We are committed to enabling women to make informed choices for their baby; we want all mums to feel supported and have the confidence to achieve their infant feeding goals.
The Midwifery infant feeding team are working towards the Baby friendly Initiative which is an evidenced-based staged accreditation programme that will support maternity and neonatal to transform the care that they provide. Supported by the Health Visiting infant feeding service who have Baby Friendly full accreditation. The programme is based on extensive and resounding evidence that breastfeeding saves lives, improves health and cuts costs in every country worldwide, rich and poor alike.
Both Midwifery infant feeding team and the Health Visiting infant feeding service support health professionals to provide sensitive and effective care, enabling mothers to make an informed choice about feeding, get breastfeeding off to a good start and overcome any challenges.
Walsall Infant Feeding service is available to offer specialist advice, offering individualised support, within a community setting.
Walsall Womb to World Antenatal Programme
Accredited as ‘Baby Friendly’ by Unicef.
Supporting you throughout your journey into parenthood and beyond. Walsall Womb to World Antenatal Programme is delivered virtually on Microsoft Teams – four sessions over four weeks each month. Sessions are delivered by health care practitioners who will be supporting you throughout your pregnancy and beyond into parenthood, from the Maternity Service, Health in Pregnancy Service and Infant Feeding Service.
To join us please contact:
- Your community midwife for referral
- Health Visiting Service: 01922 603 074
- Infant Feeding Service: 01922 605 248
- Health in Pregnancy Service: 01922 423 252
Flo is our free texting service that provides you with hints and tips on responsive parenting and breastfeeding. If you require feeding support you can text HELP/SORE anytime to Flo and one of our team will contact you within our working hours to see how we can support you. If you haven’t been signed up to Flo please ask your midwife to refer you.
Getting to know your baby
Getting to know your baby can start even before baby is born.
Mum, dad, and siblings can stroke, talk and sing to baby through mum’s ‘bump’, helping to develop their relationship with baby before he or she arrives.
After birth, there are many ways to develop this relationship further, including gazing into babies eyes, responding to their ‘babbling’, mirroring their facial expressions as well as smiling and talking to baby.
Holding and cuddling baby is important too – babies cannot be ‘spoilt’, and responding early to their needs enables babies to feel secure and calm.
There is a mounting body of research that tells us that these interactions between baby and their family are important for baby’s mental, emotional and social development.
You and your baby will love it too, when mothers and their babies build a strong bond, both reap the benefits.
The Baby Friendly Initiative have also produced guidance on building a loving relationship with your new baby, to give babies the best possible start in life and help them to grow up happy and confident.
Their “Building a Happy Baby” leaflet, advice and information on getting to know your baby and setting up the foundations for that strong relationship.
UNICEF have also produced a book called ‘Baby, I Love you.’
Reasons to breastfeed
Most Walsall mums choose to breastfeed their babies, find out the benefits for baby and the mother herself.
You, your friends and family might also find it useful to watch this short video, “Human Milk, Tailor-Made For Tiny Humans” explaining why breastfeeding is of such value to you and your baby.
However you plan to feed your baby, skin-to-skin after birth is the best way for you to start to get to know each other.
Skin-to-skin contact is when a baby is dried and laid directly on their mother’s bare chest after birth, both of them covered in a warm blanket and left for at least an hour or until after the first feed. Skin-to-skin contact can also take place any time a baby needs comforting or calming and to help boost a mother’s milk supply.
In the first few hours after birth, having uninterrupted skin-to-skin with your baby will help them to go through some important developmental stages.
Skin-to-skin can happen if you give birth in theatre too, your skin is the best place for your baby to transition onto the outside world.
Why is skin-to-skin contact important?
- Calms and relaxes both mother and baby
- Regulates the baby’s heart rate and breathing, helping them to better adapt to life outside the womb
- Stimulates digestion and an interest in feeding
- Regulates temperature
- Enables colonisation of the baby’s skin with the mother’s friendly bacteria, thus providing protection against infection
- Stimulates the release of hormones to support breastfeeding and mothering.
