Join our chat forum
Supporting you through pregnancy and the early stages of motherhood
breast & bottle
Feeding your baby
Whether you choose to breastfeed or bottle feed, this is a time for you to relax and bond with your new baby. Being a mum is very tiring and hard work, especially if you have other children to take care of too. So taking time to relax and put your feet up while feeding your baby will give you a wee break.
When deciding on whether to breastfeed or bottle feed, research both and find what works best for you and your baby. You should never feel under pressure from family and friends to do one or the other.
Breastfeeding is really good for your baby because your milk gives her the best possible nourishment. Your breast milk is tailor-made for your growing baby, with all of the nutrients that she needs in the exact amounts that she requires. It is clean, readily available and is always at the right temperature. It is also rich in antibodies, which help to protect her against illness and infection, such as gastro-enteritis, and it also offers added protection against respiratory problems and allergy-related conditions, such as eczema and asthma.
Breastfeeding can be a deeply fulfilling experience, which helps to create an amazingly strong bond between you and your baby. She will love the closeness and warmth of skin-to-skin contact, and so will you. Also hearing your heartbeat will be reassuring for her.
If you have decided that you want to breastfeed your baby then it is important to be aware that breastfeeding takes practice - for both of you. It does not always comenaturally.
All through my pregnancy I knew that I wanted to breastfeed my baby when he was born and I was really happy when he latched on straight away after me giving birth. However as I found out the next day things can change and Adam would not latch on properly and as a consequence I ended up with really sore nipples and felt like such a failure. Obviously my hormones were all over the place, which did not help. The midwives were great and very supportive, they had a breastfeeding councillor talk to me, which I found helpful. I had to stay in the hospital for four days until I had it sorted. I continued to breastfeed Adam until he was four months and it was great, although don't get me wrong there was still the odd hiccup from time to time. Your health visitor can help with any breastfeeding problems or you could ask her if there are any breastfeeding councillors in your area or even breastfeeding groups, where you can meet up with other mothers who may be experiencing the same problems or may have at some point and so be able to offer some advice and tips.
 Breastfeeding benefits:
Breast milk is tailor-made for your growing baby, with all of the nutrients that she needs in the exact amounts that she requires.
Clean, readily available with no special equipment required.
It is virtually free.
Breast milk is rich in antibodies to protect against illness and infection. It also has added protection against eczema and asthma.
Involves a lot of skin contact and bonding between mother and baby.
Breastfeeding your baby also has physical benefits for you. It encourages your uterus to contract and return quickly to its original size. There is also some evidence that women who have breastfed are less prone to breast cancer and osteoporosis.
The extra calories you use up in producing breast milk help to deplete that fat reserves you accumulated during pregnancy.
Getting started
Choose a comfortable position.
You can feed your baby sitting or lying down, whatever you find most comfortable. Use pillows and cushions (you can buy special breastfeeding cushions) to support your back and arms, and also to support your baby's head, back and hips. If you are sitting then use a footstool to help you fully relax.
Hold your baby correctly
You and your baby should be tummy to tummy. Your baby's nose should be opposite your nipple and the baby's head and body should be in line with each other.
Help baby latch on correctly
This is very important, as having her latched on incorrectly is what leads to cracked sore nipples. Stroke her cheek with your finger so she opens her mouth wide. Then move her towards your breast, aiming your nipple at the roof of her mouth. When she has a good mouthful she will close her mouth, forming a tight seal. She should have the whole of your nipple and most of the areola in her mouth. When she is feeding correctly her mouth will be wide open and as her tongue and jaw muscles work to suck milk from your breast, you will see her ears and temples moving. You will also be able to hear her swallowing. If you think that she is incorrectly latched on or are in any doubt, ease her off and start again.
Taking your baby off the breast
When your baby has finished feeding or all the milk from that breast has gone and you want to transfer her to the other breast, you must not pull her off the nipple but instead slip your little finger gently into the corner of her mouth to break the suction.
Breast care during the early days
Bathe your breasts everyday with warm water, no soap as it defats the skin and can encourage a sore or cracked nipple to develop.
Always handle your breasts with care, don't rub them dry, and always pat them dry.
Wear breast pads inside your bra to soak up any milk that may leak, and make sure to change these pads often. You should not leave a wet pad in contact with your breast for any length of time.
After breastfeeding, if it's possible, try to leave your nipples open to the air for a short time.
