Feeding your baby
Early nutrition is key to achieving optimal health. The World Health Organisation guidance recommends:
- exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months
- continued breastfeeding for up to two years and beyond
- the introduction of appropriate solid foods from 6 months
You base your decision on how to feed your baby on what you feel is right for you and your baby. You may choose not to breastfeed, or it may not be possible due to medication or illness. Maternity staff will support you in your decisions.
Discuss your concerns about breastfeeding and medication with your midwife.
The Mother's and Other's Guide
The Mother's and Others Guide offers breastfeeding advice from pregnancy through to 2 years It is full of evidence-based information about being a new parent and infant feeding.
We include a copy of the mothers and others guide in your maternity folder which is given to you at your first scan. We recommend you keep it in your folder and refer to it throughout pregnancy and after your baby is born.
Your midwife will discuss feeding choices with you during your pregnancy and keep a record of them in your handheld green maternity notes.
Once your baby is born, further support is available from:
- our midwives at the hospital
- the community midwife team
- our breastfeeding champions
- the infant feeding specialist midwife
- your health visitor
There is also a specialist breastfeeding clinic if you need additional support.
Breastfeeding Buddies a breastfeeding support group. The group is held on Wednesdays from 11.30am to 1pm at:
15 Union Street
You need an appointment to join this support group. For information speak to your health visitor.
If you have queries of concerns about breastfeeding your baby or would like further information contact us.
Maternity Department call +44 (0) 1534 442450
Community midwives call +44 (0) 1534 449139 / 449190
Health visitors call +44 (0) 1534 449135
The benefits of breastfeeding
There are short and long-term health benefits of breast milk for you and your baby's health. The longer that you breastfeed, the greater the benefits including:
- meeting your baby's nutritional requirements
- ensuring your baby has a healthy gut and immune system
- reducing the risk of gastroenteritis, asthma, eczema, coughs and colds
- reducing your baby's risk of allergies, leukaemia, SIDS and childhood obesity
- reducing the risk of diabetes and heart disease later in life
- strong emotional bonds between you and your baby
- lower risks of breast and ovarian cancer, osteoporosis heart disease
- weight management after giving birth
A new born baby's stomach is very small, so they need to feed little and often. Your baby can have a good feed and be hungry again soon after. This is why responsive feeding is important.
The idea is that you respond to your baby's cues such as;
- turning their head
- seeking and rooting
Breastfeeding is not only about your baby getting enough milk. Your baby feeds for comfort and reassurance too. There is further information on responsive feeding on page 17 of the mother and others guide.
Skin to skin
Breastfeeding and lots of skin-to-skin contact, is good for:
- early bonding
- brain development
- oxytocin release
- keeping babies warm
It has a calming effect on you both, you can never over cuddle your baby. Your baby may want a breastfeed for comfort, to calm them if they are upset or because they are lonely and need to be with you. You can also offer a breastfeed if your breasts are full. You can't over feed a breastfed baby.
Like us babies sometimes want larger meals and will want both breasts at each feed.
Breastfeeding and SIDS
Breastfeeding for even a short time can protect for your baby. Both partial and exclusive breastfeeding have been shown to be associated with a lower sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) rate, but exclusive breastfeeding was associated with the lowest risk.
SIDS risk is halved in babies who are breastfed for at least 2 months.
Don't over wrap your baby, overheating your baby can increase the risk of SIDS it is better for your baby to be cool than over heated. The ideal room temperature for your baby is between 16 to 20 degrees centigrade. Find further information on the Lullaby Trust website.
Colostrum is produced from 16 weeks after pregnancy (this can vary from person to person). You can express colostrum from 37 weeks of pregnancy. You may find your breasts leak colostrum before then which is normal. It is usually yellow in colour and thick and sticky in consistency.
Colostrum is the perfect first food for your baby's tiny tummy. It is very easy to digest and breaks down in the stomach very quickly. It is highly concentrated, low in fat but high in protein. Colostrum also contains lots of white blood cells which produce antibodies to guard against infection.