For dad and other family members
Skin-to-skin is good for other family members and baby too – calming them both, promoting bonding and giving other family members a really good way of comforting and soothing baby whilst mother rests.
Amazingly, skin-to-skin with people other than mother can still stimulate a baby’s natural urge to feed, whether breast or bottle-fed.
While having skin to skin with your baby, it is very important to follow safety principles.
Please click below to view how to do skin-to-skin safely.
Breastfeeding in the early days
However you choose to feed your baby, hand expressing is a very useful skill to learn.
It’s ideal for relieving a full and perhaps uncomfortable breast and is an excellent way of giving your baby your breastmilk in the early days, if baby is not feeding from the breast.
A good baby is a perception held by our society that babies should act in a certain way. Some baby care books take advantage of this by suggesting parents should encourage babies to be in a strict routine for their feeding and sleep. We encourage families to respond to their babies as we know this teaches them that the world is safe place and support optimal development. As parents trust your instincts, your baby cannot be spoilt and there is no such thing as ‘too much love’.
Many of us may believe that a baby lets us know they are hungry by crying. Actually, they let us know long before crying in many other subtle ways – called early feeding cues.
Examples of these are when babies move their eyes rapidly, put their fingers into their mouth, begin ‘rooting’ or become restless.
Feeding a baby before they are crying is much easier than waiting until they have become upset.
To pick up on you babies early feeding cues it is essential to keep your baby close. Keeping your baby close to you initially will help you to recognise when your baby needs feeding and see a pattern as it gradually forms.
Initially your baby will feed frequently and will vary, however over time you will find patterns emerging.
You may experience shorter gaps between some feeds, particularly in the evenings (sometimes called ‘cluster feeding’) and longer gaps at other times, however it is normal for a breastfed baby to feed at least eight times a 24-hour period.
Each breastfeed may last a varying amount of time also – just like us, a baby’s needs can vary throughout the day too.
Involving the rest of the family
It takes a village to raise a family, having lots of support is important to meet your breastfeeding goals.
Family members can do lots of things to bond with your baby, reading books, cuddling, talking and singing… it’s not just about changing nappies.
ABM Team Baby
The ABM have made their ‘Team Baby’ online course free. (External link)
Team baby: getting ready to breastfeed is a free online course from the Association of Breastfeeding Mothers. They’ve been supporting new families for 40 years and know that breastfeeding is teamwork. It’s about knowing how breastfeeding happens, knowing how newborns behave, accessing qualified support when things are challenging, providing encouragement and emotional support – and practical support around the home too.
This module is aimed mainly at an expectant couple: the parents-to-be.
However, it’s also useful for the grannies and grandads and the sisters and the brothers and the aunties and the uncles. Perhaps you didn’t breastfeed yourself? Or you did long ago when recommendations were different?
It might also be for the friends of a single parent who are going to be there for them in the early days of life with a new baby.
The Lullaby Trust recommends placing your baby to sleep in a separate cot or Moses basket in the same room as you for the first 6 months, as well as breastfeeding your baby, to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
The UNICEF UK Caring For Your Baby At Night – A Guide For Parents (PDF, 598Kb) contains valuable information for breast and bottle feeding parents on safe sleeping, covering a range of topics including getting some rest, night feeding, safe sleeping environments and helping baby to settle.
Infant feeding support groups
Infant Feeding Support Service
We are here to support you, please contact us anytime during your feeding journey.
