Parent education at Bradford

This section is all about infant feeding, bonding and building a relationship with your baby. Have a look at the links below for some useful information.

We offer virtual antenatal classes that cover all the topics below and more.

Caroline Lamb, Midwife
Gina Melia, Midwife

Specialist information

If you require any specialist infant feeding advice we have an infant feeding team here at BRI. You can reach them by ringing 01274 364583 or email infant.feeding@nhs.net

Specialist advice is available from them if you have:

  • Thyroid issues
  • IVF pregnancy
  • breast surgery
  • polycystic ovaries
  • history of mental health concerns
  • are on any medication
  • anaemia
  • any other complexities you would like to discuss with them

More information

Building a happy baby – responding to your baby and brain development

During pregnancy, your baby’s brain is growing very quickly and you can help this growth by taking some time out to relax and talk to baby, to stroke your bump and maybe play music. Encourage other close family members to do the same.

New babies have a strong need to be close to their parents, as this helps them to feel secure and loved. When babies feel secure they release a hormone called oxytocin, which acts like a fertiliser for their growing brain, helping them to be happy babies and more confident children and adults.

Holding, smiling and talking to your baby also releases oxytocin in you, which helps you to feel calm and happy. We cannot spoil babies by giving them too much attention. When babies’ needs for love and comfort are met, they will be calmer and grow up to be more confident.

Skin-to-skin contact – meeting baby for the first time

After your baby is born, hold him against your skin as soon as possible, and for as long as you want. Skin to skin contact reduces baby’s stress level by 75%. This will calm him and give you both the chance to rest, keep warm and get to know each other. If you want to breastfeed, this is a great time to start as your baby might move towards the breast and work out the best way to suckle for himself. Breastfeeding also releases lots of oxytocin in baby and mother, which will help you to feel close and connected. If you choose to bottle feed, giving the first feed in skin contact while holding your baby close and looking into his eyes will also help you bond.

How to breastfeed

Breastfeeding is a natural skill, like walking and talking, that you and your baby learn together. It can take time to adjust to it.

There are lots of different positions you can use to breastfeed. You can try different ones to find out what works best for you. You just need to check the following points:

  • Are you comfortable? It’s worth getting comfortable before a feed. Use pillows or cushions if necessary. Your shoulders and arms should be relaxed.
  • Are your baby’s head and body in a straight line? It’s hard for your baby to swallow if their head and neck are twisted.
  • Are you holding your baby close to you, facing your breast? Supporting their neck, shoulders and back should allow them to tilt their head back and swallow easily.
  • Always bring your baby to the breast and let them latch themselves. Avoid leaning your breast forward into your baby’s mouth, as this can lead to poor attachment.
  • Your baby needs to get a big mouthful of breast. Placing your baby with their nose level with your nipple will encourage them to open their mouth wide and attach to the breast well.
  • Try not to hold the back of your baby’s head, so that they can tip their head back. This way your nipple goes past the hard roof of their mouth and ends up at the back of their mouth against the soft palate.

How your baby attaches to the breast

Follow these steps to help your baby latch:

1. Hold your baby close to you with their nose level with the nipple.

2. Let your baby’s head tip back a little so that their top lip can brush against your nipple. This should help your baby to make a wide, open mouth.

3. When your baby’s mouth is open wide enough their chin should be able to touch your breast first, with their head tipped back so that their tongue can reach as much of your breast as possible.

4. With your baby’s chin firmly touching your breast and their nose clear, their mouth should be wide open. When they attach you should see much more of the darker nipple skin above your baby’s top lip than below their bottom lip. Your baby’s cheeks will look full and rounded as they feed.

Expressing / colostrum harvesting

What is antenatal hand expression?

This technique involves expressing colostrum in the final few weeks of pregnancy. It can also be referred to as ‘colostrum harvesting’ and is advocated by some NHS Trusts. We recommend colostrum harvesting from 36 weeks gestation. Mums who are having multiple births may sometimes start sooner as giving birth earlier is more likely.

Why do it?

For some mothers, it can be a useful tool that helps ensure their baby will start life without the need for formula supplementation. The importance of exclusive breastfeeding for all babies has been well-established by scientific research. Colostrum contains vital immunological properties and helps to colonise the baby’s gut with healthy bacteria
that protect against allergy and disease. It also contains the perfect balance of proteins, fats and micronutrients needed for human babies as well as acting as a laxative to help the passing of the first tarry meconium stools. Some babies may experience difficulties with feeding or maintaining their blood sugar levels during the first few days after birth and therefore may require supplementary feeds.

Why express?

  • To feed a premature or hospitalised baby.
  • To increase or protect your supply.
  • If your child isn’t attaching at the breast
  • To donate to a milk bank (ukamb.org).

