Breastfeeding questions answered

Breastfeeding may be “natural” but it isn’t always easy.
Here are the most common questions about breastfeeding.

Why should I breastfeed?

Mum’s milk gives your baby all the nutrients he or she needs for around the first 6 months of life. It helps to protect your baby from infection.
It also reduces your chances of getting some illnesses later in life, such as breast cancer.  Breastfeeding also helps you and your baby to get closer – physically and emotionally. Research shows that keeping baby close by helps baby to manage their emotions and promotes their feelings of self – worth into childhood and beyond. ‘A loving relationship’

How often should I breastfeed?

Responding to your baby will keep him happier if you have him close to you and feed him whenever he is hungry. This will remind your body to produce enough milk. You can also feed your baby if he is upset to calm and soothe as you cannot overfeed your baby. You can also choose to feed if your breasts become full or just to spend some time together.

Storing expressed milk

Remember to use a sterilised container to put the milk in.  You can store mum’s milk in the fridge for up to 5 days at 4°C or lower (usually at the back, never in the door). Mum’s milk can be stored for 2 weeks in the ice compartment of a fridge or for up to 6 months in a freezer. Defrost frozen mum’s milk in the fridge. Once thawed, use it straight away. If your baby prefers, you can warm the milk up to body temperature before feeding. Never heat milk in the microwave as it can cause hot spots which can burn your baby’s mouth.

How soon can I breastfeed?

Holding your baby against your skin straight after birth will calm your baby. It will also steady his breathing and help to keep him warm.
This is a great time to start your first breastfeed because your baby will be alert and will want to feed in the first hour after birth. Your midwife can help you with this.

What if my baby is hungry when we’re out and about?

If you feel confident to, you can feed your baby anywhere you like. However, some women aren’t as confident.
You can try your nearest Breastfeeding Social Group or speak to your Health Visitor for hints and tips.

Avoiding sore nipples

What position should you use?
There are lots of different positions for breastfeeding, find one that is comfortable for you and your baby. However there are some general principles:-
Are your baby’s head and body in a straight line?
If not, your baby might not be able to swallow easily.
Are you holding your baby close to you?
Support his neck, shoulders and back. He should be able to tilt his head back easily, and he shouldn’t have to reach out to feed, making sure babies head is free to move
Is your baby’s nose opposite your nipple?
This helps your baby to get a big mouthful of breast from underneath the nipple.


Positioning and Attachment

A breastfeeding counsellor helps a mother with her positioning and attachment whilst breastfeeding. Watch this video


What about prescribed medication?

Some medications are not suitable to take whilst breastfeeding. If you are prescribed a medicine by your doctor, please discuss that you are breastfeeding and ask for an alternative if it is not suitable.

Drugs & Medication help Line, tel: 0844 412 4665

What about smoking?

Nicotine passes into breast milk. However, the benefits of breastfeeding and smoking are still greater than formula feeding.

Do I need to eat a special diet?

You don’t need any special food. However, a healthy diet is recommended for you just like everybody else.

What about night feeds?

Night feeds are important. They will help you increase your milk supply. Babies do feed during the night as their tummies are small.

Can I breastfeed more than one baby at once

The short answer is yes!  There’s no reason why should not be able to successfully breastfeed twins or more. If you breastfeed each time your babies are hungry, you can trust your body to supply enough milk

When should I stop breastfeeding?

You can feed your baby for any length of time. You don’t need to give your baby anything else for the first six months of life.
You can continue after this if you wish. However it’s your choice how long you breastfeed for –anything from one feed to longer. If you choose to stop, then stop gradually, ask for advice from health professional or peer supporter.

How can dads and partners help?

Dads and partners can support by responding to your baby’s needs for love, comfort and security. Go to antenatal or breastfeeding information sessions. Some sessions are organised especially for dads. Ask your midwife, or at your local Children’s Centre for further details. Learning the same information and discussing it together can be really helpful, especially in the early days when everything is very new and may sometimes feel overwhelming.

What about alcohol?

Alcohol can pass into breast milk.Occasional drinking, that is a small drink (1- 2 units) is not harmful. However regular drinking can be harmful to your baby.

How do I return to work and continue to breastfeed?

If you wish to, you can plan ahead and successfully combine both. Speak to your Health Professional or Peer supporter.


For further information visit UNICEF’s Baby Friendly Initiative