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Our values: Care with compassion, Respect and dignity, Striving to excel, Professional standards, Working together
Feeding Your Baby
Image of Breastfeeding Mums at Darent Valley Hospital

Feeding your baby

Darent Valley Hospital has achieved UNICEF Baby Friendly Award - the joint efforts of the maternity, neonatal and paediatric teams have been rewarded with the UNICEF Stage 3 Accreditation.

After 2 days of rigorous assessment and months of preparation, the teams demonstrated their knowledge and skills in effective infant feeding information. This means that new mums will get off to the right start in close and loving relationships with their babies by responsive feeding.

This is the first time in its history that the Trust has received the highly sought after title of a Baby Friendly Award. C
aroline Jordan, Infant Feeding Midwife wanted to acknowledge the pride of how joint team working has been effective in improving care for mothers and babies.

Building a happy baby

Find out more about "building a happy baby" here.

Skin to skin contact with your baby

As soon as your baby has been born, s/he will be carefully dried and placed on your chest skin to skin with you and covered with a blanket. This is the best start that you can give to your baby – cuddling skin to skin after the birth for as long as you can. It eases your baby into the world, keeping him/her warm, well and secure.


Skin to skin contact has a positive effect upon stabilising your baby’s heart rate, breathing and blood sugar. Most importantly, it enables baby to find its way to the breast and take the first feed of colostrum which is rich with goodness. Even if you don’t intend to breast feed, having this precious colostrum for the first few feeds gives your baby the benefit of the protection and immunity it provides.

The health benefits of breastfeeding

How to feed your new baby is probably one of the most important decisions a parent has to make.


“Babies who are breastfed are less likely to develop many illnesses in infancy, childhood and adulthood. The World Health Organisation, UNICEF and the UK Government all recommend that babies should be fed only breastmilk for their first 6 months of life.”   (UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative).


Because of the health benefits for both babies and mothers, here at Darent Valley we actively encourage and support mothers to breastfeed. We believe that it is important that all parents-to-be have information about infant feeding, so that they can make a fully informed decision about how best to feed their new baby. We also believe that it is important that mothers are provided with information, help and support with breastfeeding, so that they can feed their baby for as long as they want to. 


For these reasons we are committed to working towards the UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative, and we have already acheived Certificate of Intent.


For mothers who are unable to breastfeed, or who choose not to do so, we fully support their choice by providing them with information so that they can artificially feed their baby as safely as possible.

The practicalities of breastfeeding

Your baby’s tummy is tiny (the size of a marble) when s/he is first born, so those initial feeds will be small and frequent. For the first few days its best if s/he feeds every 1 – 2 hours, night and day. This gives baby time to get used to his/her tummy. It will also give your baby plenty of colostrum and time to practise feeding. At the same time, these frequent feeds encourage your milk supply which increases day by day, pacing your baby’s increasing requirements.

Whilst in hospital

Midwives offer breastfeeding support. In addition we also have a team of excellent breastfeeding specialists who can offer additional support if you need it.

Bottle feeding

As midwives, we actively promote and support breastfeeding. However, if you choose to bottle feed your baby we will support you in this choice too.


The Maternity Department will not supply formula milk for those women choosing to artificially feed their babies so it is necessary that women supply their own 1st stage infant formula (either liquid "ready to use" or powdered infant formula) plus 2 infant feeding bottles with teats and caps, for the duration of their stay in hospital. Sterilizers and storage are provided.


For further advice on this please speak to your Midwife. Please note that women who intend to breastfeed do not need to bring in the above.

Breastfeeding workshops

Find out about our workshop.

Breastfeeding information leaflets

For information about the benefits of breastfeeding and how to get breastfeeding off to a good start, please see the leaflets produced by the Baby Friendly Initiative on the baby friendly website detailed below. These leaflets are available in a wide range of languages. This website also has information for parents about: “sharing a bed with your baby”.


For more information about breastfeeding:

During your pregnancy you will be able to talk about infant feeding with a midwife, who will provide you with information about the health benefits of breastfeeding and how to successfully breastfeed. As soon as possible after your baby is born we will encourage you to hold your new baby against your skin for as long as you want to. All babies and new mothers benefit from this close contact, as it calms mum and baby, keeps baby warm, reduces stress levels in baby and promotes bonding. During this time, when you are ready to feed your baby we will help you.


After you have had your baby, we suggest that you keep your baby with you so that you get to know each other and are able to feed your baby whenever s/he seems hungry – we do not have any nurseries. The way you hold your baby and the way your baby latches to breastfeed is very important. We therefore encourage you to ask for help so that we can support you when learning how to do this. We will teach you how you can express your breastmilk and will give you written information about this. When breastfeeding your baby, we suggest that you avoid using bottles and dummies as this can affect your establishing milk supply.


Breast milk is all most babies need until they are 6 months old. If you baby requires a supplement this will be fully discussed with you.


To access the parent’s guide to the infant feeding policy visit this link.