How you choose to feed your baby is a really important decision. We would expect health care staff to have an open discussion about breast and bottle feeding so that you can make an informed decision about how you might want to feed your baby.
You should also have an opportunity to talk about things that can help you recognise your baby’s needs for food and comfort. The importance of spending time in skin-to-skin contact after birth and keeping your baby close to enable you to look out for cues that tell you your baby may want to feed or be cuddled should form part of the discussion regardless of how you choose to feed your baby.
In most areas there are classes you can attend before your baby is born to talk about feeding. Ask your midwife for details of these near you.
I’m not sure breastfeeding is for me…
Maybe none of your friends or family have breastfed and you are not sure about what to expect for yourself, or about their reactions? Some mothers explain their thoughts about breastfeeding here.
Or maybe you have heard that breastfeeding may be difficult, or had a hard time breastfeeding your last baby?
Your midwife or health visitor should answer any concerns you may have. You may also like to talk to another mum who has experienced breastfeeding - it is quite likely that your area has peer supporters you could talk to. Peer supporters are mothers who have breastfed and had training to enable them to support other mothers. Often they are based in breastfeeding drop-ins in local health centres – ask your midwife for more details.
Or you may like to phone one of the national helpline numbers – again these are run by mothers who have breastfed and have had training to support other mothers.
Many mothers don’t actually decide how they are going to feed until their baby is born and in their arms. It is amazing how differently you may feel once you see your baby and hold him/her in skin to skin contact.
I really would prefer to bottle feed
However you choose to feed your baby, staff at your local hospital and those visiting you once home should make sure you are supported and confident.
You can find out more about the different types of infant formula available in this leaflet here.
Can I be shown how to make up a feed?
If you decide to bottle feed your baby, you will be shown how to make up a feed in hospital after the birth. It is generally thought better to wait until then so that it is fresh in your mind at the time it is needed. This is because studies have shown that this information is often forgotten when the time to make your first feed for real comes round if you were shown during your pregnancy.