Why breastfeeding matters
Before your baby’s birth, your body provided everything your baby needed for growth, warmth and protection. You continue this important job after birth as well. The best way to protect your new baby is to take care of yourself and breastfeed your baby. Breastfeeding helps you and your baby stay healthy and also helps you connect with your baby. Breast milk is the healthiest food for your baby and has special components to help your baby to grow and develop. As your baby grows, your breast milk changes to provide exactly what your baby needs. Breast milk is convenient, always at the right temperature and available anytime. Breastfeeding saves time and money for you and is environmentally friendly.

What are the benefits of breastfeeding?

It protects you against:

  • Breast and ovarian cancer
  • Heavy bleeding after birth
  • Hip fractures / osteoporosis
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Gaining excess weight as breastfeeding burns 500 calories per day

It protects your baby against:

  • Chest and ear infections
  • Diarrhoea
  • Obesity and some childhood cancers
  • Diabetes
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

How can I help my baby have a good start to life?
The best start to life for your baby is to hold your baby skin-to-skin right after birth on your chest for a minimum of one hour without any interruptions. Your baby will be calm, warm, breathe better and easily adapt to the new environment outside your body. This special time will help you both recover from birth. It also helps breastfeeding to get started and your baby will begin looking for your breast, lick his hand and crawl towards your breast. Many babies attach by themselves but some may need a little help. The best time to start breastfeeding is within this golden first hour of life.

Why skin-to-skin holding?
Holding your baby skin-to skin helps you to bond and build a relationship with your baby. Your baby will feel safe and secure, stay warm and cry less. This helps to stabilise your baby’s heart rate, breathing and blood sugar. It also activates your baby’s immune system. It helps you to be more confident, relaxed and produce more milk for your baby. International experts recommend to continue practising skin-to-skin for the first few weeks after birth. Bring a couple of muslin wraps to hospital with you and we will show you how to make it happen easily. Daddy can do it too!

How long should I breastfeed?
Heath experts recommend that your baby needs only breast milk for the first six months. At six months, start solid foods and continue to breastfeed for up to two years or beyond.

What are the risks of not breastfeeding?
The loss of protection from illness and chronic diseases will put your baby at higher risk of ear and chest infections, allergy, eczema, diarrhoea, obesity and some childhood cancers.
For you, it increases the risk of postpartum bleeding, type 2 diabetes, and breast and ovarian cancer later in life. Bottlefeeding is also very costly.

What if I can’t breastfeed exclusively?
If you are thinking about or need to give any artificial infant
formula, first consider giving your baby as much breast
milk as possible and secondly, see one of our lactation
consultants to support you to maintain your breast milk
and discuss the alternative type of feeds, safe preparation,
feeding and storage of them.

How do I hold my baby when breastfeeding?
There are different positions you can hold your baby. For any position, your baby should be:

  • Close, tummy to mummy, and supported behind the neck
  • Keep baby’s nose in front of your nipple and push baby to breast when his mouth is wide open
  • You may support your breast and compress it if it is heavy
  • Use as many pillows to keep you supported and comfortable
  • Your nipple should not be painful
  • Watch for your baby swallowing

Why rooming-in?
To help you on your journey, you baby will stay with you day and night during your hospital stay. This is called rooming-in. This helps you to get to know your baby and learn baby’s feeding cues and helps with bonding. Rooming-in gives you more chance to gain confidence caring for your baby. Most procedures such as baths, weighing, vaccines and examinations of your baby will be done in your room. Studies show that mother and baby sleep deeper and longer. It also increases your milk supply.

How do I know if my baby is hungry?
Your baby will show you feeding cues when she is hungry and you respond to them. Your baby may move lips, turn head side to side with mouth open, suck on fingers or hand, or lick you on your chest. Always respond to your baby and feed when you see these early signs before she starts to cry. Frequent feeding for the first few days are normal as baby is growing and your body needs to learn to produce more milk. This is called responsive cue-based feeding.

How often will my baby feed?
Most newborn babies feed eight or more times in 24 hours. Respond to your baby whenever they show feeding cues. Breastfeed your baby as long as your baby wants to feed. It is important to feed your baby whenever she is hungry rather than being on a schedule. Some feeds might be close together which means your baby needed more and is getting ready for a longer sleep. This doesn’t mean that you don’t have enough milk.