Telephone: 01922 605 248
Mobile: 07794 117247
Available Monday – Friday: 9am – 5pm (except Bank Holidays)
We offer support via:
- Telephone contact
- Virtual video consultations
- Face to face consultations (by appointment only)
- Infant Feeding Support Group
You can also find us on Facebook: @Walsall Welcomes Breastfeeding
The National Breastfeeding Helpline can also be contacted on: 0300 100 0212
The UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative’s Baby Friendly Initiative Statement On Infant Feeding During The Covid-19 Outbreak factsheet contains information about the importance of breastfeeding during the Covid-19 outbreak. (PDF to be added shortly)
“There is a wealth of evidence that breastfeeding reduces the risk of babies developing infectious diseases. There are numerous live constituents in human milk, including immunoglobulins, antiviral factors, cytokines and leucocytes that help to destroy harmful pathogens and boost the baby’s immune system. Considering the protection that human milk and breastfeeding offers the baby and the minimal role it plays in the transmission of other respiratory viruses, it seems sensible to do all we can to continue to promote, protect and support breastfeeding.”
To facilitate breastfeeding, mothers and babies should be enabled to stay together as much as possible, to have skin-to-skin contact, to feed their baby responsively and to have access to ongoing support when this is needed.
When mothers are partially breastfeeding they can be encouraged to maximise the amount of breastmilk they are able to give or, if they choose, to be supported to return to full breastfeeding. If mothers are considering stopping breastfeeding it is worth having a sensitive conversation about the value of continuing during the Covid-19 outbreak.”
For information on re-lactation for formula feeding women who now want to breastfeed, and increasing breast milk supply for women who had been mixed feeding who now want to breastfeed exclusively, to protect their babies from the virus, see the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative’s Maximising Breastmilk and Supporting Re-Lactation factsheet. (PDF to be added shortly)
If you are a breastfeeding mother and are feeling unwell, carrying on breastfeeding rather than expressing breastmilk may be easier for you, and will give your baby the most protection from infection. Alternatively, you may prefer for someone who is well to feed expressed breastmilk to your baby, which will still provide your baby protection from illness.
Formula feeding during the Covid-19 Outbreak
It is important to carefully follow guidance on washing and sterilising equipment when bottle feeding. Babies should also be bottle-fed responsively; remember to pace their feeds and limit the number of people who feed them.
The UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative and the Department of Health publication “ Guide to Bottle Feeding” contains important information on how to prepare infant formula and sterilise feeding equipment to minimise the risks to your baby. (PDF to be added shortly)
Information for any parents who may have Covid-19 whilst caring for their baby
If you feel you may be infected with Covid-19, it is important to take precautions to reduce the chance of your baby also becoming ill by:
- Washing hands thoroughly before and after any contact with your baby
- Thoroughly and regularly cleaning and disinfecting all surfaces
- Carefully cleaning and sterilising any infant feeding equipment, including bottles, teats and breast pumps, before and after using them
- Avoiding coughing or sneezing on the baby during feeding and by wearing a face mask if possible
For an excellent summary of all this information, watch this video from Professor Amy Brown, Director of the centre for Lactation, Infant Feeding and Translation at Swansea University, for advice on breastfeeding and bottle feeding during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
Coronavirus: Patient Information for Newborn Babies
As a new parent, you may be concerned that your baby could get coronavirus, although the risks are very low. This NHS Coronavirus: Parent information for newborn babies leaflet tells you what to look out for and how to seek help if you have concerns. (PDF to be added shortly)
- A guide for all women of childbearing age, pregnant or breastfeeding (GOV.uk external link)
- Pregnancy, breastfeeding, fertility and Covid-19 vaccination (NHS.uk external link)
Infant Feeding Noticeboard
You can access information about Infant Feeding here.
Walsall Infant Feeding Teams
National Breastfeeding Helpline
Tel: 0300 100 0212
Breastfeeding Network Helpline
Tel: 0300 100 0210
La Leche League Helpline
Tel: 0345 120 2918
NCT Breastfeeding Helpline
Tel: 0300 330 0700
Association of Breastfeeding Mothers Helpline
Tel: 0300 330 5453
Hours of operation Monday-Friday 9am – 5pm excluding bank holidays.