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Lots of things are similar regardless of whether your baby is breastfed, bottle fed or a bit of both (combination feeding).

During pregnancy

From around 16-24 weeks of pregnancy, the body will start to make colostrum. This means you will be able to feed your baby breastmilk even if they are born early, although if born early the baby may not be able to feed at the breast for some weeks. Colostrum is a very concentrated breastmilk, often a yellow-gold colour full of antibodies and vitamins for your baby’s first feed.

The pregnant mother often notices a change in her breasts in pregnancy and may need to buy bigger bras. When shopping for nursing bras it can be helpful to wait until around 36 weeks as the breasts sometimes change towards the end of pregnancy.

Meeting baby & baby’s first feed

After the birth skin-to-skin can be calming for mother & baby. As the placenta detaches, the mother has a rush of hormones that tells her body to make milk for her baby, however, colostrum is perfect for the first 3-5 days. Normally around day 3 the mother’s milk ‘comes in’ but sometimes this can be day 4 or 5 depending on how the birth was and whether the baby has been breastfeeding during that time or the mother has been expressing her milk.

You can find out more about meeting your baby for the first time in this UNICEF video.

Responsive feeding

Responsive feeding is often described as feeding baby ‘on-demand’ but basically relies on parents reading hunger cues and feeding baby as and when they need it.

Some mothers, when breastfeeding, may also offer baby extra feeds if the breasts are feeling full and uncomfortable. If bottle feeding, waiting for baby to show hunger cues and making up small amounts when needed. Most babies need to feed at least 8 times within a 24 hour period but normally babies will feed more like 10-12 times.

How do I know my baby is getting enough milk?

Signs your baby is getting enough milk:

● From day 5 onwards baby is having at least 2 poos the size of a £2 coin a day (or bigger) and at least 6-8 heavy wet nappies.
● After an initial loss of up to 10% on day 3-5 baby starts growing well and gaining weight.
● If breastfeeding the mothers nipples are not sore & breastfeeding is comfortable beyond the initial latching pain/discomfort.
● Baby is having alert & settled periods and waking for feeds.

This handy checklist from UNICEF is a great tool to help parents decide if they need further support with feeding their baby.

Where can I get support?

We provide a range of support through Early Nourishment for breastfeeding, bottle feeding and combination feeding. You can come to a drop-in, join Early Nourishment Online or North Devon & Torridge Breastfeeding Support, or contact us here. You can also ask your midwife or health visitor for support as both of these have specialist infant feeding clinics. In addition please see the helplines for free accessible telephone support from a breastfeeding counsellor.

NCT Feeding Line
Open 8am – midnight
Tel: 0300 330 0700 (option 1) (standard call rates)

La Leche League
Open 8am – 11pm
Tel: 0345 120 2918 (calls cost max 2p per minute)

National Breastfeeding Helpline
Open 9:30am – 9:30pm
Tel: 0300 100 0212 (standard call rates)

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