Giving your baby colostrum helps to regulate their blood sugar levels. Expressing and storing colostrum is particularly beneficial for babies who are at greater risk of low blood sugars at birth.
A colostrum harvesting starter pack is available from your midwife or from the antenatal clinic. You can discuss colostrum harvesting with your midwife at your antenatal appointments.
What to expect during the first few days
It is common for babies to feed infrequently in the first 24 to 48 hours. Your baby may be unsettled in the first few days following birth and won't follow any routine. This is normal but don't be afraid to ask for advice from your midwife or doctor if you think something is wrong or are worried.
Your baby may only have 3 to 4 feeds in the first 24 hours. Feeding increases as your baby gets older and by day 3 you should be feeding 8 to 12 times in a 24-hour period.
If your baby was exposed to certain drugs during birth (pethidine or epidural) they may be sleepy and uninterested in feeding. Effects should only last up to 72 hours. Skin to skin contact helps stimulate babies to feed as well as helping to stimulate your milk supply. Changing your baby's nappy halfway through a breastfeed can also stimulate them to wake.
In the first couple of days, babies will pass Meconium, which is a thick black tar-like substance. Colostrum helps meconium pass quicker due to its laxative effect. See page 18 of the mothers and Others Guide for information on what to expect.
Your hormone levels decline towards the end of the day. This can reduce your milk supply a little, babies respond to this by feeding more often (cluster feeding). Your hormone levels rise again in the night, and you may notice your breasts are fuller first thing in the morning.
Breastfeeding while in the Neonatal Unit
Your breastmilk is one of the best things you can give to your premature or sick baby. You milk is uniquely tailored to your baby and helps provide protection against infection.
Your colostrum is particularly rich in infection fighting antibodies. Colostrum and breastmilk can give pain relief as well as providing comfort and essential nutrition for your baby.
Skin to skin positive loving touch, kangaroo care, and scent transfer are all ways you can help your baby feel safe and comforted during this time. Expressing frequently and being close to your baby can create strong bonds and increase maternal milk production.
Donor breast milk may be an option for your premature baby while you are trying to increase your milk supply. You can discuss this with the neonatal doctors and nurses to see if your baby would meet the criteria for donor breast milk
Hand expressing is a useful skill to learn. Page 21 of the mothers and others guide gives visual step by step information on how to express. Access a hand expressing video from BFI here hand expression video Baby Friendly Initiative (unicef.org.uk)
Up to 6 hours
Fridge at 0 to 4 degrees centigrade
Up to 5 days
Fridge at 5 to 10 degrees centigrade
Up to 3 days
Freezer compartment of the fridge
Up to 2 weeks
Freezer at - 18 degrees centigrade
Up to 6 months
Breast Pump Hire
Breast pump hire is available from Lila Plumley, call +44 (0) 7700706868 for more information. Lila is an independent agent for Ardo Medical Limited. Hire for the first 14 days costs £29.70 for a single pump and £39.60 for a double pump. Each week thereafter is charged at £9.90.
Smoking and breastfeeding
Being a smoker should not stop you from breastfeeding, If you do smoke and are breastfeeding, smoke after you have breastfed to minimise the amount of nicotine in your milk.
Don't smoke whilst handling your baby, including breastfeeding. Smoke as far away from your baby as possible to prevent exposing your baby to smoke particles small enough to inhale.
Other smokers in the household should smoke outside or at least in another room, away from your baby. They should wash their hands after smoking and before touching your baby.
We recommend wearing a jacket or outer garment while smoking to protect clothing from smoke particles. Remove the jacket before any contact with the baby to reduce exposure to smoke particles.
If you would like help to cut down or quit completely your midwife or health visitor can refer you to Help2Quit. Help2Quit give advice and offer support and help using nicotine replacement therapy. This is also available for partners and family members.
Alcohol and breastfeeding
Anything you eat and drink whilst breastfeeding will pass through your breastmilk, including alcohol.
