Coronavirus guidance

If you think you may have symptoms of coronavirus (opens in new window) >, follow the national guidance and self-isolate for 10 days. Please see our information for visitors > before you plan on visiting one of our hospitals. If you, or a member of your family has tested positive for coronavirus, please find resources to aid your/their recovery on our supporting your recovery from coronavirus > page.

Coronavirus - Information and changes to our Maternity Services

Find out how our Maternity services have changed during the Coronavirus pandemic, on our Maternity services during Coronavirus page >.

We understand this is a challenging time for expectant mothers and new parents. Information and guidance is regularly changing and we will make every effort to keep women and families updated. 

Breastfeeding and building a relationship with your baby

The more you take time out to bond with your baby the more you help their brain development. You can feel proud that you are giving your baby the best start in life.

As your baby grows, they will start to recognise sounds and become sensitive to all the things that are happening around them. Research has shown that your baby will begin to develop communication skills very early in your pregnancy.

During your pregnancy

Did you know that many vital skills are developed and practiced before your baby is born? This includes:

  • touch
  • movement
  • hearing and listening
  • memory
  • the ability to practice 'silent crying'
  • sucking

These skills will help your baby’s development of speech, language and communication.

Parents and family members can interact and communicate with their baby in the pregnancy in many ways, and improve their baby’s experiences in the womb. 

From 20 weeks of pregnancy your babies brain grows very quickly. Your baby can recognise their mum's voice from 16 weeks and your partners from 20 weeks.

Your baby can respond to singing and being read to from 24 weeks. They may move about to show that they are listening.

Babies develop preferences for music while in the womb, they can move in rhythm to music and their heart rate increases.

Babies are able to remember from the 12 weeks of your pregnancy.

Babies communicate through movement all the way through pregnancy.

It is really important to communicate and stimulate a baby right from the start.

You can help to keep your baby happy and help it to develop in lots of ways before it is born:

  • stroke the tummy
  • sing
  • play music
  • expose your tummy to light, and gentle vibrations.

Talking to your baby helps him/her to make sense of the world and start to link words and actions E.g. “Good morning”, “What shall we have for dinner” “Its bed time, let’s read a story”.

Communicating with your unborn baby helps attachment and bonding.

Mothers communicate non-verbally to their babies through the way that they feel. Your baby will be aware of how their mum feels so try and take time to relax, this will help you control stress your levels. Baby will love and enjoy sharing this time with you!

Take note of when s/he is more active. If something like a loud noise startles her, you can comfort your baby by talking in a soothing voice and touching your bump. 

You may also have thought about how you intend to feed your baby. Talk to your midwife and health visitor who can answer your questions and give you some tips to help get feeding started.

See our information leaflet, building a loving relationship with your baby.

Remember you don’t have to make a decision about how you will feed your baby until you hold her in your arms.

Deciding how to feed your baby

Talk to your midwife and health visitor who can answer your questions and give you some tips to help get feeding started.

We want to help and support you look at feeding options and to make the right feeding choice for you and your family.  

Remember you don’t have to make a decision about how you will feed your baby until you hold your baby in your arms.

Please go to the link below where you can access information and tips from NHS feeding experts and real life stories from mums. Whether you want to know about:

  • When to feed baby (responding to baby’s cues)
  • breast feeding, expressing your milk, mixed feeding or bottle feeding
  • when your baby who is being cared for on the Neonatal unit
  • when your baby is feeding frequently in the first few days and/or you are worried about your milk supply
  • when your baby is reluctant to feed  or is jaundiced 
  • sterilising your feeding equipment

You will be able to find everything you need to build your confidence and overcome any challenges you may have all in one place.

Visit the Feedgood website for more information on breastfeeding (opens in new window) >

Visit the UNICEF website to find out how parents can be partners in care (opens in new window) >

View UNICEF baby friendly resources (opens in new window) >

First Steps Nutrition is an independent site where you can get information about eating well in pregnancy, different milks available in the UK, a simple guide to formula and a statement about formula preparation machines. 

Visit the First Steps Nutrition website (opens in new window) >

Meeting your baby for the first time

A lovely way to say hello is to spend time holding your baby in skin to skin contact whether you are breast or bottle feeding.

This special time together helps calm you both after labour and birth. Placing the baby on your skin so s/he can hear your heartbeat, recognise your smell and listen to your voice will reassure them that they are in a safe place. 

Skin to skin contact will also help keep your baby warm which is very important in the first hours after birth. It’s important that you and baby are not rushed at this time so ask the midwife to either weigh baby quickly just after birth or wait until he has had a first feed.

As baby relaxes s/he  will begin to search around for your breast making tiny mouthing and head bobbing movements. This is the best time for you to make the decision about how you would like to feed your baby.

If you decide to breastfeed or even to offer your baby just one breastfeed let her take her time to seek out and find your breast as she is learning exactly what to do to get that valuable first breast feed.

If you decide to bottle feed this is a good time to offer the first feed while still in skin contact with your baby . The first feed your and your baby share is very special so try to make sure it is you that offers this as it helps baby’s and your hormones levels. 

Partners and other family members  can be involved by staying close and talking to baby, whilst you have skin to skin contact and feed your baby . Baby will already be familiar with your partner’s voice.  Ask your partner to have skin to skin contact with your baby whilst you are having a shower, if you are bottle feeding they can give baby their 2nd bottle feed in skin to skin.