Breastfeeding can help improve the lifelong health and emotional development of your child. Exclusive breastfeeding (giving your baby breast milk only) is recommended for around the first six months of your baby’s life. After that, giving your baby breast milk alongside other food will help them continue to grow and develop, as well as reducing their risk of illness.
We aim to provide encouragement, support and up-to-date information to enable you to breastfeed your baby confidently and successfully. Click here for the ‘Off to the best start’ leaflet
If you choose to bottle feed your baby we aim to enable you to do so as safely as possible.
Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI)
Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust is working towards UNICEF Baby Friendly Accreditation – visit the Unicef website for more information on this and what you can expect from us.
Skin-to-skin contact (Kangaroo Care)
Research shows that skin-to-skin contact in the hours after baby is born with the parent has huge benefits for the baby’s future health and brain development.
Your midwife will put baby on your chest following birth and baby should stay in this position for as long as you are comfortable, but for at least the first hour.
Our midwives have designed a special cardigan to help you with Kangaroo Care whilst in bed and also a wrap that you can use when you are more mobile, we can lend you one of these for use in the hospital.
Infant feeding leaflets
For information to help you decide how you would like to feed you baby please visit Unicef’s Baby Friendly Initiative Resources.
Breast feeding support
Many mums find some support with breastfeeding helpful. This can be at any time, from pregnancy and getting started, to your child’s final breastfeeds. You can get breastfeeding support in the following ways, depending on what suits you.
Kent and Medway have recently launched the brand new BesideYou website, which is full of helpful information and support for breastfeeding mothers. Click here to access the website.
Talk to your midwife or health visitor
All of our midwives and health visitors across the community and in our hospital are trained to share information and support you with feeding your baby. You can ask them questions at any point during your pregnancy and following birth.
Peer support service
One of our breastfeeding peer supporters may visit you at the hospital after your baby is born, you will recognise them by their tee-shirts or tabards. Breastfeeding peer supporters are mums who have breastfed and have been trained to help other mums. They can answer any questions you might have, tell you about local breastfeeding services and support you in your breastfeeding journey. Ask the midwives at the hospital or birth centre for a consent form before you go home if you would like to receive a call.
Breastfeeding drop-in sessions take place at centres across Kent. They are free to attend and you can access any of them regardless of where you live. The sessions are run by Lactation Consultants, breastfeeding counsellors or breastfeeding peer supporters. Drop-in sessions are an opportunity to meet other mums and get information and support with breastfeeding. You don’t need to book ahead for breastfeeding drop-in sessions (except at Woodlands Children’s Centre where you can book to have a one-to-one appointment with a lactation consultant) – just turn up to a session that suits you. For a full list of up to date Kent breastfeeding drop-ins, peer support groups and child health clinics, visit www.kentcht.nhs.uk/kentbaby. You can find details of your local child health clinic, and information on whether they offer breastfeeding support, here. These sessions are run by health visitors and nursery nurses with peer support volunteers. You can visit them prior to birth for information on infant feeding and postnatally for infant feeding support.
For up to date information of the community based support groups and to find out about groups in Kent, visit Kent Baby Matters.
Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust provides a tongue tie division service. If you are having problems with breastfeeding please let your midwife know and they will check baby’s mouth for the presence of tongue tie. They will help you initially with positioning and attaching baby at the breast as not all tongue ties need to be divided.
You can be referred to the tongue tie clinic by your midwife, health visitor, GP or Lactation Consultant. You cannot self-refer to the clinic
It is important that you get help with positioning and attaching baby, expressing milk to keep your supply up and feeding your baby expressed milk while to wait for an appointment. Your midwife will help you with this or you can attend a specialist drop-in clinic for advice.
Colostrum collection video and storage of breastmilk
Colostrum collecting while still pregnant, or in labour, can help to make breastfeeding more successful. It is especially useful for women certain pregnancy and baby related conditions, such as Gestational Diabetes, raised BMI, premature babies and babies with increased risk of hypoglycaemia.
Watch our short video for information and a practical demonstration.
Antenatal Colostrum Collection: who benefits?
A mother who has:
- Diabetes, including gestational diabetes
- A raised BMI (35 or above)
- A multiple pregnancy (twins or triplets)
- A breast abnormality or previous breast surgery
- Taken certain medication during pregnancy & treatment for high blood pressure (for other medications your midwife or doctor will advise
- Found breastfeeding challenging previously.
If baby is:
- At risk of prematurity (being born before 37 weeks of pregnancy)
- At risk of being small for gestational age
- Diagnosed antenatally with cleft lip or palate
- Diagnosed antenatally with chromosomal disorder (eg Down’s Syndrome)
- Freshly expressed colostrum can be stored in:
|Fridge (5*C – 10*C)||3 days|
|Fridge (0*C – 4*C)||8 days|
|Freezer (-18*C or lower)||6 months|
Frozen colostrum can be:
- Used immediately if defrosted at room temperature
- kept for up to 12 hours if defrosted in the fridge.
Top Tips for expressing Colostrum
- Pressure should always be backwards, towards chest wall and pain free throughout
- Do not slide fingers forward during compression.
- Fingers can be moved around your nipple. (Remember they should remain 2-3cm away from the base of the nipple)
- A maximum of 10 mins expressing from each breast up to 3 times a day is sufficient
- Alternate expressing from each breast
Colostrum may be slow to appear, just be patient and relaxed! It can take several attempts
Please visit the First Steps Nutrition Trust website if you are thinking of bottle feeding your baby.
If you decide to bottle feed your baby you must bring in your own formula and bottles to use in hospital – we are unable to provide this for you.
For convenience you may want to use ready made artificial milk but we will show you how to make up a bottle using powdered artificial milk before you go home, please ensure the staff do this.
Alternatively you can download this helpful leaflet.
Foreign language resources
Virtual Antenatal Breastfeeding Information Sessions
Our Infant Feeding Team run regular virtual breastfeeding information sessions. Discussions include – expectations around infant feeding, the changes in the body during pregnancy, skin to skin and the first feed, how to position and attach baby for a deep latch, normal new-born night-time feeding and sleep, hand-expressing, troubleshooting common problems, responsive breastfeeding and responsive parenting.
You can attended this session anytime during your pregnancy. There are a limited number of tickets available as we like to have a small discussion group and we recommend that birth partners attend as they will be your advocates and supporters after the baby is born.
With thanks to Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust, are delighted to share an online breast feeding course that can be completed by all expectant families.
This free and easy to use course can be easily accessed via your phone, tablet, laptop or PC and can be accessed 24/7.
We hope you find the course useful however, if you have any further questions following completion of the course please contact the Infant Feeding Team via email – firstname.lastname@example.org