Feeding your baby


"I never really planned to breastfeed but it was the best thing I ever did!"

 

Parent, Mendip

Breast milk is the natural way to feed your baby and evidence of the health benefits to mother and baby are strong and extend well beyond basic nutrition. In addition to containing all the vitamins and nutrients your baby needs in the first six months of life, breast milk is also packed with disease-fighting substances that protect your baby from illness.

 

To achieve maximum health benefits it is recommended that babies are exclusively breastfed for at least 6 months. Continued breastfeeding is then recommended for at least one year, as different foods are introduced into the baby's diet.

Breast milk contains everything the baby needs for the first six months of life, in all the right proportions. Its composition even changes according to the baby's changing needs, especially during the first month of life.

 

During the first days after birth, the breasts produce a thick and yellowish fluid called colostrum. It's high in protein, low in sugar and loaded with beneficial compounds. After the first few days, the breasts start producing larger amounts of milk as the baby's stomach grows. Other benefits include; reducing your baby's risk of many illnesses and diseases, promotes healthy weight and helps prevent childhood obesity. There is also evidence to say that breastfeeding reduces the risk of mother developing breast and ovarian cancers.

 

However, breastfeeding can sometimes be difficult to get the hang of and sometimes mothers find it hard to get started. In Somerset there are a range of ways that parents can get support with infant feeding:

 

  • speak to your health visitor who is professionally trained to help you with breastfeeding
  • visit your nearest children's centre where there will be regular drop-in sessions to support new mums with feeding
  • visit a recommended website for practical tips and advice including: NHS Choices -Breastfeeding
  • find out which organisations in Somerset are Positive about Breastfeeding and provide facilities where mums can feed their baby

Bonding with your baby

 

The experience of skin to skin contact with a new baby and his mother is really beneficial to early bonding and attachment. This close contact stimulates the body to produce the chemical oxytocin, in both parent and child,  which helps a mother feel connected to and in love with her baby. There are a number of things that can contribute to the loving attachment and bonding that can help your baby feel safe and happy such as wearing a baby sling or regular baby massage.

 

Further websites include:

 

Healthy Somerset - ante natal and breastfeeding

Sling safety - http://www.babyslingsafety.co.uk

Carry me Kate - Somerset Sling Library