Do I have enough milk for my baby?
Almost all mothers produce enough milk for their babies even if they have twins. Breastfeeding early and frequently helps your body produce more milk. The more you feed the more milk you produce. The easiest way to increase your milk supply is to feed and express your milk by hand/ pump or both in between the feeds. Eat healthily, stay relaxed, drink when you are thirsty, sleep in between the feeds and surround yourself with positive images, energy and people. If you have concerns, let us know.

How do I know if my baby is getting enough milk?

  • Your baby feeds at least eight times in 24 hours (it may be more)
  • Your baby provides enough wet or dirty diapers according to their age (we will provide you with a guideline)
  • Your baby swallows when feeding and is satisfied and sleepy after the feed
  • Your baby is growing well as per their age
  • Keep track of the number of the feeds and wet/dirty diapers on the chart we provide for you

What if my baby goes to the special care unit?
Providing your milk is even more important for small or sick babies. It is important to establish and maintain your milk supply by expressing your milk by hand, pump, or a combination of both for as many times as a baby would feed, at least eight or more times in 24 hours including during the night.

Do I need to bring a breast pump to hospital?
No, we have pumps in the hospital for you to use. Once you go home, we will discuss what type of pump you need to buy or rent that suits you and your baby’s needs.

How do I give my expressed milk to my baby?
The best way of giving your expressed milk to your baby is to use an open cup. There are some other specialised ways to feed your baby in NICU which we will show you if needed.

Can I use a feeding bottle with teat or a pacifier?
International experts recommend not to use any feeding bottles with teats and pacifiers for breastfeeding infants for at least the first four weeks that your milk is establishing. This is because the baby sucks differently on artificial teats than from the breast. This can mislead your baby about how to breastfeed and reduce your chance of breastfeeding successfully. It can also gradually reduce your milk supply.
Offering a pacifier to delay a feed can result in your baby not getting enough breast milk and have slow weight gain patterns. It also can interfere with baby’s oral formation and lead to dental problems later in life. Pacifiers can be a source of infection as well.

Can I go back to work and continue breastfeeding?
Absolutely yes. Expressing some milk in advance and storing milk before going back to work is very useful and gives you peace of mind. We will discuss with you how to go back to work smoothly without any effect on your supply or your baby’s feeding needs.

What should I eat when I am breastfeeding?
Go ahead and eat all of your favourite healthy foods. Even if you do not have a perfect diet, your milk will still have the nourishment your baby needs. Avoid coffee and dark tea, no more than one to two cups a day.

Why do nipples become sore?
If baby is not attached deeply on the breast and only latching on nipple, it becomes sore. In the first few days after birth, you may experience tenderness and sensitivity while you are learning to breastfeed. When you attach baby deep in the right position, breastfeeding should not be painful.

Why do breasts get so full?
During the first couple of days, your breast will be soft because your first milk, called colostrum, is thick, rich, but small in the volume. Later, from day three, your milk becomes juicier and increases in volume and your breasts get larger and heavier and may get engorged. This is because your milk starts to change from colostrum to mature milk. You can prevent engorgement if you breastfeed your baby more often or pump some milk only to relieve your breasts. A few days later this condition passes and your breasts will feel softer and less full.

When to get help?
We encourage you to schedule an outpatient visit with our lactation team to help continue your breastfeeding journey. After you are discharged, call us if you notice any pain in your nipples or breasts, flu like symptoms, discolouration or hard areas on the breast. Also, contact us if your baby is very sleepy and always has to be woken up to eat and is not making wet and dirty diapers.

Where to get help?

To visit a lactation consultant either through telemedicine services or in the hospital, email us at:
mch.lactation@mediclinic.ae or call us on 04 435 9999.

Mediclinic City hospital is committed to develop the public awareness and support for breastfeeding.  We celebrate the World Breastfeeding Week on 1 - 7 November in line with the UAE National authorities. We also acknowledge the World Breastfeeding Week celebration in first week of August and continue supporting the families to enable parents to make informed decisions on the best way to feed their infants.   

You can also access the reading materials below

In view of the recent Covid-19 containment measures, we are introducing a virtual Question and Answer session with our Lactation Consultant every Monday from 11-12. This session is open for all pregnant and new mothers. To book your session, please register by emailing mch.lactation@mediclinic.ae with the below details:

  • Your name
  • Your doctor’s name
  • If pregnant, how many weeks of pregnancy
  • If delivered, how old is your baby
  • Queries that you want us to address

Please do review the materials and videos here before the session.