At St Thomas’ Hospital we want you to have a great start to becoming a parent and building a relationship with your baby. Your life changes in many ways and it may be helpful for you to think about your thoughts and feelings on the following points.
Please talk to your midwife and attend our antenatal classes. We are here to answer your questions and support you in your choices for when your baby arrives.
Building a relationship
You can start building a relationship with your baby by stroking your bump and talking to your baby. Is there any particular music that she/he likes or any time of day when she/he is particularly active or quiet?
Skin to skin contact with your baby
Skin to skin contact between you and your baby as soon as possible after birth is a lovely way to welcome your baby. It helps to keep them warm and calm them after they have been born. It also tends to tempt them into breastfeeding. Continuing to have skin to skin contact in the days and weeks after birth is a really good way to reassure and comfort your baby.
How to respond to your baby’s needs
Your baby is totally reliant on you for food and comfort. This can be very overwhelming at times. If you can respond to your baby’s needs quickly it will help them develop healthy brain connections and feelings of safety and security. Babies like to be close to their parents; this is why we practise rooming in and encourage you to have your baby in your bedroom for at least the first six months of life. You cannot spoil a baby by responding to their needs - the closer they are to you the quicker you can respond to them which should make life easier for you.
Feeding your baby
We encourage you to breastfeed your baby as this is the healthiest choice for your baby and you. Breastfeeding helps reduce the likelihood of your baby developing tummy upsets, chest, urinary and ear infections, allergies, diabetes, obesity and SIDS. Mothers have reduced rates of breast and ovarian cancer and osteoporosis in later life.
However, we know that this is a new skill to some parents or something that you may need to be reminded about if you have had a baby before. You can discuss infant feeding with your midwife to prepare for after the birth.
The midwives and maternity support workers can all help you with feeding whilst you are with us on the Home from Home or postnatal ward. Areas local to our hospitals have plenty of breastfeeding support groups that you can visit every week day. Read our breastfeeding support information for Lambeth and Southwark. You may also find the NHS leaflet Off to the best start (PDF 1.2Mb) very useful. It should have been included in your booking pack. If not, your midwife can give you a copy.
We also recommend you watch From Bump to Breastfeeding, which you can watch online on the Best Beginnings website.
Antenatal hand expressing
You may have been asked to hand express before the birth of your baby for a number of reasons. However, it can take some time for you to learn how to breast feed and hand express. Therefore we may recommend that you learn some skills before your baby arrives and establish a small store of expressed colostrum ready to be given to your baby. This antenatal hand expressing leaflet (PDF 112Kb) may answer questions you have.
If you are interested in antenatal hand expressing for your baby then please discuss with your midwifery team or email the breastfeeding team at breastfeedingteam
Got a breastfeeding question?
During your hospital stay there are daily breastfeeding drop-in sessions, 10am in the postnatal ward.
Email us for advice:
Concerned about you or your baby?
If you are worried about yourself or your baby (for example, you feel unwell, or you have not felt your baby move as much as usual), don't delay, contact the maternity helpline:
Or call the Maternity Assessment Unit:
8am-8pm every day.
At other times, please ring the Hospital Birth Centre on 020 7188 6867.