How should I express?

You can express by hand or use a manual or electric breast pump. There’s a first time for everyone when it comes to expressing, so don’t feel upset or put off if only a few drops come out at first.

  • Begin by washing your hands and relaxing. Relaxing will help the milk ejection reflex (also known as the ‘letdown’ reflex).
  • You may warm your breasts, wrapping a warm towel around, or express after a shower or bath.

By hand

Massage your breast in a circular manner. You can roll the nipple to optimise oxytocin release (the hormone needed for milk flow to start). Have something clean ready to collect your milk in. Something with a wide opening, such as a bowl or jug, can make it easier to catch every drop.

Find where you need to put your fingers to express most effectively. This is usually a few centimetres back from the nipple, but everyone is different. Cup the breast and make a ‘C’ shape with your thumb on one side and some fingers on the other. Compress the breast tissue. It may help to think: “press back, bring together, and press forward”. Release and repeat. Then rotate the fingers around the areola to express a new area when the milk flow subsides.

By pump

Pumps create a vacuum to remove milk. Make sure the funnel isn’t too small, or too large, as this could damage the nipple and reduce your milk flow. Some manufacturers can provide alternative sizes. Pumping shouldn’t be painful nor leave a mark on your breast.

lf you’re expressing to increase your supply; shorter more frequent pumping sessions are more likely to increase supply than a few long sessions. ‘Hands on pumping’ can help to increase output by nearly 50%. You can start with breast massage, continue to massage and compress your breasts while you use the pump, and finish with some hand expression. Some people use an adapted bra or crop top to hold the pump in place.

Other ways of feeding baby

Paced bottle feeding – can be expressed breastmilk or formula

The early days with your baby are a great time to get to know and love each other. This can be done by keeping your baby close to you, enjoying skin contact and feeding according to these tips. Babies will feel more secure if most feeds are given by mum and dad/partner, especially in the early weeks, as this will really help you bond with each other.

  • Feed your baby when they show signs of being hungry: look out for cues (moving head and mouth around, sucking on fingers). Crying is the last sign of wanting to feed, so try and feed your baby before they cry.
  • Hold baby close in a semi-upright position so you can see their face and reassure them by looking into their eyes and talking to them during the feed. Try and alternate the side you hold baby.
  • Begin by inviting baby to open their mouth: softly rub the teat against their top lip. Gently insert the teat into baby’s mouth, keeping the bottle in a horizontal position (just slightly tipped) to prevent milk from flowing too fast.
  • Watch your baby and follow the cues for when they need a break; these signs will be different from one baby to the next, they may splay their fingers and toes, spill milk out of their mouth, stop sucking, turn their head away or push the bottle away. Gently remove the teat or bring the bottle downwards to cut off the flow of milk.
  • Your baby will know how much milk they need. Forcing your baby to finish a feed will be distressing, and can mean your baby is overfed.

What you need for giving baby milk in a bottle

You need to make sure you clean and sterilise all equipment to prevent your baby from getting infections and stomach upsets. You’ll need: Bottles with teats and bottle covers Sterilising equipment (such as a cold-water steriliser, microwave or steam steriliser) Bottle brush and teat brush Formula milk powder or ready-to-feed liquid formula

Use a first infant formula throughout the first year. It doesn’t matter which brand you choose as they are all very similar. Talk to your midwife or health visitor if you have any concerns.

Caring for baby at night

Becoming a parent is a very special time. Getting to know your new baby and learning how to care for her needs can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. However, it can also be challenging, especially when you are tired and your baby is wakeful and wanting to feed frequently during the night. It might be reassuring to know that it is both normal and essential for your baby to feed during the night. Babies grow quickly in the early weeks and months of their lives and have very small stomachs. Therefore they need to feed around the clock to meet their needs.

Keep your baby close. The safest place for your baby to sleep is in a cot by the side of your bed. This means you can hear your baby and respond to her needs before she starts crying or becoming distressed, and reach her easily without having to get up. Try not to stimulate your baby too much. As soon as she starts waking, offer her a feed so she doesn’t get too upset and difficult to settle. Talk to her in a soft, quiet voice and avoid changing her nappy or clothing unless really necessary.

Specialist information

If you require any specialist infant feeding advice we have an infant feeding team here at BRI. You can reach them by ringing 01274 364583 or email infant.feeding@nhs.net

Specialist advice is available from them if you have:

  • Thyroid issues
  • IVF pregnancy
  • breast surgery
  • polycystic ovaries
  • history of mental health concerns
  • are on any medication
  • anaemia
  • any other complexities you would like to discuss with them

More information