Feeding your baby

Right from the moment you find out you are pregnant, the team at St Paul’s Hospital Pregnancy, Birth and Newborn Centre can help you prepare for feeding your baby. Every family is unique and there are many options to ensure your baby is receiving all the nutrition they need to grow healthy and strong.

Prenatal infant feeding workshops

Our prenatal classes include infant feeding workshops taught by a certified lactation consultant. You can learn more about what will be covered or register for classes on our prenatal classes page.

Preparing for infant feeding during pregnancy

We support parents who are able to and who want to collect colostrum during the latter stages of pregnancy.  Colostrum is the first milk and it starts forming around 16 weeks of pregnancy. This first milk is very nutritious and has specific immune properties that can’t be replicated. Most people can start collecting colostrum around the 36th week of pregnancy.

To collect colostrum, you need to learn how to do hand expression of your milk. You can start practicing this skill in late pregnancy so that you will be confident in your abilities once your baby is born.

The colostrum collected during late pregnancy can be frozen and brought to the hospital when you come to deliver your baby. If your baby needs extra milk, you can feed your baby the collected colostrum. Your nurse will help you with this.

Colostrum collection kits are available at some St. Paul’s Hospital provider offices or you can email prenatalclasses@providencehealth.bc.ca to connect with the infant feeding coordinator. The kits come with detailed instructions on how to collect colostrum.

Feeding your baby while in hospital

All of our nurses have received additional training in infant feeding. Your primary nurse will be your main resource to help you feed your baby. If you require additional support, your nurse can request a visit from one of our lactation consultants.

If you and your baby are separated due to medical reasons, the lactation consultant will ensure your baby continues to receive human milk. We are able to offer your baby your colostrum if you collected it while you were still pregnant. In some situations, your nurse can help you collect fresh colostrum for your baby. If it is not possible to provide your own milk to your baby, we have pasteurized human donor milk available.

“Britt showed Léonie techniques to help Jade latch. She reassured us this is a normal process, lots of babies struggle to feed at first. She also examined Jade to make sure there weren’t any physical issues preventing her from feeding.” Read more about how our team supports families with their breastfeeding journey.

Once you go home

Before you leave the hospital, you and your partner need to feel comfortable with the plan for feeding your baby. Your nurse, midwife or one of our lactation consultants will help you create a feeding plan and tell you about resources in your community.

If you have sore nipples; firm, full, sore breasts; a fussing baby; leaking milk; breast lumps, or mastitis, keep breast/chest feeding. If breast/chest feeding becomes too painful, take your baby off your breast and express or pump your milk. Seek help from a lactation consultant, midwife or public health nurse.

For more resources on how to breast/chest feed successfully, visit the websites listed under our “newborn care” section on our resources page.

Breastfeeding medicine clinic

Our breastfeeding medicine clinic is staffed by a physician who is also a certified lactation consultant. If you are looking for additional infant feeding support, your doctor or midwife might refer you to this clinic. There, the physician can support you with specific procedures and medications to help. The clinic is open to all new parents, not just people who delivered at St. Paul’s Hospital.