The effects of alcohol on your baby is directly related to the amount you drink. It is safer not to drink any alcohol whilst breastfeeding, but an occasional alcoholic drink is unlikely to cause harm. One or two units of alcohol once or twice per week should be fine.
One unit is equal to:
- a small glass of wine (125ml)
- half a pint of beer
- a single measure of a spirit (25ml)
Heavy, regular binge drinking may be harmful and should be avoided. If you do consume large volumes of alcohol, avoid breastfeeding for 2 to 3 hours after drinking to allow the level of alcohol in your milk to reduce.
If you do drink alcohol don't bed share with your baby.
Excess levels of alcohol in breastmilk may lead to:
- deep sleep
- decreased growth
Let-down is a normal reflex that happens when the nerves in your breasts are stimulated, usually when your baby is sucking your nipple. Reduction in let-down is reported when there is a heavy consumption of alcohol.
More information relating to alcohol in breastmilk can be found from La Leche League at La Leche League website.
Find more information on general alcohol consumption in the alcohol and drugs section of Gov.je at alcohol and drugs
Caffeine and Breastfeeding
Caffeine can reach your baby through your breastmilk; it can make your baby irritable and restless. It is found in drinks and foods such as:
- energy drinks
- chocolate and cocoa
- some pain medication
Try to restrict your caffeine intake to less than 200mg a day. As a guide:
- 1 mug of tea = 75mg
- 1 mug of instant coffee = 100mg
- 1 mug of filtered coffee = 140mg
- 50g plain chocolate = up to 50mg
- 250ml can of energy drink = 80mg
- 354ml can of cola = 40mg
Decaffeinated tea and coffee are a good alternative.
Peanuts and Breastfeeding
Peanuts or foods containing peanuts are safe to eat whilst breastfeeding as part of a healthy balanced diet, unless of course you have an allergy to them.
There is no evidence to suggest that eating peanuts while you are breastfeeding will lead to your baby developing an allergy to peanuts.
Discuss any concerns that you may have relating to allergies from food with your health visitor, midwife or GP.
Common breastfeeding problems
Discuss with your midwife or health visitor if you need advice / help with the following:
- blocked ducts
- engorged breasts
Tongue-tie is also known as ankyloglossia, it is a congenital (present at birth). Condition. Up to 16% of babies are born with tongue tie. It is more common in boys than girls and it can run in families.
A tongue tie does not always cause problems with feeding and many babies can still breastfeed and bottle feed without the need for intervention.
if your midwife suspects tongue-tie is causing problems with feeding they will refer you and your baby to be reviewed.
Nipple shields and dummies
A nipple shield is a thin silicone cover that is worn over your nipple while you breastfeed. Nipple shields can decrease your milk supply and your baby may not effectively drain your breast when feeding. If you do decide to use nipple shields, we advise you only use them for the shortest period as possible. If your nipples are sore, speak to your midwife as soon as possible as your position and attachment may need adjusting.
Your midwife or health visitor can support you to re-establish breastfeeding without nipple shields.
If you introduce a dummy soon after your baby is born you may:
- miss cues for feeding
- affect your milk supply
- cause nipple confusion
There are some reports about using dummies to reduce the risk of SIDS.
We don't recommend you use a dummy during the first 4 weeks after birth. Further information can be found from the Lullaby Trust at the Lullaby Trust Website.
Returning to work and breastfeeding
Under the Family Friendly Rights 2020 change to the Employment (Jersey) Law 2003, employees have the right to request temporary changes to contract terms specifically for breastfeeding breaks. Speak to your doctor or health visitor for advice before returning to work.
Returning to work useful links
Breastfeeding Provision 2020 on the JACS website
Feeding your baby and returning to work on the NHS website
Guide to breastfeeding in the workplace on the JACS website
We need Vitamin D to support healthy bone development and to prevent rickets, a condition that causes weak or deformed bones. Vitamin D deficiency rickets among breastfed infants is rare, but it can occur if an infant does not receive additional vitamin D from foods, a vitamin D supplement, or adequate exposure to sunlight.
