Having been a Health Visitor for over 20 years, many parents-to-be & new parents are concerned about several issues, these include pregnancy, infant feeding & sleep.
Today will be sharing my top tips on these topics.
- Get prepared for pregnancy by reviewing your contraception, eating a healthy diet, exercising, avoiding alcohol/smoking & taking 400mcg folic acid daily.
- Seek professional advice from your Obstetrician, GP, Midwife or Doula, be aware of your choices & always contact them if you have any concerns.
- Attend your antenatal booking, appointments, screening tests, join an antenatal support class, take up yoga or pilates.
- Involve your husband or partner in all aspects of your pregnancy & ask questions if you are unsure of anything.
- If you are having an assisted pregnancy, have experienced a pregnancy loss, neonatal death or pregnancy difficulties, you may require additional support to assist you & your husband/partner during your pregnancy. There are counselling services, talking therapies & bereavement midwives available.
Infant Feeding Tips
- Infant feeding is usually discussed with your Midwife or during your Antenatal class. We all know breast is best, however, you should not feel guilty if you decide to mix feed or formula feed your baby. The choice is entirely yours!
- Exclusive breastfeeding is advised by the World Health Organisation for the first six months & to introduce solid foods.
- If you develop mastitis (blocked milk ducts) you must continue to breastfeed regularly, apply a warm flannel to your breast, massage the area, take inflammatory medication & rest. If you feel worse, consult your GP who may prescribe antibiotics & continue as above.
- Cracked nipples can be treated by using nipple cream, nipple shields or expressing by hand or pump to give your nipples a chance to recover.
- There are Midwives, Lactation Consultants, Health Visitors, Breastfeeding Advisors & Breastfeeding Cafés available, where you will be supported locally in all areas of breastfeeding.
- There is a vast range of infant formula milks available & the general recommendation is to use a first milk (Number 1) from birth to 1 year. Hungrier formulas contain higher levels of casein than whey, which takes longer to digest; so, babies seem more satisfied!
- Specialist formulas include anti-reflux, comfort, lactose-free & hypoallergenic. Goats’ milk is unsuitable for babies with cow’s milk allergy & soya formula is recommended for babies over six months old, under medical supervision.
- The ABC’s of safer sleep are essential for babies under six months of age.
- Remember to prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), if your baby is under six months of age, they should be sleeping in your room, on their back, in the feet to foot position (feet close to or touching the foot of the crib, cot or basket), a room temperature of 16-20°C & no smoking around your baby.
- Once they can move freely from back to front & return, they will find their own position.
- All bedding & other items that might affect breathing or initiate overheating should be kept away from your baby.
- Your baby should always sleep on their back.
- Never co-sleep if you or your partner have smoked, taken medication especially with possible drowsy effects or drunk alcohol.
- Avoid having other children or pets in your bed.
- Ensure your bed is against the wall, so that your baby cannot fall off or slide between the mattress & the wall.
- You should never co-sleep if you or your partner are very tired, your baby was born before 37 weeks gestation or was a low birth weight of under 2.5kg.
- Sleep routines are not recommended for babies under six months old, as they need to feed regularly at night.
- A bedtime routine should last a maximum of 45 minutes & include a formula or breast feed, a warm 5-minute bath, returning to a dimly lit bedroom to massage and or dress your baby. You can play soft music or use white noise, tell a story, give a kiss & a cuddle. Your baby should then be placed in their cot, Moses basket or bed to self-settle & fall asleep.
- They may need another short feed & you can easily adapt the routine as needed, settling them quickly, with minimal interactions.
- Your baby should have regular naps during the day, which help with night time sleeping.
- Sleep is also essential for new parents, as sleep deprivation can affect all areas of your life. If possible, try to nap or rest during the day when your baby sleeps. Your husband/partner may be able to assist with the night or evening feeds, so you can catch up on your sleep, if your baby is formula fed or having expressed breast milk.
I have thoroughly enjoyed writing my monthly article & would like to thank Dina for the opportunity to share my expertise with you.
If you require any antenatal, postnatal or emotional support, sleep consultancy or bespoke services to assist your transition to parenthood; I can be contacted on 07904 640675 or via https://www.ihvol.com/contact. I offer complimentary 15 minute consultations.
This article has been written by Jackie Morrison, Independent Health Visitor.
The Lullaby Trust, 2019, Safer Sleep Advice, accessed online 07/03/219, available at: https://www.lullabytrust.org.uk/safer-sleep-advice
The Lullaby Trust, 2019, Safer Sleep Week 2019 Display Pack, accessed online 09/03/2019,
Millpond Sleep Clinic (2016) Teach Your Child to Sleep: Solving Sleep Problems from Newborn through Childhood, Hamlyn, London
WHO (2001) Global strategy for infant & young child feeding: the optimal duration of exclusive breastfeeding. World Health Assembly 54 accessed online 22/07/2018 at https://bit.ly/2PNCOVi