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Coronavirus: latest information on our response, updates on our services and what support is available


Infant feeding

There have been a number of queries regarding feeding babies during the Covid-19 outbreak. We suggest that all parents and practitioners follow latest updates from the UK governments and the World Health Organization (WHO) as these could change as more information becomes available. There are reports of parents being unable to purchase infant formula.

We have been informed that retailers do have stock and continued supplies of infant formula at this time. The main reason shelves have been bare in some shops is because of stockpiling.

Baby Friendly Initiative statement on infant feeding during COVID-19 outbreak

Breastfeeding your baby

Breastfeeding is recognised internationally as the best way to provide babies with complete nutrition until they are about 6 months old as well as supporting good emotional development between baby and mother.

Breastfeeding worries or concerns

Breastfeeding is a skill that takes time to get the hang of. Many mums wonder if their baby is feeding well and getting enough milk – especially during the first few days. It is important to remember that it can take a while to feel confident about breastfeeding but you are not alone. Your midwife and health visitor are there to help, guide and support you. There is also additional advice available online or from support groups, helplines and websites.

If you have any breastfeeding worries or concerns, the best thing to do is speak to your midwife or health visitor or join a local breastfeeding support group.

What extra support for breastfeeding is available and how to get it

Barnardo’s co-ordinates the South Gloucestershire breastfeeding support service which is commissioned by South Gloucestershire Council Public Health. The service gives support for women in South Gloucestershire both at regular groups and at a weekly clinic.

Support groups

Throughout South Gloucestershire there are breastfeeding groups which offer a social and supportive space.   All groups welcome mothers doing any amount of breastfeeding and you can drop in any time. There are also two breastfeeding counsellors who attend the groups most weeks.

You are free to drop in at a location that suits you.  Groups welcome siblings, partners, grandparents and friends and offer a drop in environment.

If you are expecting, do feel free to go along and have a chat with the group before your breastfeeding journey begins.

You do not need to be in need of support, you can join a meeting to meet other mums, share your own experiences and any useful tips.

Specialist breastfeeding Clinic

There is a weekly breastfeeding clinic for mums who feel they have a persistent breastfeeding challenge. You will need to ask your midwife or health visitor to refer you on  0117 9580320. You will then be contacted and offered the next available appointment.

Barnardo’s are commissioned to give information, support and extra help to parents.Breastfeeding groups give on-going support to mothers. They are run by trained peer supporters. All pregnant and breastfeeding mothers are welcome to go along!

The groups are in Bradley Stoke, Cadbury Heath, Downend, Kingswood, Patchway, Thornbury and Yate. Full details about the venue, day and time of each group are available on the Barnardo’s website.. If you are going for the first time, you may want to check it’s running that day by phoning, as occasionally, details can change.

National breastfeeding helpline

You can contact the helpline for independent, confidential, mother-centred, non-judgmental breastfeeding support and information.

Tel: 0300 100 0112. Lines are open 9.30 am to 9.30pm, every day of the year.

There are two videos on the Best Beginnings  website aimed at helping new and soon-to-be parents

Restarting breastfeeding

You can restart breastfeeding at any point. The Association of Breastfeeding Mothers information on Restarting breastfeeding after a gap is a good place to begin.

Other helpful information about breastfeeding

The following leaflets give useful advice

Other local support

Bristol Breastfeeding Mummies Facebook page provides information and support for those in Bristol, South Gloucestershire and surrounding areas. If you would like to find out more and read the posts on this page, you can request to join the group.

Donor milk

Some mothers also choose to give their babies donor milk. Ideally, this is obtained from a milk bank where milk is screened and carefully prepared. Visit the UKAMB website for more information. The Precious Drops Milk Bank at Southmead Hospital in Bristol is one of 15 UK milk banks and the only one in the South West.

Bottle feeding your baby

Bottle feeding with infant formula milk is the alternative to breast feeding during the first six months of a baby’s life.  Parents may choose to bottle feed with infant formula milk or a combination of breast and formula feeding.  Expressed breast milk may also be given by a bottle.  Bottle feeding as responsively as possible can help support the development of a close and loving parent-infant relationship.

Sterilise feeding bottles

It is important to ensure that all feeding equipment used is sterilised and that formula is prepared according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Hot water should be used to make up feeds for babies less than one year.  This should be first boiled and then cooled (for approximately 20 minutes) to 70°C and then used immediately to make up feeds.  This reduces the chance of a baby acquiring an infection from a bacteria commonly found on the surface of opened milk powder containers.

Inadequate hygiene and incorrectly reconstituted formula can lead to serious illness and hospitalisation of young babies.

If you have any bottle feeding worries or concerns you should speak to your midwife or health visitor.

Types of infant formula 

In most cases, if you are giving your baby infant formula, first infant formula, sometimes called first stage or stage 1 milk (whey-based) is the only formula they will need in their first year of life.

A simple guide to infant formula, follow-on formula and other infant milks and what formula to choose can be found here.

Expressing your breast milk

Expressing milk means extracting milk out of your breasts so you can store it and feed it to your baby later.  You can express breast milk either by hand or with an electric or manual pump, whichever is more comfortable for you.

After you have expressed your milk, you should either give it your baby straight away, or store it in the fridge or freezer.

Feeding responsively

Whether babies are breast or bottle fed, feeding should be responsive.  This means feeding your baby when they show signs of being hungry: look out for cues such as moving head and mouth around or sucking on fingers.  Crying is the last sign of wanting to feed, so try and feed your baby before they cry.  Whilst babies are feeding, maintain eye contact and hold the baby close helps them to feel safe and promotes a secure attachment to develop.

Babies will feel more secure if most feeds are given by mum and her partner especially in the early weeks, as this will really help you bond with each other.

Bottle feeding advice  gives formula-feeding parents a quick overview on and tips on how to bottle feed responsively, and build up a close and loving relationship with your baby.

What infant formula to choose gives tips about choosing and using infant formula. Remember, ‘first’ formula can be used up until 12 months of age.  And after that full-fat cow’s milk can be used. You do not need to change to a follow-on formula at any time.

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