We recommend all mothers take 10mcg Vitamin D per day whilst breastfeeding. We also advise that babies who are breastfeeding from birth or are formula feeding and having less than 500ml of formula per day have 8.5-10mcg Vitamin D drops per day, up to 1 year of age.
Daily vitamin supplements of A, C and D are recommended from 6 months to 5 years for all babies and children apart from babies who are drinking more than 500mls of infant formula each day. This is because formula is fortified with vitamins A, C and D.
You can buy vitamin supplements or vitamin drops at most pharmacies and supermarkets.
Find out more about vitamin D and breastfeeding at the Breastfeeding Network Website and the NHS start for Life Webpage
Nutrition and lifestyle
After pregnancy and birth, it is important to follow a balanced diet to:
- replenish body stores for future pregnancies and long-term health
- help with weight management
- help restore iron levels you should take supplements if you are anaemic. Symptoms include tiredness, lack of energy and shortness of breath. Consult with your GP if you have any concerns about this.
- ensure healthy bowel function and reduce the risk of constipation
- support the increased nutritional requirements of breastfeeding
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is an important part of maintaining good health and can help you feel your best.
This means eating a wide variety of foods in the right proportions and consuming the right amount of food and drink to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.
Fruit and vegetables
Try to include at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day, including fresh, frozen, tinned and dried varieties. Limit fruit juice to150mls / day 100% unsweetened juice (100% fruit juice). It is a good source of Vitamin C along with oranges, kiwi, strawberries, bell peppers which helps iron to be absorbed. Having a source of Vitamin c with iron supplements or iron rich foods such as red meat, offal, dark green leafy vegetables, pulses and legumes will aid absorption.
such as bread, potatoes, rice, pasta and cereal. Choose wholegrain or higher fibre options. Along with other sources of fibre such as beans pulses, fruit and vegetables, this will help to keep your bowel regular.
Include foods such as:
- lean meat
- soya foods
Aim to have 2 portions of fish a week including 1 portion of oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel or sardines.
Include foods such as milk, cheese and yoghurt and when possible, choose low fat varieties. If you prefer dairy free alternatives such as soya products, choose the unsweetened calcium fortified options.
If you follow a vegan diet, try to include sources of calcium such as:
- linseed bread fortified with calcium
- dried figs
Find out more at NHS Eatwell
Drinking plenty of fluids, have a drink beside you when you settle down to breastfeed: water, 1% fat, skimmed, semi skimmed and 2.5% fat milk are all good choices.
Although small amounts of what you eat and drink will cross into your breastmilk there are no foods you need to avoid, unless of course you have allergies to them.
Extra calories needed for breastfeeding
You may not experience any change to your appetite so unless you lose more weight than you want to or feel hungry there is no need to eat more.
If you breastfeed exclusively you could need:
- 300 extra calories a day for the first six months
- 300 extra calories a day for the first 9 months if you continue breastfeeding after you introduce solids
- 100 calories each day after 9 months if you breastfeed 1 to 3 times a day
If you are mixed feeding with half or more milk feeds as breastmilk, you could need an extra 150-200 calories a day if baby feels hungrier.
Healthy snack ideas for breastfeeding:
- fresh fruit
- yoghurts and fromage frais
- dried fruits such as apricots, figs or prunes
- vegetable or bean soups
- sandwiches with salad, cheese, fish, or cooked meat filling
- hummus with pitta bread and vegetable sticks
- homemade granola bars or flapjacks
- unsweetened cereals such as muesli or wholegrain cereals with milk
- milky drinks
- baked beans on toast
- baked potatoes
Wellbeing and weight loss after pregnancy
Moderate physical activity after giving birth can enhance mental wellbeing and help with weight loss. Walking, swimming and cycling are all ways of enhancing your general wellbeing as well as improving fitness and helping with a gradual weight loss, if this is required. Involving the whole family in these activities as well as eating a heathy diet will build the foundations for a healthy lifestyle in the years to come.
A structured weight loss pathway can be resumed or started when you are breastfeeding, it is important however, to inform the group leader that you are breastfeeding. You should avoid overly restrictive or extreme diets for weight loss, this may cause you stress, extreme tiredness and affect your milk production.