If you do get cracked nipples, express a small amount of breast milk and rub around your nipple then leave your breasts open to the air. You can also get nipple cream that is specially designed for breastfeeding mums. When I was in hospital a midwife suggested that I put a leaf of Savoy cabbage that has been in the fridge into my bra to soothe cracked nipples.
Take care of yourself
It is important to eat a well balanced diet, which is rich in protein, iron and calcium and to drink plenty of fluids when breastfeeding as it puts your body under more nutritional stress. Eat three meals a day with plenty of snacks of cheese, fruit, and vegetables or milky drinks in between. This will help to ensure you keep your energy levels high.
It's also important to get plenty of rest, as taking care of your baby can be exhausting. So take naps when she naps and don't worry about trying to do house chores when she is sleeping, you need all your energy for feeding and taking care of your little baby right now.
A good milk supply
To make sure you maintain a good, rich milk supply, feed your baby frequently. Breastfed babies tend to feed more often than formula fed babies as breast milk does not fill them for as long as formula. Whereas newborn babies fed on formula will maybe go four hours between feeds, breastfed babies tend to only manage about 2 hrs on average, sometimes 3 depending on how well they last fed. If you breastfeed frequently then you keep the prolactin reflex and milk ejection reflex initiated frequently which prevents engorgement (swelling of the milk producing glands by milk). If you do end up with engorgement you can relieve it by expressing milk. This will probably feel quite painful, but it is important not to avoid feeding, as that will result in the reflex that promotes the release of prolactin diminishing and so milk production will slow down.
 Breastfeeding tips:
Establishing breastfeeding is easier if you put your baby to the breast within a few minutes of delivery, plus it is good for your baby to have some colostrum (what your breasts produce before your real milk supply comes in, about 3-5 days after your baby is born), which provides your baby with water, protein, sugar, vitamins, minerals and antibodies to protect against infection.
If your nipple is soft and small and it causes your baby to have trouble locating it then try holding a cold, wet cloth on it momentarily, this should cause it to protrude and firm up.
Let your baby suck for as long as he likes on the first breast to ensure he is getting all of the foremilk and the hind milk. The foremilk is the dilute, thirst-quenching part and the hind milk is the richer, creamier part, which will fill your baby up. Once he is finished you can transfer him to the other breast and allow him to feed there for as long as he likes.
If your baby seems fretful during feeding and does not seem to be settling into a gentle rhythm of feeding, it may be that he is not getting enough milk. This could happen if he is not latched on correctly, so ease him off the nipple and start again.
Milk flows in both breasts while nursing si it is best to use both at each feed, starting with the heavier of them. Try to remember which breast you last fed your baby on so that you know that if he only fed for a little bit on that breast then start with that one or if he fed really well and emptied it then start on the other breast.
Make sure to always have a drink at hand when breastfeeding as it is important to keep your fluid intake up. You will probably start to feel really thirsty while nursing your baby. I always made sure I had a glass or bottle of water next to my bed at night as it amazing just how thirsty you can get.
Expressing your milk
Just because you are breastfeeding, it does not mean that you are tied to your baby permanently and cannot have an occasional evening out with your partner or friends. It also does not mean that you are the only person who can feed your baby. After the first month or so you should be producing enough milk to express some into a bottle, so your partner or other caregiver can feed your baby. However you will need to be careful not to do it too often as some babies end up preferring the bottle as they do not need to work as hard to get the milk out.
It is possible to express milk by hand, but this is very time consuming, so you may prefer to use a hand, battery or electrical operated pump. These are available to buy or hire. Whichever method you choose you should always do the following:
Wash your hands thoroughly before expressing.
Help to stimulate the flow of milk by placing a warm cloth over your breasts before you pump, looking at your baby may also help.
Store the expressed milk in a fridge for up to 24hrs.
Sterilize all equipment before using it.
Bottle-feeding your baby with an infant formula instead of breastfeeding is perfectly safe and healthy. Formula milk will provide adequate nourishment and allow your baby to thrive and grow, although will not have the protective antibodies found in colostrum and breast milk. Today's formula milk is produced to resemble breast milk as closely as possible, and there are many different brands to choose from. If your baby does not seem to like one then try another until you find one that suits her. Formula is usually based on cow's milk, but Soya-based ones are available for babies who cannot digest, or who have a milk allergy. When bottle-feeding it is absolutely essential to make sure all equipment is clean and sterilized. New born babies can develop gastro-intestinal infections really easily if you do not ensure their bottles are cleaned and sterilized after each feed to ensure all traces of old milk are gone. Getting organized and keeping safety in mind will help make bottle-feeding an enjoyable experience.
