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Infant feeding

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.

If you choose to bottle feed your baby we aim to enable you to do so as safely as possible.

Baby Friendly Initiative

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)

Recent research shows that skin-to-skin contact in the hours after baby is born with mother 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 for use in the hospital or you can buy one to go home with from the post natal ward or from where you will also find more information and our own research results.

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.

Or alternatively you can watch some video clips on the Unicef website, which also includes advice on hand expressing.

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. Read this helpful Unicef Breastfeeding guidance leaflet.

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.

Drop-in sessions

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 Or you can download a list 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 East Kent visit Kent Baby Matters.

Receive a phone call from a trained breastfeeding peer supporter at home after you have been discharged from hospital

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.

Tongue-tie Service

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.

Expressing and storing breastmilk

There may be times when you want to express your breast milk. More information is available on NHS Choices . Alternatively, download this helpful The Breastfeeding Network leaflet on expressing and storing breastmilk.

Colostrum collection

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. Read our Antenatal Colostrum Collection leaflet or download our information poster on Colostrum collecting.

Bottle feeding

If you decide to bottle feed your baby you must bring in your own formula and bottles to use in hospital – we do not 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.

For more information on using formula, sterilising and making up bottles visit Unicef’s Baby Friendly Initiative website or NHS Choices. Alternatively download this helpful leaflet: Guide on Bottle Feeding.

Useful links

Foreign language resources