The World Health Organisation recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. Whether you choose to breastfeed or feed with infant formula should wait until your baby is 6 months old before you introduce any complimentary foods. This reduces the likelihood of allergies and ensures baby's gut is mature enough to digest solid food.
Milk is an important part of baby's diet for the first year. Cow's milk can be used in cooking or mixed with food from 6 months old but should not be given as a drink to babies until they are 12 months old. Pasteurised whole, semi-skimmed, 2.5% fat Jersey cow's milk can be given as a main drink from age 1 year as can goats and sheep milks. Pasteurised skimmed and 1% cow's milk should not be given as a main drink until 5 years of age but can be used in cooking.
Non-dairy alternatives to animal milk such as soya, almond and oat milks can be given if preferred as part of a healthy, balanced diet from the age of one. They should be fortified with calcium and unsweetened.
Follow on milk is unnecessary and expensive.
Individual vegetables and fruits are ideal first foods for your baby to explore. Try to include vegetables that are not so sweet, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and spinach. This will help your baby get used to a range of flavours and prevent them being fussy eaters as they grow older.
Foods to avoid:
- gluten (wheat), dairy and eggs, meat and fish should be avoided before 6 months
- honey should not be given to your baby until they are one year old
- whole nuts should not be given to children under the age of five, but smooth nut spreads are fine
- sugar should be avoided unless from natural sugars (such as from fruits and vegetables)
- salt should not be added to any foods whilst cooking or serving
- children aged 1 to 5 years should not be given rice drinks as they may contain too much arsenic
First Steps Nutrition have many recipe suggestions for you to try with your baby. They also offer evidence-based advice on formula milks and dairy free alternatives.
Visit First Steps Nutrition
The NHS start4life weaning hub has many recipe ideas. It also has videos of dietitians and other health care professionals talking through different aspects of your weaning journey.
What is weaning on start4life
The UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative standards
Our health visitors and midwives are working together to implement the UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative standards. The Baby Friendly Initiative is a programme designed by UNICEF to help staff empower parents to build close and loving relationships with their babies, and to make feeding choices which support optimum health and development.
Through structured training and assessment of skills our staff work to comply with standards set by the UNICEF baby friendly initiative. Once assessed as having all standards embedded in practice an award is made by UNICEF for full Baby Friendly accreditation.
We have been working towards Baby Friendly status since June 2018 with a certificate of commitment awarded to the Maternity Unit, Jersey Neonatal Unit and our Health Visiting Services.
We achieved Stage 1 accreditation in January 2021 and are now working towards Stage 2 accreditation.
Family Nursing and Home Care Health Visitors have also achieved Stage 1 accreditation and were awarded Stage 2 BFI accreditation in December 2021. Further detail on he UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative standards can be found on UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative Standards.
Family room at St Helier Town Hall
A family room where mothers can breastfeed their babies in comfort and security is available on the ground floor of St Helier Town Hall.
The family room is available for use during the Town Hall's opening hours which are between 9am and 4.30pm, Monday to Friday.
Breastfeeding friendly businesses
|St Helier Parish Hall
|50 York Street
|14 Mulcaster Street
|9 Caledonia Place
|36 The Esplanade
|St James Street
|The Butterfly Effect Café
|37 The Parade
|Havre des Pas
|Coopers Castle Quay
|Rue de L'etau
|15 Union Street
|26-32 King Street
|11 Don Street
|Howard Davis Park, St Clement's Road
|The Boat House
|1 North Quay
|The Beach Club
|Le Mont Sohier
|The Portelet Inn
|La Route de Noiremont
|La Route de la Haule
|Sir George de Carteret
|La Grande Route de St Pierre
|The Priory Inn
|La Grande Rue
|Les Fontaines Tavern
|La Route du Nord
|The Sheep Shed
|La Rue de la Hauteur
|La Route de Ste Catherine
|Royal St Martin
|La Grande Route de Faldouet