Close contact and bonding
When you bottle feed your baby give him/her lots of skin contact, perhaps lift or open your top so your baby can feel the closeness and comfort that breastfed babies experience. Give your baby plenty of eye contact and talk and sing to your baby to intensify the bonding between you. Never leave your baby with a bottle propped in the baby's mouth, as not only could she/he choke but she/he needs your affection and close contact too. You should never force her/him to finish a bottle, as babies know when they have had enough and want to stop.
 Making up a bottle feed
It is important to follow manufacturers advice completely when making up a bottle of formula, as the ratio of powder to water has been carefully calculated to provide your baby with the optimum nutrition. You can make up one bottle at a time, however it is more practical to make up a batch at once and store them in the back of the fridge until needed, use them within 24hrs, and warm them up by sitting them in a pan or container of hot water. You should not heat bottles of milk in the microwave as this can cause hot spots as the microwave heats unevenly.
To safe time and make everything run smoothly gather everything you will require: bottles, teats and caps, plastic knife, measuring scoop from formula tin, funnel and a jug.
Use cooled, freshly boiled water, (you should always empty and refill the kettle after each time you make up a new batch of bottles), and pour the correct amount into a sterilized bottle.
Measure the exact amount of formula powder with the measuring scoop and level off with the plastic knife.
Add the powder to the water.
Put the top onto the bottle and shake thoroughly until it is completely mixed and all of the powder has dissolved. You can cool it quickly by putting it in the back of the fridge, while still hot.
Equipment needed for bottle feeding
Teats, rings and caps
Bottle brush for cleaning
Sterilizing liquid, tablets or steam sterilizer or microwave sterilizing unit
Plastic funnel
Measuring jug
Plastic knife
Plastic spoon
 Feeding techniques:
Warm up milk before offering it to your baby. Do this by either sitting it in a pan of warm water or running it under a warm tap. Do not use a microwave as this heats unevenly and can cause hot spots. Always test the milk on the back of your wrists to ensure it's not too hot.
You should always keep the bottle tilted when feeding your baby, so that the milk completely fills the teat. This prevents her from drawing in air while drinking, which would result in bad-trapped wind.
When holding your baby to feed her, always tilt her slightly so that she is not lying flat. Think about it, would you like to drink while lying flat? She will find it difficult to swallow and may choke.
Wind her when she has had enough by putting her over your shoulder and rubbing your hand in a circular motion up her back, or patting gently (you don't want to jiggle her too much or you will just make her sick), you can also wind her by sitting her on your lap, resting your hand under her chin with your thumb and forefinger at either side of her jaw and again gently rubbing or patting her back.
Keeping everything clean
To prevent your baby from getting ill, it is important to thoroughly clean and sterilize his bottle after each feed. You have to kill off any bacteria from old milk. Rinse and wash the bottle and teat separately, using a brush specifically for cleaning bottles so as to allow you to reach right into the bottle and teat to remove all deposits of milk. Turn the teat inside out to check the hole is not blocked. Rinse them again in fresh water then sterilize.
Put all feeding equipment into large pan of boiling water, boil for 10 minutes.
Sterilizing tablets or fluid
Put equipment into a large bucket and cover with water and add sterilizing tablets or fluid and leave for about 30 minutes.
Steam sterilizer
This is an electric machine that, with the addition of water, produces enough steam to sterilize feeding equipment. It takes about 10 minutes.
Microwave steam sterilizing unit
This can be put into the microwave with some water added to create steam. It takes only about 5 minutes depending on microwave wattage; make sure to check that the equipment is suitable for the microwave.
Breast & Bottle
Some women choose to combine breastfeeding and bottle-feeding, with either expressed breastmilk or formula. This is fine and can work really well. There are a number of reasons why you may want to try combining breast and bottle feeding:
If you are going to be returning to work then you will need a caregiver to feed your baby. This does not mean you have to give up breastfeeding. Breastfeed your baby in the morning before going to work and in the evening and night after work.
Perhaps you would like your partner to be able to share in the feeding, allowing you a break and him the opportunity to experience the joy and closeness of feeding.
If you have sore or cracked nipples you may want to rest them for a bit.
