Feeding your baby
At Cairns Private Hospital it is our aim to provide you with optimum care and support in breastfeeding your baby. Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the first six months of the infants' life and a complementary diet of food and breast milk from six months to past the second year. Breastfeeding can also continue if you are planning to return to work outside of the home.
Our hospital staff support breastfeeding and our Breastfeeding Policy supports and protects you and your baby as you gain confidence during your hospital stay and when you go home.
If you would like to see the full breastfeeding policy please contact the maternity unit.
Advantages of Breastfeeding:
- Health benefits
- Uses up maternal fat stores
- Minimises bleeding after birth, delay in the onset of menstruation
- May lead to stronger bones and less osteoporosis
- Reduced risk of cancers
- Easier to digest than other forms of milk
- Breast milk changes over days, weeks, months and years to meet baby's changing nutritional, immunological and developmental needs
- Food allergies rarer and less severe
- Better jaw development
- Higher IQ scores
- Long term health benefits
- Reduced gastric problems
- Reduced hospital admissions
For the Family:
- A healthier baby means reduced costs in Doctor's visits and medicine
- Cheap compared to artificially feeding
- Safe and convenient
The Australian Breast Feeding association also run a special Prenatal Education session that we recommend first mothers attend. For details go to: www.breastfeeding.asn.au and find FNQ Region website
Breastfeeding information is available in our Antenatal Classes
All our maternity staff are trained to assist with breastfeeding and as soon as your baby is born (either vaginal or caesarean birth) we will immediately place your baby onto your chest to assist in establishing instinctive breastfeeding behaviours. This uninterrupted skin-to-skin time is important in assisting in the early establishment of breast feeding. It also enables you to recognise early feeding cues, promotes bonding between you and your baby and helps to calm your baby. Typically, after the first cry, your baby will generally lie still and relaxed for a while, then it will become more active with open eyes and put the fist into the mouth as well as reaching out for the nipple. Your baby will often gaze into your face and eyes during this stage and then begin to crawl toward the breast where their mouth will gape widely, grasp the nipple and begin to suckle.
Correct breast attachment and positioning of your baby are vital to avoid problems. Breastfeeding should not hurt. There may be some initial discomfort, a 'drawing sensation', but this should ease quickly. Education and supervision of initial feeds is an important feature of our postnatal care.
The key to beginning and continued milk production is demand feeding and adequate removal of milk from the breast. Once the milk has "come in" the breasts decide how much milk needs to be made for your baby according to how much has been removed, so supply equals demand. We recommend that your baby has unlimited access to breastfeeds right from birth according to their individual needs. This will help establish a good milk supply and is why 24-hour rooming-in (staying close to your baby) is so important.
For the first few days your baby may sleep long periods or may be wakeful and need lots of feeds. The frequency of feeds will depend on your baby.
Our policy is not to initiate the use of artificial teats for breastfeeding babies where possible. The sucking action required for dummies and/or artificial teats, and that required for breastfeeding varies significantly and can be confusing for your baby. In addition, dummies can sometimes mask hunger signs in your baby meaning you may miss those important opportunities to feed your baby and establish your milk supply.
Some mothers are concerned about the idea of going home before their "milk is in" or before breast feeding is "fully established". By the time you are ready for discharge your milk may or may not be "in" or may be in the process of "coming in". Our aim is to have you attaching your baby to the breast correctly and independently and able to recognise effective sucking.
Your lactation will take a few weeks to fully establish and will undergo numerous changes during that time in response to baby's feeding pattern and needs.
A general guide to know that your baby is feeding well after discharge:
- Feeding at least 6-8 times in 24hours
- Has 6-8 pale, wet nappies in 24 hours
- Does soft poos
- Is looking bright and alert and contented
- Is sleeping between most feeds in the 24 hour period, and is gaining satisfactory weight
For ongoing support when at home the Community Health Centre and The Australian Breast Feeding Association are available. Contact details are provided on discharge.
We understand that breastfeeding your baby is not always easy and that your previous experiences or concerns are important. In these situations a Lactation Consultant is available to discuss your concerns and to help you develop a plan prior to the birth of your baby.
If your informed choice is to artificially feed your baby, we ask that you supply your own formula and bring this into hospital with you. We would also like you to bring your bottles and teats, so that the baby becomes familiar with them from the beginning. The maternity staff will then provide you with individual instruction on how to feed your baby while you are in hospital.