Ipswich sign up to show their commitment to supporting breastfeeding mums and allow mums to know where they will be welcomed if they are breastfeeding. The list will be updated monthly as our partners at environmental health sign up businesses to the scheme.

Simply click here to view the ever-growing list of breastfeeding-friendly venues.

Related documents and links to further information