It is best to wait at least 6 weeks, but before 3 months, to introduce a bottle to your baby. By then your milk supply is properly established and your baby is less likely to suffer from "nipple confusion". An older baby (3 months plus) may be used to and prefer a soft, warm breast to a rubbery teat.
When you first introduce bottle-feeding to your baby your breasts may feel quite heavy and full until they adjust their milk supply to your baby's new feeding routine. Don't worry this is will only take a few days and then you will feel more comfortable.
Breastfeeding benefits
Getting started
Holding your baby correctly
Help baby latch on correctly
Taking your baby off the breast
Breast care during the early days
Take care of yourself
A good milk supply
Breastfeeding tips
Expressing your milk
Close contact and bonding
Making up a bottle feed
Equipment needed for bottle feeding
Feeding techniques
Keeping everything clean
Sterilizing tablets or fluid
Steam sterilizer
Microwave steam sterilizing unit
Breast and bottle
Breast & bottle
Sterilisation and safe feeding
Cold water sterilising unit
Steam sterilising unit
Microwave sterilising unit
Sterilisation and
safe feeding
It is important that all equipment used to feed your baby is thoroughly washed, rinsed and sterilised because newborn and young babies are particularly susceptible to infections and even the tiniest residue of milk is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. This bacteria can cause tummy upsets sickness and diarrhoea so everything that comes in to contact with your baby's mouth must be thoroughly cleaned. Even if you are breast feeding you will need to sterilise breast pumps and bottles (if you are expressing milk) dummies and nipple shields.
• Cleaning
All equipment must be washed and rinsed before sterilising, do this in hot soapy water, make sure that all milk deposits have been removed using a bottle brush paying particular attention to the rim. To wash out the teats use a special teat brush or turn out side in and make sure the hole is not blocked. Rinse everything thoroughly under the tap; sterilising only kills germs that are on the surface it does not remove milk residue or soap.
• Sterilising
There are various options available when it comes to sterilising your baby's feeding equipment.
• Boiling
To do this you will need a large saucepan filled with water, it must be large enough for all equipment to be fully immersed. Put all items which need to be sterilised in to the saucepan making sure that there are no air pockets trapped in bottles teats or caps. Cover with a lid and bring to the boil, continue boiling for at least five minutes but don't allow the pan to boil dry. Keep the lid on the pan until the equipment is needed and use the bottles with in three hours, if you don't sterilise them again. Use this pan only for sterilising not for normal cooking.
• Cold water sterilising unit
This is a large container with a floating tray and lid. Fill with cold water and add a sterilising tablet or solution, then fully submerge all equipment making sure there are no air pockets or bubbles. Place the float tray on top to keep all equipment submerged then cover with the lid. Sterilising will take between 15 and 30 minutes depending on the type of tablets or solution, and items will remain sterile for 24 hours if left in the water. After 24 hours the water should be emptied, the unit should be rinsed and refilled with new sterilising solution.
• Steam sterilising unit
These are free standing electrical units which will need to be plugged in. Any equipment is placed inside along with a specified amount of water then the lid is replaced and the unit switched on. Sterilisation takes between 8 and 10 minutes after which the unit will switch off automatically, leave to cool for 2 or 3 minutes before opening because hot steam will escape when the lid is removed. Equipment will remain sterile for 3 hours if the unit is left unopened.
• Microwave sterilising unit
These are special plastic containers that act as steam sterilisers when placed in a microwave. Follow the instructions on how to place the equipment in to the unit, how much water to add and how long to put in the microwave. It takes between 5 and 10 minutes to sterilise and a further 2-3 minutes to cool. Items will remain sterile for 2 - 3 hours if the lid is not opened. Many microwave sterilisers will double as cold water sterilisers giving you the choice and the chance to try both and decide which works best for you.
Always wash you hands thoroughly before touching sterilised items.
Wash each item carefully and thoroughly before sterilising.
Follow the manufacturers instructions.
Throw out left over milk after every feed.
Remove caps and teats from bottles, don't sterilise with them left on.
Cold water and microwave sterilisers are not suitable for metal items.
You should never
force her/him to finish
a bottle, as babies know
when they have had
enough and want to stop
Perhaps you would like
your partner to be able
to share in the feeding,
allowing you a break
Contact Us | Site Map
UK Pregnancy is designed and developed by Leonico Ltd. 2006-2013. All rights reserved. E&OE
UK Pregnancy Privacy Statement and Disclaimer and Legal Information.  Site Map.